The Kennedy curse is a term for a series of deaths and calamities involving members of the American Kennedy family. Ted Kennedy publicly wondered whether a "curse actually did hang over all the Kennedys" during his own testimony about the Chappaquiddick incident in 1969. However, skeptics argue that many of the events are normal, and that it is not improbable for a large extended family to experience them.
Events that have been cited as evidence of the family's misfortunes include:
- 1941 — Rosemary Kennedy was often believed to have been intellectually disabled, and due to her severe mood swings and the worry that she would damage the Kennedy family reputation, her father, Joseph Sr., arranged in secret for her to undergo a lobotomy. The lobotomy instead left her unable to walk or speak well, and as a result, Rosemary remained institutionalized until her death in 2005. Rosemary's condition may have inspired her sister, Eunice, to initiate the Special Olympics in 1962.
- August 12, 1944 — Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. died when his plane exploded over East Suffolk, England, as part of Project Anvil during World War II.
- May 13, 1948 — Kathleen Cavendish, Marchioness of Hartington died in a plane crash in France.
- August 9, 1963 — Patrick Bouvier Kennedy died of infant respiratory distress syndrome two days after his premature birth (which itself occurred on the 20th anniversary of his father's World War II rescue). Jackie missed the funeral because she was still recovering from the C-section at Otis Air Force Base.
- November 22, 1963 — U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas by Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald was shot dead by Jack Ruby two days later before he could stand trial. In 1964, the Warren Commission concluded that Oswald was the lone assassin. In 1979, the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) concluded that the assassination was the result of a conspiracy and that Oswald did not act alone.
- June 19, 1964 — U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy was involved in a plane crash in which one of his aides and the pilot were killed. Ted was pulled from the wreckage by fellow senator Birch Bayh and spent weeks in a hospital recovering from a broken back, a punctured lung, broken ribs, and internal bleeding.
- June 5, 1968 — U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan in Los Angeles immediately following his victory in the California Democratic presidential primary. Sirhan pleaded guilty to Robert's murder and is serving a life sentence at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility.
- July 18, 1969 — In the Chappaquiddick incident, Ted Kennedy accidentally drove his car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, which fatally trapped his 28-year-old passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, inside. Ted pleaded guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of the accident causing personal injury. In his televised statement a week later, Ted stated that on the night of the incident he wondered "whether some awful curse did actually hang over all the Kennedys."
- August 13, 1973 — Joseph P. Kennedy II was the driver of a Jeep that crashed and left his passenger, Pam Kelley, paralyzed.
- November 17, 1973, — Edward M. Kennedy Jr., then aged 12 had to have his right leg surgically amputated due to bone cancer; and he underwent a long, difficult, experimental two-year drug treatment to cure the cancer.
- April 25, 1984 — David A. Kennedy died of a cocaine and pethidine overdose in a Palm Beach, Florida hotel room.
- April 1, 1991 — William Kennedy Smith was arrested and charged with the rape of a young woman at the Kennedy estate in Palm Beach, Florida. The subsequent trial attracted extensive media coverage. Smith was acquitted.
- December 31, 1997 — Michael LeMoyne Kennedy died in a skiing accident in Aspen, Colorado.
- July 16, 1999 — John F. Kennedy Jr. died when his plane he was piloting, a Piper Saratoga, crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Martha's Vineyard due to pilot error and spatial disorientation. His wife and sister-in-law were also on board and died.
- September 16, 2011 — Kara Kennedy died of a heart attack while exercising in a Washington, D.C. health club at age 51. Kara had reportedly suffered from lung cancer nine years earlier, but she had recovered after the removal of part of her right lung.
- May 16, 2012 — Mary Richardson Kennedy committed suicide on the grounds of her home in Bedford, Westchester County, New York.
- September 4, 2018 — Christopher Kennedy Lawford died of a heart attack while doing hot yoga at a yoga studio in Vancouver, British Columbia. He was 63.
- The Kennedy Curse: Why Tragedy Has Haunted America's First Family for 150 Years by Edward Klein, was published by St. Martin's Press.
- The Kennedy Curse: Shattered, a compilation of Kennedy curse accounts by Les Williams, was published in 9 November 2016 by Gayles Publishing.
- "Kennedy Family Tragedies". The Washington Post. July 18, 1999. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
- Carr, Pat; Hulteng, Lee. "Kennedy Family Tragedies". The Courant. Hartford, CT. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
- McGrory, Brian (July 18, 1999). "Family Overshadowed by a Litany of Tragedy". The Boston Globe. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
- Klein, Edward (2004). The Kennedy Curse: Why Tragedy Has Haunted America's First Family for 150 Years. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-31293-0.
- Jones, Sam; Tran, Mark (August 26, 2009). "History of the Kennedy Curse". The Guardian. London. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
- "The Kennedy Curse". The Courant. Hartford, CT. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
- "Is Pat's Crash Part of Kennedy Curse?". Good Morning America. ABC News. May 5, 2006. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
- Lacayo, Richard (August 26, 2009). "Ted Kennedy, 1932–2009: The Brother Who Mattered Most". Time. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
- "The Mysteries of Chappaquiddick". Time. August 1, 1969. Archived from the original on August 31, 2009.
- "Kennedy Curse". The Skeptic's Dictionary. Retrieved August 29, 2009.
- O'Dowd, Niall (September 18, 2011). "Talk of a Kennedy Curse Is Nonsense, Latest Death of Kara Revives Idle Chatter". IrishCentral. Retrieved May 19, 2012.
- El-Hai, Jack (January 15, 2005). "The exiled Kennedy". The Independent. Independent Print Limited. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
- King, John (July 17, 1999). "Tragedy Has Repeatedly Stalked Kennedy Clan". CNN. Retrieved February 15, 2008.
- Negrin, Matt (May 16, 2012). "Kennedy Curse: A Political Family's Troubled Life". ABC News. Retrieved May 17, 2012.
- Levingston, Steven (October 24, 2013). "For John and Jackie Kennedy, the death of a son may have brought them closer". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved June 2, 2016.
- Stokes, Louis (1979). "Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives". Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office.
- "The Luck of the Kennedys". Check-Six.com. May 8, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
- Russell, Jenna (February 17, 2009). "Chapter 3: Chappaquiddick: Conflicted ambitions, then, Chappaquiddick". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on February 21, 2010.Also published in the book The Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy, Simon & Schuster, 2009, chapter 3.
- "'Grief, Fear, Doubt, Panic' — And Guilt". Newsweek. August 4, 1969.
- Kennedy, Ted (2009). The Kennedys. American Experience (TV-series). Boston.
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- Clymer, A Biography, pp. 205–208.
- Dunne, Dominick (March 1992). "The Verdict". Vanity Fair. Retrieved May 17, 2012.
- Goddard, Jacqui (September 17, 2011). "Kara Kennedy Dies Aged 51". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved May 19, 2012.
- "'I'm So Grateful I Have Those Memories': Joan Kennedy Remembers Last Summer with Daughter Kara Before She Died". The Daily Mail. London. September 21, 2011. Retrieved May 19, 2012.
- "RFK Jr.'s Troubled Estranged Wife Found Dead in NY". Google News. Associated Press. May 16, 2012. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
- The Kennedy Curse
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- The Kennedy Curse: Shattered