Joseph Sr. originally hoped for his eldest son, Joseph Jr., to become a politician and be elected president. After Joseph Jr. was killed during World War II, however, those hopes were transferred to his second son, John, to become president. Soon after John was elected during 1960, he, Robert, and Ted all had prominent positions in the federal government. They received intense publicity, often emphasizing their relative youth, allure, education, and future in politics. Between 1947 and 2011, there were 64 years with a Kennedy in elective office in Washington. This spans more than a quarter of the nation's existence.
The family has suffered many tragedies, which contributed to the idea of the "Kennedy curse". Rosemary was lobotomized which crippled much of her life; John and Robert were both assassinated during the 1960s; Ted was involved with the Chappaquiddick incident in 1969, which caused the death of his young assistant, Mary Jo Kopechne. Joseph Jr., Kathleen, and John Jr. all died in airplane crashes.