Patricia Kennedy Lawford
Patricia Kennedy Lawford
Patricia Kennedy Lawford, c. 1948
Patricia Helen Kennedy
May 6, 1924
Brookline, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||September 17, 2006 (aged 82)|
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
|Resting place||Southampton Cemetery|
|Alma mater||Rosemont College|
(m. 1954; div. 1966)
|Children||4 including Christopher Lawford|
Patricia Helen Kennedy Lawford (May 6, 1924 – September 17, 2006) was an American socialite and the sixth of nine children of Rose and Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. She was a sister of President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and Senator Ted Kennedy, as well as the sister-in-law of Jacqueline Kennedy. Patricia wanted to be a film producer, a profession not readily open to young women in her time. She married English actor Peter Lawford in 1954, but they divorced in 1966.
Patricia Helen Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts. She attended Roehampton Sacred Heart Convent School in London and Maplehurst Sacred Heart Convent School in Bronxville, New York. In 1945, she received a bachelor of arts degree from Rosemont College, where she was active in both directing and acting in theatrical productions.
She was considered the most sophisticated, yet also the most introverted, of her parents' five daughters. Since childhood she had a fascination with travel and Hollywood. In time she would become a world traveler, so much so that as a young girl she was given assignments by the independent and foreign press to write of her travels. Her ongoing fascination with Hollywood was fueled by her father's stories and adventures there as a movie mogul heading RKO Pictures. After graduating from Rosemont College, she moved to Hollywood in hopes of becoming a movie producer and director like her father.
Her father apparently believed that she could do as much, once saying, "Pat is the one with head for business. She could really run this town if she put her mind to it."
She worked as a production assistant on patriotic and religious productions such as singer Kate Smith's radio program and Father Peyton's Family Rosary Crusade. When she was 22 years old, Lawford was the producer of I Love to Eat, on NBC-TV; it was the first cooking program on network television.
She met English actor Peter Lawford through her sister Eunice in the 1940s. They met again in 1949, and again in 1953. They courted briefly and officially announced their engagement in February 1954. They married on April 24, 1954,[note 1] at the Roman Catholic Church of St. Thomas More in New York City, twelve days before her thirtieth birthday. They settled in Santa Monica, California, and often socialized with actress Judy Garland and her family. Garland gave birth to her son Joseph at the same hospital and on the same day Kennedy gave birth to her son Christopher.
The couple had four children, all born in Santa Monica: Christopher Lawford (1955-2018), Sydney Maleia Lawford (b. 1956), Victoria Francis Lawford (b. 1958), and Robin Elizabeth Lawford (b. 1961).
Despite the glamorous persona Lawford presented, their relationship suffered strains as early as their brief engagement. Lawford had difficulty adjusting to Kennedy's steadfast Catholicism and her family's larger-than-life image. Kennedy could not tolerate Lawford's heavy drinking, extramarital affairs, and gradual addiction to drugs. Shortly after her brother Jack's death, she filed for a legal separation, and the couple was officially divorced in February 1966. She never remarried.
After her divorce, Kennedy battled alcoholism and suffered from tongue cancer. She worked with the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, as well as with the National Center on Addiction, and was a founder of the National Committee for the Literary Arts, for which she arranged a series of author lectures and scholarships.
- Her page on the website of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum says that she and Lawford married on April 23, 1954.
- "Patricia Kennedy Lawford". John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Archived from the original on September 1, 2017. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 19, 2012. Retrieved October 1, 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Robertson, Patrick (2011). Robertson's Book of Firsts: Who Did What for the First Time. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. ISBN 9781608197385. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
- Jacobs, Andrew (September 18, 2006). "Patricia Kennedy Lawford Dies at 82". New York Times. Retrieved October 16, 2008.