Patricia Kennedy Lawford
|Patricia Kennedy Lawford|
Patricia Kennedy Lawford, c. 1948
|Born||Patricia Helen Kennedy
May 6, 1924
Brookline, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||September 17, 2006
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
|Cause of death||Pneumonia|
|Resting place||Southampton Cemetery|
|Alma mater||Rosemont College|
(m. 1954; div. 1966)
|Children||4, Christopher Lawford|
Patricia Helen "Pat" 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. Pat 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 experienced a serious culture-clash and 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." However, because she was a woman in the very conservative 1950s, she was restricted[how?] to working as a production assistant on patriotic and religious productions such as singer Kate Smith's radio program and Father Peyton's Family Rosary Crusade.
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, California:
- Christopher Kennedy Lawford (b. 1955); he married Jeannie Olsson on 17 November 1985 and they were divorced in 2000. They have three children: David Christopher Kennedy Lawford (May 24, 1987), Savannah Rose Lawford (February 13, 1990) and Matthew Valentine Lawford (February 27, 1995). He married Mercedes Miller in May 2014.
- Sydney Maleia Kennedy Lawford (b. 1956); she married Peter McKelvy on 17 September 1983. They have four sons: James Peter McKelvy (b. 6 December 1985), Christopher Kennedy McKelvy (b. 8 August 1987), Patrick Ryon McKelvy (b. 26 May 1989) and Anthony McKelvy (b. 28 November 1992).
- Victoria Francis Lawford (b. 1958); she married Robert Pender, Jr. on 13 June 1987. They have three daughters: Alexandra Lawford (b. 11 March 1988) Caroline Patricia (b. 25 April 1990) and Victoria Rose (b. 13 May 1993).
- Robin Elizabeth Lawford (b. 1961), has never married or had children
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.
Kennedy died of pneumonia at age of 82 on September 17, 2006 in her Manhattan home. She was survived by her four children and ten grandchildren, as well as her brother Ted and her sisters Eunice and Jean. She was buried in Southampton Cemetery.
- 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 1 September 2017. Retrieved 1 September 2017.
- Robertson, Patrick (2011). Robertson's Book of Firsts: Who Did What for the First Time. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. ISBN 9781608197385. Retrieved 1 September 2017.
- Jacobs, Andrew (September 18, 2006). "Patricia Kennedy Lawford Dies at 82". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-16.