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Rose Kennedy in 1967
|Born||Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald
July 22, 1890
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||January 22, 1995
Hyannis, Massachusetts, U.S.
Cause of death
|Complications from pneumonia|
|Education||Girl's Latin School
Dorchester High School
|Alma mater||New England Conservatory
Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart
|Known for||Kennedy family matriarch|
|Spouse(s)||Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Sr.
(m. 1914–1969: his death)
|Parents||John Francis Fitzgerald
Mary Josephine Hannon
|Relatives||Joseph F. Gargan, Jr. (nephew)|
Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald Kennedy (July 22, 1890 – January 22, 1995) was an American philanthropist and socialite. She was deeply embedded in the "lace curtain" Irish Catholic community in Boston, where her father was mayor. She was the wife of businessman and investor Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., who was United States Ambassador to the Court of St James's. Their nine children included President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and longtime Senator Ted Kennedy.
Rose was born in the North End neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. She was the eldest of six children born to Boston Mayor John Francis "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald and Mary Josephine "Josie" Hannon. Her siblings were Mary, Thomas, John Jr., Eunice, and Frederick.
As a young child, she lived in an Italianate/Mansard-style home in the Ashmont Hill section of Dorchester, Massachusetts and attended the local Girl's Latin School. The home later burned down, but a plaque at Welles Avenue and Harley Street proclaims "Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Square". The plaque was dedicated by her son, Senator Ted Kennedy, on Kennedy's 102nd birthday in 1992.
Kennedy studied at the convent school Kasteel Bloemendal in Vaals, The Netherlands, and graduated from Dorchester High School in 1906. She also attended the New England Conservatory in Boston where she studied piano. After being refused permission by her father to attend Wellesley College, Fitzgerald enrolled at the Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart (as it was then known ), an institution which did not grant degrees at the time. In 1908, Fitzgerald and her father embarked on a tour of Europe. She and Honey Fitz had a private audience with Pope St. Pius X at the Vatican.
Marriage and family life
On October 7, 1914, she married Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy at age 24 after a courtship of more than seven years. He was the elder son of businessman/politician Patrick Joseph "P. J." Kennedy (political rival of Honey Fitz) and Mary Augusta Hickey. She gave birth to her first child, Joseph, Jr., nine months later. They initially lived in a home in Brookline, Massachusetts that is now the John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site, and later a 15-room vacation home at Hyannis Port on Cape Cod, which became the Kennedy family’s lasting base. They had nine children.
Joseph provided well for their family, but was unfaithful. His affairs included one with Gloria Swanson. While eight months pregnant with Kathleen, Rose temporarily went back to her parents, but returned to Joseph. In turning a blind eye to her husband's affairs, Rose depended heavily on medication. Ronald Kessler found records for prescription tranquilizers Seconal, Placidyl, Librium, and Dalmane to relieve Rose's nervousness and stress, and Lomotil, Bentyl, Librax, and Tagamet for her stomach.
Rose Kennedy was a strict Catholic throughout her life. Even after her 100th birthday, she rarely missed Sunday Mass and maintained an "extremely prudish" exterior. Her strict beliefs often placed her at odds with her children. Jacqueline Kennedy described her mother-in-law in her correspondence to Father Joseph Leonard, an Irish priest: 'I don't think Jack's mother is too bright – and she would rather say a rosary than read a book.'
Rose Kennedy stated that she felt completely fulfilled as a full-time homemaker. In her 1974 autobiography, Times to Remember, she wrote, "I looked on child rearing not only as a work of love and a duty, but as a profession that was fully as interesting and challenging as any honorable profession in the world and one that demanded the best I could bring to it..... What greater aspiration and challenge are there for a mother than the hope of raising a great son or daughter?"
|Name||Birth||Death||Brief Biography||Marriage and children||Cause of death|
|Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy, Jr.||July 25, 1915||August 12, 1944||United States Navy aviator||Never married or had children, but was once engaged to Athalia Ponsell||Naval airplane explosion on August 12, 1944 over the English Channel|
|John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy||May 29, 1917||November 22, 1963||United States Representative (1947–1953)
United States Senator (1953–1960)
President of the United States (1961–1963)
|Sept. 12, 1953 to Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, had four children (including a stillbirth).||Assassinated on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas by Lee Harvey Oswald.|
|Rose Marie "Rosemary" Kennedy||September 13, 1918||January 7, 2005||Underwent a lobotomy in 1941 which left her incapacitated; she was institutionalized from 1949 until her death 2005.||Never married or had children||Natural causes|
|Kathleen Agnes "Kick" Kennedy||February 20, 1920||May 13, 1948||Marchioness of Hartington||Married on May 6, 1944 to William John Robert "Billy" Cavendish, never had children.||Airplane crash over Saint-Bauzile, Ardèche, France.|
|Eunice Mary Kennedy||July 10, 1921||August 11, 2009||International advocate for the developmentally disabled. Founded the Special Olympics.||Married on May 23, 1953 to Robert Sargent "Sarge" Shriver, Jr., had five children.||Natural causes|
|Patricia Helen "Pat" Kennedy||May 6, 1924||September 17, 2006||Journalist and film production assistant||Married on April 24, 1954 to British actor Peter Sydney Ernest Lawford, had four children; divorced in 1966.||Complications from pneumonia|
|Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy||November 20, 1925||June 6, 1968||United States Attorney General (1961–1964)
United States Senator (1965–1968)
|Married on June 17, 1950 to Ethel Skakel, had eleven children.||Assassinated in 1968 in Los Angeles, California by Sirhan Bishara Sirhan.|
|Jean Ann Kennedy||February 20, 1928||United States Ambassador to Ireland (1993–1998)||Married on May 19, 1956 to Stephen Edward Smith, had two sons and adopted two daughters.|
|Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy||February 22, 1932||August 25, 2009||United States Senator (1962–2009)||Married on November 29, 1958 to Virginia Joan Bennett, had three children; divorced on December 6, 1982. Remarried in 1992 to Victoria Anne Reggie; had no children.||Brain cancer|
After her son John became President in 1961, Rose "became a sort of quiet celebrity," appearing on the International Best Dressed List. Most of her social activities consisted of involvement in charities and women’s groups. Rose also took brisk ocean swims outside her Cape Cod house in fifty-degree weather.
After suffering a stroke in 1984, she used a wheelchair for the remaining eleven years of her life. She maintained her residence at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts and was cared for by private nurses and staff.
On January 22, 1995, Rose died from complications from pneumonia at the age of 104½, having outlived her husband by a quarter of a century. She was survived by five children, 26 grandchildren, and 42 great-grandchildren. Rose Kennedy was interred with her husband at Holyhood Cemetery in Brookline, Massachusetts.
In 1951, Pope Pius XII granted Kennedy the title of countess in recognition of her "exemplary motherhood and many charitable works." In 1992, when she turned 102, the intersection of Welles Avenue and Harley Street in Boston was proclaimed "Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Square". The plaque was dedicated by her son, Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Also, the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston, Massachusetts – the park that was created when the city's Central Artery was sunk below ground level in the "Big Dig" – was named after her on July 26, 2004. Well known for her philanthropic efforts and for leading the Grandparents' Parade at age 90 at the Special Olympics, Kennedy's life and work are documented in the Oscar-nominated short documentary Rose Kennedy: A Life to Remember.
In popular culture
- The Rose Kennedy Cocktail is a popular drink in bars in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic United States.
- Kennedy was played by Annette O'Toole in the TV miniseries The Kennedys of Massachusetts (1990).
- Kennedy was played by Michelle Trout in the film Lives and Deaths of the Poets (2011).
- Kennedy was played by Diana Hardcastle in the television miniseries The Kennedys (2011).
- The American band Rasputina's song "Rose K." from their album How We Quit the Forest is based on her life.
- French chanteuse Patricia Kaas recorded a song, "Kennedy Rose," on her 1990 album Scène de vie, which is very critical of the Kennedy family's ambitions for their sons.
- Rose Kennedy is the First Lady of the United States in Alternate History Novel Fatherland.
- pbs.com article addresses the life of Rose Kennedy
- Goodwin, Doris Kearns (2001). The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga. Simon and Schuster. pp.88–89.
- Kessler, Ronald. The Sins of the Father: Joseph P. Kennedy and the Dynasty He Founded. Warner Books, 1996. ISBN 0-446-60384-8. pp. 318, 372–373.
- Hodgson, Godfrey (January 24, 1995). "Obituary: Rose Kennedy". The Independent. Archived from the original on July 1, 2014.
- Letters from Jackie, The Irish Times, May 13, 2014
- Nasaw, David. The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy (2012), scholarly biography of her husband
- Perry, Barbara A. Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch (W.W. Norton & Company; 2013)