16 Examples of the Kennedy Curse

16 Examples of the Kennedy Curse

Trista - November 11, 2018

Joseph F. Kennedy’s family has faced many, many unfortunate deaths. Those who passed away are believed to be part of The Kennedy Curse. Joseph F. Kennedy and his wife Rose had a large family with nine children. Of those nine children, four passed away at a young age, and one faced an intellectual disability that resulted in institutionalization. Not only did Kennedy’s children fall victims to The Kennedy Curse, so did many grandchildren. All the victims have passed away from a number of reasons such as cancer, skiing accidents, scandals, and more.

As with any theory, some skeptics believe there is no curse. Skeptics are quick to point out that the Kennedy family is large and a number of them have faced no misfortunes. Another disbelief in the curse is because many members of the Kennedy family have high-risk careers that lead to scandals and addictions. Below are victims of The Kennedy Curse and the unfortunate events that took their life. Continue reading to understand why The Kennedy Curse is a topic of discussion.

16 Examples of the Kennedy Curse
Portrait of Rosemary Kennedy. The Spectator.

16. Rosemary Kennedy

Rose and Joseph Kennedy were excited for the birth of their first daughter, whom they named Rosemary. However, the labor experience was something Rose could have never imagined. Rose went into labor so quickly that Rosemary started her journey into this world before the doctor could arrive. As directed by a nurse, Rose held her legs tight together to prevent the birth from happening. Unfortunately, this cut the oxygen supply to Rosemary and is believed to be the reason for her intellectual disabilities.

As a child, Rosemary was described as quiet. Until she began displaying mood swings and gait issues. The mood swings were so violent that Rosemary became rebellious and uncontrollable. To control the mood swings, doctors decided to give Rosemary a lobotomy. Rosemary went through the lobotomy in 1941. At that time, the procure was still new. As a result, they believe too much of her brain was removed. At the age of 23, Rosemary was no longer able to control her body; she couldn’t speak, walk, or even urinate. Rose and Joseph placed Rosemary in an institution and hid her from the public. It was not until 20 years later that the public was made aware of Rosemary’s story. Rosemary’s life continued in the institution until 2005, when she died of natural causes.

16 Examples of the Kennedy Curse
Joseph Kennedy Jr. Famous Biographys.org.

15. Joseph Kennedy Jr.

Joseph Kennedy Jr, the first son of Joseph Sr. and Rose Kennedy, was a smart, athletic guy. He attended Harvard College, where he was involved in football and rugby, London School of Economics, and Harvard Law School. Joseph Sr. prepped his son for a career in politics until Joseph Jr. unexpectedly passed away in August of 1944 in a plane crash. It’s believed that Joseph Jr. agreed with Hilter’s policies. In fact, he took a trip to Germany in 1934 to meet with the Nazis. Joseph Jr. wrote to his father about the sterilization policy the Nazis had and how he favored it. In 1941, Joseph began his naval career in flight training.

After that, he joined the Patrol Squadron 203, Bombing Squadron 110, and Special Air Unit ONE. Operation Anvil was a plan devised to use heavy bombers as remote-piloted drone missiles. Before the rockets were to be fired, the pilot would jump from the plane and parachute to the ground. Joseph Jr. had volunteered and was training to be a pilot bomber when he was promoted to a Lieutenant. However, he surprisingly never executed Operation Anvil because the plane he was in crashed while flying over England.

16 Examples of the Kennedy Curse
Portrait of Kathleen Kennedy. New York Post.

14. Kathleen Kennedy

Kathleen Kennedy was fourth in the Kennedy family. Kathleen was athletic and could often be found playing football with her brothers. Her positive outlook on life often attracted friends and suitors. Kathleen moved to England when her father was appointed an Ambassador. After returning to the States many years later, she always looked for a way back to England. Kathleen came across a position with the Red Cross, as a serviceman. After that, she lived a royal life, as she married British royal William Cavendish, Marquess at the age of 24. Their love was cut short when William died of a sniper shot during World War II.

Years later, Kathleen found another British royal to fill the void in her heart, Peter Fitzwilliam. Although Peter’s divorce was not final, Kathleen knew she wanted to marry him. As tradition goes, the two wanted the blessing of Kathleen’s father. On their way to meet Joseph Kennedy, the two made a quick stop to vacation in the French Riviera. However, their story ended there, as the plane they were traveling in crashed before they arrived at their destination. Unfortunately, not one person survived the plane crash. Kathleen was 28 years old when she passed away.

16 Examples of the Kennedy Curse
John F. Kennedy entering the hospital to tell his wife their son had died. Associated Press.

13. Arabella and Patrick Kennedy

Did you know that JFK and his wife Jackie experienced not only one, but two unfortunate pregnancies? In 1956, Jackie went into labor to deliver another sweet, innocent child. John and Jackie were stunned with shock to find that their daughter was stillborn. Arabella Kennedy, born and died on August 23, 1956.

Years later in 1963, President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy were expecting another child. This one entered the world over a month ahead of schedule. From his first breath, Patrick Kennedy struggled to survive. Patrick was born with hyaline membrane disease, the leading cause of premature babies. Back in 1963, if a baby with hyaline membrane disease survived the first 48 hours, their survival chance was only 40%-50%. Medical professionals at the time had very little options for treating the disease back then, except place the baby in a heat-controlled incubator and provide the child lots of attention. Many Americans waited patiently by the radios to hear the progress on the President’s baby. However, their worst fear became reality when Patrick failed to inhale enough air. At only 39 hours old, Patrick Kennedy passed away. Jackie Kennedy missed the funeral of her son, as she was not well enough to attend. Some believe the death of Patrick brought John and Jackie closer together, although it’s hard to say because three short months later, JFK was assassinated.

16 Examples of the Kennedy Curse
President JFK and his wife in a parade. Time.

12. John F. Kennedy

One of the most famous of the Kennedy Curse victims is John F. Kennedy also referred to as JFK. John was an intelligent man, proving so by graduating from Harvard University. The following year, John joined the Naval Reserve during World War II. To honor John’s success in the war, he received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal. Following his naval career, John entered the political field as a Democrat. His parents were grooming his older brother, Joseph Jr, to become a United States President. However, after the death of his brother, John quickly earned a seat in the spotlight.

John first served as House of Representatives for the 11th congressional district of Massachusetts, then moving to become the Senator in Massachusetts. John F. Kennedy was elected the 35th President of the United States and took office in January of 1961. John was only 43 years old, making him the youngest President to be elected in the United States history. During his inaugural speech, he spoke the famous words, “Ask not what your your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” John’s presidential term ended when he was assassinated in November of 1963 while in Dallas. JFK left behind his wife and four young children.

16 Examples of the Kennedy Curse
Ted Kennedy. history.

11. Ted Kennedy

Edward Moore Kennedy, better known as “Ted,” was the youngest of the nine Kennedy children. Ted’s upbringing often involved being uprooted, as his family moved to many different cities such as Bronxville, Hyannis Port, Palm Beach, and even London. By the age of 11, Ted had been enrolled in 10 different schools. As with all the members of the Kennedy family, Ted was an athletic and intelligent young man, going on to study at Harvard College, University of Virginia School of Law, and Hague Academy of International Law. Ted’s athletic ability drew interest from the head coach of the Green Bay Packers. However, Ted did not accept. Instead, he followed the family footsteps and had a successful career in politics, serving the Senate. But as with many politicians, Ted faced many scandals and misfortunes. While flying for work, Ted’s plane crashed, killing the pilot and one of his aids. Another senator onboard was able to pull Ted from the aircraft, saving his life. Ted experienced a broken back, leaving him in pain for the rest of his life.

However, the misfortunes don’t end there. Only five years later, Ted crashed his car, killing his passenger. Ted’s vehicle left the road and entered a pond, he fled the scene and his passenger, a young gal, was unable to escape on her own. The car crash, coupled with the strain of parenting his brothers’ children, eliminated Ted’s chance to run in any presidential election. Other scandals included his nephew being accused of rape, his reputation from the Clarence Thomas hearings, and a plethora of other scandalous stories shared by the media. Ted’s life ended in 2009 after being diagnosed with a brain tumor.

16 Examples of the Kennedy Curse
Photo of Robert F. Kennedy. Biography.

10. Robert F. Kennedy

Robert F. Kennedy followed in the footsteps of his father and brothers, leading a political life. At the age of 18, Robert entered the Naval Reserve apprentice program. Just one year later he started his V-12 Navy College Training Program at Harvard College and Bates College. That same year, Joseph P Kennedy Jr. died while training for his volunteer mission. In February 1946, the U.S. Navy launched the destroyer USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. In honor of his brother, Robert was released from his naval duties to gain seaman apprenticeship aboard the Kennedy. Robert’s service did not go unnoticed, he was recognized with the American Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.

After being honorably discharged from the Navy, Robert continued his education at the University of Virginia School of Law. Robert worked in politics, often alongside his brother JFK. When his brother was elected President in 1961, Robert was also appointed the attorney general. In 1968, years following his brother’s assassination, Robert ran for President of the United States as the Democratic nomination. It was in June of that year that Robert himself was also murdered. This assassination was by Sirhan Sirhan a Palestinian, who was unsatisfied with the support Robert had for Israel. The death of Robert made Ted Kennedy the final surviving brother.

16 Examples of the Kennedy Curse
Joseph Kennedy III. wbur.org.

9. Joseph Kennedy

Joseph Kennedy, the son of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, was the second of 11 children. Joseph was named after his grandfather. He was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. Unfortunately, Joseph’s early years were troublesome, getting expelled from multiple private schools. Not only did Joseph have trouble at school, but he also had physical disputes with his siblings and cousins on a regular basis. To add to Joseph’s problems, his father died when he was only 15 years old. In 1972, Joseph was on an airplane that was hijacked. Fortunately, all passengers survived. The following year, Joseph rolled his Jeep; the accident caused fractures to his brother David Kennedy and paralyzed David’s girlfriend. As a result, Joseph temporarily lost his driver’s license, due to reckless driving. To repay Pam Kelley, David’s girlfriend, the Kennedy family covered her medical treatment and continued care.

In an effort to get his life together, Joseph returned to school and earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts – Boston. After graduation, he served on a nonprofit organization that provided relief to low-income families struggling to pay for home utilities. Joseph then carried on the family legacy and was elected House of Representatives for the 8th congressional district of Massachusetts, where he resided for 13 years.

16 Examples of the Kennedy Curse
Edward Kennedy Jr. on crutches. CBS News.

8. Edward Kennedy Jr.

At the young age of 12 years old, Edward M. Kennedy Jr. received a bone cancer diagnosis. Ted Kennedy, the father of Edward Jr., had just finished walking his daughter Kara down the aisle when he ran back to the hospital to be with Edward Jr. as he had one leg amputated. Thankfully, the amputation was the cure and Edward Jr.’s fight against cancer was over. Edward Jr. was a smart businessman; he studied at Wesleyan University, Yale University, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, University of Connecticut School of Law, and the University of New Haven. Edward Jr. devoted his career around those who had disabilities and health or financial distress.

It was in 2015 when Edward Jr. began his career as a politician. He started the Connecticut State Senate in January of 2015, serving as a committee member for the Environment, Internship, Public Health, and Transportation. Katherine Anne Gershman, also known as Kiki, is the wife to Edward Jr. Kiki also holds an impressive degree from the Yale School of Medicine. She has been an environmental advocate for many years and is currently a spokeswoman for Stop the Pipeline. The couple has two adult children, who both attend Wesleyan University. Edward Jr. and his wife currently reside in Connecticut.

16 Examples of the Kennedy Curse
David A. Kennedy. Wire Images/Getty/CNN.

7. David A. Kennedy

The fourth child of Ethel and Robert Kennedy was David A. Kennedy. David was an introvert, often described as shy. However, he and his father shared a close bond. David started his misfortunes at the age of 13 when he almost drowned in the ocean while at the beach house of a family friend. David was taken down by a wave and unable to surface himself, his father witnessed what happened and went in to save him. Years later, David was watching a news report on his father’s win of the California presidential primary election when his father was assassinated. The horrific news report affected David in a way he never thought possible.

To cope with the suffering, he took to using heavy drugs. In the midst of David’s drug addition, he was involved in an accident involving his brother Joseph rolling his Jeep. The accident left David with a few fractured vertebrae and his girlfriend paralyzed. David’s addiction quickly grew, adding in painkillers and heroin. Despite the drugs, David returned to Harvard College for two more years to earn a degree in American history. He dropped out of college when his family started receiving kidnapping threats. After a few years of staying with family, David moved to New York City. While there he was diagnosed with bacterial endocarditis, caused by recreational drugs. These same drugs led to David Kennedy’s death. He was pronounced dead after being found in a Miami by a hotel attendant.

16 Examples of the Kennedy Curse
Michael Kennedy. Pinterest.

6. Michael Kennedy

Michael Kennedy, son of Robert F. Kennedy, was number six in the family. He lived a normal life, attending both Harvard College and the University of Virginia School of Law. Michael had a great heart and devoted much of his life to non-profit organizations. He was head of Citizens Energy Corporation, which relieved low-income families of their heating bills, Walden Woods Projects, which supported preserving Walden Pond and Stop Handgun Violence, which raised awareness of handguns. Michael married the love of his life, Victoria Gifford, in New York City in 1981. The two resided in Cohasset, Massachusetts with their three children.

However, Victoria’s entire world was shaken when allegations of Michael having an affair with the family babysitter became public. Early accusations stated that Michael had begun relations when the babysitter was only 14 years old. However, after investigation, it was confirmed the affair did not start until the babysitter was 16 years old. Shortly after the allegations, Victoria left her husband. Devastated by the divorce, Michael developed an alcohol problem, leading him to a rehab center in Maryland. On New Year’s Eve of that same year, 1997, Michael died in a skiing accident. The Kennedy family was playing a family game of football on skis when Michael collided with a tree.

16 Examples of the Kennedy Curse
John. F. Kennedy Jr. with actor Sean Penn. Getty/Popsugar.

5. John F. Kennedy Jr.

John F. Kennedy Jr, son of John and Jacqueline Kennedy, was the only surviving son in his family. John Jr. entered the world only two weeks after his father was elected President of the United States. As a result, John Jr. was always in the public’s spotlight. Unfortunately, John Jr. did not get to grow up with his father. John Kennedy Sr. was assassinated days before John Jr.’s birthday, and the funeral was held on his birthday. Jacqueline moved her two surviving children to Manhattan to raise them. Years later, after the assassination of Robert Kennedy, Jacqueline decided it would be in her children’s best interest to leave the United States.

That same year his mother remarried to Aristotle Onassis, and the four of them lived on his private island, Skorpios. John Jr., his mother, and sister visited the White House in 1971 when President Nixon’s daughter gave them a tour. John Jr. was able to see where his early years took place, including his very first bedroom and the desk his father would let him play under. John Jr. dabbled in many things throughout his career, acting being one. In 1999, John passed away in a plane crash. He was in a small plane, with his wife and sister-in-law to attend his cousin Rory’s wedding. After missing their runway appointment, officials found their aircraft debris in the Atlantic Ocean; all three had passed away on impact.

16 Examples of the Kennedy Curse
Kara Kennedy. Boston Globe.

4. Kara Kennedy

Kara Kennedy, daughter of Ted Kennedy, was a fighter. As a child, her brother Ted Kennedy lost his leg to cancer, and many years later her father also battled cancer. Unfortunately, cancer in the family didn’t end there. At the age of 42, Kara was diagnosed with lung cancer. The doctors were unable to perform surgery and predicted only a few months of life left. However, as with his son Ted Jr., Ted Sr did not give up. He searched for the best doctor for his daughter. The search ended with success, as he found a doctor who was able to remove part of the lung. As a Catholic family, Ted prayed for his daughter daily. Kara officially entered remission five years later.

Kara was an avid runner and swimmer, allowing her to be physically fit. When she entered remission, she was running at least five miles per day. As a result, after surviving cancer, she was overall healthy, which is why her death was unsettling. At the age of 51, Kara passed away of a heart attack while working out at her gym. Although the cause of heart attack is unknown, her brother, Patrick Kennedy, relates it to her cancer treatment.

16 Examples of the Kennedy Curse
Mary and Robert Kennedy. ABC News.

3. Mary Richardson Kennedy

Mary Richardson had been friends with the Kennedy’s for years after meeting in college. It was in 1993 that her and Robert Kennedy’s love began. Their relationship moved fast, as they married in 1994 while expecting their first child together. Mary was known for her beautiful appearance and confidence. Although having a staff to perform household chores, Mary was often in the kitchen cooking and spending time with her four children. From the outside, Mary and Roberts’s marriage seemed like the perfect match. However, their home life was less than desirable. Robert traveled often, coming home only on the weekends to spend time and spoil the children. Mary was left to raise and discipline the children. As a result, the children praised their father and had a hard time getting along with their mother.

The marriage between Mary and Robert faced hardship, ultimately leading to a long two-year divorce. During this time, Mary met internal struggles others didn’t fully understand. Mary began engaging in fights both verbally and physically and threatening suicide. She threatened suicide so often, even her brother did not believe her. Mary’s family thinks the cause of her suicide was Robert Kennedy. Although she battled multiple mental illnesses, the Richardson’s believe that Robert Kennedy womanized her and knew how to keep her off-balance.

16 Examples of the Kennedy Curse
A photo of Michael Skakel. ibtimes.

2. Robert Kennedy’s Nephew, Michael Skakel

Nephew of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, Michael Skakel has been in the news in recent years for a murder that happened in 1975. Michael and his brother Tommy were neighbors and friends with Martha Moxley. In October of 1975, Martha stopped over to see Tommy and Michael before returning home. However, she never returned home. Instead, her body was found the next day on her family’s property. The cause of death was a beating with a golf club, at only 15 years old.

Twenty-five years later, Michael Skakel was arrested and charged with murder, putting him in prison twenty years to life. He was convicted because of his criminal behavior for years following the death of Martha, including drunk driving, alcohol abuse, and more. In 2013, Michael was released from prison when the judge determined that Michael did not have adequate representation during the trial. The Moxley family is upset and disappointed with the court’s decision because they genuinely believe Michael was the murderer to their daughter. With the ruling that Michael is innocent, the Moxley family is left with the unanswered question of who actually killed their daughter. Was it Michael, his brother Tommy, or someone completely unexpected?

16 Examples of the Kennedy Curse
Marilyn Monroe with President John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. Cecil Stoughton/indulgy.

1. Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe was an icon during her days as an actress, model, and singer. She is most remembered for her striking appearance, featuring her pale skin and blonde hair. Although she was considered a sex symbols, unlike the Kennedy family, Marilyn Monroe did not grow up in luxury. Monroe spent her childhood moving from foster homes to orphanages. She married young, at the age of only 16 years old. Her fame and fortune began during this time, after meeting a photographer. The news of Marilyn Monroe’s death came on August 5, 1962. Marilyn Monroe was pronounced dead in her home after a drug overdose.

You’re probably wondering, “How is Marilyn Monroe’s death part of the Kennedy curse?” Early that summer, Marilyn Monroe attended a rally at Madison Square Garden, where she sang “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy. In 2008, after photographer Cecil Stoughton passed away, the only photo of Marilyn Monroe and JFK was found in his collection. Also pictured in the photo was Robert Kennedy, brother of President JFK. After this famous performance, rumors spread of Marilyn Monroe’s affairs with both Kennedy brothers, John and Robert. According to biographer, Donald Spoto, Monroe had met with the Kennedy brothers several times months before the performance, with only one sexual encounter believed. With their untimely tragedies occurring less than a year apart, the deaths of both Marilyn Monroe and JFK left many suspicious there was a relationship between the two.


Where Did We Find This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources:

“The Story Behind the Only Known Photo of Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy Together”. Olivia Waxman, Time. August 2018.

“New Questions Arise About Mary Richardson Kennedy’s Suicide”. Nancy Collins, Daily Beast. May 2013.

“Connecticut Court Reverses Murder Conviction of Michael Skakel”. Rick Rojas and Kristin Hussey, NY Times. May 2018.

“The Eerie Truth Behind the Kennedy Curse”. Mike Rothschild. Ranker.