Curse of the Kennedys; John F Kennedy Died November 22, 1963

Article excerpt

JOHN F Kennedy Junior iwas born a prince, the itall, dark and handsome heir to America's equivalent of the Royal Family.

His family was blessed with wealth, good looks, splendour - and the kind of power that defied description.

But with the blessing came the infamous "curse of the Kennedys" - which has blighted the dynasty for decades.

The little boy known as "John John" had to bury his assassinated father, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, on his third birthday.

Millions wept as he stood to attention beside his mother and his sister Caroline and stiffly saluted the coffin.

As the family was rocked by a growing litany of extraordinary tragedies over the years, public fascination with John grew.

He, it seemed, was the charmed one, the one who would survive the curse.

Last night, America was stunned at his tragic death in a plane crash - the latest calamity to hit a family who seem fated to live lives of tragedy.

The Kennedys appeared to have it all. But, as far back as 1941, the first shadow had fallen over their gilded existence.

Rosemary Kennedy, the first of five daughters born to Joseph Kennedy, US Ambassador to Britain, and his wife, Rose, was institutionalised following a failed lobotomy.

The Kennedys had ordered the hazardous operation in a bid to deal with Rosemary's long- standing mental problems.

The ambassador's eldest son, Joseph,whom he had planned to steer to the US presidency, was killed in a plane crash during World War Two, aged only 29.

Another daughter, Kathleen, who married the Marquess of Hartington, died in a plane crash in 1948.

Second son John, the charismatic Democratic president who had promised to give America a bright new dawn, was assassinated in Dallas in 1963 aged 46.

Bobby, who served as Attorney General under JFK, was running for president himself when he was gunned down in 1968.

In 1969, the youngest sibling, Ted, who also had White House ambitions, crashed his car into the river at Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts. Campaign worker Mary Jo Kopechne was drowned. She was left in the wreck for eight hours before Ted, who is alleged by witnesses to have been drunk, called police. Ted's ambition to be president died along with her.

In the years to come, the Kennedy dream became tarnished as hitherto hidden secrets of the clan's relentless womanising and abuse of power became known.

And still the catastrophes continued to hit the family.

In 1973, Ted's son Edward lost a leg to cancer.

Bobby's son David died alone in Palm Beach hotel room of a heroin overdose in 1984 at the age of 29.

And in 1991 William Kennedy Smith, a cousin of JFK jnr, was acquitted of raping a woman at the family estate in Florida. The court case, broadcast on TV, humiliated the family.

Robert F Kennedy Jnr, who was 14 when his father was assassinated, developed a serious drug problem. Found with marijuana while still a boy, he was arrested for possession of heroin in 1983.

In 1997, Christopher George Kennedy, another son of Bobby, said "eight or nine" of the 28 cousins in his generation attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings daily.

Soon after, one of his brothers, Michael, died when he crashed into a tree while playing ski football. …