JFK : Things you perhaps never knew about our 35th president

JFK : Things you perhaps never knew about our 35th president

JFK : John F. Kennedy remains one of history’s most intriguing figures— and America’s favorite president. Here are 25 fascinating facts about JFK.

 

1. Obsessed with his weight, JFK traveled with a bathroom scale.

2. A James Bond fanatic (“From Russia With Love” was one of his 10 favorite books), Kennedy tried his hand at his own spy-chiller — about a coup d’etat masterminded by Vice President Lyndon Johnson.

3. JFK was the first president to dance with black women at an inaugural ball.

4. Kennedy tried desperately to learn French (the first lady was fluent), even appealing to daughter Caroline’s teacher for help.

5. One of JFK’s legs was shorter than the other, which contributed to his chronic back problems.

Kennedy gave all his $100,000-a-year White House salary to charity

6. Kennedy bought up 1,200 high-grade Cuban cigars the day before he was to order a ban on Cuban imports.

7. JFK received last rites four times in his life: in 1947 after becoming gravely ill in England; in 1951 while stricken with a high fever in Japan; in 1954 following back surgery; on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas.

8. With a phone call to Hollywood, JFK got a movie made, and not just any movie, but one that highlighted the tensions between the peace and military factions within his own administration. “Seven Days in May,” starring Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster, was based on the 1962 novel of the same name about a Joint Chiefs of Staff plot to overthrow the president for supporting a nuclear disarmament treaty. “He wanted to raise the national consciousness about the problems involved if generals get out of control,” historian Arthur Schlesinger said. Eager to get the movie made, Kennedy decamped to Hyannis Port and turned over the White House grounds to the filmmakers for a weekend, even allowing them to stage riots.

9. Kennedy used 16 pens to sign the Limited Test Ban Treaty Sept. 24, 1963.

10. Kennedy had been the target of at least four assassination attempts before Dallas, one barely a month after he was elected president, when a retired postal worker, his car loaded with dynamite, followed the president-elect from Hyannis Port to Georgetown to Palm Beach. “Brother, they could have gotten me in Palm Beach. There is no way to keep anyone from killing me,” Kennedy told a Secret Service agent shortly after the suspect was apprehended, recounted Thurston Clarke in “JFK’s Last Hundred Days.” Two more assassination plots — one in Chicago, one in Tampa, Fla. — were uncovered in the weeks before Nov. 22, 1963.

Facts About the JFK Assassination

 

1. On Nov. 11, 1963, President Kennedy laid a Veterans Day wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.

2. He would be buried at the cemetery exactly two weeks later.

3. Jacqueline Kennedy rarely traveled with her husband on political trips but decided to fly with him to Texas on Nov. 21.

4. On Nov. 22, the couple attended a breakfast in Fort Worth.

5. The presidential open-top limousine had been flown in from D.C.

My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

6. A 14-year-old boy reported watching JFK’s face go blank around 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 22.

7. The boy also said he heard Jacqueline Kennedy shout, “God, oh God, no.”

8. Texas Governor John Connally Jr. received multiple gunshot wounds.

9. A priest administered last rites to the first Roman Catholic U.S. president.

10. This was the fourth presidential assassination in a nation that was less than 200 years old.

11. It was the first since the Secret Service began protecting presidents.

12. The Service scuffled with Dallas police for control of the president’s casket.

13. Lyndon B. Johnson took the oath of office aboard Air Force One.

14. He became president 99 minutes after Kennedy’s death.

15. Kennedy’s body was also aboard for the return flight to Washington.

 arrow presidents 25 Fascinating Facts About John F. Kennedy BY Jennifer M Wood November 25, 2017 Photo by Keystone/Getty Images Photo by Keystone/Getty Images More than 50 years after his tragic death cut his presidency short, John F. Kennedy remains one of history’s most intriguing figures—and, according to Gallup, America’s favorite president. On the anniversary of his 1963 state funeral, here are 25 fascinating facts about JFK. 1. HE RECEIVED LAST RITES A TOTAL OF FOUR TIMES. From a young age, John F. Kennedy battled a range of health problems, some of which appeared to be life-threatening—so much so that he received the sacramental last rites a total of four times: First in 1947, when he became sick while traveling in England and was diagnosed with Addison’s disease; a second time in 1951, when he was suffering from an extremely high fever while in Japan; the third time in 1954, when he slipped into a coma following back surgery; and a final time on the day of his assassination, on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. More from mental floss studios Food How to make easy ice cream sandwiches 2. HE FAKED HIS WAY INTO THE NAVY. By Photograph in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons Kennedy’s ongoing health problems became an issue when he attempted to enlist in the military in the lead-up to America’s entry into World War II. Because of his various medical conditions, Kennedy could not pass a proper physical examination. Instead, according to JFK historian Richard Reeves, Kennedy “used the riches and influence of his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, to become a naval officer. The old man persuaded friends in the military to accept a certificate of good health, a false one, from a family doctor.” 3. HE BECAME A WAR HERO. Regardless of how he found his way into the navy, Kennedy certainly proved his chops as an officer once he was there. In 1943, he was made commander of a PT-109 patrol boat that came under attack near the Solomon Islands. After the boat sank, Kennedy and his crew swam approximately 3.5 miles to a nearby island, where they were stranded for seven days until a pair of PT boats came to their rescue. 4. A MEMENTO FROM THAT NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE WAS AN OVAL OFFICE FIXTURE. Public Domain, JFK Library In an attempt to get help for him and his marooned crew of fellow officers, Kennedy etched an SOS message into a coconut shell, which he gave to two natives to deliver to a nearby base in order to arrange for their rescue. As a reminder of the incident, Kennedy had the coconut encased in wood and plastic and used it as a paperweight. It sat on his desk in the Oval Office. 5. THE WRECK OF KENNEDY’S PT-109 WAS DISCOVERED NEARLY 60 YEARS LATER. In 2002, famed deep-sea explorer Robert Ballard discovered the wreck of Kennedy and his crew’s PT-109 boat about 1200 feet below the water’s surface during a National Geographic expedition. "I'm very pleased, because it was a real needle in a haystack, probably the toughest needle I've ever had to find," Ballard said—which was quite a testament, as Ballard also discovered the Titanic. 6. HE IS THE ONLY PRESIDENT TO HAVE RECEIVED A PURPLE HEART. Though recent presidential candidates John Kerry and John McCain both received Purple Hearts for their service during wartime, Kennedy is the only president to boast the honor. He received it after being wounded in action on August 22, 1943. 7. HIS BROTHER, BOBBY, GOT A LITTLE WILD AT JFK'S WEDDING. The Kennedy siblings celebrate John and Jackie's wedding. By Toni Frissell, 1953, Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons When JFK married Jacqueline Lee Bouvier on September 12, 1953 in Newport, Rhode Island, his brother, Robert, served as his best man. But that best man got a little wild. According to Evan Thomas’s Robert Kennedy: His Life, Bobby “behaved like a naughty teenager, stealing a policeman’s hat” on his brother’s wedding day. “Joe Kennedy was furious. He summoned Bobby and his co-conspirators, his brother Teddy and some younger cousins, and gave them a lecture about disgracing the family name. When Bobby tried to speak up, Joe snapped, ‘No. You keep quiet and listen to me. This is childish behavior, and I don’t want anything more like it.’" 8. HE WON A PULITZER PRIZE. In 1957, Kennedy was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his book, Profiles in Courage. Though Kennedy is credited as the book’s sole author, questions have arisen in the years since about how much of the book was actually written by Kennedy, and how much was written by his ghostwriter, Ted Sorenson. In 2008, Sorenson told The Wall Street Journal that he “did a first draft of most chapters,” “helped choose the words of many of its sentences,” and likely “privately boasted or indirectly hinted that I had written much of the book.” 9. JOHN AND JACKIE HAD FOUR CHILDREN. National Archive/Newsmakers Though both Caroline and John Kennedy, Jr. became celebrities in their own right, JFK and Jackie had four children: In 1956, Jackie gave birth to a stillborn daughter who they had planned to name Arabella. On August 7, 1963, she gave birth to Patrick Bouvier Kennedy more than five weeks before her due date; he died just two days later. In 1963, the bodies of both children were moved from Massachusetts to Arlington National Cemetery, to be buried with their father. 10. HE GOT INTO A FENDER-BENDER WITH LARRY KING. In 1958, Larry King got into a car accident with JFK, who was then a senator

16. Judge Sarah Hughes wept as she administered the oath of office.

17. Jackie Kennedy refused to take off her pink Chanel suit, stained with her husband’s blood. She told Lady Bird Johnson, “I want them to see what they have done to Jack.”

18. Jackie did, however, remove her wedding ring and put it on her husband’s finger to be buried with him.
Another Batch of Classified JFK Files Set for Release – AARP
The redacted documents were posted on the U.S. National Archives website.

19. Later, she had an aide retrieve it.

20. Jackie’s suit has never been cleaned and lies in the National Archives.

21. It will not be seen in public until at least 2103, according to Kennedy family wishes.

22. Attorney General and presidential brother Robert F. Kennedy met Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base upon its return.

23. The Texas School Book Depository’s sixth floor, where assassin Lee Harvey Oswald had positioned himself for the shooting, is today a museum dedicated to JFK’s assassination.

24. Oswald was a self-described Marxist.

25. He had tried to defect to Russia in 1959.

26. At the time, assassination of a president was not a federal offense; Oswald would have been tried in Texas.

27. The murder weapon was a 6.5 mm Italian carbine rifle that Oswald had bought for $19.95.

28. Dallas businessman Abraham Zapruder caught the assassination on his 8 mm home movie camera.

29. His secretary had urged him to go home and get it for the presidential parade.

30. Zapruder’s film was later bought by Life magazine for $150,000.

31. Oswald’s murder by Jack Ruby on Nov. 24 was the first homicide caught on live television.

32. A police detective at the shooting called out, “Jack, you son of a bitch!”

33. When wrestled to the ground by police, Ruby cried out, “I’m Jack Ruby, you all know me!”

34. Oswald died at the same hospital as Kennedy, two days and seven minutes after the president.

35. The New York Times reported that JFK’s 98-year-old grandmother, Mary Josephine Fitzgerald, was not told of the assassination.

36. In Washington, dignitaries from more than 100 countries arrived for Kennedy’s funeral. At the time, it was the largest gathering of its kind on U.S. soil.

37. An unexpected 250,000 people paid their respects to the former president as he lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda.

38. Tens of thousands were turned away, some having waited throughout a near-freezing night in a line that stretched for more than 2 miles.

39. Jackie Kennedy modeled her husband’s funeral ceremonies after Abraham Lincoln’s.

40. With help from Bobby Kennedy and Robert McNamara, Jackie chose the burial site at Arlington National Cemetery.

41. Jackie requested an eternal flame be put by the grave.

42. Although she would remarry, today she is buried next to the president.

43. Two of the Kennedys’ children, an infant son and daughter, are also buried with their parents.

44. The funeral day, Nov. 25, was also John Jr.’s third birthday.
In 1957, Kennedy was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his book, Profiles in Courage

45. Caroline would turn 6 two days later.

46. A taxi driver reported that the funeral crowds were oddly quiet: “… you could hear a pin drop.”

47. An Irish military guard paid its respects graveside, following commands shouted in Gaelic.

48. After the funeral, Jackie Kennedy met privately with three heads of state: Charles de Gaulle of France, Eamon de Valera of Ireland and Haile Selassie of Ethiopia.

49. Near midnight that night, she and Bobby Kennedy paid an unplanned visit to Kennedy’s grave.

50. The first two letters that Lyndon Johnson wrote as president were to Caroline and John Jr.