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.
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.
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.
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.