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Joseph Kennedy, Sr.

Business Personality / Political Figure

Born: 6 September 1888
Died: 19 November 1969 (complications from stroke)
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts
Best known as: The millionaire father of President John F. Kennedy

The patriarch of the political Kennedy family, Joseph P. Kennedy was born during Boston's Irish boom of the late 1800s. Famously ambitious, Joseph Kennedy attended Harvard and by age 25 was already president of a small bank. Later he moved into investment banking, movie theaters, film production and liquor, becoming wealthy in the process. (It is often alleged that he ran liquor illegally during Prohibition.) Joseph Kennedy supported Democrat Franklin Roosevelt in the elections of 1932; in 1933 the new president made Kennedy chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. In 1938 FDR appointed him ambassador to Britain, making Kennedy the first Irish Catholic to hold that post. His 1913 marriage to Rose Fitzgerald, the daughter of Boston mayor John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, resulted in nine children. Their son John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946 and became president in 1961. Two other sons, Robert and Edward, became U.S. senators.

Extra credit:

Joe Kennedy, Sr. was a key player in his son John's political campaigns: "We're going to sell Jack like soap flakes" was his famous quote before the 1946 election... Several of Joseph Kennedy's children have died tragically: his oldest son Joe Jr. was killed in a plane explosion during World War II; daughter Kathleen ("Kick") was killed in a plane crash in France after the war; sons John and Robert were assassinated. Another daughter, Rosemary, had a lobotomy in 1941 and was institutionalized thereafter... Kennedy tried to break into the movie business in the late 1920s. He failed at making movies, but he succeeded in having a three-year affair with star Gloria Swanson.

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