The Kennedy curse refers to a series of premature deaths, accidents, and other calamities involving members of the American Kennedy family. The alleged curse has primarily struck the children and descendants of businessman Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., but it has also affected family friends, associates, and other relatives. Political assassinations and plane crashes have been the most common manifestations of the "curse".
Events that have been cited as evidence of a curse include:
- August 12, 1944 – Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. died when the BQ-8 aircraft he was piloting accidentally exploded over East Suffolk, England. (A BQ-8 was a B-24 Liberator converted into a radio-controlled flying bomb. For more information, see Project Anvil).
- May 13, 1948 – Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy (formally known as Kathleen Cavendish, Marchioness of Hartington) died in a plane crash in France.
- August 9, 1963 – Patrick Bouvier Kennedy died of infant respiratory distress syndrome two days after his premature birth on August 7 in Otis Air Force Base, Massachusetts (the 20th anniversary of his father's rescue after the sinking of PT-109).
- November 22, 1963 – U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, by Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald was shot dead by Jack Ruby two days later. In 1964, the Warren Commission concluded that Oswald was the lone assassin. However, in 1979, the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) concluded that the assassination was the result of a conspiracy and that Oswald did not act alone.
- June 5, 1968 – United States Senator Robert F. Kennedy, on the night of his victory in the California Democratic presidential primary, was shot by Sirhan Sirhan in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles; Kennedy died the following morning.
- April 25, 1984 – David A. Kennedy died of a drug overdose in a Palm Beach, Florida hotel room.
- December 31, 1997 – Michael LeMoyne Kennedy died in a skiing accident in Aspen, Colorado.
- July 16, 1999 – John F. Kennedy Jr. died when the plane he was piloting crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. The crash was attributed to pilot error and spatial disorientation. His wife and sister-in-law were also on board and also died.
- September 16, 2011 – Kara Kennedy, daughter of Ted Kennedy, died of a heart attack while exercising in a Washington, D.C. health club. Kara had reportedly suffered from lung cancer nine years earlier, but she had recovered after the removal of part of her right lung.
- May 16, 2012 – Mary Richardson Kennedy, former wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., committed suicide on the grounds of her home in Bedford, Westchester County, New York.
- August 1, 2019 – Saoirse Roisin Kennedy Hill, granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy, died of an accidental drug overdose at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts on Cape Cod.
- April 2, 2020 – Maeve Kennedy McKean and Gideon McKean, her 8-year-old son, went missing during a canoe trip in the Chesapeake Bay. Maeve's body was found on April 6; Gideon's body was found on April 8.
- November 1941 – Rosemary Kennedy, age 23, struggled to read and write, and she suffered from mood swings, seizures, and violent outbursts. In an attempt to cure or treat his daughter Joseph Kennedy secretly arranged for her to undergo a prefrontal lobotomy, which was seen as a promising treatment for various mental illnesses. Instead of saving Rosemary, the now-discredited procedure left her mentally and physically incapacitated. Rosemary remained institutionalized in seclusion, in rural Wisconsin, until her death in 2005.
- October 3, 1955 – Ethel Kennedy's parents, Ann and George Skakel, died in a plane crash in Oklahoma.
- June 19, 1964 – U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy survived a plane crash that killed one of his aides as well as the pilot. The small plane crashed in an apple orchard near Southampton, Massachusetts. The senator was pulled from the wreckage by passenger (and fellow senator) Birch Bayh. Kennedy spent five months in a hospital recovering from a broken back, a punctured lung, broken ribs, and internal bleeding. Following the crash, Bobby Kennedy remarked to aide Ed Guthman: "Somebody up there doesn't like us."
- July 18, 1969 – Ted Kennedy accidentally drove his car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts, resulting in the drowning death of 28-year-old passenger Mary Jo Kopechne. In his televised statement a week later, the senator said that on the night of the incident he wondered "whether some awful curse did actually hang over all the Kennedys."
- August 13, 1973 – Joseph P. Kennedy II was the driver of a Jeep that crashed and left his passenger, Pam Kelley, paralyzed. Fellow passenger brother David A. Kennedy was injured.
- November 17, 1973 – Edward M. Kennedy Jr., age 12, had his right leg surgically amputated as a result of bone cancer. He underwent an experimental two-year drug treatment to cure the cancer.
- April 1, 1991 – William Kennedy Smith was arrested and charged with the rape of a young woman at the Kennedy estate in Palm Beach, Florida. The subsequent trial attracted extensive media coverage. Smith was acquitted.
- May 4, 2006 – Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy crashed his automobile while intoxicated into a barricade on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., at 2:45 a.m. He later revealed an addiction to prescription medications Ambien and Phenergan and pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of prescription drugs, sentenced to one year probation and a fine of $350. 
- May 4, 2018 - The Connecticut Supreme Court overturned the 1975 murder conviction of Ethel Kennedy's nephew Michael Skakel, who was convicted of killing neighbor Martha Moxley by bludgeoning her to death with a golf club when both were teenagers. Skakel was sentenced to 20 years to life, a conviction overturned by the Connecticut lower courts in 2013 after he served 11 years, reinstated in 2017, then reversed again in 2018. On October 30, 2020 a Connecticut prosecutor ruled that Skakel, age 60, would not face a second murder trial in the death of Moxley. Chief Connecticut State attorney Richard Colangelo Jr. said there was insufficient evidence for a retrial.
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- McGrory, Brian (July 18, 1999). "Family Overshadowed by a Litany of Tragedy". The Boston Globe. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
- Klein, Edward (2004). The Kennedy Curse: Why Tragedy Has Haunted America's First Family for 150 Years. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-31293-0.
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- "Kennedy Family Deaths: A Timeline of Tragedy". The New York Times. August 2, 2019. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
- Negrin, Matt (May 16, 2012). "Kennedy Curse: A Political Family's Troubled Life". ABC News. Retrieved May 17, 2012.
- Stokes, Louis (1979). "Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives". Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office.
- King, John (July 17, 1999). "Tragedy Has Repeatedly Stalked Kennedy Clan". CNN. Retrieved February 15, 2008.
- Goddard, Jacqui (September 17, 2011). "Kara Kennedy Dies Aged 51". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved May 19, 2012.
- "RFK Jr.'s Troubled Estranged Wife Found Dead in NY". Google News. Associated Press. May 16, 2012. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
- Linton, Caroline. "Saoirse Kennedy Hill, granddaughter of RFK and Ethel Kennedy, found dead at family compound". www.cbsnews.com. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
- Seelye, Katherine Q.; Martin, Jonathan (August 1, 2019). "Granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy Dies After Overdose at Family's Compound". The New York Times. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
- "Death of Saoirse Kennedy Hill ruled accidental overdose". Boston Herald. November 1, 2019. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
- Osborne, Mark (April 4, 2020). "Daughter, grandson of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, RFK's daughter, presumed dead in canoe accident". ABC News. Retrieved April 4, 2020.
- Theresa Waldrop and Rebekah Riess. "Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean's body found by divers". CNN. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
- Oxenden, McKenna (April 8, 2020). "Body of former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's grandson found after five days of searching". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved April 10, 2020.
- Larry Tye. Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon, p. 289
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- Larry Tye. Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon, p. 320
- Kennedy, Edward. "Address to the People of Massachusetts on Chappaquiddick." 25 July 1969. https://americanrhetoric.com/speeches/tedkennedychappaquiddick.htm
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- Klein, Edward. The Kennedy Curse: Why Tragedy Has Haunted America's First Family for 150 Years. St. Martin's Press, 2004.
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