tv American Dynasties The Kennedys CNN November 23, 2018 10:00pm-11:01pm PST
world ask not what america will do for you but what together we can do for the freedom of man they escaped famine and death in ireland to begin a new life in boston, massachusetts. a life of wealth, privilege and power. >> my fellow citizens of the world. >> from irish peasantry to american royalty. these are the kennedys. their relationships with each other have impacted both america and the world. with triumph and glory comes scandal and tragedy.
america's new ambassador to britain, joseph p. kennedy, faces a battery of cameramen as he's about to depart for st. james court. >> when president roosevelt sends joseph p. kennedy in 1938 across the atlantic to be the ambassador to the united kingdom, he was a star, a celebrity. he had run a studio in hollywood. and he was already a success in business and politics. he was among the top 20 richest men in america. it was big news. >> the rise of joseph kennedy is as remarkable as it is seemingly unstoppable. >> joe kennedy came from an irish family, and they worked their way from the bottom to the top. they were outsiders. >> his grandparents came during the great potato famine of the 1840s to boston.
so the family is just two generations removed from the peasantry of ireland. >> mr. joseph kennedy, the american ambassador, left the buckingham palace to present his credentials to the king. >> having an irish catholic in that job, it was just like the perfect victory in the struggle of my grandfather to feel accepted. >> and as for me, i'm delighted to be here. >> you cannot underestimate joseph kennedy's ambition in 1938. >> my grandfather had ambitions, right, to be president himself. >> and what do you think he finds all england interested in. >> joseph and rose kennedy have nine children. from their oldest, joseph jr., to their youngest, ted.
the kennedys aren't just any family. they're a family on a mission. >> kennedys to the left of them, kennedys to the right of them. so england's cameramen work overtime to welcome the u.s. ambassador with his nine children. >> they lined up before the newsreel cameras. >> joseph, jr. age 22 and john age 21. >> smiled. everybody had something to say. >> this is my first trip to europe. i was very excited. i couldn't even sleep last night. >> there's all these quotes from newspapers saying got 11 ambassadors for the price of one or something. >> the london zoo is open for the masters kennedy who quickly get on sympathetic terms with the animals. >> the whole family was accepted with a lot of buzz. >> the kennedys understand, before any other american family, the role of glamour. and until now glamour is something that's really the province of hollywood.
the kennedys pull it over into the province of politics really and for the first time in a modern way. and as a result, everybody's in love with this family. >> the kennedy family really represented america on the rise. an immigrant country where anybody could get ahead if they were smart enough, if they were ambitious enough. people would look at the kennedy, and they would see the american dream. >> there's a moment when joe and rose, his beautiful wife, are at windsor castle with the king and queen and joe says, rose, we've come a hell of a long way from east boston. >> joseph kennedy grew up in a boston in which protestant patricians looked down on the irish. so he was constantly fighting those prejudices, aware of those prejudices. >> our family were immigrants. and my grandmother used to tell
stories about how she would pass signs as a little girl saying no irish need apply. you should never underestimate the i'll show you motive in history. >> joe kennedy's insecurity about being an irish catholic fed his drive and his ambition that he was going to prove to people that he was as good as they thought that he wasn't. >> joe was a marvelous, a master businessman, dealmaker, stock manipulator. >> my mother in honor of his birthday made this wonderful flag of a bear because he was the bear of wall street. he shorted wall street, you know, he was such a force. >> he's a rogue, he's a little dodgy. he's a bit of a bad boy. and he's terrifically successful. >> joseph kennedy tells his children and tells rose over and over and over again, i am making all this money so my children
don't have to. so my boys and my girls can go into public service. >> thank you very much for asking me to speak. >> rose fitzgerald kennedy is an astute matriarch and equally as ambitious for her children. >> rose kennedy had an extraordinarily refined political mind, which is not surprising. she came from a political family and her father was the mayor of boston. >> the dinner table was always as much about current events as it was about food. they had to be able to explain what was going on in the world. and they had to be able to do it in an articulate way. >> i kid you not. my grandmother rose would have famous quotations pinned to her sweaters, and if the conversation ever lagged, she'd start memorizing her famous quotations because she said, you
never know. somebody might ask you to give a speech and you'd have to say something appropriate. >> rose kennedy is deeply religious. they're one of the most prominent catholic families. they go to the pope's coronation. most of that is coming from rose. >> she trained her children how to be good catholics, and she trained her sons to be leaders, her daughters to raise lots of catholic children. >> joe kennedy was phenomenally ambitious to be rich. he'd achieved that. he has a beautiful family. and he's america's representative to the court of st. james. he wanted to be president of the united states. >> as war clouds gather over europe, a shadow is cast over joseph p. kennedy's dreams. >> what's clear is that joseph
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london, joseph kennedy is desperate to prevent war between great britain and nazi germany. >> he's concerned that if the british go to war, the united states will go to war. he believes that war is ruinous to a country's finances. >> joe kennedy talked about how the best role for america was to remain neutral, and the best role in terms of the nazis was to appease them, work with them, somehow not have to go to war against them. >> he believed that he could make a deal with hitler and that hitler was a rational politician and statesman, and in this he was very, very, very wrong. >> he never saw the moral challenge that hitler posed. >> i have to tell you now this country is at war with germany. >> once war broke out, ambassador kennedy wailed, it's
the end of everything. >> kennedy is convinced the hitler war machine is unstoppable. england will simply be devoured. >> almost as soon as britain goes to war, joe decides that he's going to send the children home. >> the u.s. liner washington brings home the biggest group of refugees. among the returning notables are mrs. joseph p. kennedy and children. >> my wife and i have given nine hostages to fortune. our children and your children are more important than anything else in the world. >> joseph is called a coward for his decision to send his family home. for his opposition to the war, he is branded a nazi sympathizer. >> roosevelt privately called kennedy a fascist. >> and once britain was in war
fighting back and joe was still trying to appease, he was too outspoken and he was called back to washington. president roosevelt did not want to appease. roosevelt wanted to fight. and the last thing that fdr needed was an appeaser as ambassador to great britain. >> i'll have nothing to say till i see the president. >> so he was finished. >> get it? >> joseph kennedy goes from being a legitimate power broker in the united states and a player in international politics to being a pariah. >> when he crashed and burned as ambassador to great britain, that not only cost him his job. it cost him his notion that he could become president. and almost from the moment that he realized that he couldn't do it, the aspiration was his kids would do it. >> joseph passes his ambitions on to joe jr. kathleen, known as kick, and jack.
he calls them his golden trio. >> his eldest son, joe jr., was not only handsome, but also athletically gifted. he was the heir apparent. joe jr.'s father and mother believed that he would be the one to carry the standard for the family. >> his younger son, jack, is overshadowed by joe jr. in his father's mind, but i think having a bit lower expectation gave jack a chance to be himself. it gave him a kind of freedom to be a kid in a way that i think it would have been tougher for joe, jr. >> jack and kick were the troublemakers, fun mischievous and had each other's backs. she was very popular among boys. it was because she was vivacious and charming and she was funny
and she spoke back and she had opinions. she did sort of stand out. >> as america enters the war, joseph seizes an opportunity to restore the kennedy name. >> once the united states was in war, he was smart enough to know there was no stopping it. they were going to go in. that was the patriotic thing to do. sure enough, joe kennedy helped them. >> air cadet joseph p. kennedy jr. reports for training. >> he was the oldest son and therefore the most beholden to please dad. joe kennedy wanted joe jr. to be president of the united states. >> a front seat in america's defense for a young man who saw what happened over there. >> unlike joe, jack was not dutiful. he had a little bit of a rebellious streak, gallivanting around, chasing girls.
he was also sick a lot. >> when jack is 2 years old he contracts scarlet fever, and he is basically sick for the rest of his life. fallen arches, bad knees, chronic colds. you name it, he had it. >> jack gets an office job in the navy intelligence service because jack is disabled in any number of ways. it's during that office job that he takes up with a woman. >> she's a danish journalist called inga arvad. they have this very intense affair. and the problem was that the fbi were recording some of these romantic sessions. >> inga arvad is a great beauty, but she was allegedly a german spy. and that made it a bit awkward.
>> jack kennedy is in naval intelligence. he has nazi intelligence trying to take advantage of the kennedys to learn secrets. the fbi decides to let joseph kennedy know what jack was up to with inga arvad. >> he thought that in his son's best interests, it was important for him to go to a war zone to wind this thing up. >> realizing jack's womanizing could further damage the family name, joseph intervenes to get him posted to the south pacific. with joe jr. training as a bomber pilot, two of his golden trio are now in the line of fire. elieves it's better to give than to receive. james may disagree (scream) join t-mobile
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the eldest kennedy daughter, was a bit slow. >> she was diagnosed with learning disability at the age of about 6 or 7. >> it's the moment when as a debutante she's presented at court. this year that thrill is experienced by rosemary kennedy, daughter of the american ambassador. >> her mother decides that she should have time at home with tutors to help teach her how to try to keep up with the other children in a way that's very modern. >> the standard practice was they would be sent to a institution and grandpa and grandmas were not going to do that. they were going to keep rosemary at home and raise her with her other siblings. >> as she hit puberty, rosemary goes to being somebody who was quite uncontrollable. there were sexual urges. and she's found with men. she's so vulnerable. it would be very easy for men to take advantage of her.
>> mr. kennedy in particular was afraid she would get pregnant or she'd get a disease and what were they to do. >> they had tried together to find every conceivable cure for rosemary. >> none of them worked. >> joe kennedy read about this brand-new procedure called the free frontal lobotomy only done on people with the most serious physical and mental conditions, never on somebody like rosemary. >> joe was convinced rosemary's lobotomy would somehow fix things and miraculously she'd become the perfect kennedy like all the other kennedys. >> in the kennedy family, joe made the serious decisions. and rose let him do that. >> and so, without consulting rosemary's mother or rosemary
herself, he decides this is the procedure she should have done. >> the surgeon gives the patient a local and then begins to cut into the prefrontal lobe. the surgeon asks the patient to sing, and the surgeon continues cutting as long as the patient sings. rosemary is a very dutiful daughter, and she sings and she sings and she sings. and when she stopped singing, she has the mental age of a 5-year-old. >> by the end of the procedure, she's basically lost the ability to talk, and it's clear that this has gone terribly wrong. >> and rosemary's then institutionalized from 1941 until she passes in 2005.
>> i think that experience of having a sister who suffered from intellectual disabilities ended up having a ripple effect on our family. and years later my aunt eunice played a critical role in recognizing the rights of people who have intellectual disabilities. >> this is the first tragedy to befall the kennedy family. rose is overwhelmed by what happened to their daughter. but also overwhelmed by the fact that her second son, jack, who is physically very weak, enlists for what is probably the most physically difficult job in the navy.
>> he is in charge of pt 109, which is a small patrol torpedo boat in the pacific theater. >> the pt boat is a new type of threat to carry torpedoes to strike the enemy below the bow. >> jack has a terrible, terrible back. and to serve in a pt boat is only going to exacerbate every problem that he's got. >> jack kennedy's pt boat was on patrol on a moonless, dark night. >> so they don't see this giant japanese ship coming straight at them. it basically slices jfk's boat in half.
>> jack is thrown to the bulkhead injuring his back, two of his crew are gone, and they are surrounded by burning in the water. those back at the base presume the worst. they presume that there are no survivors, and they hold a religious service, a mass, for kennedy and his crew. >> joe kennedy gets a telegram that his son is missing. and just sits on the news. he doesn't tell his family. he doesn't want to scare them. >> when tragedy struck the kennedy family, joe sr. didn't share it with other members, like his wife, the mother of his children. >> and so he lives with this
kind of private agony wondering whether his second son is dead. man: are unpredictable crohn's symptoms following you everywhere? it's time to take back control with stelara®. for adults with moderately to severely active crohn's disease, stelara® works differently. studies showed relief and remission with dosing every 8 weeks. woman: stelara® may lower the ability of your immune system to fight infections and may increase your risk of infections and cancer. some serious infections require hospitalization. before treatment, get tested for tuberculosis. before or during treatment, always tell your doctor if you think you have an infection or have flu-like symptoms or sores, have had cancer, or develop any new skin growths, or if anyone in your house needs or recently had a vaccine. alert your doctor of new or worsening problems, including headaches, seizures, confusion and vision problems. these may be signs of a rare, potentially fatal brain condition. some serious allergic reactions can occur. do not take stelara® if you are allergic to any of its ingredients. man: are you fed up with crohn's symptoms following you?
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john fitzgerald kennedy is missing in action. >> kennedy said, i'm the skipper. we're going to have to swim. and they say, but skipper, it's miles to the nearest island. >> one of his men is wounded. and jack, this skinny little guy, tows a man much bigger for miles. >> they swam for hours. they found an island, but this was japanese occupied territory. >> two solomon island natives found them and said, well, we'll try to help you, but they didn't speak very good english. so kennedy took a coconut and using his knife he writes out a message that says, 11 alive, native knows position, needs small boat. kennedy.
>> the coconut reaches allied lines and kennedy and his crew are rescued. >> the point of pt 109 is it was not regarded by john f. kennedy or anyone in the vicinity of that combat zone as any act of heroism. it was a disaster. >> jack should have been court-martialed because he allowed his boat to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. >> joseph kennedy sees an opportunity to turn disaster into triumph. >> joe kennedy was still politically connected and immediately intervened. and it was only through a carefully managed investigation joe kennedy was overseeing it, making sure that the story came out right, that it became this great, you know, heroic myth of jfk saving his crew. ♪ >> warner brothers bring to the
screen one of the most important adventures ever filmed. >> it became a book and years later a movie. it was a certification of leadership. it was a certification of courage and it became central to the story of jack kennedy. >> the young man i play is fellow from boston. his name lieutenant jack kennedy. >> jack kennedy becomes the military hero, the kind of selfless man. it's the important part of this narrative that's being crafted around him. >> joe jr. is jealous. his little brother's a hero and joe jr. is not. >> it was extremely difficult for joe jr. he'd always been the oldest brother, the golden boy. >> there's a banquet for jack in boston. and afterwards joe came home and wept and said, i'll show them. >> it's okayed for an early april morning for a final
inspection. they've trained long and hard for these ships. you're on your way, joe. this is it. >> joe jr. leaves to join the allies in europe, seizing his opportunity to become a kennedy hero. >> whether you were british or american, the ultimate in being the dashing war hero was being a pilot. and that's what joe did and took on the scariest of missions, which was flying a liberator bomber going after the greatest threat to the western alliance, which was german u-boats. >> kick also joins the war effort, volunteering for the american red cross in england. >> kathleen kennedy was a charming girl who wowed the boys and met one of the richest and most socially prestigious, the oldest son of the duke of devonshire.
>> he was london's most eligible bachelor. he was heir to the chatsworth estate. >> he was a catch. >> calls from lovely chatsworth seat of the duke of devonshire. >> who would think that joe and rose would be completely thrilled that their daughter had risen to these dizzying heights, but he was suitable for every way except for one. he wasn't roman catholic. >> there is a complex of feelings. joseph kennedy saw her romance as a sense that the kennedys had arrived. however, what's so interesting is that rose didn't share the same sense of success. for her, kick's romance threatened her sense of identity and her sense of the family's identity. >> kick becomes the first of the kennedy children to marry, but
the union is not blessed by her parents. >> her older brother, joe, was by her side on her wedding day, and no one else. they could have been married at chatsworth with a thousand guests but instead they were married in a registry office in what she described as a squalid affair. >> in the summer of 1944, the kennedy family gathers at hyannisport on the coast of massachusetts, but joe jr. sends disappointing news. >> his father and mother expected him home any day now. then in july they get this strange letter. and he says, i'm part of a special mission, but don't worry. it's not dangerous. see you in september. >> joe kennedy's already flown his 25 missions. he could go home. but he volunteers for extra duty. he's going to fly in a bomber stuffed with explosives towards
a secret german weapon on the french coast. >> he would set the fuse and then he would bail out of the plane along with his co-pilot over the english channel. the plane would be set on remote, and it would attack these superguns that were being put in place by hitler on the coast of france, and this was, in joe kennedy jr.'s mind, the way to be a hero. >> he said, in case i don't come back, please tell my father i love him very much.
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a book that you're ready to share with the world? get published now, call for your free publisher kit today! ♪ i'll be seeing you ♪ in all the old familiar places ♪ >> on august 13th, 1944, the kennedy family is home. bing crosby is on the phonograph singing "i'll be seeing you." >> joe jr. isn't there.
he's volunteered for a secret mission. >> rose sees two priests draw up to the family home. they say we're here to speak to mr. kennedy. and she says, oh, he's napping. would you like to come in, have some tea. and they say, no, we have some very bad news about joe. >> they go upstairs, they tell joe the terrible news that his beloved son has been killed in action. joe has to then come down and tell the rest of the assembled clan that joe is dead. he said, there's no time for crying. we've got to get on with the living. kennedys don't cry. and jack says, he wouldn't want us sitting here crying over him. we're going to go sailing. and that's what they did. >> in joe kennedy's rage over the death of his son, he blamed fdr.
he said that son of a bitch roosevelt got my son killed. obviously, an outrageous statement. but it shows the depth of pain that joe felt. >> after his death, it was really up to jfk to step up. there was a moment where his father said, okay, you're next. >> just after joe jr. died, jack said to one of his friends, i can feel my father's breath on my neck. >> after the war, joe sr. pressures jack to launch his political career. >> jack really wasn't ready for the role that he was about to take on. first of all, he was young, and second of all, all of the attention up to that point had been on grooming joe. >> but the kennedys always find a way to make their dreams come true.
and for joe kennedy sr. in 1946, his dream is to have jack go to congress. the problem is that there is no seat open to run for in boston, but there is one that's being held in the 11th district by an infamous politician called james michael kerley. >> and joe buys him off by retiring his debts and other favors and makes him go away and run for mayor, opening the seat for jack. and jack suddenly finds himself out walking the streets shaking hands, kissing babies, having to learn to be a politician. >> from dawn to dusk kennedy worked. he began the day at factories at 6:00 in the morning. and he kept going with meeting after meeting after meeting till late at night when he would
collapse into the bathtub first, to ease the pain in his back. >> joe kennedy is smart enough to know that his profile is not good. he was an appeaser. he knows he needs to stay in the shadows, in the background. but joe has the money. so joe provides the funds to make jack's career possible. >> "reader's digest" featured john kennedy as a hero from the pacific war. his father saw to it he got maximum publicity. 100,000 copies of the "reader's digest" article were purchased by joe kennedy sr. for the campaign. his father late said for the amount of money i spent on that campaign, i could have elected my chauffeur. >> that standing of being a war hero is something they know how to make very good use of. >> joe kennedy's money
absolutely helps, but it's pt 109 plus the family's energy plus the family's political contacts that prove to be winning combination in 1946. >> jack kennedy was elected to the house of representatives. >> but jack's exertions on the campaign trail take a heavy toll. >> he gets sick. and doctors determine that he has addison's disease, which leads to a weak immune system making him susceptible to diseases and infections. >> at first the doctors think that jack is going to die young, but they're developing treatments at this time that can effectively keep jack alive. >> the family don't want jack's illness to become an open story. so in fact the story goes out to the press that jack's suffering
from a recurring bout of malaria. >> at just 30 years old, jack faces his own mortality. >> he was a fatalist. the talk about death a lot, didn't scare him. he had the sense it was going to happen, probably sooner rather than later. and that certainly helped make him a young man in a hurry. ♪ bum-bum-bum-bum-bum
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joseph p. kennedy had predicted that the best and the brightest of his children's generation would die in a war. and now this had happened. not only to joe, jr. but to kick's beloved husband. >> kick had defied her family to marry the love of her life, billy hartington only to lose him. the heir to the estate was killed by a sniper. >> the timing was brutal. they had only weeks together as a married couple before he left. and to be widowed so young was devastating. >> i think rose kennedy was very sad about that for kathleen. but there had been terrible problems in the family over that marriage because billy hartington was protestant, and
she must have a feeling that kathleen could come back into the united states and back into the church with full membership. rose prays that this would be the saving grace for kathleen. >> but after billy's death, kick decides to stay in england. england's in her blood. kick at this time is seriously considering a career in politics, of becoming a member of parliament. she's very politically engaged at this point, and then in just a few years all of that just comes to an end. >> in 1948 kathleen tells her parents that she's fallen in love a second time with a british nobleman, an anglican who is married and has a child. and she tells her parents as soon as peter fitzwilliam's
divorce is final, she will marry him. >> he was a bad boy. he was into gambling, horse races, into women. he was protestant and he was married. to be involved with someone like peter fitzwilliam was the ultimate sin in rose's eyes. >> rose says kick will be marrying a divorced man, which means it's not a valid marriage in the eyes of the catholic church. and so she has to tell her beloved daughter she must disown her if she goes through with the marriage. >> she really genuinely believed her daughter's soul would go to hell. >> i think it was clear to kick there were no chances getting her mother's approval. but she believed there was some margin with her dad. >> her father is coming over to paris on business in 1948, and she makes an arrangement with him that she and peter fitzwilliam will meet him and
kathleen's hope is that he will then give his blessing to the marriage. before, though, they have their meeting kathleen and peter decide they will take a mini holiday in the south of france in the riveria. >> fitzwilliam and kick decide to fly down. the weather is terrible. the pilot says we can't go. it's too dangerous, but fitzwilliam is a very reckless man and insists they fly. >> a terrible thunderstorm strikes and they crash into a mountainside in the roan rhone valley. the pilot, the copilot, kick and her fiance are all lost. >> joe kennedy never sees his daughter again except in a casket. jack learns that his beloved sister, kick, has died in france.
jack kennedy is a man who doesn't cry or rarely shows emotions, but that day jack kennedy breaks down. >> jack is totally debilitated by grief, and he's supposed to organize the family, to go to the funeral which is going to be held in england. but he can't do it. >> he got in a car to go to the airport, fly to her funeral and didn't get on the plane. joe was informed and was the only family member to show up at her funeral. rose called kick's death divine retribution. >> my wife and i have given nine hostages to fortune. >> joe kennedy had lost his oldest son joe, jr., lost his
oldest daughter, rosemary, to a botched lobotomy that ended her life as far as the family was concerned. and beloved kick was gone, too. >> there is woven through the kennedys a sense of doom, and by the late 40s only jack remains of the golden trio. >> the torch was passed to him. his parents' ambitions were now his ambitions. the burden of taking the dynasty forward was his burden. >> this season on "american dynasties, the kennedys." >> you're never running against one kennedy. it's a full family affair. >> we could see a different world. >> confident and unafraid, we
must labor on. >> they made a lot more enemies than friends, and some of those enemies are truly dangerous. >> with the kennedys it's always tragedy and triumph mixed together. when your dream is to lead the world, what would it take to put your family in the white house? charisma? vitality? an adoring wife? john f. kennedy seems the perfect candidate, but behind the facade lurk dark secrets. jfk will need everything his family can offer, glamour, money and power to win the presidency of the united states. ♪ ♪
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