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What is the Kennedy Curse?

By G. Melanson
Updated May 23, 2024
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The Kennedy Curse refers to a number of misfortunes suffered by one of America’s most prominent political families, the Kennedys. Unnatural deaths and unfortunate events have also extended to those related to the Kennedys by marriage, such as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and even to people casually acquainted with members of the family. In the context of conspiracy theories, the Kennedy Curse is believed by some to be the result of an actual hex cast against the family as some sort of vendetta. Others contend that the entire concept is largely an invention of the mass media, intended to create hype. In the most popular sense, however, the "Kennedy Curse," is simply a metaphor for the series of tragedies that have befallen the family, which may in part be due to the fame, wealth, and power that have brought attention them in the first place.

The Assassinations

Perhaps the most devastating and memorable examples of the Kennedy Curse are the public assassinations of United States President John F. Kennedy in 1963, and his brother, Robert F. Kennedy, in 1968. Both died from gunshot wounds, and their deaths were said to mark the end of an era known as "Camelot," a term coined by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to describe a time of happiness.

Aviation Related Deaths

An adventurous and competitive family, many of the Kennedys were avid aviators, and as such, a number of the deaths and dangerous incidents attributed to the Kennedy Curse involve airplanes. As early as 1944, Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., older brother to John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, was killed when the plane he was flying on a World War II mission exploded over the English Channel. His sister, Kathleen Kennedy Cavendish, died in a plane crash in France four years later. In 1964, Massachusetts Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy became the first Kennedy to survive a plane crash, while his nephew, Joseph P. Kennedy II, found himself hostage on a plane hijacked by Palestinians in 1972. John F. Kennedy, Jr., his wife, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, and his sister-in-law, Lauren Bessette, died in 1999 while en route to Martha's Vineyard when JFK Jr. crashed the plane into the Atlantic Ocean after making a series of piloting errors.

Jackie O

One of the most famous and beloved Kennedys by marriage, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis also experienced a series of misfortunes after her induction into the family. In 1954, she suffered a miscarriage, and two years later gave birth to a stillborn daughter who is buried beside her at Arlington National Cemetery and was reportedly named Arabella. In 1963, Kennedy Onassis was again overcome by loss when her son, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, died two days after birth. A decade later, after she married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, Kennedy Onassis' new stepson, Alexander, died in a plane crash. In 1988, Kennedy Onassis lost another stepchild, Christina, to heart failure related to substance abuse.


The curse allegedly struck completely outside the family in 1969, when Senator Ted Kennedy was driving a young woman, Mary Jo Kopechne, home from a party on Chappaquiddick Island, not far from Martha’s Vineyard. According to reports, the senator mistakenly drove off a bridge into a channel, and the car sank in the water. Kennedy managed to swim free, but Kopechne was trapped in the car and died. The incident was featured prominently in the media, sparked a series of investigations and hearings, and many believe that it destroyed the senator's chances of making a run for the presidency. Shortly after the fatal accident hearing that found Kennedy was driving unsafely, Kennedy's wife suffered a miscarriage. Notably, Ted Kennedy himself questioned whether there was a curse on his family in a televised statement after the incident.

Other Victims of the Curse

Several nephews of the late John F. Kennedy have also died or were injured under unusually tragic circumstances. In 1973, 12-year-old Edward Kennedy, Jr., son of Ted Kennedy, lost his right leg to bone cancer. Two of Robert and Ethel Kennedy's sons have suffered untimely deaths, including David Kennedy, who died from a cocaine and Demerol overdose in 1984. Michael Kennedy then died in a skiing accident in 1997 after he collided with a tree during a game of ski football.

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Discussion Comments

By anon999984 — On Apr 28, 2018

I think it's very possible for the Kennedys to have been cursed. Not the type of cursed that most people think about, like in the movies. I think their misfortune might've started all with Joe Kennedy (JFK's father). He was involved in some shady stuff. And who knows who he pissed off. Maybe, he just messed up the balance of things in the universe, if you believe in that kind of thing. They're American royalty. I can't think of another well-known family to be thwarted with such awful luck or reckless judgement. What happened to Rose Kennedy was such a tragedy. That might've messed some things up in the universe too and might've been the catalyst for everything after. It was just so awful what happened to her. The last we saw of 'the curse' was in 2012, so let's hope that it stops there.

By anon999235 — On Nov 19, 2017

It was very sad.

By anon969617 — On Sep 11, 2014

I heard something similar to what anon33299 said. There was a curse by one of the Kennedy's mistresses when she learned that he would not leave his wife for her. The thwarted mistress cursed the Kennedy's entire family line by saying that every male child borne to the Kennedy's from then on would die a tragic death.

By anon957763 — On Jun 22, 2014

The Kennedys have the curse because they were the greatest mob ever created. Just read their history to see what absolute and total mongrels they were.

By anon940126 — On Mar 17, 2014

The Kennedy curse lives on: Connor Kennedy dated Taylor Swift.

By anon925869 — On Jan 14, 2014

There is no excuse for what the old Kennedy did to his daughter Rosemary, maybe that was the beginning of the curse. Would you get your daughter lobotomized for teenage recklessness? She must have done something 'very bad' to deserve brain slicing. How egoistic of him. If there is a law in nature that the whole bloodline suffers for the actions of an individual then that might be the reason.

By anon291600 — On Sep 15, 2012

It started farther back than this, with many bad things. Horrible things. They upset many people when they were in power. I wouldn't be surprised if the devil did this for working with him.

By anon285945 — On Aug 18, 2012

If the Kennedys are being punished for their bootlegging, then so should the Rockefellers, and the Morgans, and the Saches, etc., etc., etc.

By anon285448 — On Aug 15, 2012

It was an inside job. JFK was killed by a number of organizations and factions here as well as other countries. No one will ever know it, but that was the death knell of the US. That is where it started, where corporations ran the us and led us here. We are bankrupt, no longer a real superpower and with Obama in power, riding a ride to hell!

By anon279411 — On Jul 12, 2012

@anon83259: Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act because JFK was doing work in that area and after his death he continued his work because it was popular with the people.

By anon271313 — On May 25, 2012

The Mob? The Mob was supporting Nixon, too. Do the research and then complain. Yes complain, but about the fact that the Mafia claims to have supported both parties since about 1900 and helped elect many presidents, not just JFK. Besides, the deal was made by JFK's meddling dad and not the candidate.

By anon269640 — On May 18, 2012

Yes, you are correct and help and forgiveness is the hope, but unfortunately it is not within our power to extend this comfort to the Kennedy family.

By anon269538 — On May 18, 2012

Does it matter if they did bad things? No, it doesn't. what they need is support and prayer. So being mean and support them instead of dissing them.

By anon269411 — On May 17, 2012

Sadly the report today of another Kennedy tragedy from the United States is proof beyond doubt that the Kennedy male treat their women very badly.

By anon269374 — On May 17, 2012

The Kennedy family is a disgrace to the great United States and the poor and uneducated people have been fooled to think of them as heroes. Please get a copy of the video "Say goodbye to the President" and realize what low lifes they were. The curse will continue and all vengeance is allowed by the Lord.

By anon269190 — On May 16, 2012

About twenty years ago, I heard someone say that the criminal underworld felt betrayed because they helped the brothers get into the white house then the brothers began blacklisting the criminals. A certain criminal then made a vow that within 10 years or before a certain century, absolutely every Kennedy and follower would be dead.

By sydneyla — On Apr 14, 2012

As you sow so shall you reap. These people were low examples of humanity and are being punished for their actions.

By anon261234 — On Apr 14, 2012

The Kennedy name is debased by the actions of the low mongrels who were a part of the family. JFK treated women outrageously and had the morals of an alley cat. Edward left a young girl to die in car and refused to assist her or report the accident. They brought shame on America and the curse is real and will remain and rightly so.

By anon232844 — On Dec 02, 2011

The emerald kings were not cursed anyway, but most of the tragedies were natural like in any other American family. The killing of JFK AND RFK is a work of CIA and the FBI, in connection with the American criminal underworld!

By anon204950 — On Aug 10, 2011

I think that everybody has troubles in life and the more you get involved in a lot of people's lives the more you are asking for trouble. But the JFK family was and is great. I'm glad that JFK was a great leader of this nation. It would not be what it is today if not for that great family. I pray for them to have the rest of their years to be the very best.

By anon194910 — On Jul 09, 2011

Some people are a bunch of racist idiots. They have to bring race into everything. This article has nothing to do with race. There is no evidence that a hex was put on the Kennedy's by blacks or Jews. Some are obsessed with their hatred of black people.

By anon190601 — On Jun 26, 2011

I have heard (and I realize that it might be made up, gossipy crap) that the Kennedys are paying for making a fortune on alcohol and co-operation with Nazis.

By anon88939 — On Jun 07, 2010

this people don't have a heart. no matter how good or bad the people that's not nice to say. the Kennedys were great people. they were loved by everyone.

By anon83259 — On May 10, 2010

fyi: jfk didn't pass the civil rights act. Johnson did. directed more to anon82345.

By anon82345 — On May 05, 2010

Jfk was one of the most beloved presidents of the united states. Without him, many things would not be what they are today. He passed the civil rights act which allows black people to do the things that they do today. I have no idea what you people are talking about but you should most definitely study your history before you get on the internet and throw dirt on great people's names!

By anon52350 — On Nov 13, 2009

You people are mean. Stop looking at things one way. what if this happened to you? I'm 13 and i can see that this family had some hard times so you guys and ladies need to get your moms to teach you some respect and manners, like my mom did, and apologize.

By anon52346 — On Nov 13, 2009

So let me get this straight. even I at 13 can tell yeah they are some bad people, but does that give you a right to say they deserved to be killed? what if it happened to your family? start looking at things from more than one view you. know the world does not revolve around you. (well at least I hope you do know. :)

By anon45247 — On Sep 15, 2009

The way I hear it was that Joe Kennedy promised to marry a woman of color, maybe an African-American woman? But then he never married her and she placed a curse on all of his male children and their male children. I definitely believe there's some sort of terrible curse on the family since Joe Kennedy I heard made his wealth through prostitution and alcohol and just about anything goes. If it was illegal he did it!

By anon44153 — On Sep 05, 2009

So pitiful. If it were like this, I wouldn't want to be related to the Kennedy family lest the curse overcomes me too. Do you know who shot John F. Kennedy? The killer must have been a palestinian. The Palestinians even kept Joseph P. Kennedy hostage.

By anon43424 — On Aug 28, 2009

The Kennedys are a true study in reaping what you sow. They fed at the public trough and now they have paid for it.

When you spend a life running over people, living like a pig, and then thinking you are better than everyone, this is what you get. There is a God.

By anon43416 — On Aug 28, 2009

but what i'm saying is even if the devil or the devil with this girl did that there no greater power than that of god, so i don't care what she does or says -- that's my faith. the bible says there is life and death in the tongue so your words have power, whether they be evil or good. that's why we must be carful of what we ask, the saying is very familiar. but hey that's my opinion.

By anon43235 — On Aug 26, 2009

When Joe Kennedy was ambassador to England in the late 30's, he was asked to intercede on behalf of the Jews in Germany, as rumors of the Holocaust began to surface. He refused and was called home by President Roosevelt. The rabbis of New York gathered at the East River and put a curse on the males of his children and his children's children. Evedently they did one hell of a job! Memphis Jew.

By anon43165 — On Aug 26, 2009

The sins were Joe Kennedy's. He was a wife cheater, a wall street insider, an anti Semite, and a bootlegger. He also played fast and loose with the mafia to fix the election for his son, JFK.

By anon33299 — On Jun 04, 2009

that's not the story i mean about this egyptian girl cursed him and she told john kennedy that every child he has will die and it was true. they kept dying and how did she know they were going to die? so yeah i don't know the rest of the story. i keep on looking for it and i found it finally. it's not yours someone else's.

By shambrica — On May 21, 2009

yes i grieve for the family it's so sad how this came to be. you losing a loved one every couple years or something tragic happening. i couldn't imagine what that feels like. i really don't want to know. but i think that someone needs to do some repentance because i don't mean any harm as to what i say. but i believe god can do anything. there's nothing that the devil can throw at you that god can't block. i can't say i know why their family is going threw this, but just pray and repent because there might have been something done that the family don't know anything of that was done in the past. that's my opinion.

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