tv American Dynasties The Kennedys CNN March 11, 2018 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT
theaters now. i'm van jones. see you next time. 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 pe saasant try to american royalty, these are the kennedys. their relationships with each other have impacted both america and the world. with triumph and glory comes
america's new ambassador joseph kennedy as he's about to e depart for st. james. >> when president roosevelt sends joseph 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. 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. 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 peasant ri of ireland. >> having an irish catholic in the job, it was just like the perfect victory in the struggle of my grandfather to feel accepted. >> as for me, i'm delighted to be here. >> you cannot under estimate joseph kennedy's a.m. bigs in 1938. my grandfather had ambitions to be president himself. >> what do you think he finds? >> joseph is and rose kennedy have nine children. from their oldest joseph jr. to
their youngest ted. the kennedys aren't just any family. they are a family on a mission. >> the kennedys to the left of them. kennedys to the right of them. they work overtime to picture the new ambassador with his nine children. >> they aligned up before the newsreel cameras. smiled, everybody had something to say. >> i was very excited. i couldn't sleep last night. >> there's all these quotes in ambaadors for the price of one or something. >> it's open for the kennedys who get on sympathetic terms with the animals. so 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 is for the first time in the modern way and, as a result, everybody is 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 see the american dream. >> there's a moment when joe and rose, his beautiful wife at windsor castle with the king and queen and joe says, rose, we have come a hell of a long way from east boston. >> joseph kennedy grew up in a boston in which property standpoints looked down on the irish. so he was fighting those prejudices, aware of those prejudices. >> our family were immigrants.
my grandmother used to tell stories about how she would pass signs as a little girl saying no irish need apply. never underestimate the i'll show you motive in his rhode island. >> his insecurity about being an irish catholic fed his drive and ambition to prove to people that he was as good as they thought he wasn't. joe was a marvelous, a master businessman. stock manipulator. >> my mother in horror of his birthday made this wonderful flag of a bear because he was the bear of wall street. he shorted wall street. he was such a force. >> he's a rogue. he's a little dodgy. he's a bit of a bad boy and 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. rose kennedy is in matriarch and equally as ambitious for her children. >> rose kennedy had a 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 quotations pinned to her sweaters.
if the conversation ever lagged, she'd start memorize iing her famous quotation speeches. he said you never know. you'd have to say something appropriate. >> rose kennedy is kedeeply religious. they are one of the most prom nebt 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 achieve that. he has a beautiful family and he's america's representative to the court of st. james. but he wanted to be president of the united states. >> as war clouds can gather over europe, a shadow is cast over joseph kennedy's dreams.
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you can't judge a daughter by looking at the mother. you can't judge a book by looking at the cover. taking one look. try to read me like a book but i leave 'em all shook 'cuz you can't judge a book by its cover. you can't judge a book by looking at the cover [x2] i have been asked by the newspaper men this afternoon what the chances were of appeasement. i said i department know what they were. but they certainly were worth trying. >> as america's ambassador in london, joseph kennedy is
desperate to prevent war between great britain and nazi germany. >> he's concerned 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 it was to remain neutral and the best role in terms of the nazis was to appease them, work with them, not have to go to war against them. >> he believed he could make a deal with hitler. and hitler was a rational politician and statesman and he was very, very wrong. >> he never saw the moral challenge that hitler posed. >> 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 he's going to send the children home. >> the u.s. line in washington brings home the biggest group of refugees. joseph 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. >> fighting back and joe was
still trying to appease he was too outspoken and called back to washington. >> president roosevelt did not want to appease. he wanted to fight. and the last thing that fdr needed was an appeaser as ambassador to great britain. >> until i have seen the president. >> so he was finished. >> 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 he could become president. and almost from the moment he realized 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 was not only handsome, but also athletically gifted. he was the heir apparent. joe jr.'s father and mother believe d 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 gay hve him freedom to be a in a way u that would have been tougher for joe jr. >> jack and kathleen were the closest. they were both troublemakers. they were both fun, mischiefous and they had each other's backs. she was very popular among boys. it was because she was vivacious and charming and funny and she
spoke back and 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 wasmartnoug e to know there was no stopping them. they were going to go . that was the patriotic thing to do. sure enough, joe kennedy helped them. >> report for preliminary training. >> joe kennedy was the oldest son and therefore the most beholden to please dad. and joe kennedy wanted joe jr. to be president of the united states. >> now it's a first 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 arva. they have this intense affair and the problem was that the fbi were recording some of these romantic sessions. >> inga is a great beauty, but she was allegedly a german spy. and that made it a bit.
awkward. >> jack kennedy is in naval intelligence. it's 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. >> he thought that in his son's best interest, 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's 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. ♪ wild thing ♪ applebee's handcrafted burgers. any burger just $7.99. now that's eatin good in the neighborhood.
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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 every debutante is presented and that was experienced by rose mary kennedy. >> her mother decides that she should have time at home with tutors to help teach her how to keep up with the other children in a way that's very modern. >> they were not going to do that. we're going to keep rose mary at home and raise her with the other siblings. >> as she hit puberty, rose mary goes to being somebody who is quite uncontrollable. there were sexual urges. she's found with men. she's so vulnerable. it would be easy for men to take
advantage of her. >> mr. kennedy, in particular, was afraid she would get pregnant or get a disease. what were they to do? >> they had tried together to find every conceivable cure for rose mary. none of them worked. >> joe kennedy read about this brand new procedure done on people with the most serious mental conditions. never on somebody like rose mary. >> joe was convinced rose mary's surgery was fix things and miraculously she would become a perfect kennedy like all the other kennedys. >> in the kennedy family, joe made the serious decisions. and rose let him do that. >> so without consulting rose mary's mother, 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 asked the patient to sing. and the surgeon continues cutting as long as the patient sings. rose mary is a very dutiful daughter. 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 lost the ability to talk and it's clear that this has gone terribly wrong. >> rose mary is then institutionalized until she passes in 2005.
>> i think that experience of having a sister who suffered from intellectual disabilities ended up having a ripple effect in our family. and years later my aunt 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. they were overwhelmed by the fact that her second son who is physically very weak enlists for what is probably the most physically difficult job in the
navy. >> he's in charge of pt 109, which is a sllatrol torpedo boat in the pacific theater. >> the pt boat is is a new type of draft to carry torpedos to strike the enemy. >> jack has a terrible, terrible back. 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 bulk head 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. just sits on the news. he doesn't tell his family, 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. >> so e he lives with this kind of private agony wondering
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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 is a 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 island natives found them and said we'll try to help you, but they didn't speech good english. he took a coconut and wrote out a message says 11 alive, need small boat. kennedy. >> the coconut reaches allied lines and kennedy and his crew are rescued. >> the pint of pt 109 was not
regarded as 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 intervenintervened. 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 heroic myth of jfk saving his crew. >> warner brothers brings to the screen. >> it became a book and years
later a movie. it was a certification of leadership. it was a certification of courage. it became central to the story of jack kennedy. >> i play a fellow fm boston. his name lieutenant john f. kennedy. >> jack kennedy becomes the military hero, the selfless man. it's an important part of this narrative being crafted around him. >> joe jr. is jealous. his little brother is 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. >> they have 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. >> when you were british or american, the ultimate in being the dashing war hero was being a pilot. 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 boats. >> kick also joins the war fort volunteering for the american red cross in england. kathleen kennedy was on a charming girl who wowed the boys and met one of the richest and most socially prestigious, the oldest son of the duke. >> he was london's most eligible bachelor. he was heir to the chadsworth
estate. he was a catch. >> duty calls. >> one would thing joe and rose would be completely thrilled that their daughter had risen to these dizzying heights, but unfortunately, billy was suitable in every way except for one. he wasn't roman catholic. >> there's a complex of feelings. joseph kennedy saw a romance as a sense that the kennedys had 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 with a thousand guests but instead they were married in a registry office in what she scribed as a squalid affair. >> in the summer of 1944, the kennedy family gathers on the coast of massachusetts, but joe jr. sends disappointing news. >> his father and mother expected him home anyay 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 has already flown his 25 missions. he could go home but he volunteers for extra duty. he's going to fly in a bomber stealthed 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 super guns being put in place by hitler on the coast of france and this was in joe kennedy's jr.'s mind a way to be a hero. >> in case i don't come back, please tell my father i love him very much. it's spring" sales event, where you will find great deals on award-winning suvs, that are sure to make you smile. with over 40 standard features and with america's best bumper-to-bumper transferable limited warranty. during the volkswagen spring sales event you can't help, but smile. do you know them? uh-uh. do you know them? uh-uh. it's the volkswagen "smile, it's spring" sales event. during the volkswagen "smile, it's spring" sales event you can get $1000 bonus on new 2018 atlas or tiguan models.
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august 13th, 1944, the kennedy family is home. bing crosby is on the phonograph singing "i'll be sing you." joe jr. isn't there. he's volunteered for a secret mission. >> rose saw drama in the family home. they say we're here to speak to mr. kennedy. he says he's nap iping. would youk lie to come in. they say, no, we have some very bad news about joe. >> they get upstairs and 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 have 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. that's what they did. >> joe kennedy's rage over the death of his son, he blamed fdr. he said he got my son killed. obviously, an outrageous statement, but it shows the depth of pain that joe felt. >> after his death, it was really jfk who had to step up and 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 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 jr. 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 curly. >> joe buys him off by retiring his debts and other favors and
makes him go away and run tr mayor. opening the seat for jack. and jack suddenly finds himself out walking streets, kissing babies, having to learn to be a politician. >> from dawn to dusk, kennedy began the day at factories. and he kept going with meeting after meeting after meeting. until 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 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. >> readers digest featured john kennedy as a hero from the pacific war. his father saw to it it was given maximum publicity. 100,000 of the readers digest article were purchased by joe kennedy sr. to help campaign. father said for the amount of money i spent on that campaign, i could have elected my chauffeur. >> that's 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 context that proved to be a winning combination in 1946. >> jack kennedy was ect to
the house of representatives. >> butjack's exertions on the campaign trail take a heavy toll. >> he gets sick. and doctors determined he has addison's disease, which leads to a weak immune system making him susceptible to diseases and infections. >> at first the doctors think jack is going to die young. but they are it 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 the story goes out to the press that jack is suffering from a recurring bout of malaria. >> at just 30 years old, jack faces his own mortality. he was a fatalist. he talked about death a lot. it didn't scare him. he had had this sense it was going to happen, probably sooner rather than later.
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. joseph p. kennedy had pretickpr predicted that the best and brighted eest of his children die in the war. >> kick had deified her family to marry the love of her life, billing harkington, only to lose them. the heir to the chatwick estate only had a few weeks together. >> they only had a few weeks together and to lose him so young was devastating. >> i think joe kennedy was very sad about that for kathleen.
but there had been several problems over that marriage because billy harkington was protestant. i think he thought that she could come back into the protestant church. >> after billy's death, kick decides to stay in england. engla england is in home run blood. kick at this time is seriously considering a career in politics, becoming a member of parliament. she's very politically engaged at this point. but in 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 noble man, an anglican who is married and has a child.
and tells her father, that as soon as fitswilliam's divorce was file, he would marry her. >> she was protestant and he was married. to be involved with somebody like pewter fitswilliams was a complicated affair. >> it not a valid marriage in the eyes of the catholic church. so she has to tell her beloved daughter that she must disown her, if she goes through with the marriage. >> she really, genuinely believed that her daughter's ul would with go to hell. >> i think it was clear to kick that there was no chance of 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 fitswilliams will come meet him, and her hope is that he will then give kathleen his blessing to the marriage. but they decide to take a min e miniholiday in the south riviera. >> peter and kick decide to fly down. the weather is terrible. the pilot says the weather is too bad, we can't go. but fitswilliams said he wanted to go anyway. >> the pilot, the co-pilot, 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 a car to go to the airport, to 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. he lost his older daughter rosemary, through a botched lobotomy who had 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 tree you. >> 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 dynas dynasties, the kennedys. >> you're never running against the kennedy
kennedy, it's a family affair. >> they have made a lot more enemies than friends. and some of these enemies are truly dangerous. >> with the kennedys it's always tragedy and triumph mixed together. xxxxxxxxxx. one of the most powerful men on earth holds a position that has existed for nearly 2,000 years. as the world changes and faith evolves, his authority remains. what began with one apostle, has become 1.2 billion followers under one man. he is the head of the catholic church, the pope. and this is his path to power.