Joseph P. Kennedy Poster


Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trivia (18)  | Personal Quotes (4)

Overview (5)

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Died in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, USA  (complications from a stroke)
Birth NameJoseph Patrick Kennedy
Nickname Joe
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Patriarch of a famous political family, Kennedy had a brief Hollywood career: He was one of the first financiers to play a leading role in the movie industry. Although he grew up in modest East Boston, where his father was a barkeeper and politician, Kennedy was educated with the Establishment's children at Boston Latin School and Harvard. In 1914, he married Rose Fitzgerald, daughter of Boston's mayor. Billed as "America's youngest bank president" at 25 (his father and his friends owned the bank.) He became a prominent stock market "operator" in the 1920s. In 1926, as the front man for Wall Street interests, he became chief executive of Film Booking Office, a distributor of low-budget features for unsophisticated audiences. Soon Kennedy also assumed power at another studio, Pathe, and at the Keith-Albee-Orpheum theater chain. Through "financial engineering" of these companies - some of their pieces went into a new major studio, RKO - Kennedy added to his already substantial fortune. (A sidelight in his Hollywood period was his business and sexual relationship with Gloria Swanson, recounted in detail in her autobiography.) In the 1930s, Kennedy turned his attention to politics: an early fund-raiser for Franklin D. Roosevelt, he became the first chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, then U.S. ambassador to England (1938-40). Kennedy's pessimistic statements about Britain's chances in World War II alienated Roosevelt and made Kennedy deeply unpopular in America. After the war, Kennedy steered his surviving sons, John, Robert and Edward, into politics and served as financier and strategist for their campaigns. In 1961, he suffered a stroke that left him unable to speak, but by all accounts he was aware of many calamities that befell his family until his own death in 1969. Some say that the scandal of his son Teddy at Chappaquiddick was what killed him. Some historians see Kennedy's rapacious greed for success as a fatal flaw that he passed on to his sons, none of whom could transcend it.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: David S. Smith

Spouse (1)

Rose Kennedy (7 October 1914 - 18 November 1969) ( his death) ( 9 children)

Trivia (18)

US ambassador to the Court of St. James.
Sons: Joseph Kennedy Jr. (b. 1915), John F. Kennedy (b. 1917), Robert F. Kennedy (b. 1925) and Edward (b. 1932) (Senator Ted Kennedy).
Four of his nine children died before him: Joseph Jr. was killed in a W.W.II plane crash in 1944. Kathleen died in a plane crash in 1948. John was assassinated in 1963. Robert was assassinated in 1968.
Has 30 grandchildren, 26 of whom are alive. [January 1998]
RKO Pictures, under Kennedy's management, made an $8-million offer (approximately $107 million in 2012 dollars) to Alexander Pantages for his chain of theaters in order to boost RKO's exhibition operations. The Pantages Theater chain consisted of 63 premier, financially robust theaters that were the dominant movie exhibitor and vaudeville circuit in North America west of the Mississippi River. Having partnered with the movie distributor Famous Players (a subsidiary of Paramount Pictures) in 1920, Pantages had converted his theaters into "combo" houses that showed films as well as staged live vaudeville. However, Pantages' expansion effectively was blocked by the dominance of Kennedy's Keith-Albee-Orpheum Circuit in the East, which was now part of RKO (Radio-Keith-Orpheum). After Pantages declined the $8-million offer, Kennedy stopped distributing RKO films to Pantages. Despite the pressure, Pantages declined to knuckle under and sell out. A year later, in 1929, he was charged and tried for the rape of one of his 17-year-old ushers, Eunice Pringle. He was convicted and sentenced to 50 years in prison, but the conviction was overturned on appeal. The trial battered his reputation and strained him emotionally, and he finally relented, accepting Kennedy's revised offer of $3.5 million (approximately $47 million in 2012 dollars) for his chain. Ronald Kessler, in his book "The Sins of the Father: Joseph P. Kennedy and the Dynasty He Founded" (New York: Warner Books, 1997), recalled the rumor, begun during Pantages' second trial, that RKO had paid Pringle to frame Pantages; however, there is only anecdotal evidence to support this claim.
During Prohibition, Kennedy's company Somerset Importers became the exclusive U.S. agent for Gordon's Dry Gin and Dewar's Scotch. Anticipating the end of Prohibition, he assembled a large inventory of stock that he sold for a profit of millions of dollars when Prohibition was repealed in 1933. One of his partners in the deal was Franklin D. Roosevelt's son, James Roosevelt. Kennedy invested the money from his legal liquor business in real estate, the Merchandise Mart in Chicago and Hialeah Race Track in Hialeah, Florida. However, rumors that he was a "bootlegger," involved in running illegal liquor across the Great Lakes into the U.S. from Canada in cahoots with the Bronfman family and the Mafia, have never been proven.
In 1925 he was retained by the financially troubled owner of Film Booking Office of America (FBO), a "Poverty Row" studio specializing in cheaply made westerns, to help find a new owner. Kennedy formed his own group of investors and bought FBO for $1.5 million (approximately $20 million in 2012 dollars). Subsequently, he moved to California in March 1926 to focus on running the studio. At the time movie studios were permitted to also own exhibition companies (a practice that was stopped by a 1947 Supreme Court decision involving Paramount Pictures), so Kennedy launched a hostile buyout of the Keith-Albee-Orpheum Theaters Corporation (KAO), which had more than 700 vaudeville and movie theaters across the U.S. In 1927 he acquired another production studio and film exhibitor, American Pathé, and its Pathé Exchange distribution subsidiary. In October 1928 he formally merged his film companies FBO and KAO with RCA's Photophone Division to form Radio-Keith-Orpheum (RKO). He topped this off by acquiring the Pantages Theater chain for $3.5 million ((approximately $47 million in 2012 dollars), creating a major studio in the process with RKO Pictures.
Born in Boston, the son of Patrick J. Kennedy, a successful businessman (liquor) and Irish Catholic community leader active in Democratic Party politics. Joseph attended Boston Latin School, where he was a below average academically but proved popular among his classmates, winning election as class president and playing on the school baseball team. Following the example of several older relatives, he attended Harvard University, where he focused on becoming a social leader, gaining admittance to the prestigious Hasty Pudding Club.
Was a distant cousin of his wife, Rose Kennedy, whom he married in 1914. Rose was the daughter of John Francis Fitzgerald, the Democratic mayor of Boston, Massachusetts, who as the fabled "Honey Fitz" was the most recognized politician in the city.
Created RKO Pictures in 1928 by combining his Keith-Albee-Orpheum (KAO) theater chains, Film Booking Office of America (FBO) film production studio and the American Pathé film studio and distribution unit with the Radio Corporation of America's (RCA) Photophone Division. RCA hoped an alliance with Kennedy would allow it to break Western Electric Co.'s near monopoly on the sound-film business, and attempted to interest him in using its Photophone process for FBO Pictures. Kennedy responded by initiating negotiations with RCA boss David Sarnoff that resulted in the creation of the Radio-Keith-Orpheum holding company in October 1928. A master stock manipulator, Kenedy and his confederates drove up the share price of RKO before film production had even begun. Kennedy's interest in the motion picture industry was in making money, not necessarily in making films, and the finances of the new company were shaky. He sold the last of his RKO stock in 1931; RKO went into receivership in 1932, after which it was taken over by interests aligned with Nelson Rockefeller and his brothers. It is estimated that Kennedy made over $5 million (approximately $75.5 million in 2012 dollars) from his investments in Hollywood.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt, believing that Kennedy knew all of the goings on of the stock market, made him head of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Remarks he made before and during World War II led to accusations of anti-Semitism.
As early as 1926, he set up a trust fund for the benefit of his wife Rose and the children that were then born. He set up two additional funds in 1936 and 1949. The 1949 trust is the fund that began to set portions of his wealth to his grandchildren. The three funds, plus the Joseph P. Kennedy,Jr. foundation were the chief vehicles for capital conservation. In 1968, the foundation had assets of $22.1 million (approximately $145.7 million in 2012 dollars), and dispersed as much as $1,600,000 to mental retardation research.
When he died in 1969, his estate was estimated to be worth $400 million (approximately $2.5 billion in 2012 dollars, when factored for inflation). His fortune was unusual in many ways, one of which was the fact that unlike most of the wealthiest families in America at the time, he was not heavily invested in oil. He made over $100 million in retirement as a real estate speculator. Another $100 million was in tax exempt securities. The only corporation the money was tied to was the family itself.
The UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill threatened to have Kennedy arrested in 1940.

Personal Quotes (4)

If you want to make money, go where the money is.
There are only two pursuits that get in your blood: politics and the motion picture business.
Don't get mad, get even.
[after the 1929 stock market crash] I knew it was time to sell when my 'shoeshine boy' gave me a stock tip.

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