The young John F Kennedy

But the Kennedys weren’t always one of America’s greatest dynasties.

In a rags to riches story, they rose from poor Irish immigrants to one of the most wealthy and influential families in America.  

Narrated by Martin Sheen (none other than President Jed Bartlett from The West Wing), the documentary series The Kennedys spans much of the 20th century. 

It’s a comprehensive history of this famous political family - from Joseph Kennedy Senior’s rise to power and JFK’s campaign for the presidency, to the family legacy a new generation of Kennedys now live with. 

Often playing out like a Shakespearean play, there were tragic deaths, family members shunned, and dark secrets kept hidden for decades. 

The Kennedys relives the renowned milestones of the family’s political empire and unearths all the lesser-known peculiarities that make them so fascinating.

Five things you might not know about John F. Kennedy and his siblings:

The Kennedy family

1. John F Kennedy’s sister Rosemary had a lobotomy at the age of 23. Their father Joseph decided it was the best way to cure Rosemary’s learning disabilities.  

2. His other sister Kathleen Kennedy (whose nickname was Kick) was shunned for marrying a Protestant – even though he was British aristocrat William Cavendish, the heir to Chatsworth estate. 

3. One of the Kennedy mottos was ‘Kennedys don’t cry’. They took this seriously, refusing to openly grieve when tragedy struck the family – which it so often did. 

4. John F Kennedy was considered weak and was often sick. He had scarlet fever at the age of 2 which meant he struggled with health problems for the rest of his life. He also injured his back in the war and was diagnosed with Addison’s disease in 1946. 

5. JFK was lauded as a war hero after the boat he was on was torn in half by a Japanese boat in World War II. But technically, he could have been court martialled because his boat was in the wrong place, endangering the lives of his men. Joe Sr worked hard to turn this story around and it later became a book and a movie.

Stream the full season of The Kennedys now!