January 1962- President Kennedy's Schedule - History

1The President visited his Father at the hospital.2The President visited his Father at the hospital.3President Kennedy and the First Lady took a cruise on the Honey Fritz, with them were the Vice President, Prince and Princess Radswill, Mr Leymore Billings, Rosewell Gilpatric and Robert McNamara. In the evening the President visited his Father.4The President and First Lady took a cruise on the Honey Fritz. The President the First Lady and Caroline visited the President's Father at the hospital.5The President visited his Father in the hospital in the morning and then the First Family returned to Washington. On arriving at the White House the President met with McGeorge Bundy and Dean Rusk.6The President began his day with a meeting with Joum McCona, General Lyman Lemintzer, Averell Harriman, Dean Rusk, McGeorge Bundy, and General Maxwell Taylor. The President them met with Douglas Dillon. Congressman Wilbur Mills jointed the meeting. The President then met with General Maxwell Taylor and McGeorge Bundy. The President traveled to Columbus Ohio where he spoke at a Democratic Fund Raising dinner in honor of Governor DiSalle.7The President attended church at St Stephens Church. The President met with General Luicis Clay and McGeorge Bundy.8The President hosted a Bipartisan Congressional Leadership Breakfast. After breakfast the Congressman returned to the office and continued his meeting with the Congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room. The President met with General Maxwell Taylor and McGeorge Bundy and General Chester Clifton. The President also met wit Clark Clifford. The President had lunch with British Ambassador David Ormsy Gore and his wife as well as Mr and Mrs Amory. In the afternoon the President met with Ludwig Erhard the Vice Chancellor of Germany and his party. The President ended his official day with an off the record meeting with Governor Edmund Brown.9President Kennedy began his day with a Breakfast with the Democratic Legislative Leaders. He then chaired a Cabinet Meeting. The President then had a meeting on the Americas. The President met with Italian Representatives. After lunch President Kennedy met separately with Arthur Schlesinger, George McGovern, John McCone and General Maxwell Taylor.10The President began his day with a meeting with the British Ambassador David Ormsby-Gore. He then met with the Ambassador of Ecuador. The President met with the Ambassador of Gabon. The President then met with William Edward Stevenson the US Ambassador to the Philippines. The President next had an off the record meeting with Roger Hilsman. After lunch the President met with George Kennan. He then had an off the record meeting with Congressman Howard Smith.11President Kennedy met with Paul Mckelvey, Dr Eugene Blake and Dr Edward Bundy all of the Presbyterian Church. The President traveled to the Capital and at 12:30 began to deliver the State of the Union Address. Late in the afternoon the Presidents Advisory Committee on Labor- Management Policy presented their report to the President. The President then had a meeting with George Bundy, Philips Talbot, Roger Hillsman, William Guad, Chester Bowles, Walt Rostow, George Ball and Kenneth Galbriath.12The President began his day with a meeting with Debbie Sue Brown the 1962 March of Dimes Poster Child and other representatives of the March of Dimes. The President then met with US Ambassador to Vietnam Frederick Nolting together with General Maxwell Taylor and Averell Harriman. The President met with Dean Rusk, Averell Harriman and McGeorge Bundy. The President then met with Jos Bonilla the new Foreign Minister of the Domincan Republic, The President then met wit Tinguf Tsiang the new Ambassador of the Republic of China. The President then met with the US Ambassador of Ireland. After lunch the President met with William White, he then met with Herve Alphard the Ambassador of France.13President Kennedy met with Walter Heller, Elmer Staats and James Tobin. He then met with commentator of NBC. The President then met with Robert McNamara and General Maxwell Taylor. The President me with Adlai Stevenson. The President last official meeting of the day was with McGeorge Bundy. The President then left the White House and flew to Glen Ora in Middleburg, Virginia.14The President and Mrs Kennedy attended mass at Middleburg Community Center. Late in the afternoon the President and First Lady returned to Washington.15The President met with General Maxwell Taylor, McGeorge Bundy and Kenneth O'Donnell. The President then met with Clark Clifford. The President had lunch with Dean Rusk, Theodore Sorensen, Walter Heller, McGeorge Bundy, Pierre Salinger and Myer Felman. The President gave a Press Conference. Late in the afternoon the President met off the record with Rusk, Kohler, Kennan, Gaud, McGhee, Gilpatric, Nitze, Dillon, Linder, Freeman, Cahell and Bundy.16The began his day with Legislative Leader Breakfast. The President then met with Walter Heller. Presidents next meeting was with O'Donnell, Salinger, Bundy and Clifton. The President with Dr Jerome Wiesner and Dr Emanuel Piore. The President then met with General Lyman Lemnitzer and other members of the military.17A Congressional Coffee Hour began the President's day. The President then met with Baptist leaders. The President then met with the new US Ambassador to Mali. President Kennedy them met with his Committee for Traffic Safety. The President participated in a ceremony for the signing of the Executive Order on Employee Management Relations in the Federal Service . The President had an off the record meeting with the British Ambassador. He then had an off the record meeting with Rusk, Ball, Bohlen, Kohler, Hillenbrand, Kaysen and Bundy.18The President began his day with a Congressional Coffee Hour for Congressional Democrats. The President then chaired a National Security Council Meeting. After lunch the President met with Admiral Samuel Eliot Morrison. He then had and extended meeting with the Monetary Policy Group. Following that meeting the President had a off the record meeting on Berlin. In the evening the President and First Lady hosted a private dinner in honor of Mr and Mrs Igor Stravinsky.19The President began his day with a speech to the 1962 Saving Bonds Conference. He then traveled to New York and had lunch with UN Secretary General U. Thant. The President attended an evening performance of the Broadway play "How to Succeed in Business".20The President returned to Washington in the morning. The President then met with the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. The President then had an off the record meeting with Dean Rusk, Richard Goodwin and Arthur Schlesinger. Senators Fulbright and Hickenloper then met with the President as in and off the record meeting. The President met with Mayor Daley of Chicago. The President hosted a Luncheon commemorating the first anniversary of the Presidents inauguration. In the evening the President attended a dinner at the Washington celebrating one year of the Kennedy administration.21President Kennedy and the First Lady attended church at St Stephans Church. The Kennedys then flew to Glen Ora at Middleburg VA.22The President returned to Washington. The President then met with General Taylor and Clifton. After Lunch the President met with John Sullivan the Former Secretary of Navy. The President then met with Byron White(Asst Atty Gen) and Myer Feldman.23President Kennedy began his day with a Legislative Leaders Breakfast. The President then traveled to the Department of Agriculture where he gave a speech to the National Conference on Milk and Nutrition. The President later met with Olin Teague the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. The President hosted a luncheon with Editors and Publishers. The President met with Senator Allen Ellerder. The President then met with Henry Steeger the President of the National Urban League, and Whitney Young the Executive Director of the League. The President then had an off the record meeting with Arthur Goldberg Roger Blough and David McDonald. The President ended his official day with an off the record meeting with Henry Steele Commager.24The President began his day with a meeting with Aziz Ahmed the Ambassador of Pakistan. He then met with the Ambassador of Greece. The President then met with General Chester Clifton. The President met with Senator Stuart Symington. The President met with his closest advisors over lunch to prepare for his Press Conference. In the afternoon the President gave his Press Conference. After returning to the White House the President met with Senator Ralph Yarbourough. The President met with series of his advisors for the rest of the day.25The President began his day with a meeting with Herschel Hobbs the President of the Southern Baptist Convention. The President then met with members of the National Grange. Later in the morning the President met with Omar Abou Riche, Ambassador of Syria. The President met with the National Newspapers Publishers Associations. After lunch the President met with General Lucius Norstad the Supreme Allied Commander Europe. The President and the First Lady flew to Palm Beach.26President Kennedy and Mr. and Mrs. Edward M. Kennedy cruise aboard the Honey Fitz with Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy.27The President paid an informal visit with Saud ibn Abd al-Aziz Saud, King of Saudi Arabia in Palm Beach, Florida He then took a cruise aboard the Honey Fitz with Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy.Visit28 The President and First Lady attended church at St Edward's. President and Mrs. Kennedy, Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy, and Princess Lee Radziwill cruise aboard the Honey Fitz, Palm Beach, Florida.29After taking an a cruise the President returned to Washington. The President met with Feeman, Cleveland, Feldman, Senator Ellendor and Congressman Cooley. The President then met with General Maxwell Taylor and Roger Hilsman.30The President began his day with a breakfast of Legislative Leaders. The President then met with the Commander of the National Catholic War Veterans. The President then met Nadim Dimeckie the Ambassador of Lebanon. The President also met with the Ambassador of the Philippines. The President had Lunch with Russian journalist. After lunch the President met with the Ambassador of India. The President met with Congressman Walter Rogers. The President and the First Lady had dinner at the home of Mr and Mrs Franklin D Roosevelt.31The President began his day with breakfast with Ball, Salinger, Sorensen, Bundy, Heller and Feldman. The President then had a meeting with Methodist Ministers. The President then met with representatives of the American Bankers Association. The President then met with Najcob Halaby the administrator of the FAA. The President received the Report from the Members of the Outdoor Recreation Resource Review Commission. In the afternoon the President gave a Press Conference. Late in the afternoon the President had a meeting with Bundy, Bohlen, Ball, Kohler, and Kaysen. The President then met with Alexi Adzhubei and Alexander Akolosky. The President had dinner with Robert Kennedy Mr and Mrs Don Wilson and William Walton.

This 1960s High School Gym Class Would Ruin You

“The program, in sum, not only builds physical fitness, but good Americans.” That’s how Look magazine summarized the physical education program of La Sierra High School in January 1962 [PDF]. If you’re wondering how a gym class got a major spread in a national publication—as well as an endorsement from President John F. Kennedy—take a look at this.

That’s a bunch of teenagers looking like they could rip a phone book in half. The PE curriculum at La Sierra in Carmichael, California was not so much famous as it was notorious: It frequently asked more of the students than of prospects entering the Naval Academy. Calisthenics (push-ups, pull-ups, suspended sit-ups) were done on a circuit during both a 12-minute warm up and 5 minutes of punishing, high-intensity exercise through an obstacle course. Coach Stan LeProtti, who initiated the program in 1957, even had custom equipment like peg boards and monkey bars built.

“Kids today are not built like that,” Doug Orchard, a filmmaker working on a documentary about LeProtti’s efforts, tells mental_floss. “It was the last great physical education program in the country.”

Students moved through the program based on a color scale: white shorts were for rookies, while red, blue, purple, and gold signaled serious ability. White shorts had to do a minimum of six pull-ups. Today, a Marine can pass a physical doing only three. Most boys, Orchard says, got to at least red. Getting to blue was a big deal gold athletes were “crazy impressive.” Those who wanted a rare Navy Blue rank had to do 34 pull-ups and carry someone on their back for five miles. Only 19 students in the history of the school ever earned one.

“There were no injuries we’ve found,” Orchard says. “If you got the flu and were out a month, you had to re-test. The intensity and volume were crazy, but there was a progression. Their entire freshman year, they spent a long time just learning how to breathe correctly.”

The media attention surrounding La Sierra was so intense that by 1962, a health-conscious President Kennedy made an open plea for other schools to get involved, and more than 4000 signed up for the program, which eventually grew to include females. America’s youth may have been at its fittest—until the 1960s began to chip away at their resolve.

“There was a lot of resistance when Vietnam lagged on,” Orchard says. “People started showing up not dressed for PE as a form of protest.” By the time La Sierra closed its doors in 1983, LeProtti’s efforts had been mostly forgotten. But a few years ago, clothing chain Abercrombie & Fitch phoned Ron Jones, a physical fitness historian, to ask about the workout footage he had uploaded.

It went viral. Now Jones and Orchard are hoping their film—due out in summer 2016—will help both lawmakers and educators to re-assess activity programs across the country. Currently, less than half of all high school students hit the gym for any reason, let alone exhibit the physical feats the kids of La Sierra were able to pull off.

“We have a shot of bringing back real physical education,” Orchard says. “These kids were doing things I’ve never seen anyone else do.”

President Kennedy secretly plans blockade of Cuba

On October 20, 1962, the White House press corps is told that President John F. Kennedy has a cold in reality, he is holding secret meetings with advisors on the eve of ordering a blockade of Cuba.

Kennedy was in Seattle and scheduled to attend the Seattle Century 21 World’s Fair when his press secretary announced that he had contracted an “upper respiratory infection.” The president then flew back to Washington, where he supposedly went to bed to recover from his cold.

Four days earlier, Kennedy had seen photographic proof that the Soviets were building 40 ballistic missile sites on the island of Cuba—within striking distance of the United States. Kennedy’s supposed bed rest was actually a marathon secret session with advisors to decide upon a response to the Soviet action. The group believed that Kennedy had three choices: to negotiate with the Russians to remove the missiles to bomb the missile sites in Cuba or implement a naval blockade of the island. Kennedy chose to blockade Cuba, deciding to bomb the missile sites only if further action proved necessary.

The blockade began October 21 and, the next day, Kennedy delivered a public address alerting Americans to the situation and calling on Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to remove the missiles or face retaliation by the United States. Khrushchev responded by sending more ships—possibly carrying military cargo—toward Cuba and allowing construction at the sites to continue. Over the following six days, the Cuban Missile Crisis, as it is now known, brought the world to the brink of global nuclear war while the two leaders engaged in tense negotiations via telegram and letter.

Fighting inflation

But recession is only one enemy of a free economy - inflation is another. Last year, 1961, despite rising production and demand, consumer prices held almost steady - and wholesale prices declined. This is the best record of overall price stability of any comparable period of recovery since the end of World War II.

Inflation too often follows in the shadow of growth - while price stability is made easy by stagnation or controls. But we mean to maintain both stability and growth in a climate of freedom.

Our first line of defense against inflation is the good sense and public spirit of business and labor - keeping their total increases in wages and profits in step with productivity. There is no single statistical test to guide each company and each union. But I strongly urge them - for their country's interest, and for their own - to apply the test of the public interest to these transactions.

  1. This administration has helped keep our economy competitive by widening the access of small business to credit and Government contracts, and by stepping up the drive against monopoly, price-fixing, and racketeering
  2. We will submit a Federal Pay Reform bill aimed at giving our classified, postal, and other employees new pay scales more comparable to those of private industry
  3. We are holding the fiscal 1962 budget deficit far below the level incurred after the last recession in 1958 and, finally,
  4. I am submitting for fiscal 1963 a balanced Federal Budget.
  1. First, an increase in postal rates, to end the postal deficit
  2. Secondly, passage of the tax reforms previously urged, to remove unwarranted tax preferences, and to apply to dividends and to interest the same withholding requirements we have long applied to wages
  3. Third, extension of the present excise and corporation tax rates, except for those changes - which will be recommended in a message - affecting transportation.

President Kennedy appoints first female presidential physician

On January 26, 1961, just about a week after his inauguration, President John F. Kennedy appoints Janet Travell, 59, as his personal physician, making her the first woman in history to hold the post.

Dr. Travell possessed an impressive resume that included graduating with honors from Wellesley College, internships in cardiology, a professorship in clinical pharmacology at Cornell University and an established reputation as a pioneer in the treatment of chronic myofascial pain. (The term myofascial pain refers to aching pain or tenderness in the muscles and fibrous tissue that can cause weakness and feel like numbness, burning, tingling or aching.) Dr. Travell also designed prototypes of what would now be called ergonomic chairs. By the time she became the official presidential physician, Dr. Travell, an orthopedist, had worked closely with Kennedy for five years. Kennedy suffered from persistent back pain that he claimed was the cumulative effect of injuries sustained playing football and as a PT boat captain in World War II.

During the 1960 presidential campaign, Lyndon B. Johnson, Kennedy’s rival for the Democratic nomination, leaked to the press that Kennedy had Addison’s disease. At Kennedy’s behest, Dr. Travell responded to the allegations, saying John F. Kennedy has not, nor has he ever had Addison’s disease. In 2002, an article in Atlantic magazine revealed that Dr. Travell had indeed treated Kennedy for Addison’s, a disease that affects the adrenal glands and can cause weight loss, muscle weakness, fatigue, chronic infections and low blood pressure. Dr. Jeffrey Kelman, who researched and published a book based on his review of Kennedy’s medical records stated that the president’s health problems probably would get him federal disability or retirement if he was around today.

Diagnosed in 1947, Kennedy kept up a busy schedule in the early years of his political life with the help of expensive and frequent cortisol injections. Still, his political career might have ended abruptly in 1954 when he underwent the first of two back surgeries the second followed the next year. The operations were riskier than anyone except a small group of medical personnel and family members realized. A November 1955 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association documented Kennedy’s surgical case, withholding his name. In it, doctors agreed it was deemed dangerous to proceed with the surgery since impaired adrenal function from Addison’s disease greatly increased the operation’s risk of serious complications. Kennedy survived the surgeries, but they did not relieve his back pain he continued to also suffer from Addison’s-related colitis and chronic infections.

Throughout Kennedy’s presidency, Travell prescribed an astounding number of medications to treat his pain including Phenobarbital, Librium, Meprobomate, Codeine, Demerol and Methadone. Kennedy also took Nembutal as a sleep aid. Travell’s treatment for Kennedy’s back pain involved the use of orthopedic shoes to correct a spinal imbalance, a back brace and a rocking chair. (After photographs of Kennedy in his Oval Office rocking chair appeared in the media, sales of rocking chairs skyrocketed across the country.) Travell also used an innovative treatment for muscle spasms: an injection of low-level procaine into the lumbar muscles, a technique that is still used in sports medicine today. The Kennedy family credited Dr. Travell with enabling a determined Kennedy to maintain the punishing schedule that his political career demanded despite chronic pain and illness.

After Kennedy’s assassination, Travell retained her post, becoming President Lyndon B. Johnson’s personal physician.

This Day in Labor History: January 17, 1962

On January 17, 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 10988, granting federal employees the right to collective bargaining for the first time. Full text here. This began the last great period of union growth in American history to the present.

Public sector workers were not granted collective bargaining rights under the National Labor Relations Act as great as that law was for American labor, there were actually a number of important categories of workers left out, including agricultural labor and government workers. Throughout the 1950s, the labor movement fought for public sector unionism, which began to move liberal Democratic politicians toward accepting it. In the 1950s, the mayors of Philadelphia and New York (the latter being Robert Wagner Jr., son of the author of the NLRA), created bargaining for municipal employees while Wisconsin instituted the first collective bargaining for state employees in 1959 and then expanded a few days before Kennedy’s 1962 executive order.

Kennedy’s move came after his administration issued the Task Force on Employee-Management Relations in the Federal Service in 1961, which noted, “The participation of employees in the formation and implementation of employee policy and procedures affecting them contributes to the effective conduct of public business,” and argued that collective bargaining was in the general public interest. Executive Order 10988 provided multiple tiers of representation for federal employees, depending on how much of a bargaining unit was organized but provided some level of consulting so long as a union had a mere 10% of the bargaining unit.

Kennedy’s order was a major breakthrough. But it also was used to cut off the Rhodes-Johnston Union Recognition Bill, would likely would have granted the closed shop to government employees. That bill would have granted union recognition and collective bargaining by law rather than through executive favor. Yet union leaders were not too upset about it and still considered the order a pretty major victory.

The order also put some pretty severe limits on the bargaining power of these workers. First, collective bargaining was limited to non-wage issues. That’s a pretty big deal. They were also still denied the right to strike (the original denial of federal employes to strike came in the Taft-Hartley Act and this just perpetuated it), something which chafed at these workers and which the air traffic controllers would test in 1981 (although other federal workers had successfully struck earlier with great success, including the postal workers in 1970), much to their peril. Until 1978, government employees even had to take unpaid leave to attend collective bargaining sessions, severely disincentivizing active involvement in union operations. Finally, the executive order allowed for no resolution to bargaining impasses except for unilateral employer decisions. A problematic situation to say the least, one solved by future expansion upon Kennedy’s declaration by Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter.

Despite these restrictions, union membership skyrocketed in the following decades throughout all levels of government work. For federal employees, the National Federation of Federal Employees became the major labor organization representing them. This spurred organizing on the state and local level as well, with unions like SEIU and especially AFSCME growing rapidly during the 1960s and 1970s. Among the strikes associated with AFSCME was the 1968 sanitation workers strike in Memphis, famous for its role in the assassination of Martin Luther King, And as William Dougan, president of the NFFE says:

Collective bargaining has made inestimable gains in the quality of work life for millions of federal workers over the past half-century. Top-down decisions on safety and health matters, work schedules, reorganizations and many other workplace issues have been replaced with a collaborative process where workers have a definitive voice in how they accomplish their mission.

On the state level, 16 states enacted collective bargaining legislation for their employees over the next few years, though conservative states in the south and west resisted this trend.

It would take a great deal of work in the 1970s and 1980s to achieve these victories. Kennedy’s Executive Order hardly did it for them. But without this opening, public sector unionism might have had a serious delay. Today, approximately 63% of federal workers are union members, although a much lower percentage of state workers have achieved union representation largely due to resistance in the South.

Although this is not a particularly famous episode within American labor history, it’s worth noting how much conservatives hate Executive Order 10988. We know conservatives see public sector unions as the enemy. Having destroyed private sector unionism, the continued strong public sector unions are their next target. Some make the disingenuous argument that they are FINE with private sector unions but the people working for THE PEOPLE don’t have this right. Others are more honest–unions support Democrats so they suck. Here’s Daniel Henninger making this argument in a 2010 Wall Street Journal article. So long as these public sector unions exist, they are a hope for workers everywhere and a thorn in the side of Republicans seeking a plutocratic hegemony over the American workforce.


The Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation put out a new report today stating that obesity rates have increased by 28%. It also indicated that 84% of parents felt that their children were at a healthy weight! There are many reasons beyond health problems that contribute to an obese nation: technology, lack of exercise, less time, more stress, less vacations, and an abundance of uncertainty are just a few. In addition, many of the public schools have cut physical fitness programs due to lack of federal and state funding.

We’ve become a physically inactive society, where the only exercise that we get is clicking on a keyboard or the remote control of our TV sets! Think about it, when we go to the supermarket, movies, or shopping, we try desperately to get the closest parking spot to the entrance! Our children don’t get any exercise either. They sit around the house talking on the phone, texting, watching television, or playing computer games, instead of playing outdoors.

During the 60’s when I was in elementary school, President Kennedy took over a federal physical fitness program that was started and failed by Eisenhower, and he reorganized a new council to oversee and market a new physical fitness program for all Americans. During 1961-1962 school years, the president developed a physical fitness pilot project for the schools. A core group of almost a quarter of a million schoolchildren took part in the Council-sponsored pilot projects in six states. The physical fitness program was structured into the daily curriculum of school study.

I was fortunate to be a part of this pilot project. I was in the 6th grade when this program was implemented. I remember feeling pride that I was part of a program that our president designed and was paying close attention to. We were trained to be athletic by running, doing sit-ups, climbing ropes (those were hard), doing push-ups, and strengthening our muscles by doing multiple stretches for all muscle groups.

At the end of the pilot project year, we took a physical fitness test and half again as many students passed a physical fitness test as had a year earlier. Furthermore, there was a general improvement of physical education programs around the country. Students that passed the test were given a badge that had an eagle emblem and the words, “Presidential Physical Fitness Award.” For those of us that received this emblem, we had such pride in being part of the project and being physical fit. It also set a foundation on how to live healthy for our future.

I say bring back the president’s council on physical fitness! Let children have pride being part of something larger than their Wii box, or 40” television sets!


John F. Kennedy was the first president to use SAM 26000. [5] [6] Kennedy first flew on the aircraft on November 10, 1962, to attend the funeral services of former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in Hyde Park, New York. [7] SAM 26000 took Kennedy to Berlin ("Ich bin ein Berliner") in June 1963 [8] [9] the month before that, it set a new Washington-Moscow time record. [10] [9] It was designer Raymond Loewy who, at the invitation of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, gave SAM 26000 the now-familiar Air Force One livery of blue, silver, and white. [11] [12]

On November 22, 1963, after landing the President and First Lady at Dallas' Love Field, SAM 26000 was the backdrop to live broadcasts of the Kennedys greeting well-wishers. [9] Later that day, after Kennedy's assassination made Vice President Lyndon Johnson the new president, SAM 26000 carried the Johnsons, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Kennedy's body back to Washington. [3] [13] To accommodate the casket four seats were removed from the passenger compartment [3] [14] Johnson took the Oath of Office (see photo) aboard SAM 26000 before takeoff. [3] [15] The casket was on board because Mrs. Kennedy refused to leave her husband's body and under no circumstances, would Johnson leave without her. [16]

As Kennedy was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery, SAM 26000 flew overhead, following 50 fighter jets (20 Navy and 30 Air Force). [17] [18]

Johnson was SAM 26000's most frequent flyer, logging some 523,000 miles during his five years as president [19] [20] he once called it "my own little plane." [21] New seats were installed, now facing rearward toward the presidential cabin, in which was installed a spacious leather chair (dubbed "the throne") [22] [23] and a crescent-shaped table which the president could raise and lower by means of a switch. Aides and guests sat on couches around "the throne."

Johnson flew in SAM 26000 twice to Vietnam and took tours of Asia in 1968 and 1969. [24] In 1967, Johnson went on a largely unplanned aerial odyssey, making stops in California, Hawaii, Australia, Thailand, South Vietnam, Pakistan, and Italy. [25] [26]

Upon the inauguration of Richard Nixon in 1969, SAM 26000 underwent repairs and upgrades. Nixon and his staff were offered a key role in the redesigning of the plane, a position they took up, and indeed, the finished plane reflected the new president's persona. The interior of the plane was stripped from the nose to the tail all minor problems were taken care of upgrades were made on the flight management system communications gear was slightly modified. Richard Nixon had the interior of the plane redesigned to suit his fancy. Nixon did away with the open floor plan of the Johnson era and replaced it with a three-room suite for himself and his family, serving as a combination of lounge, office, and bedrooms. Accommodations for guests, aides, security and media personnel were located aft of the three rooms.

Although SAM 27000 took over as the primary presidential aircraft in 1972, Nixon's family preferred SAM 26000 because its interior configuration allowed greater privacy for the First Family. [27] Nixon also had the name "The Spirit of '76" applied to the nose of both VC-137Cs. [28] [29] The Nixons flew on SAM 26000 to China in 1972, becoming the first American President and First Lady to visit that nation. SAM 26000 was also used by National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger during his secret meetings with the French to negotiate the Vietnam peace process. In December 1972, SAM 27000 took over as the primary presidential plane.

On January 22, 1973, Lyndon B. Johnson died. Two days later, SAM 26000 brought the former president's body from Texas to Washington, D.C., for the state funeral the following day. [30] [31] [32] After the funeral, over which Nixon himself presided, the aircraft returned his body to Texas for burial, landing at Bergstrom Air Force Base in Austin, the airfield Johnson flew into and out of when president. [33] As the former president was interred at his ranch, retired Brigadier General James U. Cross, pilot of SAM 26000 during part of the Johnson presidency, presented the flag to Lady Bird Johnson at her request. [33] He also escorted her during the state funeral, again, at her request, saying that she did not know Army Major General James Adamson, then commanding general of the Military District of Washington (MDW). [34] Most of this resulted from Mrs. Johnson agreeing to the public honors in Washington, though her husband died in Texas, because she felt so many others from around the world wanted to join in—40,000 people paid their respects when the former president lay in state, [33] even though the mood [35] during the state funeral was one of intense recrimination because the wounds of the Vietnam War were still raw. [35] Because of SAM 26000, the final services honoring LBJ on January 25 were completed in one day, despite taking place in different parts of the country. [33]

On October 6, 1981, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was assassinated. Because of security concerns, then-President Ronald Reagan did not attend the funeral. [36] Instead, he sent Secretary of State Alexander Haig and the living former presidents—Nixon, Ford, and Carter—to the funeral, as well as former secretary of state Henry Kissinger. [37] All of them flew aboard SAM 26000 when traveling to the funeral. [37]

Power and the Presidency, From Kennedy to Obama

Fifty Januaries ago, under a pallid sun and amid bitter winds, John F. Kennedy swore the oath that every president had taken since 1789 and then delivered one of the most memorable inaugural addresses in the American canon. “We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom,” the 35th president began. After noting that “the world is very different now” from the world of the Framers because “man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life,” he announced that “the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans” and made the pledge that has echoed ever since: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty.”

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After discoursing on the challenges of eradicating hunger and disease and the necessity of global cooperation in the cause of peace, he declared that “[i]n the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger.” Then he issued the call for which he is best remembered: “And so, my fellows Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

The address was immediately recognized as ex-ceptionally eloquent—“a rallying cry” (the Chicago Tribune), “a speech of rededication” (the Philadelphia Bulletin), “a call to action which Americans have needed to hear for many a year” (the Denver Post)—and acutely attuned to a moment that promised both advances in American prowess and grave peril from Soviet expansion. As James Reston wrote in his column for the New York Times, “The problems before the Kennedy Administration on Inauguration Day are much more difficult than the nation has yet come to believe.”

In meeting the challenges of his time, Kennedy sharply expanded the power of the presidency, particularly in foreign affairs. The 50th anniversary of his inauguration highlights the consequences—for him, for his successors and for the American people.

To be sure, the President’s control over foreign affairs had been growing since the Theodore Roosevelt administration (and still grows today). TR’s acquisition of the Panama Canal Zone preceded Woodrow Wilson’s decision to enter World War I, which was a prelude to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s management of the run-up to the victorious American effort in World War II. In the 1950s, Harry S. Truman’s response to the Soviet threat included the decision to fight in Korea without a Congressional declaration of war, and Dwight Eisenhower used the Central Intelligence Agency and brinksmanship to contain Communism. Nineteenth-century presidents had had to contend with Congressional influences in foreign affairs, and particularly with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But by the early 1960s, the president had become the undisputed architect of U.S. foreign policy.

One reason for this was the emergence of the United States as a great power with global obligations. Neither Wilson nor FDR could have imagined taking the country to war without a Congressional declaration, but the exigencies of the cold war in the 1950s heightened the country’s reliance on the president to defend its interests. Truman could enter the Korean conflict without having to seek Congressional approval simply by describing the deployment of U.S. troops as a police action taken in conjunction with the United Nations.

But Truman would learn a paradoxical, and in his case bitter, corollary: with greater power, the president also had a greater need to win popular backing for his policies. After the Korean War had become a stalemate, a majority of Americans described their country’s participation in the conflict as a mistake—and Truman’s approval ratings fell into the twenties.

After Truman’s experience, Eisenhower understood that Americans still looked to the White House for answers to foreign threats—as long as those answers did not exceed certain limits in blood and treasure. By ending the fighting in Korea and holding Communist expansion to a minimum without another limited war, Eisenhower won re-election in 1956 and maintained public backing for his control of foreign affairs.

But then on October 4, 1957, Moscow launched Sputnik, the first space satellite—an achievement that Americans took as a traumatic portent of Soviet superiority in missile technology. Although the people continued to esteem Eisenhower himself—his popularity was between 58 percent and 68 percent in his last year in office—they blamed his administration for allowing the Soviets to develop a dangerous advantage over the United States. (Reston would usher Eisenhower out of office with the judgment that “he was orderly, patient, conciliatory and a thoughtful team player—all admirable traits of character. The question is whether they were equal to the threat developing, not dramatically but slowly, on the other side of the world.”) Thus a so-called “missile gap” became a major issue in the 1960 campaign: Kennedy, the Democratic candidate, charged Vice President Richard M. Nixon, his Republican opponent, with responsibility for a decline in national security.

Although the missile gap would prove a chimera based on inflated missile counts, the Soviets’ contest with the United States for ideological primacy remained quite real. Kennedy won the presidency just as that conflict was assuming a new urgency.

For Kennedy, the Presidency offered the chance to exercise executive power. After serving three terms as a congressman, he said, “We were just worms in the House—nobody paid much attention to us nationally.” His seven years in the Senate didn’t suit him much better. When he explained in a 1960 tape recording why he was running for president, he described a senator’s life as less satisfying than that of a chief executive, who could nullify a legislator’s hard-fought and possibly long-term initiative with a stroke of the pen. Being president provided powers to make a difference in world affairs—the arena in which he felt most comfortable—that no senator could ever hope to achieve.

Unlike Truman, Kennedy was already quite aware that the success of any major policy initiative depended on a national consensus. He also knew how to secure widespread backing for himself and his policies. His four prime-time campaign debates against Nixon had heralded the rise of television as a force in politics as president, Kennedy held live televised press conferences, which the historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who was a special assistant in the Kennedy White House, would recall as “a superb show, always gay, often exciting, relished by the reporters and by the television audience.” Through the give-and-take with the journalists, the president demonstrated his command of current issues and built public support.

Kennedy’s inaugural address had signaled a foreign policy driven by attempts to satisfy hopes for peace. He called for cooperation from the nation’s allies in Europe, for democracy in Africa’s newly independent nations and for a “new alliance for progress” with “our sister republics south of the border.” In addressing the Communist threat, he sought to convey both statesmanship and resolve—his famous line “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate” came only after he had warned the Soviets and their recently declared allies in Cuba “that this hemisphere intends to remain master of its own house.”

Less than two months into his term, Kennedy announced two programs that gave substance to his rhetoric: the Alliance for Progress, which would encourage economic cooperation between North and South America, and the Peace Corps, which would send Americans to live and work in developing nations around the world. Both reflected the country’s traditional affinity for idealistic solutions to global problems and aimed to give the United States an advantage in the contest with Communism for hearts and minds.

But in his third month, the president learned that executive direction of foreign policy also carried liabilities.

Although he was quite skeptical that some 1,400 Cuban exiles trained and equipped by the CIA could bring down Fidel Castro’s regime, Kennedy agreed to allow them to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961. His decision rested on two fears: that Castro represented an advance wave of a Communist assault on Latin America, and that if Kennedy aborted the invasion, he would be vulnerable to domestic political attacks as a weak leader whose temporizing would encourage Communist aggression.

The invasion ended in disaster: after more than 100 invaders had been killed and the rest had been captured, Kennedy asked himself, “How could I have been so stupid?” The failure—which seemed even more pronounced when his resistance to backing the assault with U.S. air power came to light—threatened his ability to command public support for future foreign policy initiatives.

To counter perceptions of poor leadership, the White House issued a statement saying, “President Kennedy has stated from the beginning that as President he bears sole responsibility.” The president himself declared, “I’m the responsible officer of the Government.” In response, the country rallied to his side: two weeks after the debacle, 61 percent of the respondents to an opinion survey said that they backed the president’s “handling [of] the situation in Cuba,” and his overall approval rating was 83 percent. Kennedy joked, “The worse I do, the more popular I get.”

Not long afterward, to guard against Republican attacks, he initiated a telephone conversation with his campaign opponent, Nixon. “It really is true that foreign affairs is the only important issue for a President to handle, isn’t it?” he asked rhetorically. “I mean, who gives a s--- if the minimum wage is $1.15 or $1.25, in comparison to something like this?” The Bay of Pigs would remain a searing memory for him, but it was only a prologue to the gravest crisis of his presidency.

Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s decision to place medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles in Cuba in September 1962 threatened to eliminate America’s strategic nuclear advantage over the Soviet Union and presented a psychological, if not an actual military, threat to the United States. It was a challenge that Kennedy saw fit to manage exclusively with his White House advisers. The Executive Committee of the National Security Council—ExComm, as it became known—included not a single member of Congress or the judiciary, only Kennedy’s national security officials and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and his vice president, Lyndon Johnson. Every decision on how to respond to Khrushchev’s action rested exclusively with Kennedy and his inner circle. On October 16, 1962—while his administration was gathering intelligence on the new threat, but before making it public—he betrayed a hint of his isolation by reciting, during a speech to journalists at the State Department, a version of a rhyme by a bullfighter named Domingo Ortega:

Bullfight critics row on row
Crowd the enormous plaza de toros
But only one is there who knows
And he’s the one who fights the bull.

While ExComm deliberated, concerns about domestic and international opinion were never far from Kennedy’s thinking. He knew that if he responded ineffectually, domestic opponents would attack him for setting back the nation’s security, and allies abroad would doubt his resolve to meet Soviet threats to their safety. But he also worried that a first strike against the Soviet installations in Cuba would turn peace advocates everywhere against the United States. Kennedy told former Secretary of State Dean Acheson a U.S. bombing raid would be seen as “Pearl Harbor in reverse.”

To avoid being seen as an aggressor, Kennedy initiated a marine “quarantine” of Cuba, in which U.S. ships would intercept vessels suspected of delivering weapons. (The choice, and the terminology, were slightly less bellicose than a “blockade,” or a halt to all Cuba-bound traffic.) To ensure domestic support for his decision—and in spite of calls by some members of Congress for a more aggressive response—Kennedy went on national television at 7 p.m. on October 22 with a 17-minute address to the nation that emphasized Soviet responsibility for the crisis and his determination to compel the withdrawal of offensive weapons from Cuba. His intent was to build a consensus not merely for the quarantine but also for any potential military conflict with the Soviet Union.

That potential, however, went unfulfilled: after 13 days in which the two sides might have come to nuclear blows, the Soviets agreed to remove their missiles from Cuba in exchange for a guarantee that the United States would respect the island’s sovereignty (and, secretly, remove U.S. missiles from Italy and Turkey). This peaceful resolution strengthened both Kennedy’s and the public’s affinity for unilateral executive control of foreign policy. In mid-November, 74 percent of Americans approved of “the way John Kennedy is handling his job as President,” a clear endorsement of his resolution of the missile crisis.

When it came to Vietnam, where he felt compelled to increase the number of U.S. military advisers from some 600 to more than 16,000 to save Saigon from a Communist takeover, Kennedy saw nothing but trouble from a land war that would bog down U.S. forces. He told New York Times columnist Arthur Krock that “United States troops should not be involved on the Asian mainland. The United States can’t interfere in civil disturbances, and it is hard to prove that this wasn’t the situation in Vietnam.” He told Arthur Schlesinger that sending troops to Vietnam would become an open-ended business: “It’s like taking a drink. The effect wears off, and you have to take another.” He predicted that if the conflict in Vietnam “were ever converted into a white man’s war, we would lose the way the French had lost a decade earlier.”

Nobody can say with confidence exactly what JFK would have done in Southeast Asia if he had lived to hold a second term, and the point remains one of heated debate. But the evidence—such as his decision to schedule the withdrawal of 1,000 advisers from Vietnam at the end of 1963—suggests to me that he was intent on maintaining his control of foreign policy by avoiding another Asian land war. Instead, the challenges of Vietnam fell to Lyndon Johnson, who became president upon Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963.

Johnson, like his immediate predecessors, assumed that decisions about war and peace had largely become the president’s. True, he wanted a show of Congressional backing for any major steps he took—hence the Tonkin Gulf Resolution in 1964, which authorized him to use conventional military force in Southeast Asia. But as the cold war accelerated events overseas, Johnson assumed he had license to make unilateral judgments on how to proceed in Vietnam. It was a miscalculation that would cripple his presidency.

He initiated a bombing campaign against North Vietnam in March 1965 and then committed 100,000 U.S. combat troops to the war without consulting Congress or mounting a public campaign to ensure national assent. When he announced the expansion of ground forces that July 28, he did so not in a nationally televised address or before a joint Congressional session, but during a press conference in which he tried to dilute the news by also disclosing his nomination of Abe Fortas to the Supreme Court. Similarly, after he decided to commit an additional 120,000 U.S. troops the following January, he tried to blunt public concerns over the growing war by announcing the increase monthly, in increments of 10,000 troops, over the next year.

But Johnson could not control the pace of the war, and as it turned into a long-term struggle costing the United States thousands of lives, increasing numbers of Americans questioned the wisdom of fighting what had begun to seem like an unwinnable conflict. In August 1967, R. W. Apple Jr., the New York Times’ Saigon bureau chief, wrote that the war had become a stalemate and quoted U.S. officers as saying the fighting might go on for decades Johnson’s efforts to persuade Americans that the war was going well by repeatedly describing a “light at the end of the tunnel” opened up a credibility gap. How do you know when LBJ is telling the truth? a period joke began. When he pulls his ear lobe and rubs his chin, he is telling the truth. But when he begins to move his lips, you know he’s lying.

Antiwar protests, with pickets outside the White House chanting, “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” suggested the erosion of Johnson’s political support. By 1968, it was clear that he had little hope of winning re-election. On March 31, he announced that he would not run for another term and that he planned to begin peace talks in Paris.

The unpopular war and Johnson’s political demise signaled a turn against executive dominance of foreign policy, particularly of a president’s freedom to lead the country into a foreign conflict unilaterally. Conservatives, who were already distressed by the expansion of social programs in his Great Society initiative, saw the Johnson presidency as an assault on traditional freedoms at home and an unwise use of American power abroad liberals favored Johnson’s initiatives to reduce poverty and make America a more just society, but they had little sympathy for a war they believed was unnecessary to protect the country’s security and wasted precious resources. Still, Johnson’s successor in the White House, Richard Nixon, sought as much latitude as he could manage.

Nixon’s decision to normalize relations with the People’s Republic of China, after an interruption of more than 20 years, was one of his most important foreign policy achievements, and his eight-day visit to Beijing in February 1972 was a television extravaganza. But he planned the move in such secrecy that he didn’t notify members of his own cabinet—including his secretary of state, William Rogers—until the last minute, and instead used his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, to pave the way. Similarly, Nixon relied on Kissinger to conduct back-channel discussions with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin before traveling to Moscow in April 1972 to advance a policy of détente with the Soviet Union.

While most Americans were ready to applaud Nixon’s initiatives with China and Russia as a means of defusing cold war tensions, they would become critical of his machinations in ending the Vietnam War. During his 1968 presidential campaign, he had secretly advised South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu to resist peace overtures until after the U.S. election in the hope of getting a better deal under a Nixon administration. Nixon’s action did not become public until 1980, when Anna Chennault, a principal figure in the behind-the-scenes maneuvers, revealed them, but Johnson learned of Nixon’s machinations during the 1968 campaign he contended that Nixon’s delay of peace talks violated the Logan Act, which forbids private citizens from interfering in official negotiations. Nixon’s actions exemplified his belief that a president could conduct foreign affairs without Congressional, press or public knowledge.

Nixon’s affinity for what Arthur Schlesinger would later describe as the “imperial presidency” was reflected in his decisions to bomb Cambodia secretly in 1969 to disrupt North Vietnam’s principal supply route to insurgents in South Vietnam and to invade Cambodia in 1970 to target the supply route and to prevent Communist control of the country. Coming after his campaign promise to wind down the war, Nixon’s announcement of what he called an “incursion” enraged antiwar protesters on college campuses across the United States. In the ensuing unrest, four students at Kent State University in Ohio and two at Jackson State University in Mississippi were fatally shot by National Guard troops and police, respectively.

Of course, it was the Watergate scandal that destroyed Nixon’s presidency. The revelations that he had deceived the public and Congress as the scandal unfolded also undermined presidential power. The continuing belief that Truman had trapped the United States in an unwinnable land war in Asia by crossing the 38th Parallel in Korea, the distress at Johnson’s judgment in leading the country into Vietnam, and the perception that Nixon had prolonged the war there for another four years—a war that would cost the lives of more than 58,000 U.S. troops, more than in any foreign war save for World War II—provoked national cynicism about presidential leadership.

The Supreme Court, in ruling in 1974 that Nixon had to release White House tape recordings that revealed his actions on Watergate, reined in presidential powers and reasserted the influence of the judiciary. And in response to Nixon’s conduct of the war in Southeast Asia, Congress, in 1973, passed the War Powers Resolution over his veto in an attempt to rebalance its constitutional power to declare war. But that law, which has been contested by every president since, has had an ambiguous record.

Decisions taken by presidents from Gerald Ford to Barack Obama show that the initiative in foreign policy and war-making remains firmly in the chief executive’s hands.

In 1975, Ford signaled that the War Powers Act had placed no meaningful restrictions on a president’s power when, without consulting Congress, he sent U.S. commandos to liberate American seamen seized from the cargo ship Mayaguez by the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia’s Communist government. When the operation cost 41 military lives to rescue 39 sailors, he suffered in the court of public opinion. And yet the result of Ford’s action did not keep Jimmy Carter, his successor, from sending a secret military mission into Iran in 1980 to free American hostages held at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Carter could justify the secrecy as essential to the mission, but after sandstorms and a helicopter crash aborted it, confidence in independent executive action waned. Ronald Reagan informed Congress of his decisions to commit U.S. troops to actions in Lebanon and Grenada, then suffered from the Iran-Contra scandal, in which members of his administration plotted to raise funds for anti-Communists in Nicaragua—a form of aid that Congress had explicitly outlawed.

George H.W. Bush won a Congressional resolution supporting his decision to oust Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991. At the same time, he unilaterally chose not to expand the conflict into Iraq, but even that assertion of power was seen as a bow to Congressional and public opposition to a wider war. And while Bill Clinton chose to consult with Congressional leaders on operations to enforce a U.N. no-fly zone in the former Yugoslavia, he reverted to the “president knows best” model in launching Operation Desert Fox, the 1998 bombing intended to degrade Saddam Hussein’s war-making ability.

After the terrorist attacks of September 2001, George W. Bush won Congressional resolutions backing the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, but both were substantial military actions that under any traditional reading of the Constitution required declarations of war. The unresolved problems attached to these conflicts have once again raised concerns about the wisdom of fighting wars without more definitive support. At the end of Bush’s term, his approval ratings, like Truman’s, fell into the twenties.

Barack Obama does not appear to have fully grasped the Truman lesson on the political risks of unilateral executive action in foreign affairs. His decision in late 2009 to expand the war in Afghanistan—albeit with withdrawal timelines—rekindled worries about an imperial presidency. Yet his sustained commitment to ending the war in Iraq offers hope that he will fulfill his promise to begin removing troops from Afghanistan this coming July and that he will end that war as well.

Perhaps the lesson to be taken from the presidents since Kennedy is one Arthur Schlesinger suggested almost 40 years ago, writing about Nixon: “The effective means of controlling the presidency lay less in law than in politics. For the American President ruled by influence and the withdrawal of consent, by Congress, by the press, by public opinion, could bring any President down.” Schlesinger also quoted Theodore Roosevelt, who, as the first modern practitioner of expanded presidential power, was mindful of the dangers it posed for the country’s democratic traditions: “I think it [the presidency] should be a very powerful office,” TR said, “and I think the president should be a very strong man who uses without hesitation every power that the position yields but because of this fact I believe that he should be closely watched by the people [and] held to a strict accountability by them.”

The issue of accountability is with us still.

Robert Dallek’s most recent book is The Lost Peace: Leadership in a Time of Horror and Hope, 1945-1953.

“The Jack Pack” Pt.2: 1961-1990s

The Rat Pack on stage together in a 1960s' performance.

The “Rat Pack” was a nickname for a coterie of Hollywood stars and Las Vegas club entertainers that included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford. For a time in 1960, this group and some of their friends were dubbed “The Jack Pack” when they helped the Kennedy-for-President campaign.

Through the early 1960s, Sinatra and his Rat Pack reigned supreme in contemporary culture they became the “cool guys” of their generation. They brought record-breaking crowds to the Las Vegas nightclub scene and made millions for Hollywood’s box office through the movies they made.

The Rat Pack’s network of contacts, friends, and business partners ranged across Hollywood, Las Vegas, and beyond, including movie stars such as Tony Curtis, Marilyn Monroe, Janet Leigh, Angie Dickinson, and Shirley MacLaine, and also some underworld figures such as Sam Giancana of Chicago.

“Rat Pack” members early 1960s, from left: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop.

Part 1 of the story covers Rat Pack history and the group’s involvement with the 1960 Kennedy campaign, up to and including John F. Kennedy’s election in November 1960. Part 2 of the story picks up here as plans for the 1961 Kennedy inauguration festivities are being made. This part of the story will also cover Frank Sinatra’s falling out with JFK and the Kennedy family during the early 1960s, as well as what became of various Rat Pack members and friends and Kennedy family members in the years following the Kennedy election.

Washington Gala

Jan 1961: Frank Sinatra escorting Jackie Kennedy to her box at the National Guard Armory for a pre-inaugural gala staged by Sinatra to help pay off JFK & Democratic Party campaign debt.

Among the performers and notables Sinatra and Lawford would gather for this event were: Harry Belafonte, Milton Berle, Nat King Cole, Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh, Ella Fitzgerald, Gene Kelly, Frederic March, Ethel Merman, Jimmy Durante, Mahalia Jackson, Bette Davis, Laurence Olivier, Leonard Bernstein, Fredric March, Sidney Poitier, Bill Dana, Kay Thompson, Roger Edens and others.

Sinatra was responsible for personally recruiting many of the stars, some flying in from filming and performing locations abroad. He and Lawford also convinced several Broadway producers to shut down for one night so actors such as Anthony Quinn, Ethel Merman and Laurence Olivier could attend.

One account had it that Sinatra personally bought out the theater tickets for the performances of the Broadway plays in conflict so the those actors could partake in the Kennedy gala.

National Armory in D.C. hosted two inaugural events: the Pre-Inaugural Gala (Jan19th) & Post-Inaugural Ball (Jan 20th).
Sammy Davis, Jr., 1960s.

Gene Kelly performing at JFK gala, January 19, 1961.

Gene Kelly danced Sydney Poteir read poetry, and Pat Suzuki sang. Kelly sang “The Hat Me Dear Old Father Wore” and did an amazing dance routine. Fredric March did a recitation invoking God’s help to “give us zest for new frontiers, and the faith to say unto mountains, whether made of granite or red tape: Remove.”

Bill Dana, famous in that era for portraying a fictional Chicano character known as José Jiménez, did a well-received comic routine with Milton Berle. Nat King Cole sang and so did a young, 34 year-old Harry Belafonte, whose 1956 Calypso album had become the first long-playing album in history to sell over one million copies.

Frank Sinatra & Peter Lawford enjoy a lighter moment at the 1961 gala for President-elect John F. Kennedy.

Todd Purdum, writing a Vanity Fair retrospective on the famous JFK gala 50 years later, summed it up this way: “It was an only-in-America blend of high culture and low comedy, of schmaltz and camp, and it may have marked the moment when popular entertainment became an indispensable part of modern politics.” In fact, Bette Davis said as much during the show in part of skit she did, reading from a script by radio dramatist Norman Corwin: “The world of entertainment—show-biz, if you please—has become the Sixth Estate…”

JFK with Frank Sinatra at the pre-inaugural gala, Jan 19, 1961, the night before JFK’s formal inauguration.

Of Sinatra’s role in the gala Kennedy said, “You can not imagine the work he has done to make this show a success.” Kennedy called Sinatra “a great friend,” and added: “Long before he could sing, he used to poll a Democratic precinct back in New Jersey. That precinct has grown to cover a country, but long after he has ceased to sing, he’s going to be standing up and speaking for the Democratic Party, and I thank him on behalf of all of you tonight.”

1961: Inaugural dancing at the Armory.

JFK’s Late Night

Even though it was nearly 1:30 a.m. when the gala ended, and Jackie Kennedy had long since gone home as she was still recovering from the Cesarean birth of John Jr., JFK went to another party that night given by his father, Joseph Kennedy, at Paul Young’s restaurant in downtown D.C. JFK didn’t get home until 3:30 a.m.

However the next morning, Inauguration Day, Kennedy was up at eight, reviewing his speech and preparing for a full slate of official and ceremonial meetings with outgoing President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and then on to Capitol Hill for his swearing in and one of the more memorable inaugural speeches in U.S. history.

President John F. Kennedy delivering his inaugural address at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., January 20, 1961.

The Sinatra File

Following the inauguration, the ties between Frank Sinatra and the Kennedy’s – especially those involving JFK and the White House – would gradually become strained and eventually would be severed. But this would not occur for another year or so.

FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover, center, meeting with JFK and Attorney General Robert Kennedy, January 1961.

But in February 1961, within weeks of JFK’s inauguration, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover sent a pointed memo to the new U.S. Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy. The memo detailed Sinatra’s extensive connections to organized crime figures. Robert Kennedy would later impress upon his brother, the President, that he needed to distance himself from Sinatra.

Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford & Robert Kennedy wait for helicopter en route to a Cedars-Sinai Hospital charity event in Hollywood, July 1961.

Then, in late September 1961, ten months after the election, Joe Kennedy threw a thank-you party for Frank Sinatra at the family’s Hyannis Port, MA compound. At that point, JFK as president was still talking with Sinatra, as Sinatra would approach the president during the Hyannis Port visit to ask for a small favor.

Screenwriters in Hollywood had come to Sinatra about starring in a film, The Manchurian Candidate, based on a 1959 novel by Richard Condon.

Frank Sinatra sought JFK’s help to lobby Arthur Krim to make this film.

Despite Kennedy’s help on the Manchurian Candidate, Sinatra’s access to the President and the White House would soon be ending. Later in the fall of 1961, Sinatra visited the White House as part of a larger group that included Peter Lawford and others. And during that year, press Secretary Pierre Salinger had been questioned by members of the press about Sinatra’s relationship with the president. The inner circle around Kennedy – including Robert Kennedy and the President himself – became less comfortable having Sinatra around the White House. But soon, J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI would provide some additional information on Sinatra.

Rat Pack Popularity

Richard Gehman’s 1961 book helped to popularize the term “Rat Pack.”

A writer from Lancaster, Pennsylvania named Richard Gehman published a paperback volume with Belmont Books in New York titled, Sinatra and His Rat Pack. The book sold reasonably well and went into at least three printings according to one source.

In the fall that year, a late night talk show hosted by David Suskind featured a Rat Pack roundtable on one of its shows with a mix of journalists and Hollywood celebrities who debated the Rat Pack’s merits and maladies. Even a New Yorker cartoon appeared with a psychiatrist addressing the concerns of a middle-aged man lying on the treatment couch, with the psychiatrist saying: “What makes you think Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and all that bunch are so happy?”

There were also continued stage and club performances of the Rat Pack as a group, or in various combinations. Work on films with one or more members of the group continued as well, and Sinatra had a film or two of his own. The Devil at Four O’Clock, a volcano disaster film with Sinatra and Spencer Tracey came out in October 1961. Sinatra’s music continued to be popular. Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford would have their notices as well.

President Kennedy points to map of Laos at press conference in March 1961.

Stay At Frank’s?

As JFK’s presidential schedule for early 1962 was being plotted out, it was revealed he would be making a trip west to California in March of 1962. Early on, it was decided Kennedy would have an overnight visit at Frank Sinatra’s Palm Springs estate on March 24th, 1962. This planned JFK visit became a big event for Sinatra a very prideful moment – much more than the pre-election partying the two had shared. Sinatra went all-out for the anticipated JFK visit – remodeling the house, adding new cottages, extra rooms, communications gear, and more. . . He even had a helicopter landing pad installed. This was now the President of the United States who was coming to stay overnight. Sinatra had initially built this Palm Springs residence in 1954. It included a main house, a movie theater, guest houses, a barbershop/sauna, two swimming pools, tennis courts, and a personal art studio. But now, he would make improvements.

Sinatra went all-out for the anticipated JFK visit – remodeling the house, adding new cottages, extra rooms, communications gear, and more to accommodate a president and his staff. He even had a concrete heliport landing pad installed. But within days of the planned visit – on March 22nd, two days ahead of the planned arrival at Sinatra’s – Peter Lawford was told by JFK and Bobby Kennedy to inform Sinatra that the President would not be staying at Sinatra’s place. Lawford tried to convince the President and Bobby not to cancel the visit, to no avail. It was then arranged that the President would stay at singer Bing Crosby’s place. Lawford then called Sinatra, fabricating a story about how Sinatra’s place was more open and more vulnerable and that the Secret Service had instead approved Bing Crosby’s “more secure” place, backing up against a mountain. Sinatra was stunned by the news, and tried appealing to Bobby Kennedy with no success. At one point, Sinatra reportedly took a sledge hammer to the heliport he had built to vent his frustration, and he was quite unforgiving of Lawford and others even remotely connected to the cancellation. From that point on, Sinatra and JFK pretty much parted ways.

JFK, J. Edgar Hoover & Robert Kennedy.

“Happy Birthday”

Marilyn Monroe sings “Happy Birthday, Mr. President,” May 19, 1962. Photo, UPI.

Robert F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, and John F. Kennedy in rare photo taken at private “after party,” May 19, 1962. Advisor Arthur Schlesinger, with glasses, shown at right. Photo, Cecil Stoughton

Frank Sinatra, not long after the President’s cancelled overnight visit, began a world concert tour in a dozen or more cities to raise money for various children’s charities. On that trip, Sinatra did concerts in China, Israel, Greece, Italy, London, Los Angeles, Milan, Tel Aviv and Japan and raised more than one million dollars for various benefits. He returned to the U.S. in late June 1962.

Marilyn’s Fall

Marilyn Monroe in happier times with Frank Sinatra & club manager Bert Grober, Cal-Neva Resort, 1959. Photo: D. Dondero, Reno Gazette.

Marilyn Monroe, center, at Peter & Pat Lawford’s home in 1960-61, with Peter Lawford left and Frank Sinatra next to Monroe looking at a photograph. May Britt is standing at right.

Patricia Kennedy Lawford, now visible in another photo from that same time, is seen standing at left. Seated woman may have been Shirley MacLaine.

Other accounts of that weekend at the Cal-Neva report that Dean Martin and Monroe’s former husband, baseball great Joe DiMaggio, were also at the resort. DiMaggio had never been happy about some of Marilyn’s Hollywood friends. Still other accounts have Peter Lawford telling Monroe at that point that all communication with JFK and Bobby Kennedy was to be cut off. Monroe reportedly had been upset over some things JFK had said to her in private, and she had also seen Robert Kennedy. Monroe that summer was also working on the film Something’s Got to Give, which was never finished.

August 1962

After the Lawford’s returned home from their weekend visit with Sinatra, Peter Lawford called Monroe on August 4, 1962, concerned about her health. He found that she was still not well, sounding quite depressed. He later tried calling her again but couldn’t get through. He then thought about going directly to her home. However, he was advised, that as the President’s brother-in-law, he should not go there.

On August 5, 1962, Monroe was found dead in her Brentwood home. She was 36 years old. Her death was ruled to be “acute barbiturate poisoning” by Los Angeles coroner Dr. Thomas Noguchi and listed as a “probable suicide”.

Scene from “The Manchurian Candidate,” in which Frank Sinatra, as Korean War veteran Bennett Marco, attempts to help a fellow veteran who's been brainwashed.

By October 16th, a day the New York Yankees would beat the San Francisco Giants in game seven of the 1962 World Series, Kennedy was shown new U-2 photos revealing fully-equipped missile bases capable of attacking the U.S. with nuclear warheads. Plans were drawn up for a possible U.S. invasion of Cuba. A massive mobilization of military hardware began, and more than 150,000 active duty troops from the Marines, Army and Air Force were either positioned in Florida or put on high alert, while additional reservists were ordered to report for duty.

Cuban “missile crisis” headlines, Oct 1962.

The President also stated that any nuclear missile launched from Cuba would be regarded as an attack on the United States by the Soviets and he demanded the missiles be removed from Cuba.

The “missile crisis,” as it came to be called, was the closest the world ever came to nuclear war in the 1960s. In the end, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev turned his ships around. The Soviets agreed to dismantle the weapon sites and, in exchange, the U.S. agreed not to invade Cuba and remove its missiles from Turkey.

April 1963: Frank Sinatra hosts the Academy Awards ceremony, shown here escorting actress Donna Reed.

Sinatra also recorded a new LP in April 1963, titled Sinatra’s Sinatra. This was an album of Sinatra songs from the 1940s and 1950s, updated with new versions for Sinatra’s own label, Reprise. The album did quite well, reaching No. 9 on the Billboard and U.K. album charts. The film Come Blow Your Horn, in which Sinatra starred, was also a major box office success that summer, garnering him a Golden Globe acting nomination.

President Kennedy that spring, among other things, visited Hollywood briefly for a Democratic Party fundraiser. This affair, however, was a limited VIP gathering of about one hundred of Hollywood’s biggest stars, among them: Marlon Brando, Cary Grant, Burt Lancaster, Charlton Heston, Gene Kelly, Dean Martin, Rock Hudson, Jack Webb and others. “Instead of offering a formal speech the president table-hopped, impressing his guests with a wide-ranging knowledge of movies in general and their careers in specific,” explains Alan Schroeder of Northeastern University who has written on the presidency and Hollywood. Kennedy was a life-long fan of Hollywood, and remained intrigued about its inner working and even its gossip.

June 1963: JFK delivering his famous speech in West Berlin.

August 1963: Martin Luther King on the Mall in Washington, DC, “I have a dream.”

Elsewhere, however, Frank Sinatra had his problems. In Las Vegas, Nevada, the state’s Gaming Control Board recommended in September 1963, that Sinatra’s casino gambling license be revoked for allowing Chicago crime boss Sam Giancana to visit Sinatra’s part-owned Cal-Neva Lodge at Lake Tahoe. The Gaming Control Board had a published “List of Excluded Persons” who were not allowed in casinos even as customers, and Giancana was on that list. Sinatra never understood the stigma of his friendship with Giancana and others like him, as he had been friends of theirs since the 1940s. Still, Sinatra had to give up his casino license and sell his interests in the Cal-Neva and the Sands. ( Later, however, Sinatra would have his Las Vegas bona fides restored in 1981 when he applied for license as an entertainment consultant at Caesars Palace, listing President Ronald Reagan as a character reference and having Gregory Peck testify on his behalf. The Gaming Commission voted their approval, 4-1 ).

Nov 22, 1963: JFK, Jackie, and Texas Governor John Connolly in Dallas moments before shots were fired.

Jack Kennedy, in November 1963, was scheduled to visit Texas to make a series of political speeches across the state. On November 21, 1963, Kennedy flew to Texas making three visits that day in San Antonio, Houston, and Forth Worth. The next day, as his car drove slowly past cheering crowds in Dallas, shots rang out. Kennedy was mortally wounded and died a short time later.

Within hours of the shooting, police arrested 24 year-old Lee Harvey Oswald as the prime suspect. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson – with a shaken Jackie Kennedy beside him aboard Air Force One – was sworn in as President. The nation went into deep shock and weeks of mourning.

An Era’s End

New York Times front page, November 23, 1963.

Washington Post front page, Nov 23, 1963.

For the Rat Pack, Kennedy’s death also marked the end of an era. Rat Pack hijinks-type entertainment would gradually fade from the scene. By 1964, with the arrival of the Beatles, the music had changed as well. Yet Frank Sinatra, for one, would hold his own.

In 1965, Sinatra turned 50, but he still had years of hit music ahead of him. In that year alone, he recorded the retrospective album, September of My Years and starred in the Emmy-winning television special Frank Sinatra: A Man and His Music. In early 1966 he scored a recording hit with the blockbuster single, “Strangers in the Night,” a song that would later win three Grammy awards.

Frank Sinatra shown in a room at his home that includes framed photos and other memorabilia from his Kennedy-era years. Date unknown.

Sinatra Politics II

In the 1968 national elections, during the Democratic presidential primaries, a number of Hollywood celebrities became engaged in those contests, generally hoping to change national policy as the Vietnam War divided the country. Paul Newman and others were backing Democratic candidates such as Senator Eugene McCarthy, Bobby Kennedy, or Hubert Humphrey, then Vice President to incumbent Lyndon Johnson who had decided not to run for re-election in a shocking announcement. McCarthy appeared to have the early momentum, then Bobby Kennedy jumped in and was headed for victory before his tragic assassination in June 1968. However, Kennedy had done quite well with Hollywood supporters. But one entertainer noticeably absent from the Kennedy bandwagon was Frank Sinatra.

Frank Sinatra backed Hubert Humphrey in the 1968 election.

Shift to Republicans

Jan. 1971: Frank Sinatra with California Governor Ronald Reagan, Vikki Carr, Nancy Reagan, Dean Martin, Jack Benny (obscured), John Wayne & Jimmy Stewart.

Frank Sinatra’s April 1973 performance at the Nixon White House on Red Cab Records, 2010.

“The older you get the more conservative you get,” he explained to his daughter Tina, who at the time was working for the Democratic candidate George McGovern. Sinatra’s old Rat Pack pal, Sammy Davis, Jr., also supported Nixon in 1972.

In April 1973, a time when Sinatra’s “comeback album” Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back had appeared, he was invited by President Richard Nixon to perform at the White House, the first president to do so. Following a state dinner for Italian Prime Minister Guiulio Andreotti, Sinatra performed a number of his songs for more than 200 guests in the East Room of the White House.

During Nixon’s presidency, Sinatra visited the White House several times. He also supported Nixon’s moves to recognize the People’s Republic of China.

Frank Sinatra, left, campaignng with Ronald & Nancy Reagan, 1984.

For Ronald Reagan

By 1979, when Ronald Regan ran for president, Sinatra campaigned for him, saying at one point he worked harder for Regan than he had since 1960 when he backed Jack Kennedy. And as Sinatra had done for Kennedy 20 years earlier, in January 1981, he now also produced Reagan’s Inaugural Gala, lining up a slate of performers that included Johnny Carson, Bob Hope, Dean Martin and Charlton Heston. “I don’t view the inaugural as political,” he said when asked about producing Reagan’s show. “If Walter Mondale had won, and if he had asked me to do [his gala], I’d have been there.” Sinatra also campaigned for Regan in 1984. In fact, during October and early November of that election season, Sinatra went to Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Hartford, Westchester, New York, Washington, D.C., Sacramento, and San Diego doing Republican receptions and/or fundraisers on behalf of Reagan.

May 23, 1985, Sinatra received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Ronald Reagan. Cabinet member Jeane Kirkpatrick is seen in the background.

Flashback: Frank Sinatra, January 1961, at Carnegie Hall benefit concert for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, with Sy Oliver (left) conducting. Dean Martin and Sammy Davis also participated.

On July 4, 1991, Sinatra, at the age of 75, wrote an opinion piece that ran in the Los Angeles Times and summed up one of his life’s major social concerns – race relations:

“[W]hy do I still hear race- and color-haters spewing their poisons?… Why do I still flinch at innuendos of venom and inequality? Why do innocent children still grow up to be despised? Why do haters’ jokes still get big laughs when passed in whispers from scum to scum? …Why do so many among us continue in words and deeds to ignore, insult and challenge the unforgettable words of Thomas Jefferson, who drafted the Declaration of Independence’s promise to every man, woman and child — the self-evident truth that all men are created equal?”

Sinatra passed away in 1998, ten years before the election of Barack Obama. Yet, had he been around at the time, he might well have returned to the Democrats and supported Obama.

Rat Pack Postscript

1965: Rat Packers D. Martin, S. Davis & F. Sinatra with Johnny Carson subbing for J. Bishop in St. Louis.

As individual performers, however, the Rat Packers of the 1960s pretty much went their separate ways in later years. And for the most part, each fared moderately well, at least initially.

Feb 7, 1960: Peter Lawford & Sammy Davis, Jr. on stage at Four Chaplin’s Benefit, Las Vegas Convention Center. Photo, University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

But things began unraveling for him after his divorce from Patricia Kennedy in February 1966. They had four children together.

Lawford, who liked the ladies and partying, married three more times after Pat Kennedy, each time to a woman half his age.

Lawford died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve 1984 of cardiac arrest complicated by kidney and liver failure after years of drug and alcohol abuse.

Best of Sammy Davis collection on 20th Century Masters CD, 2002.

Sammy Davis had continued success in Las Vegas through the 1960s, as well as in film and on stage. During his career, Davis appeared in 39 movies, four Broadway plays, and released some 47 albums and 38 singles. His 1962 song, “What Kind of Fool Am I,” was Grammy-nominated for both song of the year and best male solo performance. In the Broadway musical Golden Boy of 1964 he received a Tony nomination for best actor. He would also host his own TV show on NBC in 1966 and had top music hits, such as “I’ve Gotta Be Me” in 1968-69 and “Candy Man” in 1972. Davis also had film and TV roles through the 1970s and 1980s. After reuniting with Sinatra and Dean Martin in 1987, Davis toured with them and Liza Minnelli internationally. Davis, who suffered from throat cancer, succumbed to the disease in May 1990. He was 64 years old. At his death, Davis was in debt to the IRS and his estate was the subject of legal battles. On May 18, 1990, two days after Davis’ death, the neon lights of the Las Vegas strip were darkened in tribute to him.

DVD cover for collection of Dean Martin’s TV shows, 1965-1974.

Joey Bishop, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin during a Rat Pack stage act in the 1960s.
Frank Sinatra on the cover of Newsweek, September 6, 1965.
Frank Sinatra on 2008 U.S. postage stamp.

Sinatra flirted with retirement briefly in the early 1970s, but by 1973 had a gold-selling album and a television special. He also returned to live performing Las Vegas and elsewhere. Still recording in his later years, he recorded Duets in 1993, an album of old standards he made with other prominent artists which became a best seller. Sinatra died May 14,1998, he was 82 years old. Included among the many honors he received over the years were: Kennedy Center Honors in 1983, the earlier-mentioned Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985, and a Congressional Gold Medal in 1997. Sinatra was also the recipient of eleven Grammy Awards during his career, including the Grammy Trustees Award, the Grammy Legend Award and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. The U.S. Postal Service issued a 42-cent stamp in his honor in May 2008.

Other stories at this website that deal with and/or touch upon the life of Frank Sinatra include: “The Sinatra Riots, 1942-1944,” “Ava Gardner, 1940s-1950s,” and “Mia’s Metamorphases, 1966-2010.” Other Kennedy family stories include: “Kennedy History–12 Stories: 1954-2013,” “JFK’s 1960 Campaign,” and “JFK, Pitchman?, 2009.” Beyond these, see also the various category pages, archive, or the Home Page for additional story choices.

Thanks for visiting — and if you like what you find here, please make a donation to help support the research and writing at this website. Thank you. —Jack Doyle

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Date Posted: 21 August 2011
Last Update: 29 May 2017
Comments to: [email protected]

Article Citation:
Jack Doyle, “The Jack Pack, Pt. 2: 1961-2008,”, August 21, 2011.

Sources, Links & Additional Information

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