1. His father was a philanderer
JFK’s father, Joe Kennedy, would often proposition his son’s girlfriends, bring mistresses back to the family home and encourage his children to have as much sex as possible. JFK once told authoress Clare Booth Luce: “Dad told all the boys to get laid as often as possible. I can’t get to sleep unless I’ve had a lay.”
2. He was a war hero
During the Second World War Kennedy was a naval officer of the PT 109, and after the boat was sunk by Japanese destroyers he assisted crew mates to safety – notably he used a belt through his teeth to tow an injured crew member to an islet. As a result he was decorated with the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, and in 1963 Hollywood released PT 109 – a film made to remind Americans of the courage that their president had displayed during the war.
3. He was rumoured to have had an affair with a Nazi spy
During World War II Kennedy had an affair with Inga Arvad – a woman who was rumoured to have been personally sent by Adolf Hitler to spy on the United States.
4. He has literary credentials
In 1957, JFK won a Pulitzer Prize for his second book, Profiles in Courage, which was largely ghostwritten by his speechwriter Ted Sorensen.
5. Kennedy loved sex
Not only did Kennedy have famous affairs with Marilyn Monroe, White House employees – including Jackie Kennedy’s secretaries, known as “Fiddle” and “Faddle” – but also with virtual strangers who would enter the southwest service entrance of the White House, often without a security check or questioning, and make their way into the Kennedy living quarters while Jackie Kennedy was away.
6. JFK took drugs while president
In order to alleviate his back ache, Kennedy hired Dr Max “Feel Good” Jacobson, a physician without a license, to inject him with 10-15 milligrams of amphetamines as often as twice a week. It is also reported that JFK and Mary Meyer, an American socialite, once smoked marijuana at the White House and Kennedy promised to obtain cocaine for her at a later point.
7. He was obsessed with James Bond
Kennedy was a big fan of the James Bond novels. In March 1961 Life published a list of the president’s 10 favourite books, which included Ian Fleming’s From Russia With Love. Moreover, during the 1960 presidential campaign Kennedy met with Fleming to discuss how the US should deal with communist Cuba. The author recommended that a covert operation against Cuba should be sanctioned by the federal government.
8. Kennedy wanted Fidel Castro dead
Fleming’s advice to Kennedy may have been taken seriously. During his presidency, Kennedy authorised a top secret CIA programme called “Operation Mongoose” which aimed to topple Fidel Castro’s Cuban regime via clandestine activities. The operation cost the US $50 million per year and included negotiations with mafia personnel to try and get them to assassinate the communist leader.
From the November 21, 1960 cover of LIFE magazine — THE VICTORIOUS YOUNG KENNEDYS — LIFE photographer Paul Schutzer covered the largest political story of 1960 – the campaign and election of John F. Kennedy. The following caption ran with this cover image: “In Hyannis Port, the youngest President-elect in the history of the U.S. is joined by his mother (left), wife and sister Eunice (right) moments after victory had been assured on Wednesday. (Paul Schutzer—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images) #LIFElegends #JohnFKennedy #ElectionDay
A photo posted by life (@life) on Nov 8, 2016 at 6:38am PST
9. JFK initially favoured an airstrike in the Cuban Missile Crisis
Despite avoiding a nuclear war with the Soviet Union, during the first week of the Cuban Missile Crisis Kennedy had favoured a US airstrike over Cuba. This would have undoubtedly resulted in Nikita Khrushchev – the leader of the USSR at the time – to fire nuclear warheads towards the US.
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated 53 years ago today on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. He is pictured here in 1957 when he was the Senator of Massachusetts. (Hank Walker—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images) #JFK #LIFElegends
A photo posted by life (@life) on Nov 22, 2016 at 6:24am PST
10. He wasn’t a quintessential liberal
JFK’s political outlook wasn’t as left-wing as many believe. He committed the US to largest military buildup in US history until Ronald Reagan’s presidency, he had supported the failed invasion of Cuba in 1961 with the Bay of Pigs fiasco and only proposed advancing African-American civil rights when circumstances forced him to do so in the final year of his presidency. He even said on record that he was not a liberal.
11. JFK was a style icon during his presidency
In 1962 the president was on the cover of GQ in the US.
12. Most Americans don’t believe the official assassination theory
According to a Gallup Poll, over 70 per cent of Americans don’t believe the findings of the Warren Commission – an official report by the US federal government which states that Kennedy was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald.
13. He might have prevented US escalation in Vietnam
Had he lived, US troops might have left Vietnam earlier than planned. A month before his assassination Kennedy approved a plan to “withdraw 1,000 US military personnel by 1963.”
14. His brother supported Obama
His youngest brother Ted Kennedy was the fourth-longest serving US Senator and was one of the first politicians to endorse Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in the 2008 US presidential election.