Some things you probably didn’t know about the 35th president,
who was assassinated 50 years ago this month.
• It’s political lore that John F. Kennedy won the 1960 election on the strength of the first-ever televised presidential debates: Kennedy appeared calm and collected, and wore makeup to look good on TV, while his opponent, Richard Nixon, seemed nervous and sweaty. Kennedy may have won the image game, but the debates didn’t hand him the keys to the White House. Gallup polls throughout 1960 show a very close race…and so did the outcome. Kennedy beat Nixon handily in the Electoral College (303 to 219), but got just 112,000 more votes, out of 68 million total.
• Since the assassination of Kennedy in 1963, conspiracy theories have persisted, with some claiming government involvement or at least a government-directed cover-up. It reached a fever pitch in 1992, with the release of Oliver Stone’s conspiracy-exploring film JFK. That year, President George Bush signed the Assassination records Collection Act. It requires that all internal, unreleased government documents about the Kennedy assassination to be made public by October 26, 2017.
• President Kennedy famously had many mistresses and extramarital affairs, but by the time of his death, he’d stopped cheating on his wife. The death of his two-day-old son Patrick Kennedy in August 1963 reportedly prompted Kennedy to recommit himself to marriage and family life.
• Kennedy publicly pushed for NASA to get a man on the moon, and it did, in 1969. But a man on the moon was not Kennedy’s first choice for space travel. He initially directed NASA to send a man to Mars. Authorities at the agency talked him out of it, because it would be too expensive and impractical.
• On November 20, 1963, Kennedy got to view an early print of the upcoming James Bond film From Russia With Love. (He’d once told Time that the Ian Fleming novel it was based on was one of his favorite books.) It was the last movie he ever saw—he died two days later.