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JFK: 20 Things to Know About John F. Kennedy

by Legacy Staff

How much do you know about John F. Kennedy’s early life and his personal time away from the Oval Office? Learn more with a few of our favorite facts about JFK.

He was our 35th president — and so much more. The details of John F. Kennedy‘s presidency are well-known, but how much do you know about his early life and his personal time away from the Oval Office? Learn more with a few of our favorite facts about JFK.

1. John F. Kennedy was born May 29, 1917, in Brookline, Massachusetts.

2. JFK’s first 10 years were lived in Brookline, and then his family moved to New York.


3. Just before he started high school, Kennedy underwent an appendectomy.

4. In high school at Connecticut’s The Choate School, Kennedy was known as a bit of a troublemaker, most notoriously blowing up a toilet with a firecracker.

5. Kennedy traveled to London at age 18 with the intent of studying at the London School of Economics. He soon was forced to return home and recover from an illness, but he still received a prestigious education, enrolling briefly at Princeton and completing his education at Harvard.

6. Kennedy swam on the varsity team and made the dean’s list in his junior year.

7. In the summer after his second year at Harvard, Kennedy went back to England to work for his father, who was serving as the U. S. ambassador to the United Kingdom.

8. Kennedy’s senior thesis at Harvard was called “Appeasement in Munich,” written about British participation in the Munich Agreement, which allowed Nazi Germany to annex portions of Czechoslovakia.

9. In 1941 — a few months before the attack on Pearl Harbor — Kennedy joined the U.S. Navy. He famously commanded the torpedo-armed boat PT-109.

10. After the war, Kennedy became a special correspondent to Hearst Newspapers.

11. Though Kennedy’s alleged affairs when he was president have been much talked about, he also dated notable women as a young, unmarried man — among them, journalist Inga Arvad and actress Gene Tierney.

12. Kennedy’s political career began in 1946, when he won a seat on the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

13. During his third term in 1951, he took a trip to India, Vietnam, Japan and Israel with his siblings, Bobby and Patricia. The two brothers bonded on this trip, and though they were nine years apart in age, they became best friends.

14. While he served as a congressman, Kennedy met Jacqueline Bouvier at a dinner party. The couple wed Sept. 12, 1953.

15. Kennedy endured several long-term health problems: Addison’s disease, hypothyroidism and severe chronic back pain.

16. As part of his treatment for his back problems, Kennedy reluctantly had a gym installed in the White House, where he did stretching exercises three times a week. (The very busy man would have preferred a miracle cure over taking time for exercise.)

17. Kennedy was the first president to request that press conferences be broadcast live on television.

18. Kennedy was a member of the National Rifle Association.

19. The presidency of John F. Kennedy lasted 1,037 days.

20. After his death at 46, Kennedy left behind a legacy unmatched by some who lived to twice his age, starting the United States on a path of commitment to public service and equality for all citizens, and striving to reach the moon.


Images: John F. Kennedy in 1955 (Verner Reed/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images); Kennedy family in 1931, Jack at top left (Wikimedia Commons/JFK Library); LTJG John F. Kennedy aboard the PT-109, 1943 (Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Navy); John F. Kennedy speaking at Rice University in 1962 (Wikimedia Commons/public domain)


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