Patricia Helen "Pat" Kennedy was born on May 6, 1924 in Brookline, Massachusetts, the sixth child and fourth daughter of Rose and Joseph Kennedy.
Early Life and EducationEdit
Since childhood Pat had a fascination with travel and Hollywood. She attended the Roehampton Sacred Heart Convent School, a boarding school on the outskirts of London, while her father was Ambassador to Great Britain. She was a good student, especially in mathematics. In 1927, her family moved to Bronxville, New York, where she studied at the Maplehurst Sacred Heart Convent School. She then attended Rosemont College in Rosemont, Pennsylvania where she directed and acted in various plays and theatrical spectacles. She received a B.A. from Rosemont in 1945.
Early Adulthood, Marriage and FamilyEdit
After graduation Pat decided to pursue her interest in theatrical activities. She began working as an assistant in NBC’s New York production department. She then moved to Los Angeles to work as an assistant for Kate Smith’s radio program, and later for Father Peyton’s Family Theater and Family Rosary Crusade.
Pat met English actor Peter Lawford through her sister Eunice in the 1940s. They met again in 1949, and again in 1953. They courted briefly and officially announced their engagement in February 1954. They married on April 24, 1954, at the Roman Catholic Church of St. Thomas More in New York City, twelve days before her thirtieth birthday. They settled in Santa Monica, California, and often socialized with actress Judy Garland and her family. Garland gave birth to her son Joseph at the same hospital and on the same day Pat gave birth to her son Christopher.
The couple had four children who were all born in Santa Monica, California: Christopher Kennedy Lawford (born March 29, 1955), Sydney Maleia Kennedy Lawford (born August 25, 1956), Victoria Francis Lawford (born November 4, 1958), and Robin Elizabeth Lawford (born July 2, 1961).
Divorce, Later Years and DeathEdit
Despite the glamorous persona they presented, Pat and Peter's relationship suffered strains as early as their brief engagement. Peter had difficulty adjusting to Pat's steadfast Catholicism and her family's larger-than-life image. Pat could not tolerate Peter's heavy drinking, extramarital affairs, and gradual addiction to drugs. Shortly after her brother Jack's death, she filed for a legal separation, and the couple were officially divorced in February 1966. Pat never remarried.
In 1966 atfer her divorce Pat moved with her children to New York City. There she was actively involved in supporting the city’s arts scene. She devoted her time to charity auctions and fund-raisers for the arts. Pat founded the National Committee for the Literary Arts, which arranges author lectures and scholarships. She also worked with the National Center on Addiction and with the Kennedy Library on its museum exhibits.
In addition to her work in show business, Pat was a huge supporter of her brothers’ political campaigns. For JFK’s Congressional race in 1946, she and her sisters and mother held a number of tea parties in which they discussed Jack’s boyhood and his World War II experience. In 1952 the “Kennedy teas” contributed to JFK’s election to the US Senate in an upset win over Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. During the 1960 Presidential campaign, she traveled around the country speaking on her brother’s behalf, and she would later play an active role in the Senate and Presidential races of her brothers Bobby and Ted. Having been particularly close to Bobby, she gathered together memories of him from many people in The Shining Hour, which was privately printed for family and friends after his death.
Pat battled alcoholism in her later years and suffered from tongue cancer. She died at the age of 82 on September 17, 2006 in her Manhattan home from pneumonia. Pat was survived by her four children and ten grandchildren, also, at the time, her sisters Eunice and Jean, and her brother Ted. She was buried in Southampton Cemetery.