You could verily call Joseph P. Kennedy, the father of United States President John F. Kennedy, a mobster by association, because many of his friends and associates in New York City were big-time mobsters. Joe Kennedy never actually belonged to an organized crime gang, but he was the head of the most cold-blooded gang ever — the Kennedy clan itself — a ruthless trio of men (JFK and his brother RFK included) who steamrolled over opponents, political, or otherwise, by any means necessary. It’s also true to say Joe Kennedy was a crook, because of the way he manipulated stocks, and hurt the little people in doing so. Finally, there is no doubt that Joe Kennedy was a creep: a creep of the highest order. And now I’m going to tell you why.
Joe Kennedy was born Joseph Patrick Kennedy in Boston, Massachusetts, on September 6, 1888, the son of Patrick Joseph “PJ” Kennedy and Mary Hickey. PJ Kennedy was a very popular person in the Boston community, known as a go-getter and someone who had risen from a common laborer to a successful businessman. PJ was one of the top guns who organized two separate Boston financial institutions: the Columbia Trust Company and the Sumner Savings Bank. Soon, PJ entered politics, and by the time Joe Kennedy was born, PJ was in his third term in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. But the real feather in PJ’s cap was when he was installed as the unofficial “ward boss” of the East Boston Ward 2, a position he used to his monetary advantage for more than thirty years.
Young Joe Kennedy attended Catholic school in east Boston until the 8th grade. Instead of going to a local public high school, or a local Catholic high school, PJ thought so much of his son Joe’s potential, he enrolled Joe into Boston Latin School, a college preparatory academy in the Boston Public School system. Unfortunately, although Joe had a way with numbers, his grades were far from exemplary. But Joe was a likable guy, and even though he was no “Einstein,” his fellow students voted Joe class president during his senior year.
Using his father’s pull in local politics (remember Joe’s high school grades were nothing special), in 1908 Joe was admitted into the high-brow, Ivy League, Harvard University. Joe did well enough at Harvard to earn his B.A. In 1912, immediately after Joe graduated Harvard, using his facility with numbers as a springboard, and of course, his father’s political connections, Kennedy got a prestigious job as a assistant bank examiner for the state of Massachusetts.
Joe Kennedy’s love life bloomed, while he was in his senior year at Harvard. That’s when Kennedy met the lovely Rose Fitzgerald, the daughter of Boston Mayor John F. “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald. With both his father and her father being with the “in crowd” in Boston politics, this seemed like the perfect match. And it was, until Kennedy’s true colors came to the surface, and he began chasing every skirt in sight. But we’ll get to that later.
Joe Kennedy and Rose were married on on October 7, 1914 and they made their love cottage in the Boston suburb of Brookline. Their first son, Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., was born on July 28, 1915, and thus started a prestigious new wing of the Kennedy/Fitzgerald dynasty.
Needing to make some decent cash to support his wife and their new child in the manner they had been accustomed to, Kennedy obtained a controlling interest, with his father’s money of course, in the Columbia Trust, the bank his father had helped found. Using his father’s pull, Kennedy soon became the manger of the bank, making him, at 25, the youngest bank president in America. It was at the Columbia Trust that Kennedy realized that using his street smarts and political connections, there was nothing he couldn’t accomplish in this fine country of America.
Climbing the ladder quickly and hungrily, on May 29, 1917, Kennedy was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Massachusetts Electric Company, the same day his second child, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born. Soon afterwards, fellow Board member Guy Currier, who was a hot-shot Boston attorney, and the company counsel for Bethlehem Steel, did Kennedy a solid, when he recommended Kennedy to Bethlehem chief executive Charles M. Schwab for the position of assistant general manager at the company’s Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts.
Now Kennedy was on the verge of making some bigtime money and a name for himself, and he wasn’t going to let a silly thing like ethics stand in his way. This is illustrated by the following case in point.
In 1918, Kennedy joined his father-in-law’s campaign team for Honey Fitz’s attempt to win the Massachusetts Congressional seat, then occupied by fellow Democrat Peter F. Hague. This set the political back-alley-dealing groundwork for Kennedy, when he later pulled all the strings needed to make his son John the President of the United States.
Kennedy realized that the ethnic mixture in Boston was making a very subtle change. First occupied by the Anglo-Saxton “swells,”and now joined by the Boston/Irish rabble, Boston had received a recent influx of the “darkies,” which immigrants from Italy were then called, sometimes even to their faces. Kennedy knew that an Italian vote for his father-in-law was as good as a vote from the upper class, so he formulated a strategy whereby Honey Fitz would get almost the entire Italian vote. Kennedy found out who the Italian mob bosses were in all the districts, and he paid them well to bring out the vote for Honey Fitz; even if it meant stuffing a ballot box or two, or cracking a head or three. And that’s exactly what the Italian bosses did. As a result, Joe Kennedy’s father-in-law defeated Tague by a mere 238 votes.
Unfortunately, Honey Fitz’s reign did not last too long, when a year later a congressional investigation turned up the voter fraud, perpetrated behind the scenes by Joe Kennedy. The election was overturned and Honey Fitz was booted out of office, never again to hold a meaningful political position. However, Joe Kennedy himself remained unscathed. Luckily for Kennedy, Italians know how to keep their mouths shut, especially if you greased their palms sufficiently.
However, Joe Kennedy learned his lesson well, realizing the real trick was not only to tilt the election in your favor, but not to get caught doing so. Kennedy would never make this same mistake again.
Kennedy’s work at Fore River for Bethlehem Steel was exhausting until World War I ended. With business slacking off considerable, in late 1918, Kennedy decided on making an upwardly mobile move. He hooked up with Galen Stone, an associate at the Massachusetts Electric Company Board, and a partner in the brokerage firm of Hayden, Stone and Company. Under Stone’s tutelage, Kennedy learned the intricacies of the stock market. Being good with numbers, Kennedy, not only managed his clients money, but his own money as well.
When Stone retired from the firm in 1923, Kennedy, figuring he learned all he could in stock investing and the banking industry, decided to quit Hayden, Stone and Company and branch out on his own. He called his new company “Joseph P. Kennedy, Banker.” In just three short years, using the precepts he had learned at Hayden, Stone and Company, Kennedy’s net worth had ballooned to over 2 million dollars.
Well, not exactly.
In 1919, the Volstead Act, which prohibited the production, sale, and transport of “intoxicating liquors,” made a lot of crooks rich. One of them was Joseph P. Kennedy. In 1922, flush with cash in his pocket as a result of his manipulations on Wall Street, Kennedy decided to branch out into the business of “rum running,” which was the illegal transport of alcohol from outside the United States.
People have said that Kennedy was a “bootlegger,” but by definition that was not accurate. Bootleggers produced the alcohol, sometimes in bathtubs, hence the term “bathtub gin.” “Rum runners” like Kennedy found the best places outside America to buy the product, then they purchased ships, speedboats, trucks and warehouses, in order to move the stuff into American, then distribute the booze to whomever needed it.
In his first foray into the rum running business, Kennedy discovered a great source of top-flight Scotch on St. Pierre and Muldoon, a group of eight islands approximately sixteen miles off the coast of Newfoundland. There, Kennedy was able to purchase Scotch for $45 a case. Using his head for numbers, Kennedy calculated that shipping and labor cost added about another $20 per case; making it a total of $65. Since Kennedy told the scotch for $85 a case, that was not much of a profit margin for so dangerous an operation. So Kennedy copied what other rum runners had done. He cut the 90 proof scotch with water and other additives. Then Kennedy re-bottled the Scotch, which transformed an $85 case of 90 proof Scotch into two cases of 45 proof scotch, which Kennedy then sold at $85 per case. Using this chicanery, Kennedy turned the usual 5000-case shipment, which cost him $325,000, into a tidy profit of $200,000 per shipment: a King’s ransom in the Roaring 20′s.
Being involved in the illegal rum running business also meant that Kennedy had to play ball with some tough customers, who were doing the same thing that Joseph P. Kennedy was doing. This is where Joe Kennedy, even though he was born and raised in Boston, became a New York City gangster by association.
One of the men Kennedy had to deal with, almost on a daily basis, was Owney “The Killer” Maddon, who was partners with Big Bill Dwyer, called “The King of the Rum Runners.” By partnering up with Maddon and Dwyer, Kennedy now had a New York City distributor for his Scotch, through several night clubs Maddon and Dwyer owned, including the Stork Club and the El Fay Club in Midtown Manhattan, and the famous Cotton Club in Harlem.
In 1924, Kennedy moved his brood of seven children, from Boston to the New York City suburb of Riverdale, where Kennedy kept a close eye on his two main money-makers: Wall Street, and the New York City distribution network of his illegal rum running operation. During this period of time, Kennedy also hooked up with known Mafia hoodlum Johnny Roselli, who introduced Kennedy to Kennedy’s new rum running partner in the midwest: one Alphonse “Scarface” Capone.
By 1927, Kennedy was so flush with cash, he decided to make his move out west and get involved with the movie-making business in Hollywood, California. His entry into Hollywood was greased by Roselli, who through fear and intimidation, had basically the entire Hollywood cast of characters under his control.
Soon, Kennedy became the boss of the Film Booking Company (FBO). Kennedy also created the Cinema Credits Corporation, which he used as a conduit to pull in money from his financial cronies up north to invest in the grand schemes abounding in Hollywood. But Kennedy, wily stock manipulator that he was from his experience up north, made his first big Hollywood “killing” when he was hired as an advisors to Pathe’, a highly profitable newsreel company that had been around since Thomas Edison invented his Vitascope projector.
Having access to the full scope of Pathe’s finances, Kennedy bought in at $30 a share. When Pathe’ was sold, Kennedy arranged to have himself paid $80 a share, while the average Pathe’ investor only took in a buck fifty a share. This type of stock manipulation is punishable by imprisonment today, but back then, it was just a way of “doing business” that Kennedy had mastered up north. Lawsuits flew around, but Kennedy had stacked the deck in his favor, and nothing ever came of the lawsuits.
In researching her book The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga; author Doris Kearns Goodwin uncovered old lost letters written by one of the Pathe’ investors, Ann Lawler, who ironically came from Kennedy’s home town of Boston. Apparently, through Kennedy’s manipulation of Pathe’ stock, Lawler had lost her entire life savings. Lawler wrote to Kennedy, “This seems hardly Christian-like, fair, or just for a man of your character. I wish you would think of the poor working women who had so much faith in you as to give their money to your Pathe’”
Old Joe Kennedy must have had a good laugh over that one.
While in Hollywood, and still married to Rose, Kennedy engaged in the same extra-marital activities that his son Jack the President would engage in a generation later. Joe Kennedy’s affair with actress Gloria Swanson was an open secret, known by everyone in Hollywood, including members of the press, whom Kennedy paid to keep the news out of the tabloids.
Old Joe even bedded down showgirl Evelyn Crowell, the window of dearly-departed Larry Fey, who was Owney Madden’s partner in the popular El Fey nightclub, which featured showgirl Tex Guinan as the main attraction. Fey was also part owner of the Casa Blanca nightclub, a midtown hotspot. On January 1, 1933, Fey was shot to death, shortly after the bells rang bringing in the New Year, by the Casa Blanca doorman, whom Fey had just informed that his pay was being cut. With the unfortunate Fey’s marital bed still warm, Joe Kennedy jumped into it with widow Crowdell – the late Larry Fey and Rose Kennedy be damned.
Kennedy knew his power in Hollywood would be limited, unless he owned his own movie distributing company to distribute the movies (mostly mediocre) that he was making. In 1929, Kennedy, now part owner of RKO movies, set his eyes on the Pantages Theatre chain, owned by Pericles “Alexander” Pantages, a Greek immigrant and a self-made man. Kennedy, along with his partner David Sarnoff, approached Pantages and offered to buy him out. However, Pantages turned them down flat, which did not make Joe Kennedy too happy.
What happened next is open to conjecture, but has been reported in several publications, including the best selling book Hollywood Babylon, to be the gospel truth.
According to reports, Kennedy employed the services of one Eunice Pringle, a 17-year old vaudeville dancer who wanted desperately to be a Hollywood movie star. On August 9, 1929, Pringle showed up unexpectedly at the offices of Pantages, inside his theater on South Hill Street in downtown Los Angeles.
Soon after she arrived at Pantages office, Pringle ran into the lobby of the theater, her clothes torn to shreds. She started screaming and pointing at Pantages, who was following her. “There he is – the beast!” Pringle said. “Don’t let him get at me!”
When the police arrived, Pringle insisted that Pantages had tried to rape her in a broom closet in his office.
Pantages confusion turned into anger. He told the police, “It’s a lie. She raped herself.”
Pantages’ rape trial turned Hollywood, ever seeking the sensational, into a cauldron of hate: hate for Alexander Pantages. The Herald-Examiner wrote that Pringle was “the sweetest seventeen since Clara Bow.”
On the witness stand, Pantages tearfully denied what Pringle said had ever happened, but the dies of public opinion had already been cast against him. Pantages was found “guilty as charged,” and sentenced to 50 years in prison.
Luckily for Pantages, he was a very wealthy man, and he appealed the verdict. At his first trail, a group of private investigators, whom Pantages had hired, uncovered evidence that Pringle was little more than a base prostitute. But for some reason, the judge (probably an avid reader of the Herald-Examiner) decided that this evidence was not admissible.
For Pantages’ second trial, Pantages hired attorney Jerry Geisler, later Hollywood’s leading divorce attorney, and San Francisco lawyer Jake Ehrlich. Geisler was able to convince the second judge that Pringle’s previous moral behavior was indeed significant to his client’s case. The second judge agreed, and allowed the private investigator’s finding to be admitted into evidence.
Geisler then argued that it was impractical for Pantages to try to rape Pringle in a tiny broom closet, when he had a large office, with a comfortable couch, to do the deed, if that was his bent. Geisler was successful in planting in the jury’s mind that Pringle was paid by business rivals of Pantages to set him up as a rapist.
At his second trial, Pantages was found “not guilty” by the jury, but he was a broken man in more ways than one. Pantages’ legal expenses were astronomical, and his business, because of the bad publicity he had received during two trials, was damaged significantly.
In 1931, Pantages refused Kennedy’s offer of $8 million for his businesses. But after months of operating in the red, Pantages finally relented. Only now, Kennedy paid Pantages less than $4 million, much less money than it had cost Pantages to build his “Greek Theatre” empire chain. Mentally beaten into submission, Pantages relented and gave away his theater chain to Kennedy for a fraction of what it was worth. Pantages went into reluctant early retirement, and by 1936, he was dead at the age of 60.
This story does not end here.
In 1933, Pringle approached a lawyer and told the lawyer that her story about Pantages raping her was a lie. She said she wanted to come clean and start naming names. Within days, Pringle was dead, and cyanide poisoning was the alleged cause of her death.
According to Pringle’s mother, with her last dying breath, Eunice Pringle had told her that she, through her agent, had been paid $10,000, and promised by RKO studio head Joe Kennedy, that he would make her a famous movie star, if she set up Pantages.
So in addition to being a downright creep throughout his life, was Joe Kennedy an accessory to murder too? No one will ever know for sure.
Right after he purchased the Pantages movie chain, Joe Kennedy was given an offer he couldn’t refuse. In the winter of 1931, New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was allegedly in the pocket of Kennedy’s rum-running partners in New York City, namely Owney Madden and Frank Costello, enticed Kennedy with a job to basically be his bag man for campaign contributions for his run for the Presidency. With Kennedy’s connections to the underworld, he was able to funnel illegal cash contributions from the mob into FDR’s Presidential campaign coffers – reportedly totaling $200,000. As a reward for services rendered, when FDR was elected President, he gave Kennedy the plum position of chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is like putting the fox in charge of the hen house.
With his access to information inside the Roosevelt administration, Kennedy was able to find out in advance that the fix was in for the repeal of Prohibition. Knowing his pals Madden and Costello were already making a smooth transition to other illegal activities, including gambling and prostitution, Kennedy decided to go completely straight. No more illegal shenanigans.
In early 1933, Kennedy took a trip to Europe with FDR’s son James Roosevelt. With Kennedy’s pull in the new administration, Kennedy was able to obtain the rights to be the United States representative for Haig & Haig Ltd., John Dewar and Sons, Ltd. and Gordon’s Dry Gin Company Ltd. Kennedy began buying loads of this top-shelf liquor for himself, and he stored them in warehouses near the Canadian boarder. If anyone asked, Kennedy told them this liquor was being stored for “medicinal purposes.”
On December 5, 1933, when Prohibition was repealed by the 21st amendment, Kennedy, through his new company, Somerset Importers, went from millionaire rum runner to the being the largest single distributor of Scotch in the United States of America. And now it was all legal.
Riding the coattails of FDR, Kennedy served Roosevelt’s administration in many capacities, culminating in 1938 with his appointment as Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Kennedy moved his wife and his brood, which now numbered nine kids, to England. Yet this was the job, despite Kennedy’s initial popularity in England, that would eventually end all political aspirations that Joe Kennedy had for himself.
Quite simply, Kennedy was a disaster as Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Concerning Hitler and Germany’s impending treat to world peace, Kennedy was an appeaser, basically telling the British that Hitler was not such a big problem, and if he was a problem, Hitler was their problem, and no concern of the United States of America. Joe Kennedy’s recommendation to FDR was that the United States not involve itself in Europe’s difficulties.
In August 1940, after Hitler had already conquered Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland and France, he turned his sights on Great Britain. And thus the Battle of Britain began, with air strikes from the Germans almost an everyday occurrence on the streets of Great Britain. In November 1940, Kennedy, with egg smeared all over his face, resigned as Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Joe Kennedy was ruined in politics and he knew it. So Joe Kennedy decided to do the next best thing: propel one of his sons to the Presidency of the United States of America.
Papa Kennedy’s first choice was his son Joe Jr. But on August 12th, 1944, Naval Aviator Joseph Kennedy Jr. was killed, when his plane vaporized during a flight mission over southeast England.
Plan B for Papa Kennedy was his second oldest son John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK), who had already been declared a war hero in August of 1943, when he escaped death and helped save the lives of his men, when the torpedo boat he commanded, PT 109, was sunk by a Japanese destroyer.
When the war ended, Papa Kennedy went right to work on establishing John’s career. His first move was to get his son elected to congressman of the 8th District in Massachusetts. The only problem was, the present congressman, Democrat James Michael Curley, the former three-time Mayor of Boston, had every intention of running for congress again.
But money talks, and Joe Kennedy had plenty of dough.
Papa Joe knew Curley has cash flow problems, so he convinced Curley that he should step down as congressman and run for Mayor of Boston, again. Curley protested, saying he had to money to properly run a mayoral campaign. Papa Joe said, “No problem.” And he gave Curley a reported $100,000 to run for Mayor and he even paid the salary of Curley’s campaign manager. The end result was, Curley was elected Mayor of Boston for the 4th time, and in 1946, John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress.
JFK served in Congress for eight years, and in 1954 Papa Joe thought it was time to implement step number two in his son’s quest for the Presidency. With his father’s monetary backing, JFK was elected U.S. Senator from the state of Massachusetts. In 1956, JFK made a run at the Democratic nomination for President, but was beaten back by wily veteran Adlai Stevenson. This turned out to be a good thing for JFK, since incumbent President Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower was popular with the people. Ike won his re-election over Stevenson in a landslide (59.4% to 42%). JFK was certain to have suffered the same fate as Stevenson did at this early point in JFK’s career
Everything was going fine for Papa Joe as far as JFK was concerned, but his third oldest son Robert “Bobby”Kennedy was also making a name for himself, and not in a way that pleased Papa Joe.
In February of 1957, Bobby Kennedy (RFK) was appointed the chief counsel for the McClellan Hearings into organized crime. The problem was, the people that brash Bobby was trying to put in jail were the same men Papa Joe had worked hand-in-hand with for the past 30-something years. Men like Sam Giancana from Chicago and Carlos Marcello from New Orleans were tight with Papa Joe, and they were aghast and more than a little puzzled, as to why Joe’s son Bobby was pursuing them so relentlessly.
Papa Joe told his son Bobby to lay off on his old pals, but Bobby, snarky and headstrong, would have none of that. Papa Joe knew needed men like Giancana and Marcello to “influence” the next Presidential election at the polls, if JFK had any chance of being elected.
In 1960, through actor/singer Frank Sinatra, who was friends with JFK’s brother-in-law Peter Lawford, Papa Joe reached out to old friend John Roselli, who in turn set up a clandestine meeting with Giancana, who basically ran the city of Chicago, if not the entire state of Illinois. By this time, JFK was running for the Democratic Nomination for President, and if he got the nomination, his opponent would certainly be Richard Nixon, Eisenhower’s vice president for the past eight years. Papa Joe did his market research, and he knew it was imperative for JFK to win the West Virginia Primary Election to get the Democratic nomination. And then win the state of Illinois in the general election, if JFK ever got that far.
In early 1960, Papa Joe met with Roselli, Sinatra and Giancana several times, mostly at secret meetings at the Cal-Neva Lodge, where Sinatra was a part owner, and Giancana a secret owner, most likely through Sinatra. The deal Papa Joe was pitching was basically this, “You help my son get elected, and my son and his administration will leave you guys alone, after he is elected President of the United States.”
Even though Giancana had been publicly humiliated by Bobby Kennedy at the McClellan hearings. (During a tough cross examination, when Giancana seemed to snicker at Bobby Kennedy’s line of questioning, Bobby snarled at Giancana and said, “Mr. Giancana, I thought only little girls giggled.”) the lure of having the President of the United States in his back pocket was too good for Giancana to turn down. As a result, Giancana hopped on the “Kennedy For President” bandwagon. However, Carlos Marcello, on the other hand, hated the Kennedys and absolutely refused to back Joe Kennedy’s son. Marcello reportedly even gave a hidden $500,000 in cash to Nixon’s campaign coffers.
The first order of business was the West Virgina Primary, which was set to take place on May 10, 1960. Giancana and Sinatra immediately went to work, enlisting the aid of Sinatra’s old pal Paul “Skinny” D’Amato from New Jersey. In 1959, Sinatra had a big hit with the song “High Hopes,” from his new movie “A Hole in the Head.” Through JFK’s friendship with Sinatra, “High Hopes” became JFK’s campaign song. And as if by magic, as the West Virginia Primary neared, “High Hopes” was played incessantly on all the West Virginia juke boxes, radio stations, and television stations..
For his part, Giancana went into full fund-raising mode. Giancana passed the hat to all his mob cronies for money to be used for whatever needed to be done to ”influence” West Virgina Democrats to vote for JFK. With D’Amato as the intermediary, money was given to everyone and anyone in West Virgina, who was influential in getting the Democratic voters out to the polls. Some of the money was given in straight cash, and some in the form of desks, chairs, and office supplies to Democratic politicians, with enough votes up their sleeves to guarantee a JFK Primary win. The end result was that Kennedy won the West Virginia Primary over Herbert Humphrey by winning 60% of the vote, and was now headed straight to the Presidential Elections.
Papa Joe Kennedy knew that winning the state of Illinois was crucial for his son to triumph over Nixon in the Presidential election. This is where Sam Giancana came in very handy indeed.
In late summer of 1960, Papa Joe used his friendship with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley to set up three meetings with himself, Daley, and Giancana, which took place at the Ambassador East Hotel in downtown Chicago. At these meeting, the three men discussed the strategy they would employ to guarantee the vote for JFK on Election Day.
Daley had his own election apparatus in place, where he was able to cajole, and use force when necessary, to make sure people in Chicago voted the way Daley said they should vote. In addition, Giancana used his muscle to do the same thing in the suburbs outside Chicago, especially in Cook County, where Kennedy had a victory margin of 450,000 votes—more than 10% of Chicago’s 1960 population of 3.55 million. Even with this landslide for Kennedy in and around Chicago, he won the state’s electoral votes by a mere .19 percent. What made Kennedy’s victory in Illinois so amazing was that Nixon won 92 out of the states 101 counties, but lost by such a large margin in the counties controlled by Daley and Giancana, that it didn’t make a difference.
Winning the state of Illinois’ electoral votes gave JFK the Presidential election over Nixon. In the popular vote throughout the country, JFK beat Nixon by less than 9000 votes, or 0.1 percent of the 4.75 million votes cast. So it’s safe to say, without Giancana and Daley’s help, JFK would not have been elected the President of the United States of America.
What happened next is detailed in the book “Double Cross,” written by Giancana’s nephew and brother Sam and Chuck Giancana. The first indication that Joe Kennedy had screwed Giancana and his pals was when JFK inexplicably named his brother Bobby the Attorney General of the United States (The laws were changed later so that no President could ever appoint a relative to a high position in his government). This made RFK the boss of the best ally organized crime and the Mafia ever had in America: the head of the FBI – J. Edgar Hoover.
For years Hoover did as little as possible to pursue Mafia figures, and for a long time he even denied the existence of the Mafia. Mafia boss Frank Costello claimed he got on Hoover’s good side over the years years by relaying information, through gossip columnist Walter Winchell, about fixed horse races throughout the country. Hoover bet heavy on these horse races and made himself quite a bundle of cash. And through Costello’s brilliance, none of it was traceable to the Mafia.
But Hoover was now powerless to do anything to help his Mafia associates. Bobby Kennedy came down hard and quick on the very men who put his brother and himself in power, and he did it with Papa Joe Kennedy’s blessing. Papa Joe probably thought by going after and arresting his old pals, it would put them out of commission, and unable to do anything about it. That turned out to be the biggest miscalculation Joesph P. Kennedy ever made. And it cost him his two son’s lives.
RFK went on an dedicated mission to destroyed the Mafia and organized crime in America, even though these were the same people his father had rubbed elbows with, and made money with, for almost 40 years. RFK instituted hundreds of wiretaps of Mob figures, including those on the homes and hangouts of Johnny Roselli and Sam Giancana. RFK even had Carlos Marcello snatched off the streets of New Orleans and immediately deported to Guatemala. Marcello, mad as hell, snuck back into the United States and had his attorney’s file suit against RFK. But to no avail.
The Italian mob bosses put in a call to Frank Sinatra, and they ordered Sinatra to contact RFK immediately and tell Bobby all this nonsense had to stop immediately. Sinatra did as he was told, but that only made RFK more steadfast in his mission. At this point, certain mob bosses said Sinatra should be “hit,” as a message to RFK that they were not fooling around. However, it was Giancana himself who squelched the Sinatra “hit.” Giancana told those who wanted to whack Sinatra, “Leave Frank alone. I like the way he sings ‘Chicago, My Kind of Town’.”
RFK’s wiretaps picked up communications through the country that showed how much the Mafia was angry at his double cross. Carlos Marcello was so enraged, he told an associate concerning RFK, “Don’t worry about that little Bobby son-of-a-bitch! He’s going to be taken care of.”
Giancana, who lost the most face of all the Mafia bosses, because of how he acceded to every Joe Kennedy wish, was heard saying, “I never thought it would get this fucking rough. When they put the brother in there, we were going to see some fireworks, but I never knew it would be like this. This is murder.”
On Dec. 19, 1961, less than a year after JFK was elected President, Joseph P. Kennedy suffered a stroke that paralyzed the right side of his body and left him barely able to communicate, although people close to him said his intellect was unimpaired. At this point, even if he wanted to stop his son Bobby from trying to decimate organized crime, he was not capable of doing so.
Joseph P. Kennedy was alive to see and hear about the assassinations of his two sons; first JFK, in 1963, in Dallas, Texas, and then RFK, in 1968, in Los Angeles, California. There is very little doubt that both killings were aided and abetted by the very men whom Joe Kennedy and his brood had turned their backs on. Stooges like Lee Harvey Oswald and Sirhan Sirhan were the faces of the two killings, but it is doubtful either man actually fired the killing shots.
Basically in a catatonic state from the day his was stricken, there is some doubt as to whether Joe Kennedy was fully aware of the killings of his two sons. Some reports said he sat impassive both times, showing absolutely no emotion. Others close to the family said that when he was told of the murder of his son, the President, a small teardrop trickled down the side of his face.
On November 18, 1969, Joseph P. Kennedy died in his Hyannis Port, Massachusetts home, at the age of 81. Neither of his murdered sons reached the age of 47. (JFK was 46, and RFK was 43, respectively, when they were killed.)