Jack and Jackie Kennedy Home Movies & Pictures of their Presidential Easters

The Kennedys leaving his parents Palm Beach, Florida home for church on Easter morning   April 14, 1963.2. (2)

The Kennedys leaving his parents Palm Beach, Florida home for church on Easter morning April 14, 1963.

They’re the most famous First Family, and it’s the most famous White House public event – so why didn’t President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, First Daughter Caroline Kennedy and First Son John Kennedy, Jr. ever make an appearance at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll during their residency in the mansion in 1961, 1962 and 1963?

First Lady Jackie Kennedy is the object of curiosity as she exits St. Edward's Church Good Friday services, March 31, 1961.

First Lady Jackie Kennedy is the object of curiosity as she exits St. Edward’s Church Good Friday services, March 31, 1961.

Following the family tradition set by his formidable father and clan patriarch Joseph P. Kennedy and his wife Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, the President  joined them at their Palm Beach, Florida estate. Along with Jackie and their children, his brothers and sisters, their spouses and children, they maintained a family tradition of gathering there on Easter.  In the first year of his presidency, Easter fell on Sunday, April 2, 1961. When  the President and Mrs. Kennedy appeared at the family church that Sunday, St. Edward’s Catholic Church, they came without their three and a half year old daughter Caroline. More unusual to reporters and local residents was the extra-large security detail around the church. The next day, the American public learned that a week earlier, the Secret Service had uncovered a credible threat to harm the President and First Lady and a plot to kidnap the little First Daughter. The threat had been made by Cubans living in the area who supported their island nation’s communist dictator Fidel Castro, who had led a 1959 overthrow of President Fulgencio Batista‘s government. After church, the President played fourteen rounds of golf with his father at Seminole Country Club.

The President (far right) played golf with his father (second from left) and brothers-in-law Peter Lawford (third from left) and Steve Smith (far left) after Easter supper in 1961.

The President (far right) played golf with his father (second from left) and brothers-in-law Peter Lawford (third from left) and Steve Smith (far left) after Easter supper in 1961.

Two days later, before leaving Florida, the press reported that he was back, playing eight rounds, with his father and two brothers-in-law Steve Smith and Peter Lawford. What nobody knew at the time was that on the same day, he approved the failed invasion of Cuba soon to be infamously known as the Bay of Pigs.

Unidentified individuals with an oversize chocolate bunny made in Geneva, Switzerland. The bunny was sent as an Easter gift to Caroline Kennedy from the Board of County Commissioners in Palm Beach County, Florida.

Unidentified individuals with an oversize chocolate bunny made in Geneva, Switzerland. The bunny was sent as an Easter gift to Caroline Kennedy from the Board of County Commissioners in Palm Beach County, Florida.

It was not an entirely ominous Easter for the Kennedys that year. A massive Easter bunny made by expert chocolatiers in Switzerland was sent to Palm Beach, where the county’s board of commissioners delivered it as a gift for the First Daughter. As is a routine measure with gifts of foods to members of the presidential family, it was almost certainly destroyed before one bit of bunny ear could be snapped and sampled.

The Kennedys emerging from St. Edward's Catholic Church after Easter services on April 9, 1961. (Bert Morgan photos)

The Kennedys emerging from St. Edward’s Catholic Church after Easter services on April 9, 1961. (Bert Morgan photos)

Whether or not it was to due to security concerns, the President and First Lady did not attend Easter services at St. Edwards the next year, but rather a private mass that was conducted in the home of the President’s parents. It may have also been due to the fact that his father had suffered a stroke four months earlier and was unable to leave his home. The First Family rented the nearby home of Captain John Paul rather than attempt to establish themselves in his parent’s home, large as it was. Easter fell late that year, on April 22, 1962 and the heat in Florida made it already feel like summer, but Jackie Kennedy got a cheer of approval when she appeared at the senior Kennedy house, in white gloves, light purple Oleg Cassini dress and ivory-colored lace kerchief. She had only just returned from her famous trip to India and Pakistan.

The Kennedy family onr Easter Sunday, April 20, 1962.

The Kennedy family onr Easter Sunday, April 20, 1962.

Absent from the April 15, 1963 White House Egg Roll on the Monday after Easter, perhaps assuming there would certainly be at least one more Easter for them to attend, in 1964, the First Family again resided in the Paul home during their Easter vacation that year. Though most American mothers might not believe it, Jackie Kennedy was doing there what many of them were doing in their own homes – helping her children dye Easter eggs different colors, and apply stickers and create little paper stands for them. Joining them in the endeavor was Sally Fay, the First Lady’s goddaughter and the daughter of the President’s old friend Paul “Red” Fay.

Jackie Kennedy cuts out egg stands with her son John Kennedy, Jr.

Jackie Kennedy cuts out egg stands with her son John Kennedy, Jr.

Jackie Kennedy coloring eggs with her son John. Her daughter Caroline and family friend Sally Fay at Eastertime 1963.

Jackie Kennedy coloring eggs with her son John. Her daughter Caroline and family friend Sally Fay at Eastertime 1963.

Easter Sunday 1963. President Kennedy sits with his daughter while Jackie Kennedy steals a smoke behhind them.

Easter Sunday 1963. President Kennedy sits with his daughter while Jackie Kennedy steals a smoke behhind them.

On Easter morning, the First Lady guided the children out into the living room where first John offered his father an egg, followed by Caroline shyly presenting him with one. Then, something upset the two and a half year old First Son, until the President distracted him with a toy that involved his great fascination of airplanes. Besides the pictures taken that day by a White House photographer, a silent color film was made, seen below. All of these historical materials now part of the public domain collection of the John K. Kennedy Presidential Library.

Easter Egg Rollers at the 1961 White House event.

With or without the First Family, the White House Easter Egg Roll goes on and White House photographers were in attendance at the public event. Perhaps the most brilliantly colorful images first made of the White House Easter Egg Roll were captured at the 1961 event, showing children and adults alike in poses and clothes evoking the current, popular AMC cable television series Mad Men.

That article will be posted here later this week.

Look also for a photo essay about the history of the event and the First Pets and First Families who attended.

And, finally, to round out the week before Easter, there will be an article drawn from new findings which prove that it was a President’s son who started the first White House Easter Egg Roll, yet remains uncredited for it.

See also:

A Day for Dogs and other White House Easter Egg Roll Memories

http://carlanthonyonline.com/2012/04/04/a-day-for-dogs-other-white-house-easter-egg-roll-memories/

The President’s Son who hosted the first White House Easter Egg yet remains uncredited

http://carlanthonyonline.com/2012/04/05/lincoln-sons-concern-for-disabled-boy-starts-white-house-easter-egg-roll/

Coming: The Mad Men Era White House Easter Egg Roll, 1961


Categories: First Families, History, The Kennedys, U.S. Holidays

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10 replies »

  1. excellent article… as always sir!

  2. Fantastic. Love it. Thanks for posting. I will re-post to my fb page “Jackie or Marilyn” and credit you.

    I love that JBK is wearing an extremely casual Lilly Pulitzer shift while dying easter eggs.

    Happy Easter.

    • Glad you enjoyed it – weird to me is how the first one was right before the Bay of Pigs – and nobody else could possibly know but it seems like there had to be a connection between the planned invasion and the kidnapping plot, which I had never heard about before at all! Just discovered it in a Florida newspaper. And don’t credit me so much as give the name of the website! Thanks kiddo.

  3. Great Carl! Thank you for posting, I really enjoyed it! Xx Your sis in law

  4. Carl, just discovered this site, what a treat! I particularly enjoyed the Kennedy Easter home movies, so sweet. I look forward to perusing the rest of the site, there’s a wealth of information here.

    • Well – thanks very much, very VERY much – I try to make sure there is only original content here which can’t be found elsewhere and think of it more as a magazine rather than a blog. I do need time to better organize access to the archives and make it easier for the public. I do end up giving so much information away for free whereas, not too long ago at all, one had print venues for which to pitch and write such pieces and at least earn something. But we shall see. From my research it seems that one can’t expect advertising until at least two years of being up and running. In the meanwhile, the greater number of those like yourself who “follow” or “subscribe” becomes an important factor in garnering advertising. In any event – I greatly appreciate your writing and following.

  5. I was there in either 61 or 62 I lived a few blocks away where the J Edgar hoover building is today, my Uncle was part of White House Security, and I think technically they were our closest neighbors, I was 4 or 5, lol.

    • Wow – glad the pictures were up for you to see. Did any of it sort of prompt any new memories, or did any of it look familiar? You know you might check with the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library’s Audio-Visual Division and see if there are more pictures in the collection from those two Easter Monday Egg Rolls in 1961 and 1962 – maybe you are in one of them! Thanks for writing.

Trackbacks

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