The “Hidden” Kennedy Family

LORELAI: I can’t believe [the Beales] were related to Jackie.

RORY: Well, the Kennedys kind of hid them in the background for many years.

LORELAI: Well, when you’re a Kennedy, how do you even choose who in the family to hide?

I’m not sure that there’s much evidence that the Kennedy family “hid” Jackie’s relatives away. Jackie and her sister Lee Radziwill certainly didn’t seem to pay them much attention until they began to be featured in the tabloid press as eccentric upper-class hoarders.

However, it’s said Jackie and Lee paid for Grey Gardens to be cleaned up to some extent – the house in the documentary is actually much less of a hovel than it had been previously. And it was Jackie and Lee who approached the filmmakers about the documentary, hoping it could be a way for the Beales to make some money, so they actually helped give them publicity, rather than hid them away.

Lorelai’s snarky comment reflects the number of scandals the Kennedy family have had over the years. She may be specifically thinking of Rose Marie “Rosemary” Kennedy (1918-2005) [pictured], the sister of President John F. Kennedy. Due to a difficult birth, she was developmentally delayed, although it is unknown to what extent, as the Kennedy family kept her life private.

When Rosemary was in the early twenties, she became increasingly irritable, and went into convulsions, as well as attacks of rage in which she would hit other people. At the age of 23, her father, Joseph Kennedy, agreed to her being lobotomised to help control her violent mood swings – he did not tell his wife until the procedure had taken place.

The lobotomy had a devastating effect on Rosemary, whose mental capacity became that of a two year old. She couldn’t walk or speak intelligibly, and was incontinent. She was immediately institutionalised, and separated from her family for over 20 years – her siblings did not know where she was, and the press was told she was “reclusive”. After her father’s death in 1969, she gradually became part of the family again. By that time, she had learned to walk, although with a limp.

Some say that Rosemary was one of the inspirations for Eunice Kennedy Shriver to later found the Special Olympics, although Eunice said that the Games were never about one individual.

Buck Teeth, Club Foot, Alopecia

NURSE: You’re also supposed to have buck teeth, a clubfoot, and alopecia.

Buck Teeth [pictured]

More correctly, malocclusion, misalignment or incorrect relation between the teeth of the upper and lower dental arches when they approach each other as the jaws close. It may be caused by a variety of factors, both genetic and environmental eg thumb sucking, nail biting. The treatment is usually orthodontic braces.


A birth defect where one or both feet are rotated inward and downward. It is the most common congenital malformation of the foot. Without treatment it will lead to pain and an impaired ability to walk. It may be treated with surgery or physical therapies.


Hair loss or baldness. The causes in women remain obscure, and are probably multiple.

Stanley has told his jealous wife that even though Lorelai looked pretty in her photo, she has since had her face smashed to pieces in an accident and her hair has fallen out, and the photo apparently didn’t reveal that she has a clubfoot and buck teeth. It’s a small town, so how he thought his wife would never discover he was lying I don’t know. We never hear of this couple again, so maybe they had to move.

Van Gogh

EMILY: The [painter] from Italy had some sort of breakdown.
RORY: Oh my God.
LORELAI: Hey, it didn’t hurt van Gogh, the guy should thank me.

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), Dutch post-impressionist painter who posthumously became one of the most famous and influential figures in the history of western art. In only a decade, he created more than two thousand oil paintings, most of them in the last two years of his life, his work becoming brighter, bolder, and more dramatic as his style developed.

Van Gogh suffered from psychotic episodes and delusions, and neglected his physical health, drinking heavily and not eating properly. His friendship with the painter Paul Gauguin ended with a confrontation during which van Gogh partially severed his own ear in a fit of rage. He spent time in psychiatric hospitals, but after being discharged, his depression continued. He is believed to have shot himself in the chest with a revolver, dying two days later.

Van Gogh was commercially unsuccessful during his lifetime, but attained widespread success over the ensuing decades, and today his works are among the world’s most expensive paintings to have ever sold. His legacy is honoured by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Although van Gogh suffered lifelong mental health issues, it is thought he may have had an acute breakdown when he severed his ear, as he had no memory of the event. It certainly did hurt him – he ultimately killed himself. But Lorelai probably means it didn’t do his career any harm, as the mental illness and suicide have only given him an aura of tortured, misunderstood genius in the public imagination. [picture shows a Van Gogh self-portrait].

It’s clear the Italian painter’s Lorelai-caused breakdown also hurt him – a year later, he was apparently homeless or destitute, found rummaging through Emily and Richard’s recyclables. It was typical of Emily not to check that he was okay, or offer him help – after all, it was her daughter that supposedly drove him to madness! Hopefully he was just working on an art installation and looking for materials, or something.