The highly anticipated Season 2 of “The Crown” hit Netflix today and with it, a new chapter of political intrigue, elegant royalty and… a drug addicted JFK? Say what?
It’s a side of him we haven’t seen before in a dramatized form, but Netflix doesn’t shy away from the darker side of JFK’s mythic persona and it’s played remarkably by actor Michael C. Hall, who is perhaps best known for his role as the friendly neighborhood serial killer, “Dexter.” See below:
The revelations about Kennedy’s illness can be uncovered in the forthcoming book by Robert Dallek, An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963. The author was given top secret access to the man’s private life, which included his X-rays and prescription drug records.
According to the records, Kennedy suffered from colitis, prostatis and Addison’s disease, which is a rare one. Addison’s comes about when the body is unable to produce the appropriate amounts of hormones produced by the adrenal glands, which leads to a number of problems. To learn more about Addison’s, click here.
To make matters worse, Kennedy also had osteoporosis of the lower back which resulted in a severe pain that made him unable to perform simple Presidential tasks like reaching across his desk to sign a bill.
The pain was so severe that he had to secretly take 12 pain meds and then even more when the stress of his job kicked in. According to records, his cocktail consisted of Demerol and methadone for pain; Ritalin, a stimulant; meprobamate and librium for anxiety; barbiturates for sleep; thyroid hormone; and injections of a blood derivative, gamma globulin.
During the 1961 Bay of Pigs Fiasco, the fate of the country and possibly, the world, rested on his shoulders. As Russian and Cuban leaders tossed the ball in his court and waited for a declaration of war, Kennedy was in the midst of popping Addison’s disease painkillers for his back, anti-spasmodics for his colitis, antibiotics for urinary tract infections, antihistamines for his allergies, and even an anti-psychotic drug to take care of a mood change brought on by the other drugs. Needless to say, times were tense.
But considering the amount of drugs in his system, Kennedy’s judgement was never clouded, and he still went on to be remembered as a mythic figure of calculated diplomacy.
All the president’s men went through great lengths to keep his addiction a secret. The fear was that it would ruin his chances of beating out Nixon in the 1960 election.
Michael C. Hall opened up to EW about playing JFK:
“He was very much a functional addict — initially by necessity and then he was managing the side effects. I think he had his own Dr. Feelgood and that was part of the picture.”
Lyndron Johnson even went as far as revealing Kennedy’s Addison’s disease to the public, which the Kennedy campaign completely denied. To this day, his closest aides won’t admit that he had the disease, attributing his vision problems with a war wound.
Dallek detailed in the book that it was possible Lee Harvey Oswald had the advantage when aiming his target at Kennedy, because he was wearing a corset for his back problems that kept him sitting straight up. He speculates that it’s possible Kennedy could have lived if he had just toppled over after the first shot.