John Fitzgerald Kennedy, known as JFK, was born on May 29, 1917, in Brookline, Massachusetts. He was the second child of Joseph Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Kennedy, who would eventually have nine children--JFK's older brother Joe Jr., and his younger siblings Rosemary, Kathleen, Eunice, Patricia, Robert and Edward. This generation of Kennedys would eventually become one of America's most famous political families.
Childhood in the Kennedy household was shaped largely by the influence of JFK's father, Joseph, an ambitious man who would achieve great success both in business and politics. The son of a Boston saloon owner, Joseph Kennedy had graduated from Harvard and married into Boston's Irish Catholic upper class in 1914 when he wed Rose, the daughter of the popular mayor John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald. At the time of JFK's birth, the United States had just entered World War I; Joseph Sr. left his job at a Boston bank to help manage a shipyard in nearby Quincy, which was busy churning out war vessels. After the war ended, Joseph Sr. began investing on his own, first buying out a chain of New England movie theaters in the early 1920s. He spent time in Hollywood, buying and selling movie companies, before returning in 1930 to New York, where his acumen as a stock market speculator became legendary. He survived and even profited from the Wall Street Crash of 1929, and by the mid-1930s his fortune was immense. In 1949, he established trust funds for his children, guaranteeing each ten million dollars. In 1957, three years before JFK's run for the presidency, Joe Sr.'s fortune was valued at between $200 and $400 million.
With financial success came political involvement. In the 1930s, Joe Sr. became a major backer of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal, making large donations to the Democratic Party and even penning a book, in 1936, entitled I'm for Roosevelt. Later, his support for some of Roosevelt's more radical fiscal policies cooled, but he remained an enthusiastic Democrat and a famous, if controversial, national figure, holding posts as various as Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Ambassador to Great Britain.