Carl Reiner had to send the pilot script for ''The Dick Van Dyke Show'' to President Kennedy's father

Reiner needed the approval of someone very important.

One of the great things about television is its widespread appeal. A good episode of television can unite people, even if they otherwise have nothing in common. Granted, television has its faults, as we all know, but there's nothing that brings two people closer together quite like sharing a laugh between them. You never know what sort of friends you have around the world that are interested in the same shows you are.

For someone like Carl Reiner, it was easy to see what sort of people were interested in The Dick Van Dyke Show; what was surprising was just who was expressing that interest. According to Reiner's book, I Remember Me, Reiner had just finished developing the pilot script for his series, at that time entitled Head of the Family. At the time, Reiner's script no doubt showed promise, and because of that, actor Peter Lawford was inspired to take advantage of the opportunity and help produce the series. 

Here's where the story gets interesting. Lawford was married to Patricia Kennedy, sister to President John F. Kennedy, which meant that he had wed into a kind of American dynasty. Because of this, his potential engagements would have to be analyzed with a fine-toothed comb, so it wouldn't reflect poorly on the Kennedy family. This meant that there was one person whose approval mattered more than any manager or studio: Joseph P. Kennedy.

Reiner wrote, "Before shooting the script. I received a request from my agent to mail a copy of the script to Joseph P. Kennedy, the father of President John F. I asked 'Why in the world would he want to read it?' and I was told that his daughter, Pat, was married to Peter Lawford, which made Peter a member of the Kennedy clan, Joseph P. wanted to be certain that my script reflected good morals and wholesome values."

While Reiner described JFK in his writing as "President John F." it's likely that at the time Joseph P. Kennedy requested the script, his son hadn't been inaugurated yet, seeing as the original pilot for Head of the Family aired in 1960, while JFK won the election later that year.

Despite all of this, Reiner had reservations about sending his pilot over to Joseph Kennedy. Still, he obliged by his agent's wishes, and luckily, Kennedy approved of the script. Reiner concluded, "As far as I know, the one positive thing Joseph P. Kennedy ever did was not object to his son-in-law financing my pilot."

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20 Comments

MadMadMadWorld 4 months ago
Many saw Dick and Mary as tv's glamorous couple version of John and Jackie Kennedy in those first three years (1961-63). The interesting thing that also connects the First Couple with The Dick Van Dyke Show, is the pilot episode "The Sick Boy and the Sitter" (aired on Oct. 3, 1961), that was filmed on Friday, Jan. 20, 1961, the day Kennedy was inaugurated.
KJExpress 4 months ago
Oh, please. 🙄
KJExpress MrsPhilHarris 4 months ago
I mean, Joseph Kennedy all of a sudden worried about morals?
MrsPhilHarris KJExpress 4 months ago
That’s what I was thinking. He and his “secretary” had a thing going on not to mention the whole Gloria Swanson saga.
KJExpress MrsPhilHarris 4 months ago
Exactly! What a joke. 🤨
pops1 MrsPhilHarris 3 months ago
Don't forget that he was also an illegal bootleggers.
MrsPhilHarris pops1 3 months ago
Yes he was! Made a lot of money bootlegging.
Runeshaper 5 months ago
That is both strange and interesting lol
cperrynaples 5 months ago
Bonus Question: What popular sitcom of the '60's was produced by Peter Lawford! Hint: It ran on MeTV!
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I thought you meant someone was on the run.
Can't believe I stumped you! It was The Patty Duke Show!
It was NOT Peter Lawford!
William Asher, Robert Costello, Stanley Prager, and Bob Sweeney were the producers. Where did you come up with the Peter Lawford as a TV producer of her show?
He did produce her 1965 film, "Billie" so maybe that is your confusion with him about Patty Duke.
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