Peter Lawford

lawford1September 7, 1923 – December 24, 1984

Peter Sydney Ernest Lawford was a successful actor, to be sure. The English actor dutifully rose through the Hollywood ranks, eventually landing lead or supporting roles in hits like Easter Parade and Royal Wedding. He appeared on television throughout the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s and his later career found him not only appearing in popular movies like Exodus and The Longest Day but also acting as producer on a number of films. It was, however, his off-screen life that garnered by far the most attention.

In 1954, Lawford married Pat Kennedy, younger sister to then-Senator, and soon-to-be President, John F. Kennedy. Having been born into a family that was peripherally related to the British aristocracy, Peter was now a part of what amounted to – at the time – American royalty. He rounded all of this out by becoming part of the Hollywood upper crust, as well, when Frank Sinatra – with whom he had worked on It Happened In Brooklyn – invited Lawford to be a part of the fabled Rat Pack. Dubbed “The Brother-In-Lawford” by Frank, he made live appearances and two movies with “the Summit.” But, Sinatra giveth and Sinatra taketh away. Following a 1962 snafu where Frank blamed Lawford for a failed attempt to get President Kennedy to stay at the crooner’s house on a California trip, the friendship broke and Peter was out. Still, he carried on. Dozens of credits and 4 marriages later, Lawford’s health began to deteriorate. He entered the hospital in December of 1984 suffering from liver and kidney failure. While in the hospital, he had a heart attack and died on Christmas Eve at the age of 61.

Burial

Cremated – Lawford was cremated and his ashes were entombed in a crypt at Westwood. All was well and good until his 4th wife – whom he had been married to for 6 months at the time of his death – wrote a book about him. In 1988, she had his ashes removed from Westwood under the supposed pretense of being forced to do so by unpaid funeral expenses she blamed on “The Kennedys” (aka…his children with Pat). Neither “The Kennedys” nor the cemetery corroborated her story, but there she was with an urn on a boat, scattering Peter’s earthly remains to the Pacific Ocean some 4 years after he died. The National Enquirer was present. I’m sure the book was great.

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