JFK speechwriter Sorenson dies

By Jennifer Lipman, November 1, 2010
Ted Sorenson with President Kennedy

Ted Sorenson with President Kennedy

Theodore Sorensen, John F Kennedy’s speechwriter, has died at the age of 82.

Mr Sorenson, whose mother Annis Chaikin was of Russian Jewish descent, died in New York following a stroke.
He joined the future president’s senatorial staff in 1953, when he was 25 and just out of law school.

He worked with President Kennedy during the 1960 presidential election and was one of the main figures in what came to be known as Camelot.

Mr Sorenson, considered one of the most influential speechwriters in American political history, worked on President Kennedy’s inaugural address and had input in the president’s Pulitzer Prize winning book "Profiles in Courage.”

As special counsel, he was involved in America’s response to the Cuban missile crisis. After President Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, he remained a member of Lyndon Johnson’s administration.

However he left public life in 1964 to work as a lawyer, briefly returning to the political arena to advise on Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign.

In his memoir, Mr Sorenson wrote of his sadness over President Kennedy’s death. He said: “"I do not know whether I have ever fully recovered.

“Deep in my soul I have not stopped weeping.

“The deep sadness of that time remained, only to be reinforced five years later by the murder of his brother Robert. Those two senseless tragedies robbed me of my future.

His father was a Unitarian and Mr Sorenson once commented: “As a Danish Russian Jewish Unitarian, I am surely a member of the smallest minority among the many small minorities that made this country great."

Last updated: 11:36am, November 9 2010