The Oscar winning actor was the first to play President Kennedy when he starred in PT-109 (1963), the story of Kennedy’s heroic service in the Navy in the Pacific Theatre during WWII. Released a few months before the assassination, the film had the distinction of being the first presidential film bio to be released while the main character was still in office.
Probably due to Joseph Kennedy’s Hollywood connections, the White House was given casting approval. In addition to Robertson, Warren Beatty (said to be Jacqueline Kennedy’s choice after she saw him in Splendor in the Grass) and Peter Fonda were under consideration for the part.
Critics were not wildly enthusiastic although Robertson himself received good reviews including one from the Catholic News Service, which praised his “likeable performance in the impossible role of a flawless character.”
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