John F. Kennedy

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President John F. Kennedy. Action Comics No. 285. Art by Curt Swan.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)

The 35th President of the United States, holding office from January 1961 until his assassination by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas, in November 1963. He was the youngest man and the first Roman Catholic ever to be elected President.

When Superman presents Supergirl to the world in February 1962, President Kennedy receives her in the White House. "Supergirl," remarks the President, "I know you'll use your super-powers not only to fight crime, but to preserve peace in our troubled world!" "Thank you, Mr. President!" replies Supergirl graciously. "...I will!" (Act No. 285/1: "The World's Greatest Heroine!").

When Metropolis television station WMET-TV inaugurates its new "Our American Heroes" series with a program honoring Superman, "our greatest American hero," Superman finds himself faced with the awkward dilemma of having to appear on the show simultaneously as Superman and as Superman's "friend" Clark Kent. The Man of Steel resolves the problem, however, by entrusting President Kennedy with the secret of his dual identity so that the President, disguised by a pair of eyeglasses and a rubberoid Clark Kent face mask, can appear briefly on the TV show in the role of Clark Kent. "I knew I wasn't risking my secret identity with you!" remarks Superman to President Kennedy afterward. "After all, if I can't trust the President of the United States, who can I trust?" (Act No. 309/1, February 1964: "The Superman Super-Spectacular!").

When television journalist Lana Lang broadcasts a film report highlighting the poor physical condition of American youth, President Kennedy summons Superman to the White House and urges him to lend his super-services "to the important job of getting our youth into A-1 physical shape!"

"We must show our youngsters," exclaims the President, "that everyone has to keep fit--not just sports heroes! Once we lose our physical alertness, our mental awareness will vanish as well!"

And so, after promising to do his part "to help close this...'muscle gap,'" Superman flies around the United States to build support for President Kennedy's vital physical fitness program, inspiring young athletes to improve their prowess, showing overweight youngsters how to shed excess pounds, encouraging a pair of track men to have greater confidence in their physical abilities.

"Reports are streaming in from all over the country, Superman!" beams the President afterward. "The results of your one-man campaign have been excellent!" And later he adds, "Thanks to you, the youth of America is taking a real interest in our program!" (S No. 170/1, Jul 1964: "Superman's Mission for President Kennedy!"). (TGSB)

In later retellings, it is revealed that Superboy also meets President Kennedy on several occasions. On the first occasion, it is shown that early in Superboy's career, after President Kennedy is forced to reach Superboy through telephoning Chief Parker, Superboy builds his signal lamp as an easier means for the President or Chief Parker to contact him (NSB No. 23/2, Nov 1981: "The Day of the Secret Signal"). On another occasion, Superboy is summoned by President Kennedy to help prevent Russian spies from sabotaging a Project Mercury space launch (NSB No. 27/2, Mar 1982: "Superboy's Mystery Mission").

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