Notable Notes
May 2013

President Kennedy's White House Tan

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Dr Hoenig is in private practice. Dr Burgdorf is retired.

JAMA Dermatol. 2013;149(5):597. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.3155

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. Many of us will never forget that Friday, November 22, 1963, when we heard the tragic news that President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) had been shot in Dallas, Texas.

President Kennedy was a charismatic leader, full of wit and humor. He seemed to be the image of youth and vigor, always tanned and seemingly ready to pass a football.

The truth was quite different. Kennedy suffered from Addison disease, a fact kept concealed from the public during his political career. During September 1947, while overseas, he developed weakness, nausea, vomiting, and hypotension. He was diagnosed as having Addison disease at the London Clinic.1 Kennedy's Addison disease probably resulted from autoimmune adrenal destruction, as do most cases today in adults.2 Kennedy also had a striking yellow skin discoloration that was noticed months earlier and mentioned in Time magazine: “ . . . young John Kennedy, still atabrine-yellow from PT-boat service in the Pacific.”3

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