New book shines fresh light on the life of Rosemary Kennedy

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
New Book Shines Fresh Light on the Life of Rosemary Kennedy

Several books have been devoted to the tragic life of Rosemary Kennedy, the oldest Kennedy daughter who was permanently incapacitated at 23 after undergoing a lobotomy.

But it's a new book about her sister Kathleen that reveals Rosemary's connection to the actress who supposedly had an affair with Rosemary's father.

SEE ALSO: Did Robert F. Kennedy stray in his marriage? New book reveals shocking rumors of infidelity

Maria Riva, daughter of movie star Marlene Dietrich, first met Rosemary Kennedy in 1938 when the family was vacationing in France. She says she grew close to the Kennedys because of her mother's affair with Joe Kennedy Sr.

Riva, who's previously said she felt "gawky" around the athletic Kennedy children, says she might have latched on to Rosemary's different behavior. "Perhaps being two misfits, we felt comfortable in each other's company," Riva writes.

See photos of Rosemary Kennedy:

Rosemary Kennedy
See Gallery
Rosemary Kennedy
11th May 1938: Rose Kennedy (centre), wife of multi-millionaire and US ambassador to Britain Joseph Kennedy, and two of her daughters, Kathleen Kennedy (Marchioness of Hartington) and Rosemary Kennedy (right), leaving to be presented at Court. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 01: Washington, December 1937. On the left: Joseph Patrick KENNEDY, his daughters Jean (age 9), Eunice (age 16) and Patricia (age 13). Behind them is John Fitzgerald KENNEDY (future president of the United States). On the right: Rose Fitzgerald KENNEDY with her sons and daughters, Joseph KENNEDY JR. (age 22), Rosemary (age 19), Robert (age 12) leaning on the chimney, Kathleen (age 17) and Edward (age 6). (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01: Rosemary And Eunice Kennedy With Edward Moore On Arrival At Plymouth In 1938 (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
Rosemary, John, Eunice, Joseph Jr, and Kathleen Kennedy, Hyannisport, Massachusetts, Summer 1925. (Photo by PhotoQuest/Getty Images)
Seated at right, American socialite and philanthrophist Rose Kennedy (1890 - 1995) poses with her children, from left, Joseph P Kennedy Jr (1915 - 1944), John F Kennedy (1917 - 1963), Kathleen Kennedy (1920 - 1948), Rosemary Kennedy (1918 - 2005), and Eunice Kennedy, Brookline, Massachussetts, 1921. (Photo by Bachrach/Getty Images)
Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., is shown surrounded by his family. Clockwise, from bottom left: Robert, Eunice, John, Kathleen, Joe Jr., Rosemary, wife Rose, Teddy, Patricia and Jean. (AP Photo)
Here are the children of Joseph Kennedy, American Ambassador to the court of St. James, who with their parents attended the coronation of Pope Pius XII in Rome, Italy in 1939. The youngsters have been filling up their days with unescorted explorations of the eternal city. Here they are amid the ruins of the forum (L to R); Bobby, Eunice, Jean, Patricia, Rosemary and Teddy. (AP Photo)
Seven of the nine children of Ambassador and Mrs. Joseph Kennedy are shown (above) as they prepared to leave London, March 8, 1939 for Rome to witness papal coronation ceremonies, where their father was official U.S. representative. Left right they are: Robert, Patricia, Jean, Kathleen, Rosemary, Teddy, and Eunice. Unable to attend the ceremonies were Joseph Kennedy, Jr., who was in Madrid and John F. Kennedy, now an embassy clerk. (AP Photo)

Riva says she quickly bonded with Rosemary, who she describes as "the damaged child amidst these effervescent and quick-witted children." But Riva adds she grew distant from Rosemary after finding out about the relationship between their parents.

Rosemary's lobotomy wouldn't happen until years later, when her father decided the procedure could cure her behavioral problems. The operation would leave her institutionalized for the rest of her life.

SEE ALSO: Katie Holmes glows as Jackie Kennedy in her wedding dress in 'The Kennedys: After Camelot'

Rosemary was one of the earliest lobotomy patients; the procedure was eventually performed 50,000 times in the U.S. The surgical procedure's poor success rate and devastating side effects led to it being scrapped in the 1950s.

RELATED: See photos from JFK and Jackie O's wedding:

John F Kennedy and Jackie O Wedding
See Gallery
John F Kennedy and Jackie O Wedding
Sen. John F. Kennedy (D-MA) and his bride, the former Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, leave St. Mary's Catholic Church following their wedding in Newport, RI, September 12, 1953. Archbishop Richard J. Cushing of Boston officiated at the ceremony. (AP Photo)
Senator John F. Kennedy, D-Mass., is shown with his bride, the former Jacqueline Bouvier, leaving a Newport, RI church after their wedding on September 12, 1953. (AP Photo)
U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy, D-Mass., and his bride, the former Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, cut their wedding cake during a reception following thier marriage Sept.12, 1953 at Newport, R.I. (AP Photo)
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier and Senator John F. Kennedy (D-Mass.) will be married at a nuptial mass officiated by Abp. Richard J. Cushin of Boston in St. Mary's Church, Newport, R.I., September 12, 1953. Undated photo of Jacqueline Bouvier in her wedding gown. (AP Photo/Bradford Bachrach)
The engagement of Miss Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, 23, to U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy (D-Mass) has been announced by her mother and stepfather Mr.and Mrs. Hugh D. Auchincloss of Newport, R.I., June 25, 1953. Undated photo. Associated Press photo from Glogau. (AP Photo)
Sen. John F. Kennedy, D-Mass., and his fiancee, Jacqueline Bouvier, prepare a sailfish boat for sailing at Hyannis, Mass., June 27, 1953. (AP Photo)
Sen. John F. Kennedy, D-Mass., and his fiancee Jacqueline Bouvier, 23, pose on the lawn of the Kennedy residence during their weekend visit at Hyannis, Ma., on June 27, 1953. The couple announced their engagement June 23. (AP Photo)
U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy (D-Mass) and his fiancée Miss Jacqueline Bouvier, 23, smile happily as they prepare for a game of tennis at the Kennedy residence at Hyannis, Massachusetts on June 27, 1953, where they are spending the week-end. Miss Bouvier is from Newport, R.I., and McLean, W. Va. The couple's engagement was announced on Tuesday. (AP Photo)
Jacqueline Tortorice, second from right, of Los Angeles, Calif., leans forward Tuesday, May 27, 1997, at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston as she examines the wedding gown worn by Jacqueline Bouvier for her marriage to John F. Kennedy, which took place in Newport, R.I., on Sept. 12, 1953. Included in the exhibit are the red woolen suit Mrs. Kennedy wore during her televised tour of the White House, as well as film footage and numorous historic objects pertaining to the Kennedy Administration. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
First lady Jacqueline Kennedy raises a hand to her hair as she poses at the White House with officials of the American National Theater and Academy, March 12, 1963. From left to right: Mrs. Virginia Murray Bacon, president of the Washington chapter of ANTA; Ms. Peggy Wood, president of ANTA; Mrs. Kennedy; Stanley Young, Executive Committee of ANTA; and Mrs. Virginia Royall Inness-Brown, president, Greater New York chapter of ANTA. (AP Photo)
Massachusetts, USA, 1950's, President of the United States of America John F, Kennedy pictured as a young man with his wife Jackie Kennedy (Jacqueline Bouvier) early in their marriage (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)
Massachusetts, USA, 1950's, President of the United States of America John F, Kennedy pictured as a young man with his wife Jackie Kennedy at home (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)
NEWPORT, RI - SEPTEMBER 12: John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy outside St. Mary's Church after their wedding on September 12, 1953. (Photo by Charles F. McCormick/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1754: US President John Kennedy, President Charles de Gaulle and Jackie Kennedy in Paris at the Elysee Palace May 31, 1961 (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)
1956: Waiter clearing dishes fr. table in front of actor David Niven (3R) sitting next to Sen. Jack Kennedy's wife Jackie (2R) w. others dining at society gala sponsored by wife of US Amb. to Cuba, in the ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. At the far left is Jackie's sister Caroline Lee Bouvier (later Canfield, Radziwill, and Ross). (Photo by Yale Joel/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
March 25, 1958: Sen. Jack Kennedy cuddling his darling baby daughter Caroline who is smiling as her mom Jackie looks on in delight while relaxing on bed at home. (Photo by Ed Clark/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
JULY 20: John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy. (Photo by Charles McCormick/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Sen. Jack Kennedy slyly lending an ear to his wife Jackie's giddy whisper as they sit together at table during cocktail hour before dining at society gala sponsored by wife of US Amb. to Cuba, at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. (Photo by Yale Joel/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
American future First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy (1929 - 1994) and her daughter Caroline pause on the stairs of their vacation home and look back down, Hyannisport, Massachusetts, September 1960. Ms. Kenney wears a trenchcoat and a flower-print scarf over her hair while Caroline is dressed in a overalls. (Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Jackie Kennedy and friends, circa 1960s. (Photo by Fotosearch/Getty Images).
CIRCA 1960s: Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy enjoys herself at a picnic circa the 1960s. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, UNITED STATES - 1961: President Kennedy (R) with First Lady Jackie (L) (in fur-trimmed suit designed by Oleg Cassini) at his inauguration. (Photo by Leonard McCombe/Life Magazine/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - UNSPECIFIED DATE: American president John and Jackie Kennedy at the American Embassy during 1961 in Paris, France. (Photo by S010/COLLECTION SALINGER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
The newly-elected President John Fitzgerald Kennedy with wife Jackie after giving the traditional acceptance speech. USA, November 1960 (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
Frank Sinatra escorting Jacqueline Kennedy to her box at a gala, held at the National Guard Armory in Washington DC, the night before the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, 19th January 1961. The gala was staged by Sinatra to help pay off the campaign debts of Kennedy and the Democratic Party. (Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns)
Portrait of American First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy (1960 - 1999) in the Red Room of the White House, Washington DC, January 15, 1962. During the filming of a CBS News Special program called 'A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy,' she stands in front of an Alfred Wordsworth Thompson painting of the Civil War battle at Balls Bluff, Virginia. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)
The President and Mrs. Kennedy attend a White House Ceremony February 19, 1963. (Photo by National Archive/Newsmakers)
First Lady Jackie Kennedy speaks to a guest while attending a White House ceremony January 8, 1963 in Washington, DC. (Photo by National Archive/Newsmakers)
UNITED STATES : A contemporary report ran: ?Caroline, five, moves into the big time. Big day for a small girl. The day she moved from the junior to the senior class. The day she rode not her own pony, Macaroni, but mother?s horse, Rufus, with her mother. The girl is Caroline Kennedy, five-year-old daughter of America?s President John Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline.? President Kennedy was assassinated later that year, on November 22. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
18th October 1968: Millionaire shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis (1906 - 1975) with his wife Jackie (Bouvier Kennedy, 1929 - 1994). (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)
Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Caroline Kennedy (left), John F. Kennedy, Jr., and Lee Rodziwill (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Jackie Onassis, Anthony Radziwill, and Tina Radziwill (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Jackie Onassis during Jackie Kennedy and Family Shopping in Capri - August 24, 1970 in Capri, Italy. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Jackie Kennedy Onassis in Capri, Italy. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Jackie Onassis (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Jackie Onassis with son John Kennedy Jr during Jackie Onassis Sighting at the Philharmonic Hall - December 13, 1971 at The Philharmonic Hall in New York City, United States. (Photo by Tom Wargacki/WireImage)
Washington, D.C. May 14th 1976. Jackie Onassis and Alexandrje Orfila at The Kennedy Center (Photo by Tom Wargacki/WireImage)
Jackie Onassis and Alex Orfila during OAS Party following the Kennedy Center Gala at Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

The Kennedy family kept Rosemary shielded from public scrutiny after the procedure, but her experience inspired some members of the family to campaign for better treatment for the mentally disabled.

Rosemary's condition has been cited as part of the reason Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded the Special Olympics in 1968.

This video includes images from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and The Saturday Evening Post.

RELATED: Did Robert F. Kennedy cheat?
Robert F. Kennedy Flirted and May Have Been Unfaithful to His Wife, Book Claims

More from
'Gilmore Girls' revival series snags Alex Kingston to play mysterious, 'eccentric' character
Celine Dion reveals Pink wrote a song for her after Rene Angelil died
Bobbi Kristina Brown and Nick Gordon's friend admits 'We were all pretty bad into drugs'

Read Full Story

People are Reading