Were the Kennedys First Called “Camelot” Because of the Musical Camelot?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about musicals and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the musical urban legends featured so far.

MUSICAL URBAN LEGEND: The Kennedys being referred to as “Camelot” came about directly because of the musical Camelot.

When John F. Kennedy was elected as the President of the United States in 1960, he was the youngest man ever elected President (he remains today the youngest man ever elected President). Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline, and their two young children, Caroline and John Jr., were soon the most recognizable family in the United States.

In 1956, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederic Loewe debuted their classic musical, My Fair Lady, which was one of the most successful musicals of all time (and remains one of the most popular musicals ever). So their follow-up project was one of the most anticipated musicals that you could imagine. They ultimately decided on adapting T.H. White’s take on King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, The Once and Future King.

Titled Camelot, the musical starred Richard Burton as King Arthur, Julie Andrews as Queen Guenevere and a young Robert Goulet as Sir Lancelot. It opened in 1960, just one month after Kennedy was named the next President of the United States (the show’s run ended in January 1963).

After a bit of a false start, it was buoyed by a performance of four of the songs from the musical on the Ed Sullivan Show, leading to Camelot also becoming a rousing success.

For years, the Kennedys have been referred to as “Camelot.”

Was there a connection?

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