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Classical 101

The Camelot Myth

Return to Camelot Music of the Kennedy White House
WOSU Public Media

"I felt as though I were inside a golden coach drawn by four 
pure-bred white horses into the glitter of mythic Camelot."

-- Isaac Stern on meeting President Kennedy

Due to the charismatic and stylish couple inhabiting 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the Kennedy White House became known as Camelot.

Alan Jay Lerner, Kennedy’s Harvard classmate, had penned the hit song "Camelot" for the Broadway musical, a personal favorite of President Kennedy. The tune quickly became the unofficial theme of the Kennedy administration.

In an interview with Life magazine a few days after her husband’s assassination, Jackie Kennedy confessed that "I’m so ashamed of myself--all I keep thinking of is this line from a musical comedy."

At night they would listen to the musical on their record player before they went to sleep, and JFK’s favorite song came at the very end of the recording. According to Jackie, President Kennedy had been enamored with the Knights of the Round Table from early childhood, and he held to an idealistic view of history replete with heroes.

Linking JFK with Camelot, Jackie Kennedy remarked that "There’ll be great presidents again… but there’ll never be another Camelot."

Don’t let it be forgot 
That once there was a spot 
For one brief, shining moment that 
was known as Camelot.
--President Kennedy's favorite lyrics from the Broadway show