Shea was born to M. Corbett Shea and an unnamed mother in New York in 1919. He was the older brother of future attorney general Daniel Shea. He grew up being a tough kid and a womanizer. He met Michael Corleone in the 1930s, as their fathers did business together. The two boys got drunk on stolen liquor, the same liquor which their fathers were bootlegging. Shea became a war hero during World War II, and later wrote a best-selling book about it. He was married in the early 1950s and had a son and daughter.
Term as Governor
Jimmy Shea was elected governor of the state of New Jersey from 1956 to 1960. He was a presidential candidate in the 1960 presidential election for the Democratic Party. He was backed by Michael Corleone at a commission meeting and was then backed by the Mafia as a whole. The members of the Mafia thought he would turn a blind eye on the Mafia, and not prosecute them for their activities.
During his political career, Shea was known to be unfaithful to his wife. He dated many starlets, (including Michael's current girlfriend Marguerite Duvall) several years before.
In January 1961, Shea had the CIA director Albert Soffet contact Nick Geraci, arranging for Geraci to lead an assassin squad in the New Jersey Meadowlands. This squad was used in 1962 to assassinate a Fidel Castro double and that almost led to war with Cuba. Shea appointed his brother Danny Shea as the attorney general, and they both came down hard on organized crime.
In 1963, his presidency came under fire when it was discovered that Cuba was hiding missiles for the Soviet Union, and this resulted in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1963. Cuba and Russia stepped down however, significantly increasing Shea's popularity in the American public. His brother at this time prosecuted New Orleans Mafia Boss Carlo Tramonti.
In the Summer of 1964, Shea's presidency came to an abrupt end when he was assassinated after swimming at a large Miami Hotel. He was shaking hands and signing autographs when he was suddenly shot three times, twice in the body, once in the neck by a lone gunman, Cuban immigrant Juan Carlos Santiago. Santiago was killed within a few seconds by the Secret Service. Shea's death was a sudden sadness to all Americans and became a milestone in American history.
He was succeeded as President by his Vice President Ambrose Payton of Coral Gables, Florida. It is implied that he may have had a role in the shooting, as he and Shea did not like one another, and he wanted to be President himself.
James Shea is based on former U.S. president John F. Kennedy. Kennedy was a son of Joseph Patrick Kennedy (1888-1969), a businessman, diplomat, and politician. Joseph allegedly owned bootlegging operations during Prohibition, though his biographers have not been able to confirm it.
Allegations connecting Joseph to organized crime mostly derive from statements by crime boss Frank Costello (1891-1973) who claimed that he used to work for Joseph Kennedy. Costello was one of the inspirations for the character Vito Corleone.
Notes and references
|President of the United States|
Dwight D. Eisenhower