Carl Reiner had to send the pilot script for ''The Dick Van Dyke Show'' to President Kennedy's father
Reiner needed the approval of someone very important.
One of the great things about television is its widespread appeal. A good episode of television can unite people, even if they otherwise have nothing in common. Granted, television has its faults, as we all know, but there's nothing that brings two people closer together quite like sharing a laugh between them. You never know what sort of friends you have around the world that are interested in the same shows you are.
For someone like Carl Reiner, it was easy to see what sort of people were interested in The Dick Van Dyke Show; what was surprising was just who was expressing that interest. According to Reiner's book, I Remember Me, Reiner had just finished developing the pilot script for his series, at that time entitled Head of the Family. At the time, Reiner's script no doubt showed promise, and because of that, actor Peter Lawford was inspired to take advantage of the opportunity and help produce the series.
Here's where the story gets interesting. Lawford was married to Patricia Kennedy, sister to President John F. Kennedy, which meant that he had wed into a kind of American dynasty. Because of this, his potential engagements would have to be analyzed with a fine-toothed comb, so it wouldn't reflect poorly on the Kennedy family. This meant that there was one person whose approval mattered more than any manager or studio: Joseph P. Kennedy.
Reiner wrote, "Before shooting the script. I received a request from my agent to mail a copy of the script to Joseph P. Kennedy, the father of President John F. I asked 'Why in the world would he want to read it?' and I was told that his daughter, Pat, was married to Peter Lawford, which made Peter a member of the Kennedy clan, Joseph P. wanted to be certain that my script reflected good morals and wholesome values."
While Reiner described JFK in his writing as "President John F." it's likely that at the time Joseph P. Kennedy requested the script, his son hadn't been inaugurated yet, seeing as the original pilot for Head of the Family aired in 1960, while JFK won the election later that year.
Despite all of this, Reiner had reservations about sending his pilot over to Joseph Kennedy. Still, he obliged by his agent's wishes, and luckily, Kennedy approved of the script. Reiner concluded, "As far as I know, the one positive thing Joseph P. Kennedy ever did was not object to his son-in-law financing my pilot."