“To be honest, we shouldn’t be talking about the Kennedys, we should be talking about the Roosevelts.”
~Editor-in-Chief Johnny Roosevelt, who is in no way biased
Having learned about the incredible badassary behind the first two children of Theodore Roosevelt, Alice and Teddy Jr., it’s of little surprise that America was able to annex the moon in the 1960’s (pshh, don’t pretend it “doesn’t belong to any country” there’s a damn US flag on the thing, we get first rights to all the moon rocks and space hookers). Is it surprising to you that Roosevelt gave birth to six children who came to adulthood around the time where America was beginning to become a world power? We’d suspect it’d only be surprising if you’re the kind of person who is surprised to see a bullet come out of a loaded gun when you pull the trigger.
Yes, the spawn of Roosevelt have shaped America in a myriad of ways, which is why we continue our series of Teddy’s Tots to look into the individual American contribution of each one of Roosevelt’s sons. Today we look at Kermit Roosevelt, the most unfortunately named Roosevelt with the most unfortunate life. Despite his lifelong issues with depression, he was still able to show us what being an American was about, which is why we salute…
Kermit Roosevelt: Explorer, Soldier, Author, American
Seen here while in the middle of saying “I am SO getting laid tonight.”
Now we’re gonna get the unpleasant part out of the way. Kermit Roosevelt battled with alcoholism and depression his whole life, and he ultimately committed suicide at the age of 53. Hey, wait a minute you guys, come back! No, we’re not gonna dwell on the sad part, we’re gonna focus on all the things Kermit was able to achieve despite his personal difficulties and the fact that he was named after a frog.
A badass frog, yes, but still.
Kermit Roosevelt was born in 1889, just two years after his stormed-Normandy-with-a-cane brother, Theodore Jr. Roosevelt was prone to illnesses as a child, but made up for that with incredible intelligence. As in, it took him only two and a half years to get a degree from Harvard. After his first year at Harvard, he took a break from school, because when you get a chance to murder giant animals in Africa for sport with Theodore Roosevelt, you take advantage of it. He developed a taste for the wilderness (and possibly for killing animals) so from 1913 to 1914, he and his father decided to lead an expedition in South America.
Now, there are a lot of places in South America you can go to if you suspect you are a Roosevelt (and therefore, somewhat invincible). The Amazon rainforest is filled with terrifyingly deadly spiders and giant snakes that eat small dogs in Samuel L. Jackson movies. There are numerous active volcanoes constantly erupting. The Andes mountains test your stamina, and there were lawless areas that needed taming. Kermit and Teddy Roosevelt decided these didn’t sound badass enough, so they decided to tour the River of Doubt. No, that’s what it was fucking called. The River of Doubt sounds like something Indiana Jones would have to swim across to find the holy grail (probably after a Nazi waded in there first and turned to dust).
After the expedition, they changed the name from “River of Doubt” to “Rio Roosevelt” because fuck you doubt, this is the Roosevelts we’re talking about. It’s important to note that during this time, Kermit Roosevelt grew out a beard that leaves no doubt that he was the influence for Al Pacino’s portrayal in Serpico.
“I’m a marked man in this department! For what!?”
While the expedition started as a scientific one lead by Teddy Roosevelt and Candido Rondon, it quickly proved dangerous and deadly. Teddy Roosevelt quickly came down with a case of Malaria and a leg injury so serious it nearly killed him, and he only survived because A- he was Teddy Roosevelt and B- Kermit Roosevelt literally saved Theodore Roosevelt’s life. We’re talking about him coming down with Malaria himself and pretending he wasn’t sick so his dad could get his Quinine. It was during this time that a few of the crew members perished- one who drowned in the River (the River of Doubt, just in case you forgot how horrifying it sounds), while another was murdered…wait what the shit? Someone was straight up murdered?
Apparently, the laziest member of the crew (read as, totally douchebag) was caught stealing rations by the leader of the hired help for the trip, who was one of the most dependable members of the crew. The crew member killed the hired help. When Teddy Roosevelt found out, he got up from his cot, said, “Forget this Malaria, I got some ass to kick” and chased after the fucker with a gun. They ended up abandoning him in the middle of the forest for him to die on his own, because you do not fuck with the Roosevelts.
“Ha, man, remember that one dude that we left exiled in the forest? Total d-bag, right?”
Kermit Roosevelt would go on to write an account of the expedition in the book Through the Wilderness, establishing Roosevelt as a promising writer and an even more promising ass kicker.
In 1917, Roosevelt decided to join the World War I war effort by taking the rank of Captain in the British army (because he was getting tired waiting for America to join in on all the fun). During his time with the British Army, he used his Roosevelt super powers to master the Arabic language in the course of a few months, and was often relied upon as a translator in the Mesopotamia theater of the war. He was awarded the Military Cross by the British Army, while transferring to the United States Army when America finally got in the war.
He would go on to write about his experiences in World War I, establishing himself firmly as an outstanding author, explorer, and soldier. And, later in life, he thankfully embraces his heritage by growing a rich, hearty mustache.
Like his brother Teddy, he wasn’t content just fighting one war, so he got back in the fray when World War II came around. Again, he joined the British Army as soon as things got hot and heavy, because fuck you Nazis, here’s a healthy dose of Roosevelt. In 1941, due to an enlarged liver from his malaria (and, well, you know, booze) the British Army discharged him, which he fought tooth and nail. Eventually, life outside of exploring terrifying locations and soldering in exotic lands wasn’t fit for Kermit Roosevelt, as he eventually succumbed to his depression. But despite that, Kermit Roosevelt managed to continue Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy.
Two World Wars, a River of Doubt, two memoirs, and the distinction of saving the life of Theodore Roosevelt adds up to a job well done. Even for a man named after a frog.
Incidentally, Kermit R. was named after a grand uncle, not a frog. For a detailed account of his life, and an alternate view of his death, i.e. not suicide but perhaps foul play, see my book: Lost in the Shadow of Fame – The Neglected Story of Kermit Roosevelt, a Gallant and Tragic American.
an excellent bio!
Thank you Vince Sparry. Unfortunately, the Roosevelt family think otherwise!