The assassination of former President John F. Kennedy took place on November 22, 1963 and many grieving individuals wanted to commemorate the late President. Shortly thereafter, it was decided that Kennedy’s portrait would be placed on a U.S. coin.
Initially, Kennedy’s portrait was going to be placed on a U.S. quarter. However, Mrs. Kennedy requested for George Washington’s portrait to remain on the quarter dollar instead of her late husbands. The second best choice was the Half Dollar coin. At the time, the Franklin Half Dollar coins were still being issued and the current law required that a coins design should remain on a circulating coin for at least 25 years before it can be changed.
Consequently, Congress had to act quickly and change the law for the Half Dollar coins. In the end, the Kennedy Half Dollar was approved, therefore, ending the Franklin Half Dollar series at least four years earlier than expected. By February 1964, the Philadelphia Mint struck its first Kennedy Half Dollars for circulation while the Denver Mint had already struck them just a week earlier.
The 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar were composed of 90% silver, therefore making them a one year type. The following years, or from 1965 to 1970 circulation strike Kennedy Half Dollars were struck in 40% silver.