Shea was born to M. Corbett Shea and an unnamed mother in New York in 1919. He is the older brother of future attorney general Daniel Shea. He grew up being a tough kid and a womanizer, and even met Michael Corleone in the 1930s, as their fathers did business together. He became a war hero during WWII and later wrote a best selling book about it. He was married in the early 1950s and had a son and daughter.
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, thinking he would turn the other cheek on the mafia and not prosecute them. He was also known to be unfaithful to his wife and date many starlets, including Michael's current girlfriend several years before.
In January 1961, he had the CIA director Albert Soffet contact Nick Geraci to lead an assassin squad in the New Jersey Meadowlands. This squad was used in 1962 to assassinate a Castro double and almost led to war with Cuba. He made his brother Danny Shea 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 it resulted in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1963. Cuba and Russia stepped down however, throwing him into even more popularity. His brother also at this time prosecuted New Orleans Mafia Boss Carlo Tramonti.
In the Summer of 1964 however, his 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, and Santiago was himself killed in 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.
Real life Sources
Shea was based on President John F. Kennedy