Ethel Skakel Kennedy

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Ethel Skakel Kennedy (Skakel)

Birthplace: Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of George Jordan Skakel and Ann Skakel
Widow of Robert F. Kennedy, U.S. Attorney General
Mother of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend; Joseph P. Kennedy II; Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.; David Anthony Kennedy; Private and 7 others
Sister of George Skakel, Jr.; James Curtis Skakel, III; Georgeann Terrien; Rushton Skakel; Patricia S Skakel and 4 others

Occupation: Mother
Managed by: Elie Farah
Last Updated:

About Ethel Skakel Kennedy

Ethel Skakel Kennedy (born April 11, 1928) is the widow of Sen. and former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.

Contents [hide]

1 Biography

1.1 Early life

1.2 Marriage to Robert F. Kennedy

1.3 RFK assassination

1.4 Life following the assassination

2 Children of Robert and Ethel Kennedy

3 Further reading

4 References

5 External links

[edit] Biography

[edit] Early life

Ethel was born in Chicago, Illinois to Ann Brannack, a Roman Catholic, and George Skakel, a Protestant, and was raised Catholic in Greenwich, Connecticut. Her father was the founder of the very successful Great Lakes Carbon Corporation, now a division of SGLCarbon.[1] She attended the all-girls Greenwich Academy[2][3] in Greenwich, as well as the Convent of the Sacred Heart in the Bronx. In September 1945, Ethel began her collegiate education at Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart (then located in Manhattan), where she met Jean Kennedy, sister of her soon-to-be husband, Robert F. Kennedy, and the two became friends and roommates.

[edit] Marriage to Robert F. Kennedy

Ethel met Robert F. Kennedy (Bobby) during a skiing trip to Mont Tremblant Resort in Quebec, Canada during the winter of 1945. At the time, Robert was dating Ethel's sister, Patricia. Eventually that relationship ended and Ethel and Bobby started seeing each other. Ethel campaigned for Bobby's brother, John F. Kennedy, in his 1946 campaign for United States Congress, and wrote her college thesis on his book Why England Slept.

Bobby and Ethel became engaged in February 1950, and were married on June 17, 1950 at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenwich. Ethel's wedding dress and bridal party gowns were created by noted New York City fashion designer Mamie Conti. As newlyweds, Ethel and Bobby moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, where they lived while Bobby finished his last year at the University of Virginia Law School. Their first child, Kathleen, was born on July 4, 1951. After Bobby graduated with his law degree, the family settled in the Washington, D.C. area and Bobby went to work for the Department of Justice. However, that path did not last long as Bobby was asked by his family to manage John F. Kennedy's 1952 successful Senate campaign in Massachusetts.

Throughout the 1950s, Robert Kennedy worked for the federal government in investigatory roles for the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the U.S. Senate Committee on Government Operations with the notoriously anti-Communist Senator Joe McCarthy, and as chief counsel for the Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in Labor and Management).[4] In 1956, the Kennedys purchased Hickory Hill from Bobby's brother John and his wife, Jackie. They needed a larger house, since Ethel was pregnant with their fifth child. This enormous 13 bedroom, 13 bath home was situated on 6 acres (24,000 m2) in McLean, Virginia.

In contrast to John and Jackie Kennedy, Robert and Ethel held many get-togethers at their home. Whether it was a pool party or a formal dinner party, the guest list was impressive and eclectic. Journalist Roger Mudd remembers meeting John Lennon at one such party. Other notable invitees included the Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, entertainer Judy Garland, dancer Rudolf Nureyev and historian Arthur Schlesinger, who found himself thrown into the pool fully clothed where Ethel was also already swimming fully clothed. [5].

The 11 Kennedy children added to the wild atmosphere at Hickory Hill. Notoriously, Robert Jr. had a zoo in the basement. It was not unusual to see reptiles, a seal, an anteater, miniature ponies and even an elephant on the grounds [6]. Jackie found the children so wild that she did not allow Caroline and John Jr. to play with their cousins. [5]

Due to her strict Catholicism, Ethel reportedly objected when her children's private school began to teach the Theory of Evolution[6].

Like Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Sargent Shriver and her son Robert F. Kennedy Jr. she is also strongly pro-life.

RFK assassination

Main article: Robert F. Kennedy assassination

Just after midnight on June 5, 1968, her husband was shot by Sirhan Sirhan. He died 26 hours later. Ethel and her children were devastated. President Lyndon Johnson declared a day of mourning. In 1969, Sirhan was convicted of Robert Kennedy's murder and sentenced to death. In 1972, the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment after the California Supreme Court invalidated that state's death penalty as it existed at that time.

Life following the assassination

Frequently throughout the 1970s, Ethel was escorted to dinners, parties and the theater by singer Andy Williams, a family friend. However, she never engaged in any romantic relationships with another man following her husband's death. Citing her Catholicism, she had said she would never marry again.

Ethel is selling the legendary Hickory Hill residence for $12.5 million.

During the 2008 Democratic Party presidential primaries she endorsed Illinois Senator Barack Obama[7] (as did her children Max and Rory, though another three, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Kerry Kennedy, at first publicly endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton, in mid-2007).

Ethel has also publicly supported and held fundraisers for numerous other politicians, including recently Virginia gubernatorial candidate Brian Moran at Hickory Hill. [8]

As of 2009, Ethel continues to live at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannisport.

[edit] Children of Robert and Ethel Kennedy

Name Birth Death Age Cause of death Occupation Spouse

Kathleen Hartington Kennedy Townsend July 4, 1951 Living 58 Lieutenant Governor of Maryland (1995-2003) David Lee Townsend

Joseph Patrick Kennedy II September 24, 1952 Living 56 United States Congressman (1987-1999) Sheila Rauch (divorced); Anne Elizabeth "Beth" Kelly

Robert Francis Kennedy, Jr. January 17, 1954 Living 55 environmental attorney Emily Ruth Black (divorced); Mary Richardson

David Anthony Kennedy June 15, 1955 April 25, 1984 28 cocaine overdose ambition towards journalism

Mary Courtney Kennedy Hill September 9, 1956 Living 52 former representative of the United Nations AIDS Foundation Jeffrey Robert Ruhe (divorced); Paul Hill

Michael LeMoyne Kennedy February 27, 1958 December 31, 1997 39 skiing accident Attorney Victoria Gifford

Mary Kerry Kennedy September 8, 1959 Living 49 Attorney Andrew Cuomo (divorced)

Christopher George Kennedy July 4, 1963 Living 46 President of Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc. Sheila Sinclair Berner

Matthew Maxwell Taylor Kennedy January 11, 1965 Living 44 Attorney Victoria Anne Strauss

Douglas Harriman Kennedy March 24, 1967 Living 42 Journalist Molly Elizabeth Stark

Rory Kennedy Bailey December 12, 1968 Living 40 Film director and producer Mark Bailey

Human rights was important to her and Bobby, and was continued through the work of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial.

Rev. Terence Connolly of Boston College celebrated the wedding, and delivered the papal blessing. The tenor voice of Michael O'Higgins, from the Royal Irish Academy of Music, sang the nuptial Mass.

It is said that Ethel is the niece of the man Elizabeth O'Connell married (Presumed named Robert [Bob] Byrnes?) it is unknown at this time how the husband is connected family wise.

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Ethel Skakel Kennedy's Timeline

April 11, 1928
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States
July 4, 1951
Greenwich, Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States
September 24, 1952
Brighton, Boston, MA, USA
January 17, 1954
Washington, District of Columbia, DC, United States
June 15, 1955
Washington, District of Columbia, DC, United States
February 27, 1958
Washington, District of Columbia, DC, United States
September 8, 1959
Washington, District of Columbia, DC, United States
July 4, 1963
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States