Ethel Kennedy Biography

(Wife of Robert Francis Kennedy)

Birthday: April 11, 1928 (Aries)

Born In: Chicago, Illinois

Ethel Kennedy is an American human rights campaigner. Also recognized as the widow of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, she is a longtime matriarch of the Kennedy family. She is also one of the two surviving Skakel siblings. She was a doting wife while married to Robert F. Kennedy. The couple had ten children and she was pregnant with their 11th child at the time of her husband’s assassination. Ethel Kennedy was widowed on June 6, 1968 when her husband was shot to death by a Palestinian named Sirhan Sirhan. After being widowed, she became deeply involved in fighting for human rights causes. Shortly after her husband's death, she founded Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, a charity organization that works to realize her husband’s dream of a just and peaceful world. Till date, the campaigner has received various awards, recognitions, and honors. In 2014, then-President Barack Obama honored her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The same year, a bridge over the Anacostia River was renamed Ethel Kennedy Bridge in order to honor Kennedy for her advocacy for social and environmentalism causes in the District of Columbia.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Ethel Skakel Kennedy, Ethel Skakel

Age: 96 Years, 96 Year Old Females


Spouse/Ex-: Robert Francis Kennedy (m. 1950; d. 1968)

father: George Skakel

mother: Ann Brannack

siblings: Ann Skakel, George Skakel Jr., Georgeann Skakel, James Skakel, Patricia Sistine Skakel, Rushton Walter Skakel

children: Chris Kennedy, Courtney Kennedy Hill, David Kennedy, Douglas Harriman Kennedy, Joseph P. Kennedy II, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Kerry Kennedy, Max Kennedy, Michael Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Rory Kennedy

Family Members American Women

City: Chicago, Illinois

U.S. State: Illinois

More Facts

education: Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart, Greenwich Academy Convent of the Sacred Heart

Marriage & Children
Ethel Skakel got engaged to Robert Kennedy in February 1950. The couple married on June 17, 1950 at the St. Mary's Catholic Church in Connecticut. As newlyweds, they moved to Charlottesville, Virginia and lived there until Robert Kennedy completed his last year at University of Virginia Law School. From her marriage to Kennedy, Ethel gave birth to eleven kids: Kathleen, Joseph, David, Robert Jr., Courtney, Michael, Christopher, Kerry, Douglas, Max and Rory. Her last child Rory was born after her husband’s death.
After Robert Kennedy graduated from University of Virginia Law School, his family settled in Washington. Throughout the 1950s, he served the federal government for the United States Senate. In the year 1956, the Kennedys bought Hickory Hill as they needed a larger space since Ethel Kennedy was pregnant with their fifth child, Courtney. Their enormous 13-bedroom house was situated on 6 acres in McLean, Virginia. The house also served as a gathering place for guests.
In the year 1962, President Kennedy assigned Robert and Ethel to tour about fourteen countries as a goodwill trip. Although the trip was an informal one, the host countries viewed Robert and his wife as stand-ins for the president and the first lady. In 1968, Ethel urged Robert to enter the Democratic primary for the year’s presidential election.
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Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy
On June 5, 1968, Robert F. Kennedy was fatally wounded by a Palestinian named Sirhan Sirhan. He died the following day, after about 26 hours of being shot. The then-President Lyndon Johnson declared a national day of mourning. In 1969, Sirhan was convicted of Kennedy's assassination and he was sentenced to death. However, in 1972, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by the California Supreme Court.
Following her husband's death, Ethel Kennedy publicly declared that she would never remarry. She was pregnant with the couple’s 11th child when her husband was killed and gave birth to their daughter Rory on December 12, 1968.
Involvement in Politics
During the 2008 Democratic Party presidential primary elections, Ethel Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama. In June that year, she hosted a $6 million fundraising feast for Obama at the Hickory Hill.
Involvement in Media
Ethel Kennedy approved to be a part of a documentary about her life. The film titled ‘Ethel’ (2012) was directed by her daughter Rory. It showcases the life Ethel shared with her husband Robert F. Kennedy and also throws light on her later life after Robert’s death.
In August 2014, Ethel Kennedy nominated the then-President Barack Obama to do the famous Ice Bucket Challenge. This challenge was initiated as an effort to raise awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Personal Life
Ethel Kennedy was born on April 11, 1928 in Chicago, Illinois, the USA to George Skakel and Ann Brannack. She was raised along with her six siblings, namely Georgeann, James, George Jr., Rushton, Patricia and Ann. She initially studied at the Greenwich Academy and the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Manhattan. Later, Ethel went on to attend the Manhattanville College, where she was the classmate of her future sister-in-law, Jean Kennedy.

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