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Ethel and Robert Kennedy


Ethel and Robert Kennedy
Robert and Ethel Kennedy

Democratic Senator Robert F. Kennedy and his wife, Ethel, boarding an airplane for San Juan, Puerto Rico, in March 1966.

Photo: Hulton Archive / Getty Images
Fast Marriage Facts - Bobby and Ethel
Met: 1946.
Married: June 17, 1950.
First Marriage: Yes.
Marriage Ended: June 1968, Bobby's death.

Did You Know?
At their wedding reception, the bridesmaids were all thrown in the swimming pool.


Robert Francis Kennedy: November 20, 1925 in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Ethel Skakel: April 11, 1928 in Chicago, Illinois.


Robert Kennedy: At the age of 42, on June 5, 1968 in Los Angeles, California, Robert Kennedy was shot three times by assassin Sirhan B. Sirhan. Kennedy died on June 6, 1968 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
Ethel: "When we lost Bobby, I would wake up in the morning and think, he's OK. He's in heaven, and he's with Jack, and a lot of my brothers and sisters, and my parents. So it made it very easy to get through the day thinking he was OK."
Source: Rick Bentley. "Rory Kennedy turns the lens on family for HBO." FresnoBee.com. 10/17/2012.

Ted Kennedy: "He gave us strength in time of trouble, wisdom in time of uncertainty, and sharing in time of happiness. He was always by our side. Love is not an easy feeling to put into words. Nor is loyalty, or trust or joy. But he was all of these. He loved life completely and lived it intensely ... My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it."
Source: Senator Edward M. Kennedy. "Tribute to Senator Robert F. Kennedy." JFKLibrary.org. 6/08/1968.

How Robert and Ethel Met:

During college, Ethel's roommate was Jean Kennedy, Bobby's sister. Bobby and Ethel met in 1946 while on a ski trip in Canada.
Ethel on love at first sight: "He [Bobby] was standing in front of an open fireplace," she said in an interview alongside her daughter. "I walked in the door and turned and saw him, and I thought, 'whoa'."
Source: "Ethel Kennedy reveals the moment she fell in love with Bobby." DailyMail.co.uk. 1/26/2012.

Wedding Date and Information:

Bobby was 24 and Ethel was 22 when they married on June 17, 1950 at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Greenwich, Connecticut. John F Kennedy was Bobby's best man. They had around 1,200 guests at their wedding.
J. Randy Taraborrelli: "All of Ethel's attendants wore white lace over taffeta dresses with wide-brimmed, eggshell-white hats delicately trimmed with pink and white flowers. Ethel looked lovely in a white satin wide-neck gown with pearl-embroidered lace overskirt. The same lace held her fingertip-length tulle veil. Around her neck she wore a tasteful single-strand pearl necklace. In her arms she held a bouquet of lilies, stephanotis, and lilies of the valley, matching the white peonies and lilies that decorated the church."
Source: J. Randy Taraborrelli. Jackie, Ethel, Joan: Women of Camelot. 2000. pg. 41.

Bobby and Ethel honeymooned in Hawaii, then drove across the country from Los Angeles to their new home back east.


Ethel and Bobby had eleven children. Their youngest was born six months after Bobby's death.
  • Kathleen Hartington Kennedy: Born in 1951.
  • Joseph Patrick Kennedy II: Born in 1952.
  • Robert Francis Kennedy Jr: Born in 1954.
  • David Anthony Kennedy: Born in 1955. David died from an overdose on April 25, 1984 in Palm Beach, Florida.
  • Mary Courtney Kennedy: Born in 1956.
  • Michael LeMoyne Kennedy: Born in 1958. Michael died in a skiing game accident in Aspen, Colorado on December 31, 1997.
  • Mary Kerry Kennedy: Born in 1959.
  • Christopher George Kennedy: Born in 1963.
  • Matthew Maxwell Taylor Kennedy: Born in 1965.
  • Douglas Harriman Kennedy: Born in 1967.
  • Rory Elizabeth Katherine Kennedy: Born in 1968.


Robert: Presidential candidate, U.S. Senator 1965-1968, U.S. Attorney General 1961-1964, attorney, Seaman Apprentice in the U.S. Navy Reserve from 1944-1946.


Although Bobby and Ethel had a home on the Kennedy Compound on Cape Cod in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, their main home was an estate in McLean, Virginia. Known as Hickory Hill, the six-acre Georgian estate was sold in 2009 for $8.25 million. Ethel returned to their Hyannis Port home after the sale.

Quotes About the Marriage of Bobby and Ethel Kennedy:

David Grubin: "[Bobby was] the first of the Kennedy boys to settle down. Twenty-four years old, he married Ethel Skakel -- wealthy, outgoing, athletic, so devout she had almost become a nun."
Source: David Grubin. RFK. PBS.org. 2004.

Arthur Schlesinger Jr: "Ethel had technical defects as a wife. She was a flog at cooking and sewing, detested cleaning and spent money carelessly ... In fundamental ways she was a superb wife, at least iin the old sense of being her husband's helpmate. For Ethel Kennedy, reared as she was and believing as she did, ministering to her husband was not self-sacrifice or self-betrayal but self-fulfillment. It did not result in any manifest repression of an irrepressible personality ... He never had to prove himself to her. Ethel gave him unquestioning confidence, unquenchable admiration, unstinted love."
Source: Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. Robert Kennedy and His Times. 2003. pg. 89.

Evan Thomas: "RFK was warm and playful with his ebullient wife, reciprocating her affection. But if, as a couple, they shared their deepest fears and doubts, such intimacy was not readily apparent to friends."
Source: Evan Thomas. Robert Kennedy: His Life. 2002. pg. 70.

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