When Bobby was arrested for buying pot in 1970, Ethel threw him in the bushes.“You’ve dragged your family’s name through the mud! “Almost anything could trigger a fight between them,” another family friend said.“She would scream at him for 10 or 15 minutes without letting up and tell him to leave, which he did. You’re fired.” One of Ethel’s secretaries, Noelle Fell, told Oppenheimer she was surprised by such outbursts.
“Bobby, after his father’s death, was essentially given up by his angry, widowed mother.” Ethel Kennedy met her future husband in December 1945 on a ski trip with her college pal Jean Ann Kennedy, Bobby’s little sister. “Her only interest was the Kennedy family,” Oppenheimer told People magazine in 1991.
“The Kennedy name, what Bobby could do in the future, what the other Kennedys were doing, what Jack’s future was.
She just gave her life over to them.” They married in June 1950, and by July 1951, their first child, Kathleen, was born.
Kennedy’s assassination on June 6, 1968, his widow, Ethel, has been his torchbearer.
Unlike her late sister-in-law, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, she never remarried, never sought a path or identity that was hers alone.
She held herself up as the martyr, the good Catholic widow left to raise 11 children alone, the empress of Hickory Hill.
She was content to be the other Kennedy widow, the domesticated antidote to the glamorous, globe-trotting Jackie. and the Dark Side of the Dream,” author Jerry Oppenheimer delves into Bobby’s upbringing — or lack thereof — to understand why the scion of our greatest political family has never accomplished much.
Ethel spent much of the decade pregnant, but that didn’t stop her from traveling extensively with Bobby in pursuit of his political future. “Her moods could swing drastically,” Oppenheimer writes, and soon after, she “literally beat Bobby with a hairbrush.” Unable to cope with her grief — let alone her children’s — Ethel shipped Bobby off to a series of boarding schools, each less prestigious than the last, each forced to expel the namesake son of a martyred political icon.
The children, Oppenheimer writes, were afterthoughts. Bobby, the third-eldest, was a sensitive boy who turned to animals for company. “It was incredible,” a former nanny told Oppenheimer. Bobby wasn’t even 15 and was already using drugs heavily. Only her dead husband, his legacy and her privilege as a Kennedy widow existed.
“There wasn’t anybody to say, ‘Don’t do that.’ It was hard to control them.” Ethel was 40 and three months pregnant with her last child, daughter Rory, when her husband was assassinated. was 14, and one week after his father’s funeral, the family celebrated his brother’s 13th birthday. He insisted each school allow his pet falcon to stay in his room. Nothing Bobby did got her attention for long, and that attention was usually negative.
Bobby slipped laxatives into everyone’s drinks as a prank. He formed a gang, The Hyannis Port Terrors, and one of his favorite practical jokes was bumping the fender of a passing car, having a pal collapse in the road, then yelling, “You’ve killed a Kennedy! “I never witnessed a civil conversation between Bobby and Ethel,” one of RFK Jr.’s ex-girlfriends told People in 1984.