gallery Kennedy Wives: Mary Kennedy, Jackie O, Carolyn Bessette, and More (PHOTOS)
Robert F. Kennedy Jr,’s estranged wife, Mary, was found dead on the family estate of an apparent suicide. See photos of her, Jackie O, Joan Kennedy, Carolyn Besette, and other wives who made headlines in the long-running saga of one of America’s most famous and tragedy-scarred
Robert F. Kennedy Jr,’s estranged wife, Mary, was found dead on the family estate of suicide. See photos of her, Jackie O, Joan Kennedy, Carolyn Besette, and other wives who made headlines in the long-running saga of one of America’s most famous and tragedy-scarred
She’s quite possibly the most famous first lady in history.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was admired around the world for her style and the dignity and grace with which she handled her husband’s assassination. Born Jacqueline Lee Bouvier on July 28, 1929, in Southampton, N.Y., she was an accomplished rider and ballerina. After graduating from a boarding school for girls in Connecticut, Jackie went on to study history, literature, art, and French at Vassar. She later moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked as a columnist for the Washington Times-Herald. It was there that Jackie met JFK, a congressman who would soon find himself headed to the Senate. They married on Sept. 12, 1953 in Newport, R.I. The rest, as they say, is history. Laurence Harris / AP Photo Ethel Kennedy
Robert F. Kennedy met
Ethel Skakel, his future wife, in 1945 through his sister, Jean, during a ski trip to a resort in Canada. He was, at the time, dating Ethel’s sister; but that relationship fizzled. A year later, 18-year-old Ethel was campaigning for JFK as he ran for the U.S. Congress. By June of 1950, the pair was married in Greenwich, Conn. Born in Chicago, Ethel stood by her husband as he ascended in politics, first as the attorney general, then as a New York senator and finally during his ill-fated run for the White House. Six months after Bobby was assassinated in California, she gave birth to their 11 th child.
Victoria Reggie Kennedy was an accomplished woman long before she ever met her husband, Ted Kennedy. She graduated magna cum laude from Newcomb College in 1976, and was Phi Beta Kappa. She received her law degree from Tulane three years later, graduating summa cum laude and achieving the honor of being the editor of the Tulane Law Review. Though her family was from Louisiana, they had close ties to the Kennedys going all the way back to the 1956 Democratic convention. Vicki, who had interned in Ted’s office before graduating from college, had a long career as a lawyer before Ted attended an anniversary party she threw for her parents in 1991. A little more than a year later, they got married in his living room. Most observers credit Vicki with helping calm Ted’s tumultuous, hard-partying ways, and she helped his re-election efforts in 1994, 2000 and 2006. Joan Kennedy
Joan Bennett Kennedy was Ted’s first wife. The pair met in 1957 through Jean Kennedy, who went to college with Joan, an accomplished piano player and part-time model. Her brother-in-law and future president used to call her “the dish.” Joan and Ted married in 1958, and a decade later things started falling apart. Joan stood by her husband after the infamous Chappaquiddick episode that resulted in the death of 27-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne. After that, she started drinking more and developed a severe alcohol problem. By 1978, they were living apart. In 1982, they divorced. Tyler Mallory / Getty Images Carolyn Bessette Kennedy
Carolyn Bessette was considered the poster woman for modern beauty. She grew up in Greenwich, Conn., raised by a mother who was a schoolteacher and a stepfather who was an orthopedist. After attending Boston University, Carolyn moved to New York, where she worked in Calvin Klein’s PR department. She and JFK, Jr., were married in a private ceremony in September 1996 on a small island in Georgia. Three years later the couple would perish when their plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean not far from Martha's Vineyard. Michael Buckner / Getty Images Mary Kennedy
Things were unraveling for
Mary Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s, second wife, long before she died. The mother of four had struggled with drugs and alcohol. She had been arrested twice for driving under the influence. And her marriage had been on the rocks since RFK Jr. filed for divorce in 2010 after 16 years of marriage. Born Mary Richardson, she was an architect and a designer.
In this week's Newsweek, bestselling Kennedy historian Laurence Leamer recounts her tragic final days.
Emily Ruth Black
Emily Ruth Black was Robert Kennedy Jr.’s first wife. The pair married in 1982, had two children and was divorced by 1994.
Sheila Brewster Rauch
Sheila Brewster Rauch married Joseph Patrick Kennedy II in February 1979 after a long courtship. Rauch, who came from a wealthy Philadelphia family, was three years older than her husband and an Episcopalian. She had helped her husband through many trying times in his life, including the death of his father, RFK, and a car accident that left a woman paralyzed. The pair had twin boys in October 1980. A decade later, their marriage would hit a rough patch and not recover. Sheila filed for a divorce, which was granted in 1991. A few years later, Joseph wanted to remarry, so he had a Church tribunal in Massachusetts declare his previous marriage annulled. But Rauch fought back and
won an appeal, which declared the marriage valid, by the Vatican. Victoria Gifford Kennedy
Victoria Gifford, the daughter of sports broadcaster Frank Gifford, married into the Kennedy clan in early 1981, tying the knot with RFK son Michael LeMoyne Kennedy. The couple had three children—Michael LeMoyne, Jr., Kyle Francis, and Rory Gifford—and was living in Massachusetts at the time of her Michael Sr.’s his death in 1997.
Carol Francavilla / AP Photo Victoria Anne Strauss
Victoria Anne Strauss and Mathew Maxwell Kennedy, RFK’s ninth child, met in 1986 at a Christmas party. She went to Wesleyan University. He went to Harvard, and they both attended the University of Virginia’s Law School, graduating in 1992. They
were married a year before receiving their JDs, and have three children. Amy Petitgout
Last July, 32-year-old Amy Petitgout tied the knot with Patrick Kennedy, who is Ted Kennedy’s son. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer performed the ceremony. The couple
met around the time Patrick decided to give up his seat in Congress representing Rhode Island. The younger Kennedy left politics to concentrate on brain research. They were both in Atlantic City at an event honoring Eunice Kennedy Shriver for her work with the Special Olympics. Petitgout, a teacher, has a daughter from a previous relationship. Last month, the pair had their first child, Owen Patrick Kennedy. Katherine Anne "Kiki" Gershman
In the fall of 1993, Katherine Anne "Kiki" Gershman married Ted Kennedy, Jr. The pair has two children and
live in Connecticut.