Camelot Curse Mary Kennedy’s Death and More Kennedy Family Tragedies (PHOTOS)
Mary Kennedy, estranged wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., was found dead of an apparent suicide on Wednesday—the latest in a long line of early deaths in the family. From assassinations to plane crashes, see more of the storied clan’s tragedies.
Mary Kennedy, estranged wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., committed suicide last month—the latest in a long line of early deaths in the family. From assassinations to plane crashes, see more of the storied clan’s tragedies. Rosemary Kennedy
Rosemary Kennedy was the third child and oldest daughter of Joseph and Rose Kennedy, and sister to John F. Kennedy. Although she lived to the age of 86, she underwent a lobotomy at the age of 23 that left her incapacitated and institutionalized for much of her life in a Wisconsin facility. The reason for the lobotomy is the subject of debate: her family has long maintained that she was born mentally retarded and that she underwent the lobotomy to treat emotional disturbances. But others argue that she kept careful diaries in her youth, traveled alone, and was even presented to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and that Joseph had her lobotomized because of inappropriate behavior. The first physician they went to refused even to recommend a lobotomy, but eventually Joseph found a willing doctor and she underwent the operation in 1941, while her mother was traveling abroad. Joseph P Kennedy Jr
The oldest child of Joseph and Rose Kennedy,
Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. graduated cum laude from Harvard in 1938. He then went to Harvard Law School but joined the Navy instead of completing his final year. He was piloting a top-secret mission for the Navy when his plane exploded over England on Aug. 12, 1944, killing him. Kathleen Kennedy Cavendish
Kathleen Kennedy was named the “most exciting debutante of 1938,” before marrying William John Robert Cavendish, heir to the Dukedom of Devonshire, on May 6, 1944. The only member of her family to attend the wedding was her brother Joseph, who died months later. Kathleen’s husband also was killed in action in September of that year. Now a widow, Kathleen remained a fixture the London social scene and eventually became engaged to Peter Wentworth-FitzWilliam, 8 th Earl Fitzwilliam. Kathleen was on her way to ask her father’s blessing for the marriage when her plane crashed in France on May 13, 1948. The crash killed both Kathleen and FitzWilliam. Only her father, Joseph, attended her funeral. Her mother refused to attend because Kathleen had planned to marry outside the Catholic Church for a second time, and she actively discouraged any of Kathleen’s siblings from attending. John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy had not seriously considered entering politics until the wartime death of his older brother Joseph in 1944. After the war, Kennedy’s father convinced him to run for Congress in Massachusetts’ 11th Congressional District, where he won in 1946. He served six years in the U.S. House of Representatives before being elected to the Senate in 1952, and he won the presidency in 1960. During that time he’d also married Jacqueline Bouvier and had two children. The Kennedys seemed to have entered a less tragic period, but it didn’t last—on Nov. 22, 1963, President Kennedy was shot while riding in a convertible through the streets of Dallas. He was declared dead half an hour later. His assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was killed two days later. The assassination has given rise to a number of conspiracy theories over the years. Bob Daugherty / / AP Photos Robert F. Kennedy
Kennedy history repeated itself in 1968.
Robert Francis Kennedy had served as the U.S. attorney general during his brother’s administration but resigned soon after JFK’s assassination. He successfully ran for the Senate from New York in 1964 and announced his run for president on March 18, 1968. Less than three months later, on June 5, 1968, he was shot dead at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Chappaquiddick
Edward Kennedy may have been the only one of the Kennedy brothers to die of natural causes, but that does not mean his life was tragedy-free. On July 18, 1969, he left a party on Chappaquiddick, an island off Martha’s Vineyard, after a day of heavy drinking, accompanied by a 28-year-old named Mary Jo Kopechne. The sedan he was driving went off a bridge and sank in a pond. Kennedy escaped, but Kopechne was trapped in 7 feet of water. Although he claims he made several attempts to save her, Kennedy did not notify the authorities until 10 hours after the crash. When Kopechne was found, her head was propped in the well of the back seat, leading many to believe she may have remained alive for some time after the crash, breathing in the air pocket. The incident prompted the senator to wonder “whether some awful curse did actually hang over all the Kennedys.” David Kennedy
David Kennedy was a son of Robert F. Kennedy—who
saved him from drowning in the ocean hours before his assassination in Los Angeles. Years later, on April 25, 1984, 28-year-old David was found dead in a Palm Beach Hotel suite. David, who had a history of substance abuse issues, had three drugs—cocaine, Demerol, and Mellaril—in his system at the time of his death. Ron Galella, WireImage / Getty Images Michael Kennedy
Michael Kennedy, another of Robert F. Kennedy’s children, was killed in a
skiing accident in Aspen on Dec. 31, 1997. Thirty-nine-year-old Michael had been playing a version of ski football with other members of the Kennedy family, and he was not using ski poles. The ski patrol had previously told the family that the activity was dangerous, but the warnings were ignored. At the time of his death, Michael was simultaneously skiing, playing football, and filming a video recording. He had just caught a pass when he slammed headfirst into a tree.
The son of JFK and
Jackie O, John F. Kennedy Jr., who famously saluted his father’s casket at his funeral, had a fairy tale wedding, and lived his entire life in the spotlight. But he shocked the world on July 16, 1999, when the plane he was piloting to Martha’s Vineyard disappeared in the night. When the aircraft, which also carried his wife and her sister, failed to arrive on schedule, search parties were scrambled. Once debris began to wash up on the shores of the island, the three were presumed dead. Their bodies were recovered on July 21, and all three were buried at sea.
Kara Kennedy Allen
The eldest child of Edward Kennedy and Joan Bennett Kennedy,
Kara Kennedy Allen led a more private life than many of her family members, opting for filmmaking instead of politics. According to Edward’s memoir, the clan actually thought they might lose her much earlier than they did. She was diagnosed in 2002 with lung cancer, which doctors said was inoperable, but the family found surgeons who would treat her and it went into remission. In September 2011, she suffered a heart attack while working out at a gym in Washington and died at the age of 51. Mary Kennedy
Mary Kennedy married Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in 1994. After four children and 16 years of marriage, Robert filed for divorce in 2010. The divorce was never finalized; Mary was arrested for drunk driving three days after the filing. In May 2012, Mary killed herself by hanging at her home in Westchester County, N.Y.
In this week's
Newsweek, bestselling Kennedy historian Laurence Leamer recounts Mary Kennedy's tragic final days.