Bobby And Ethel's Brood: The Weight Of Legacy
By Adam Cohen
(TIME, Jan.12) -- In the golden years, at a dinner party for the Duchess of
Devonshire, Ethel Kennedy slipped in a worldly addendum to the
grace she said before the meal. "And please, dear God, make
Bobby buy me a bigger dining-room table." It was an
understandable plea from the mistress of Hickory Hill, the
Robert Kennedy family's child-beswarmed antebellum homestead in
McLean, Va. After Bobby's death, Ethel was left to raise a brood
of 11. Today the nine surviving R.F.K. offspring form the
largest single clan among the Kennedy third generation.
The eldest child, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, 46, displayed so
much moral earnestness that, in her youth, her brothers dubbed
her "the Nun." Turning to politics, she was at first squeamish
about trumpeting her maiden name and lost a 1986 congressional
race in Maryland. But in 1994 she let it work its magic and
became Lieutenant Governor. Holding such un-Kennedy-like stands
as support for the death penalty, she is seen as a future
candidate for Governor.
Joseph Kennedy II, 45, the eldest son, launched his
public-service career founding Citizens Energy Corp., which
provides heating fuel to Boston's poor. In 1986 he inherited the
family's 8th Congressional District, which sent Uncle J.F.K. to
Washington in 1946. Joe's planned run for Governor this year was
derailed by the baby-sitter problems of his brother and campaign
manager Michael. That scandal aggravated a political atmosphere
already soured by Shattered Faith, his first wife's bitter best
seller about the annulment of their 12-year marriage.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., 43, bears not only his father's name but
also, to an uncanny degree, his lanky and sensitive good looks.
After being arrested in 1983 for heroin possession, Bobby did
community service at the Natural Resources Defense Council,
starting him off on a career as the green Kennedy. Today he
teaches environmental law and is a lawyer with Riverkeeper, a
conservation group based in New York's Hudson River Valley.
Courtney Kennedy Hill, 41, is a human-rights activist who did
pediatric AIDS work for the U.N. In 1993 she married Paul Hill,
who was jailed for 15 years for I.R.A. terrorism before a
British court ruled his confession was fabricated. At 40,
Courtney became the mother of Saoirse Roisin, Gaelic for
Kerry Kennedy, 38, works for Amnesty International and the
R.F.K. Center for Human Rights. In 1990 she wed former New
York Governor Mario Cuomo's son Andrew, now Secretary of
Housing and Urban Development.
Christopher Kennedy, 34, has bucked two second-generation
Kennedy trends, becoming a businessman and a Midwesterner. Today
he helps run the Merchandise Mart, the Kennedys'
downtown-Chicago trade center started by grandfather Joe.
Max Kennedy, 32, a University of Virginia law school graduate, was
an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia for three years.
Last fall he began business school at UCLA.
Douglas Kennedy, 30, has switched over to what some Kennedys must
consider the Other Side. He is a New York City-based reporter for
the Fox News Channel.
Youngest child Rory Kennedy, 29, is a documentary
filmmaker in New York. She won awards for her film on pregnant
drug addicts, Women of Substance. She is now working on a film
about one of the causes most associated with her father: poor
children in Appalachia.