Facts about Robert Kennedy

Robert F. Kennedy died at 42 years old
Best known as: The assassinated brother of John Kennedy

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Robert F. Kennedy Biography

Robert F. Kennedy was a candidate for U.S. president when he was assassinated in 1968. His death was doubly shocking because his older brother, President John F. Kennedy, had also been assassinated five years earlier.

Robert Kennedy was the seventh of nine children of Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy. He left Harvard to enlist in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After the war he completed his degree at Harvard in 1948, then earned a law degree from the University of Virginia in 1951. Later in the 1950s he was counsel to a U.S. Senate committee investigating labor unions, leading to his well-known feud with Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa.

But Kennedy’s political career is more closely associated with his brother, John; he managed JFK’s successful campaigns for the U.S. Senate (1952) and the presidency (1960), and then served as Attorney General in the JFK administration.

After his brother’s 1963 assassination, Robert Kennedy served briefly with the Lyndon Johnson administration, then successfully ran for senator from New York. (This win was often recalled in 2000 when another New York “outsider,” Hillary Clinton, similarly won a senate race there.)

In early 1968, Robert Kennedy declared his candidacy for the U.S. presidency. He was shot by Sirhan Sirhan at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968, just after delivering a speech to supporters upon winning the California primary. He died early the next morning. Kennedy’s book Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis was published posthumously in 1969.

Extra credit

Robert F. Kennedy and his wife Ethel were married on June 17, 1950 and had 11 children; the last, Rory, was born after RFK’s death… RFK’s son, Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr., was a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts from 1987-1999… Eldest daughter Kathleen Kennedy Townshend was lieutenant governor of Maryland from 1995-2003… Son David died of a drug overdose in 1984… Son Michael Kennedy was killed in a skiing accident in 1997… RFK’s son, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., was an environmental laywer for decades before becoming better-known in the 21st century for his belief in the scientifically-discredited theory that vaccines cause autism; he founded the anti-vaccine group Children’s Health Defense, in 2016… Ethel Kennedy is an aunt of Michael Skakel, who in 2002 was convicted of the 1976 murder of Martha Moxley. The conviction was overturned on a legal technicality in 2018… Robert Kennedy is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, near the graves of John Kennedy and former First Lady Jackie Kennedy.


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