Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s marriage to actress Cheryl Hines at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Mass., no less, probably has family patriarch Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. spinning in his grave.
His life and career were forged by political connections as complex as a feudal lord’s.
He married, Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald in 1914. The union brought together two powerful Boston Irish-Catholic political families and laid the groundwork for the Kennedy political dynasty.
Rose was the eldest daughter of Boston Mayor John Francis “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald. Old Joe, as he came to be known, married well and stayed with his wife until his death in 1969 at 72.
He expected his sons Joseph P. Kennedy Jr, John F. Kennedy, Robert F. “Bobby” Kennedy and Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy, to do the same.
Not that Old Joe didn’t have dalliances; he had lots of rumored affairs, including a tryst with Gloria Swanson, one of the most glamorous actresses of her time.
But as long as he was alive, no son of his could marry a starlet.
After World War II, the Kennedys were scions of a powerful political dynasty. Jack, in particular, cut a wide swath through Hollywood as a bachelor.
But when it came time to marry, he chose Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, the daughter of a wealthy, politically-connected Wall Street stockbroker and socialite.
Bobby and Ted dutifully followed suit, (Joe Jr. died in the war), and their children were expected to do the same.
In 1989, John F. Kennedy Jr. the son of JFK and Jackie, became involved in a heated romance with actress Daryl Hannah.
They appeared headed for marriage in the early ’90s, until his mother threatened to disown him. He was forced to break it off in 1994, crushing Daryl, who was his first true love.
Instead, he married a look-a-like, Carolyn Bessette, the daughter of a prominent New York architect, two years later.
The dictum didn’t end there. It continued even to the next generation.
In 2012, Taylor Swift became involved in a very public romance with Conor Kennedy, the son of Robert Jr. and his late wife Mary Richardson Kennedy.
When it started to look serious, Kennedy cousins Maria Shriver and Caroline Kennedy reportedly moved quickly to make sure it was limited to a summer fling.
Ironically, the death of Conor’s mother by suicide in 2012, four days after Bobby Jr. filed for divorce, paved the way for Bobby Jr.’s marriage to Hines, whom he was already dating. They’d separated in 2010.
If Teddy, the last of the Kennedy brothers were still alive, things might have been different. He stayed true to Old Joe’s wishes.
He married Joan Bennett, who attended the same schools as mother-in-law Rose Kennedy, sister Jean Kennedy Smith and RFK’s wife Ethel Kennedy. Teddy’s second wife was the daughter of a prominent Louisiana judge.
As the family’s head, he may have vetoed the union. But the youngest Kennedy brother died of a brain tumor in 2009.
Ethel, 86, is now considered the titular family head. The wedding reportedly took place at her house in the compound, which suggests that she blessed the union.
Most of the Kennedy cousins were also there and were said to offered their support. But Old Joe couldn’t have been happy.
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