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Timeline of Kennedy Tragedies


by Beth Rowen

Read about the many tragedies that have struck the Kennedy family, including John Kennedy's assassination and the death of John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy in a plane crash.

1940s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s
1941

Rosemary Kennedy, who is mentally ill, is institutionalized following a failed lobotomy. She is the eldest Kennedy daughter of Joseph and Rose.

1944

Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., the oldest Kennedy son, dies in a plane crash over the English Channel during World War II. The pilot was 29 at the time of his death.

1948

Kathleen Kennedy Cavendish dies in a plane crash in France at age 28. Her husband, William John Robert Cavendish, the Marquess of Hartington, died in World War II.

1963

Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, the second son of President Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline, dies on August 7, two days after he was born almost six weeks premature.

President John F. Kennedy is assassinated on Nov. 22 in Dallas. He was 46.

1964

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the youngest Kennedy child, escapes death in a plane crash that claims an aide, Edward Moss.

1968

Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated on June 5 in Los Angeles. The 42 year old had just won California's Democratic presidential primary election.

1969

Edward M. Kennedy, drives off a bridge on his way home from a party on Massachusetts' Chappaquiddick Island. Mary Jo Kopechne, an aide who was in the car with him, dies in the accident.

1973

Edward M. Kennedy, the senator's son, loses his right leg to cancer.

Joseph P. Kennedy 2d, the son of Robert and Ethel, is the driver in a car accident on Cape Cod that leaves one passenger permanently paralyzed.

1984

David A. Kennedy, son of Robert, dies of a drug overdose in a Palm Beach, Florida, hotel. He was 28.

1986

Patrick Kennedy, the teenage son of Sen. Edward Kennedy, undergoes treatment for cocaine addiction.

1991

William Kennedy Smith, the son of Jean Kennedy Smith, is accused of raping a woman at the family's Palm Beach, Florida, vacation home. He is tried and acquitted.

1997

Michael Kennedy, the son of Robert, dies in a skiing accident in Aspen, Colorado. He was 39. Prior to the accident, Michael made headlines for allegedly having a long-term affair with his children's babysitter.

1999

John F. Kennedy, Jr., his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and his sister-in-law, Lauren Bessette, die when their plane crashes in the waters off Martha's Vineyard, Ma. Kennedy was flying the Piper Saratoga plane that plunged into the Atlantic Ocean.

2002

Michael Skakel, nephew of Ethel Kennedy, was found guilty in June by a Connecticut jury of the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley. Skakel was 15 when Moxley, also 15, was found bludgeoned to death outside her Greenwich, Conn., home. Skakel was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison in August.

2005

Rosemary Kennedy dies on January 7 in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, at age 86.

2008

Sen. Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy is diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor on May 20.

2009

Sen. Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy dies on August 25. His sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, died two weeks earlier, on August 11.

2011

Kara Kennedy, the daughter of Sen. Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy dies on September 16 of a heart attack. She was 51. Kennedy was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2002.

2012

Mary Richardson Kennedy, the 52-year-old estranged wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., is found dead in the barn of her Bedford, N.Y., home. She died of an apparent suicide.


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Did you know?
The worst U.S. air disaster was the crash of an American Airlines DC-10 on May 25, 1979.

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