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Michael LeMoyne Kennedy

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Michael LeMoyne Kennedy
Kennedy in 1987
Born(1958-02-27)February 27, 1958
DiedDecember 31, 1997(1997-12-31) (aged 39)
Cause of deathSkiing accident
Burial placeHolyhood Cemetery, Brookline, Massachusetts
Alma materHarvard University (BA)
University of Virginia (JD)
Victoria Denise Gifford
(m. 1981)
Parent(s)Robert F. Kennedy
Ethel Kennedy
FamilyKennedy family

Michael LeMoyne Kennedy (February 27, 1958 – December 31, 1997) was an American lawyer, businessman, and activist in Massachusetts. He was the sixth of eleven children of Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy. Kennedy also served as the manager of the non-profit organization Citizens Energy. He died in Aspen, Colorado, in 1997 after inadvertently skiing into a tree.

Early life, family, and education[edit]

Michael LeMoyne Kennedy was born on February 27, 1958, in Washington, D.C. He was named LeMoyne for Kirk LeMoyne Billings, the preparatory school roommate of his paternal uncle, John F. Kennedy, and a Kennedy family friend.[1] He was five years old when his uncle was assassinated and ten years old when his father was assassinated. Kennedy spent his childhood between the family's homes in McLean, Virginia, and Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.[2][3]

Kennedy graduated from Harvard College in 1980 and subsequently earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1984.[4] In 1985, Kennedy was admitted to the Massachusetts bar.[5]

Kennedy married Victoria Denise Gifford, daughter of former NFL player and sportscaster Frank Gifford,[6] on March 14, 1981 in New York City.[7] They had one son, Michael LeMoyne Kennedy Jr. (born 1983); and two daughters, Kyle Francis Kennedy (born 1984) and Rory Gifford Kennedy (born 1987). The family resided in Cohasset, Massachusetts.[4]


A Boston lawyer,[8] Kennedy briefly worked for a private law firm before becoming chairman of his brother Joseph's non-profit organization, Citizens Energy Corporation in 1986, which provides heating oil and services to elderly and low-income households in Massachusetts.[9] Under Kennedy, Citizens diversified to provide discount AIDS-related medications to uninsured patients.[4]

Kennedy co-chaired the Walden Woods Project, a non-profit organization to preserve Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. In 1994, he co-founded Stop Handgun Violence, a Boston-based group that works to increase public awareness about the danger of handguns.[4] That same year, he helped organize his uncle Ted Kennedy's successful re-election campaign for the U.S. Senate against Republican challenger Mitt Romney.[8] The conventional wisdom in Massachusetts was that he would be the next Kennedy family member to run for political office.[4][10]

In 1992, Kennedy, his wife Victoria, and his mother Ethel made a cameo appearance on the NBC sitcom Cheers in Boston.[11][12]


In 1997, allegations were reported that Kennedy was having an affair with the family's underage former babysitter, beginning when she was just 14 years old.[6] Kennedy took and passed three polygraph tests arranged by his attorneys, claiming he had not had sex with the Cohasset teen until she was 16, the legal age of consent in Massachusetts at the time.[13][14] Soon after the scandal began, Kennedy and his wife separated.[6] Norfolk County District Attorney Jeffrey Locke decided to drop the investigation into statutory rape allegations because of a lack of cooperation from the babysitter.[15][16] Kennedy and his older brother Joseph (who withdrew the 1998 Massachusetts gubernatorial election, in part because of the scandal)[4] were dubbed "poster boys for bad behavior" by cousin John F. Kennedy Jr. in an editorial in his magazine George.[6] According to some Massachusetts political observers, the incident ended Kennedy's hopes of following in his family's political footsteps. According to Boston University professor Tobe Berkovitz, "I would have to think as both a political and a public figure, he is just finished."[16]


Kennedy died on December 31, 1997, as the result of a skiing accident in Aspen Mountain, Colorado. He was playing football while on skis with several other members of the Kennedy family when, at approximately 4:15 p.m., he hit a tree. Kennedy was not wearing a helmet or other safety equipment. The family had been admonished by the ski patrol to cease the activity.[17] After the accident, Kennedy was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 5:50 p.m.[18]

He was interred on January 3, 1998, in the family plot at Holyhood Cemetery in Brookline, Massachusetts.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Jenkins, Brian; Tuchman, Gary (January 3, 1998). "Michael Kennedy laid to rest". CNN.com. Time Warner Company. Reuters Limited. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  2. ^ Thompson, Robert E. Robert F. Kennedy: The Brother Within. Phocion Publishing. p. 128.
  3. ^ Eidell, Lynsey. "Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s 10 Siblings: All About His Brothers and Sisters". People. Retrieved 21 April 2024.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Kennedys had pinned high hopes on Michael". southcoasttoday.com. 1998-01-02. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
  5. ^ "Board of Bar Overseers of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts". Michael L. Kennedy (Deceased): Admitted to the Mass. Bar Jan. 17, 1985
  6. ^ a b c d Gibbs, Nancy; McCarthy, Terry; Faltermayer, Charlotte; Witkowski, Tom (January 12, 1998). "The Kennedy Family: Tragedy Strikes Again". Time. p. 3. Archived from the original on April 23, 2008. Retrieved August 30, 2009.
  7. ^ "Wedding of Michael Kennedy". corbisimages.com.
  8. ^ a b "An Accident Kills A Kennedy Promise Waned With Sex Scandal". New York Daily News. January 1998. Retrieved 2017-11-22.
  9. ^ Rohde, David (January 1998). "Son of Robert Kennedy Dies In Colorado Skiing Accident". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-11-06.
  10. ^ "CONTROVERSY SURROUNDS A KENNEDY'S ALLEGED AFFAIR WITH BABY-SITTER". Chicago Tribune. 25 April 1997. Retrieved 1 March 2024. He also ran his uncle, Senator Edward M. Kennedy's, 1994 re-election fight, and has himself considered running for Congress or statewide office.
  11. ^ Oppenheimer, Jerry (1994). The Other Mrs. Kennedy : An Intimate and Revealing Look at the Hidden Life of Ethel Skakel Kennedy. St. Martin's Paperbacks. p. 652. ISBN 9780312110406.
  12. ^ "Cheers S11E10 Daddy's Little Middle Aged Girl cut". YouTube. Retrieved 2 March 2024.
  13. ^ "KATHIE LEE BACKS MICHAEL KENNEDY SITTER LEGAL, SHE SEZ". New York Daily News. 6 January 1998. Retrieved 17 February 2024.
  14. ^ "RFK'S SON & BABY-SITTER? ACCUSED OF AFFAIR WITH THE TEENAGER". New York Daily News. 26 April 1997. Retrieved 17 February 2024.
  15. ^ "Kennedy Baby Sitter Probe Dropped". Los Angeles Times. 9 July 1997. Retrieved 17 February 2024.
  16. ^ a b "Putting Another Scandal Behind Them". CNN. Retrieved 17 February 2024.
  17. ^ Gibbs, Nancy; McCarthy, Terry; Faltermayer, Charlotte; Witkowski, Tom (January 12, 1998). "The Kennedy Family: Tragedy Strikes Again". Time. p. 2. Archived from the original on January 19, 2011. Retrieved August 30, 2009.
  18. ^ Franken, Bob (January 1, 1998). "Coroner: Kennedy death accidental". CNN.com. Time Warner Company. Retrieved 17 April 2019.

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