Ethel Skakel Kennedy (born April 11, 1928) is the widow of late Sen. and former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
Born in Chicago, Illinois to Ann Brannack, a Roman Catholic, and George Skakel, a Protestant, Ethel was raised Catholic in Greenwich, Connecticut. Her father was the founder of the very successful Great Lakes Carbon Corporation. She attended the all-girls Greenwich Academy in Greenwich, as well as the Convent of the Sacred Heart in the Bronx. In September 1945, Ethel began her collegiate education at Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart (then located in Manhattan), where she met Jean Kennedy, sister of her soon-to-be husband, Robert F. Kennedy, and the two became friends and roommates.
Marriage to Robert F. Kennedy (1950–1968)
Ethel met Robert F. Kennedy (Bobby) during a skiing trip to Mont Tremblant Resort in Quebec, Canada during the winter of 1945. At the time, Robert was dating Ethel's sister, Patricia. Eventually that relationship ended and
Ethel and Bobby started seeing each other. Ethel campaigned for Bobby's brother, John F. Kennedy, in his 1946 campaign for United States Congress, and wrote her college thesis on his book Why England Slept.
Bobby and Ethel became engaged in February 1950, and were married on June 17, 1950 at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenwich.
Ethel's wedding dress and bridal party gowns were created by noted New York City fashion designer Mamie Conti. As newlyweds, Ethel and Bobby moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, where they lived while Bobby finished his last year at the University of Virginia Law School. Their first child, Kathleen, was born on July 4, 1951. After Bobby graduated with his law degree, the family settled in the Washington, D.C. area and Bobby went to work for the Department of Justice. However, that path did not last long as Bobby was asked by his family to manage John F. Kennedy's 1952 successful Senate campaign in Massachusetts.
Throughout the 1950s, Robert Kennedy worked for the federal government in investigatory roles for the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations with the notoriously anti-Communist Senator Joe McCarthy and as chief counsel for the Senate Democrats. In 1956, the Kennedys purchased Hickory Hill from Bobby's brother John and his wife, Jackie. They needed a larger house, since Ethel was pregnant with their fifth child. This enormous 13 bedroom, 13 bath home was
situated on six acres in McLean, Virginia.
In contrast to John and Jackie Kennedy, Robert and Ethel held many get-togethers at their home. Whether it was a pool party
or a formal dinner party, the guest list was impressive and eclectic. Journalist Roger Mudd remembers meeting John Lennon at one such party. Other notable invitees included the Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, entertainer Judy Garland, dancer Rudolf Nureyev and historian Arthur Schlesinger, who found himself thrown into the pool fully clothed where Ethel was also already swimming fully clothed. .
The 11 Kennedy children added to the wild atmosphere at Hickory Hill. Notoriously, Robert Jr. had a zoo in the basement.
It was not unusual to see reptiles, a seal, an anteater, miniature ponies and even an elephant on the grounds . Jackie found the children so wild that she did not allow Caroline and John Jr. to play with their cousins. 
Due to her strict Catholicism, Ethel reportedly objected when her children's private school began to teach the Theory of Evolution.
RFK assassination (1968)
Just after midnight on June 5, 1968, her husband was shot by Sirhan Sirhan. He died 26 hours later. Ethel and her children were devastated. President Lyndon Johnson declared a day of mourning. In 1969, Sirhan was convicted of Robert Kennedy's murder and sentenced to death. In 1972, the
sentence was commuted to life imprisonment after the California Supreme Court invalidated that state's death penalty as it
existed at that time.
Life after the assassination (1968–present)
Frequently throughout the 1970s, Ethel was escorted to dinners, parties and the theater by singer Andy Williams, a family friend. However, she never engaged in any romantic relationships with another man following her husband's death.
Citing her Catholicism, she had said she would never marry again.
In October 2003, the Boston Globe reported that Ethel was selling the legendary residence for $25 million . By 2008, still unsold, the asking price has been cut in half to $12.5 million, with the understanding that the historic
mansion (which served as headquarters to Union General George B. McClellan in the Civil War) is in need of a multi-million dollar renovation.
As of 2007, Ethel continues to live at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannisport.
During the 2008 presidential election she endorsed Illinois Senator Barack Obama (as did her children Max and Rory, though another three, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Kerry Kennedy, at first publicly endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton, in mid-2007).