Robert F. Kennedy

Robert F. Kennedy


11/20/1925, Brookline, Massachusetts



Birth Name

Robert Francis Kennedy



Also Known As

Bob Kennedy, Bobby, Bobby Kennedy, Bob, Robert Kennedy, Robert Francis Kennedy, RFK
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Robert F. Kennedy was born the 3rd son and 7th child of the nine children born to millionaire Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy and his wife Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. He left Harvard following his brothers Joe and Jack into the Navy in World War II. After wartime service in…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • Mr. Kennedy was a devout Roman Catholic who even briefly considered becoming a priest when he was a youth. He served as an altar boy. Once as an adult, when an altar server was out ill, Mr. Kennedy stepped in and fulfilled the role as if years had not passed since he had last served at mass.

    • Bob Kennedy referred to his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, as "Pappy" in letters to his older brother, Jack.

    • Bob Kennedy is the father (with wife Ethel) of environmental lawyer/activist and author, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

    • Bobby received his middle name, "Francis," from his maternal grandfather John Francis Fitzgerald.

    • Mr. Kennedy suffered from vertigo.

    • Mr. Kennedy could note vote in the November 3, 1964 election for US Senator from New York against incumbent Kenneth Keating, because Mr. Kennedy did not meet the residency requirememnts. He won the election anyway by a narrow vistory and probably did so on the coat tails of Lyndon B. Johnson's landslide re-election.

    • In the nine months from the death of President Kennedy to the Democratic National Presidential convention, the Kennedy legacy grew and Bobby was considered the "obvious beneficiary." So that delegates would not be convinced to nominate Bobby for the vice-presidency, President Lyndon Johnson moved the tribute film for the late President John F. Kennedy and the subsequent follow-up talk by Bobby to the last night of the convention. The standing ovation Bobby received before speaking to the delegates lasted 22 minutes.

    • Upon the death of his brother, John F. Kennedy, Bobby was plunged into a deep depression and began to spend a great deal of time reading the Greeks, Camus, and the existentialists. He also became very interested in poetry inculding Alfred Lord Tennyson and the heroic writers who explained human tragedy.

    • Scenes for the Emilio Estivez film "Bobby" about Robert F. Kennedy were filmed at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles (where Senator Kennedy was assassinated) before the building was torn down for a new public high school to be built on that site.

    • As Attorney General, Mr. Kennedy would not allow the Washington Redskins football team to move into the federally-owned DC Stadium until the organization integrated and promised to sign African-American players to the team. In January of 1969, after his death, the stadium was re-named RFK or Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. Besides the Redskins, the stadium was used by the Washington Senators, DC United, and the Washington Nationals.

    • RFK served as junior Senator from New York from January 3, 1965 until his death on June 6, 1968.

    • During the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, RFK opposed a pre-emptive air strike on Cuba and advocated the policy of restrained toughness that allowed the Soviet Union to retreat gracefully.

    • Robert F. Kennedy served as US Attorney General from 1961-1964. On November 20, 2001, on what would have been his 76th birthday, President George W. Bush renamed the Justice Department Building after Attorney General Kennedy.

    • Robert Kennedy was seen by his critics as driven and vindictive, willing to do almost anything in pursuit of his enemies. To his admirers, he was viewed as a man and politician committed to helping the poor and stamping out injustice.

    • Bobby and Ethel were devout Roman Catholics and kept numerous reminders of Bobby's patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi, in and about their home for their children to see.

    • Just shy of his 18th birthday, Mr. Kennedy enlisted in the US Naval Reserves and served as a Seaman Second Class (SN2). Before entering Harvard college, he underwent officer training (V-12) at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. In February of 1946, as part of the V-12 officer training program, Seaman Kennedy began a tour of duty aboard the U.S.S. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. -- a ship named for his oldest brother who was killed in a secret flying mission during WWII.

    • Olympic Gold Medalist Rafer Johnson was one of the personal bodyguards Mr. Kennedy used when he ran for President. Mr. Johnson reported hearing the sound of gunfire over his head as he participated in the Kennedy entourage exiting through the Ambassador hotel kitchen. He then grabbed the assailant's hand and weapon, after the fatal shots were fired, pushing Sirhan B. Sirhan to the ground.

    • Senator Kennedy used football player Rosey Grier and Olympic Gold Medalist Rafer Johnson as his personal bodyguards when he ran for President of the United States in 1968. Presidential candidates were not assigned secret service personnel for protection until after the assassination of Mr. Kennedy when President Lyndon B. Johnson required this change in protection practices.

    • Football player Rosey (Roosevelt) Grier served as one of Senator Robert Kennedy's personal bodyguards when the Senator ran for President of the United States in 1968. On the night of Mr. Kennedy's assassination Grier 's job was to guard Ethel Kennedy who was pregnant with child. After shots were fired, Grier helped keep control of the shooter's handgun after another bodyguard gained control of the weapon.

  • Quotes

    • Robert Kennedy, Jr.: (Regarding his father's response during the Cuban Missile Crisis) I remember there being a discussion at home with my father about whether or not we should be moved. There was a bunker under Camp David, where there was room for us. But there were two considerations that I remember my father articulating at that time. One was that we shouldn't be moved, because it would cause other people to panic if we were moved out of Washington; and the other one was that, if there a nuclear war, none of us would want to be around afterwards, anyway.

    • Robert F. Kennedy: (From a speech on behalf of Democratic candidates for state office, Sioux City, Iowa, October 9, 1966) Education is the key to preserving individual capacity to act, to provide for oneself without dependency on the government.

    • Bob Kennedy (From a letter to his brother Jack from Officer Training School at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine dated January 1, 1945) Here I am keeping up the good and though my part in this war is not quite as spectacular as yours, we all have our little bit.

    • Edward M. Kennedy: (From the eulogy given by his brother at Bobby's funeral mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City on June 8, 1968) My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.

    • Frank Mankiewicz, Kennedy Press Aide: Senator Robert Francis Kennedy died at 1:44 a.m. today, June 6, 1968. With Senator Kennedy at the time of his death were his wife, Ethel, his sisters, Mrs. Steven Smith and Mrs. Patricia Lawford; brother-in-law, Mr. Steven Smith, and his sister-in-law, Mrs. John F. Kennedy. He was 42 years old. Thank you.

    • Bobby: (His last public words caught on film) So my thanks to all of you and now, it's on to Chicago and let's win there.

    • Robert F. Kennedy: (April 4, 1968 on the campaign trail in Indianapolis, Indiana) Martin Luther King has been shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee. [audience shrieks]

      For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel, in my own heart, the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.

      It is not the end of violence, it is not the end of lawlessness and it's not the end of disorder; but the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.

    • Robert F. Kennedy: (While touring the Mississippi Delta to see southern poverty first hand) I don't think it's satisfactory that that child is nine years old and doesn't go to school.

    • Robert F. Kennedy: When I think of President Kennedy, I think of what Shakespeare said in Romeo and Juliet. When he shall die, take him and cut him out into the stars and he shall make the face of Heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun.

    • Robert G. Kennedy: (To a reporter upon the near fatal injury encountered by brother Teddy after a plane crash and after the death of President Kennedy) I was just thinking, if my mother hadn't had any more children than her first four, she would have nothing now. I guess the only reason we've survived is that there are more of us than there is trouble.

    • Robert F. Kennedy: I won't say I stayed awake nights, worrying about civil rights, before I became Attorney General.

    • Robert F. Kennedy: (Representing his brother's presidential administration after the failed Bay of Pigs incident) Ousting Castro is the top priority of the United States government.

    • Robert F, Kennedy: (Regarding the initial days of the John F. Kennedy Administration) Those were the days when we thought we were succeeding because of all the stories on how hard everyone was working. Everything seemed possible.

    • Robert: (From his commentary to a British newsreel crew when the family arrived in Plymouth in 1938 when the elder Kennedy became British Ambassador from the United States, because six year old Edward was too shy to speak) This is my first trip to Europe. I was very excited and I couldn't even sleep last night.

    • Robert F. Kennedy: Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.

    • Robert F. Kennedy: (Regarding his childhood) I can hardly remember a mealtime when the conversation was not dominated by what Franklin D. Roosevelt was doing or what was happening in the world.

    • Robert F. Kennedy: (From his speech announcing his candidacy for the presidency of the United States) I run because I am convinced that this country is on a perilous course and I have such strong feelings about what must be done.

    • Robert F. Kennedy: Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation

    • Robert F. Kennedy: My views on birth control are somewhat distorted by the fact that I was seventh of nine children.

    • Robert F. Kennedy: One-fifth of the people are against everything all the time.

    • Robert F. Kennedy: We know that if one man's rights are denied, the rights
      of all are endangered.

    • Robert F. Kennedy:(From the last speech he ever gave) Fear not the path of truth for the lack of people
      walking on it.

    • Robert F. Kennedy: Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.

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