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Ethel Skakel Kennedy (born April 11, 1928) is the widow of Robert F. Kennedy, who served as Attorney General of the United States and a United States Senator for the state of New York.
Ethel Skakel was born in Chicago on April 11, 1928 to Ann Brannack, a Roman Catholic of Irish descent, and George Skakel, a Protestant of Dutch descent. Ethel was raised as a Catholic in Greenwich, Connecticut. Her father was the founder of the very successful Great Lakes Carbon Corporation, now a division of SGLCarbon. She attended the all-girls Greenwich Academy in Greenwich, as well as the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Manhattan. In September 1945, Ethel began her collegiate education at Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart (then located in Manhattan), where she became friends and roommates with Jean Kennedy. Skakel later married Kennedy's brother, Robert F. Kennedy.
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 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.