August 26, 2009. Like other members of his family, Ted Kennedy was
no stranger to controversy. Starting from being tossed out of Harvard to
being charged with reckless, unlicensed driving at law school, Kennedy
was plagued with what many have described as the "Kennedy curse."
The Chappaquiddick Scandal
In 1969, Kennedy's negligent driving resulted in the death of Robert
Kennedy campaign worker Mary Jo Kopechne, who was trapped in a car that
Kennedy drove off a bridge into a pond after leaving a party in
Chappaquiddick on Martha's Vineyard, Mass. Kennedy did not report the
accident until the car was discovered the next day. He vowed that he had
not been drinking and made a televised address to the nation.
He got two months suspended jail time for leaving the scene but was not
indicted by a grand jury in relation to Kopechne's death. Like his first
wife, Joan, Kennedy also struggled with alcohol and rumors of his
womanizing made for capital fodder for years. Through much of the 1980s
he was viewed as a playboy with a bottle. That image culminated with the
arrest of his nephew, William Kennedy Smith, who was later acquitted on
charges of raping a woman he met at a bar while out with his uncle.
At the time, the incident hurt Kennedy's ability to fight the concurrent
Supreme Court nomination of Clarence Thomas over allegations of
harassment by former Thomas aide Anita Hill. Hobbled by bad PR and low
approval ratings, Kennedy had to rethink his life plan.
He credited his second wife Victoria Anne Reggie with turning him around
and redirecting him back to his political career and liberal agenda. The
two married in 1992, and she is said to have lifted him to success
during his most difficult re-election campaign -- against Republican
challenger Mitt Romney.
Feb 22, 1932: Edward Moore Kennedy is born in Boston, the
youngest of nine children of Joseph P. and Rose Kennedy.
May 1951: Leaves Harvard. Kennedy is caught cheating on an exam
and leaves Harvard College. He enlists in the Army and serves for the
next 16 months. He later re-enrolls at Harvard.
Jun 1954: Graduated from Harvard. Kennedy graduates from Harvard
and enrolls at the University of Virginia Law School. He graduates from
law school in 1959.
Nov 29, 1958: Kennedy marries. Kennedy marries Virginia Joan
Nov 8, 1960: JFK elected President: Kennedy's brother, John F.
Kennedy, is elected president of the United States.
March 1962: Announces senate bid. Kennedy resigns as assistant
district attorney in Suffolk County, Mass. He announces his candidacy
for his brother John's unexpired Senate term.
Nov 6, 1962: Elected senator. Kennedy is elected as a
Nov 22, 1963: JFK Assassinated in Dallas, Tx. President Kennedy
is assassinated in Dallas.
June 1964: Plane Crash. Kennedy's back is
broken in a plane crash that kills his aide and the pilot.
Nov 3, 1964: Robert Kennedy is elected. Brother Robert F.
Kennedy is elected to the Senate from New York.
March 1968: RFK Announces Candidacy. Robert F. Kennedy
announces his candidacy for the presidency.
Jun 5, 1968: RFK Shot. After winning the California primary,
Robert F. Kennedy is shot in Los Angeles and dies the next day.
July 18, 1969: Chappaquiddick. Kennedy drives his car off a
bridge at Chappaquiddick, Mass., and manages to escape. His passenger,
Mary Jo Kopechne, drowns. Kennedy later pleads guilty to leaving the
scene of an accident, a misdemeanor, and receives a two-month suspended
sentence and a year's probation.
July 25, 1969: televised address. Kennedy delivers
a television address to explain his actions at Chappaquiddick.
Nov 3, 1970: Re-elected to the Senate. Kennedy is re-elected to
the Senate, but he loses his majority whip position. He chairs the
Senate Health Committee.
Nov 1979: Announces Presidential bid. Kennedy announces his
candidacy for the 1980 presidential election.
Jan - Aug, 1980: Presidential primaries: Kennedy wins Democratic
primaries in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, the
District of Columbia, California, New Mexico, Rhode Island, South
Dakota, and New Jersey. The rest go to the incumbent, President Jimmy
August, 1980: Withdraws presidential. In an emotional speech to
the Democratic National Convention, Kennedy withdraws his bid for the
December 1982: Divorce. Kennedy announces he will not run for
president in 1984. After 24 years of marriage, he divorces his wife,
Dec 19, 1985: Not a candidate. Kennedy announces he will not run
for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination.
March 1991: William Kennedy Smith incident. A woman accuses
Kennedy's nephew, William Kennedy Smith, of raping her at the family's
Palm Beach, Fla., estate. Kennedy's nephew is later acquitted of the
June 11, 1991: Ethics complaint. A conservative political group
files an ethics complaint against Kennedy, alleging that he violated
Senate rules by his actions relating to the alleged rape. Kennedy raised
questions when he left Palm Beach, Fla., without speaking to police, who
had made attempts to contact him. The Senate Ethics Committee dismisses
the complaint against Kennedy on June 1.
July 11, 1991: Son acknowledges treatment. Edward M. Kennedy
Jr., Kennedy's son, announces that he spent three weeks in an alcohol
treatment center because drinking was "impairing my ability to achieve
the goals I care about.''
July 1992: Kennedy marries again. Kennedy marries Victoria
Reggie, a Washington lawyer.
September 1992: Assistant writes a book. A book by former
administrative assistant Richard E. Burke depicts Kennedy as a former
partygoer, womanizer and cocaine user. Kennedy calls the book "a
collection of bizarre and untrue stories.''
Oct 13, 1994: Allegations dismisses. The Senate Ethics Committee
dismisses allegations of sexual harassment and drug use by Kennedy.
Jun 4, 1995: Son wins House seat. Rhode Island Rep. Patrick
Kennedy, son of the Massachusetts senator, becomes the youngest member
of the 104th Congress.
Aug 21, 1996: Health care bill signed. A major health care bill
sponsored by Kennedy and Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, R-Kan., is signed into a
law. The law protects workers from losing health insurance when they
change jobs or from being denied coverage due to pre-existing
July 1999: JFK Jr. Plane crash. John F. Kennedy Jr. and his
wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and her sister, Lauren Bessette, perish
in a plane crash in the waters off Martha's Vineyard.
Feb 10, 2000: Treated for pneumonia. Kennedy is released from a
hospital after being treated for bacterial pneumonia.
Jan 2002: No Child Left Behind. No Child Left Behind
legislation, which Kennedy co-sponsored, is signed into law. The
legislation is designed to give states and school districts more freedom
over how they spend federal dollars, but requires them to raise student
April 5, 2004: "George Bush's Vietnam''. Kennedy says Iraq has
become "George Bush's Vietnam'' and compares him to former President
May 4, 2006: Son Patrick incident. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, son of
the Massachusetts senator, drives his vehicle into a Capitol Hill
Jun 13, 2006: Son Sentenced. A judge sentences Patrick Kennedy
to drug treatment and a year's probation after he pleads guilty to
driving under the influence of prescription drugs.
Nov 2006: Wins eighth term. Kennedy easily wins an eighth
six-year Senate term.
May 2007: Minimum Wages Bill. Congress approves an increase in
the federal minimum wage, a longtime priority for Kennedy.
Oct 12, 2007: Artery Surgery. Kennedy has surgery in Boston to
clear a partially blocked artery in his neck.
Jan 28, 2008: Obama Endorsement. Kennedy announces he is
endorsing Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination for president.
May 17, 2008: Seizure. Kennedy suffers a seizure at his Cape
Cod, Mass., home.
May 20, 2008: Tumor Diagnosed. Doctors diagnose Kennedy with a
cancerous brain tumor.