Ethel Kennedy siblings:Meet the Skakel Family

Who were Ethel Kennedy siblings? Discover the remarkable family of a political icon. (Includes "Ethel Kennedy siblings")
Who were Ethel Kennedy siblings? Discover the remarkable family of a political icon. (Includes “Ethel Kennedy siblings”)

Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Robert F. Kennedy and a prominent human rights advocate, is one of the most famous members of the Kennedy family.

But what do you know about her siblings, the Skakels?

In this article, we will reveal the untold story of Ethel Kennedy’s siblings, their lives, their tragedies, and their connections to the Kennedys.

The Skakel Family Background

Ethel Kennedy was born Ethel Skakel on April 11, 1928, in Chicago, Illinois, to George Skakel and Ann Brannack.

She was the third of four daughters and the sixth of seven children.

Her five older siblings were Georgeann, James, George Jr., Rushton, and Patricia, and her younger sister was Ann.

George Skakel was a wealthy businessman who founded the Great Lakes Carbon Corporation, a major producer of coke and coal.

He was also a devout Catholic and a generous philanthropist.

Ann Brannack was a former secretary who married George in 1921.

She was of Irish descent and raised her children in the Catholic faith.

The Skakel family lived in Greenwich, Connecticut, in a mansion with 13 bedrooms, a swimming pool, a tennis court, and a golf course.

They also owned several other properties, including a ski lodge in Quebec, where Ethel met Robert F. Kennedy in 1945.

The Skakels were known for their lavish lifestyle, their social connections, and their adventurous spirit.

They enjoyed skiing, sailing, hunting, and traveling.

They also had a close relationship with the Kennedys, who were their neighbors and friends.

Ethel married Robert F. Kennedy in 1950, and her sister Patricia married Robert’s brother John F. Kennedy in 1953.

James Skakel

James Skakel, the second oldest Skakel sibling, was a businessman and a philanthropist.

He inherited his father’s company, Great Lakes Carbon, and expanded it into a global enterprise.

George Skakel Jr.

George Skakel Jr., the third oldest Skakel sibling, was a lawyer and a politician.

He served as the mayor of Greenwich from 1965 to 1969, and as a state senator from 1971 to 1973.

George  also ran for governor of Connecticut in 1974, but lost the Democratic nomination.

He died in 2013.

Rushton Skakel

Rushton Skakel, the fourth oldest Skakel sibling, was a businessman and a philanthropist.

He took over his father’s company, Great Lakes Carbon, and ran it until 1986, when he sold it for $416 million.

Rushton also donated millions of dollars to various charities, especially those related to Catholic education and health.

He died in 2003.

Patricia Skakel

Patricia Skakel, the fifth oldest Skakel sibling, was a socialite and a writer.

She married John F. Kennedy, the future president of the United States, in 1953, and became the First Lady in 1961.

Patricia was known for her elegance, style, and grace, as well as her support for the arts, culture, and education.

She also wrote several books, including a memoir, a biography of her husband, and a history of the White House.

She later divorced John F. Kennedy and remarried.

She died in 2006.

Ann Skakel

Ann Skakel, the youngest Skakel sibling, was a socialite and a philanthropist.

She married Ciarán Cuffe, an Irish politician and a member of the European Parliament, in 1974.

They had four children and lived in Ireland.

She also supported various causes, such as animal welfare, human rights, and the environment.

She died in 2020.


Were any of Ethel Kennedy’s siblings also involved in politics?

Yes, several of Ethel Kennedy’s siblings were prominent figures in American politics.

Her husband, Robert F. Kennedy, served as a U.S. Senator and Attorney General, and her brothers John F. Kennedy and Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. both aspired to political careers.

John F. Kennedy, of course, became the 35th President of the United States, while Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. died in service during World War II.

 Did any of Ethel Kennedy’s siblings play significant roles in social activism?

Absolutely. Ethel Kennedy herself was a champion for human rights and social justice causes, and several of her siblings also dedicated themselves to making a positive impact.

Her sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founded the Special Olympics, an international organization that provides athletic training and competition for people with intellectual disabilities.

Jean Kennedy Smith, another sister, has also been involved in various social justice initiatives throughout her life.



Ethel Kennedy’s siblings were a remarkable and influential family, who shaped the history and the society of the United States and beyond.

They also faced many challenges and tragedies, but never gave up on their values and their vision.

They are a testament to the power and the resilience of the human spirit.

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