In 1969, it wasn’t easy being Ted Kennedy, suddenly the only remaining son of father Joe’s famous clan. Eldest son Joe Jr. had been killed in World War II. Both JFK and RFK had been assassinated. This left Ted carrying the torch, along with an unending series of highballs.
On July 18, Ted attended a party for late bro Bobby’s “boiler-room girls” (calm down, they were only campaign workers) on Chappaquiddick Island on Martha’s Vineyard, and offered Mary Jo Kopechne, back to her hotel. One wrong turn later, Kopechne was lying with his car at the bottom of Chappaquiddick’s Poucha Pond. Kennedy allegedly swam to shore before he realized Kopechne might be trapped in the car, then dove back in a failed effort to rescue her.
Somehow it escaped Kennedy’s mind to alert the authorities until after Kopechne’s body was discovered the following day by some fishermen. He pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and wrote the girl’s family a $90,000 check. The incident would dog Kennedy for the rest of his career, and effectively torpedoed his chances of ever winning the presidency of the United States. — Charles Bottomley