head of the nonprofit Citizens Energy Corp.
The son of Robert and Ethel Kennedy fell victim to the powerful family's fabled curse when he hit a tree in a New Year's Eve skiing accident in Colorado in 1997. Considered one of the more politically astute of the third generation of Kennedys, Michael preferred to be a behind-the-scenes political operative. He managed the successful 1994 re-election campaign of his uncle, Sen. Edward Kennedy, and was chief political adviser to his brother, Rep. Joe Kennedy II, in his run for governor of Massachusetts. But the 1997 revelation of a long-term affair with the underage babysitter of his children thrust him into the spotlight. The woman, a close friend of the family, did not press charges and did not cooperate with prosecutors, sparing Kennedy and his family further embarrassment. Kennedy and his wife, Victoria Gifford Kennedy, the daughter of sportscaster Frank Gifford, split up shortly after the scandal made national headlines; some reports say they had reconciled at the time of his death. Joe Kennedy dropped out of the gubernatorial race in the wake of the scandal.
While Michael Kennedy was trying to salvage his image, his brother Joe, a congressman from Massachusetts, was enduring his own public humiliation. In her book, Shattered Faith, Kennedy's former wife, Sheila Rauch Kennedy, accused him of strong-arming her an annulment of their 12-year marriage. The two incidents led cousin John F. Kennedy, Jr. to call them “poster boys for bad behavior” in his magazine, George. Shortly after Michael's death, Joe announced he would not seek re-election to the House of Representatives in 1998 and instead would head Michael's Citizens Energy Corp.Died: 1997