David Anthony Kennedy

David Anthony Kennedy

Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA
Death 25 Apr 1984 (aged 28)
Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida, USA
Burial Brookline, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, USA
Memorial ID 2469 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Kennedy Family Member. He was the son of US Senator Robert F. Kennedy (Democrat – New York) and nephew of the 35th US President, John F. Kennedy. Born David Anthony Kennedy in Washington, DC, he was the fourth of eleven children to Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel Kennedy. In 1967, his father decided to run on the Democratic ticket to be President in the 1968 elections, and young David was there to help his father in the primaries. On June 5, 1968, just after his father had won the California primary, 13-year-old David was watching television in his hotel room when he witnessed his father's assassination at the hands of Sirhan Bishara Sirhan. Of all of the RFK children, David apparently took his father's death the hardest, which left him emotionally scarred. At Christmas 1968, he wrote his mother "There will be no more football with Daddy, no more swimming with him, no more riding and no more camping with him. But he was the best father there ever was and I would rather have him for a father for the length of time I did than any other father for a million years." Shortly afterwards, he turned to drugs to help ease the pain. In 1973, he was in a Jeep accident in which his eldest brother, Joseph Kennedy II, was driving. David sustained a fractured vertebra and his girlfriend, Pamela Kelley, was left paralyzed. David became addicted to the painkillers he was given, and that autumn, he began shooting heroin. After graduating from the Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts, he was admitted to Harvard, pursing a major in American History, before dropping out in 1976. He was considered a very good writer, and decided to pursue a career as a journalist, working for a Tennessee newspaper. Although some of the staff thought he had a good style and aptitude for reporting, others thought he was often on drugs. David would alternate his time between the Kennedy family home "Hickory Hill" in McLean, Virginia and New York City, until February 1979, when he decided to live in New York full time. He was often seen in the various hot spot nightclubs of New York with a variety of attractive women, and during this period of his life, he had a serious involvement with British actress Rachel Claire Ward. During the three years of 1976-1979, he was twice diagnosed with bacterial endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart commonly a result of using intravenous drugs. He also suffered from drug overdoses in 1976 and 1978. During the winter of 1978, he spent two months in Sussex, England, under the care of Dr. Margaret Patterson for treatment of drug addiction. In September 1979, he was robbed and beaten while buying heroin in Harlem. Police did not charge him for driving with an expired license, or with lying to police about the circumstances of the robbery. A month later, he moved to Sacramento, California, to live under the supervision of a drug counselor, and once drug free, he obtained work through his family contacts, adopting a quiet lifestyle. In the fall of 1982, he returned to Boston, Massachusetts, working for "Atlantic Monthly" magazine, and spent time in Spofford Hall, a drug and alcohol abuse treatment center, to get his drinking habits under control. He enrolled in Harvard for the fall semester 1983, but left at the end of the semester when he became addicted to drugs again. During March 1984, David completed a month at St. Mary's Hospital and Rehabilitation Center in Minneapolis, trying to break his drug habit. On April 19, 1984, he flew down to Palm Beach, Florida, to be with his Kennedy family for an extended Easter break, checking into the Brazilian Court Hotel. He spent the first couple of days partying, but after several days of absence, his family notified the hotel to check on him, and hotel staff found him dead on the floor of his room. An autopsy determined he had died on April 25, 1984, of an overdose of cocaine, the tranquilizer Mellaril, and the painkiller Demerol. Traces of cocaine and Demerol were found in the bowl and tank of the room's toilet, and 15 mg of cocaine were found on a $20 bill in his room. He was buried in the family plot at Holyhood Cemetery in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson

Family Members




How famous was David Anthony Kennedy?

Current rating:

229 votes

to cast your vote.

  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 2469
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for David Anthony Kennedy (15 Jun 1955–25 Apr 1984), Find a Grave Memorial no. 2469, citing Holyhood Cemetery, Brookline, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .