SNAPPLE "REAL FACT" #674, the oldest living animal was a 405 year old clam named Ming by researchers.
PHOTO INDEX: TEDDY KENNEDY'S WIVES, VICTORIA AND JOAN, NUMBERS 2 and 1 RESPECTIVELY.
BEHIND EVERY MAN
Much has been made about the 1964 Plane Crash that Ted Kennedy nearly died in. Accounts of it have flooded the airwaves since his death. But almost no attention has been given to the fact that Kennedy's 28 year old wife at the time became his surrogate campaigner in that '64 Senate Race. And in 1994 Kennedy's political fortunes were aided by the acumen of his new wife. During two key elections in his political career, Sen. Edward Kennedy turned to his wife at the time for help. In two cases 30 years apart, his first wife and then his second wife — opposites in personality and strengths — both rallied to his cause. As stated earlier, in 1964, when Kennedy spent months in the hospital recovering from a broken back, it was his first wife, Joan, then 28, who hit the campaign trail to push his re-election to the Senate. Kennedy had won the Massachusetts seat, once held by his older brother John, two years before in a special election. Three decades later in 1994, when Ted Kennedy's political career had crested short of the White House and his reputation was tarnished by years of hard living, another woman stood by him. Vicki Kennedy campaigned for the senator in a tough re-election fight against businessman Mitt Romney, in a strong anti-incumbent year. To Vicki, politics has come so naturally that she has been spoken of as a possible successor to her husband. To Joan, political life came less easily — and at great personal cost.
Ted Kennedy met Joan Bennett in 1957. She was a student of piano, a part-time model, and a college friend of his sister Jean. John Kennedy called her "the dish." Blond and stylish, she joined Ethel and Jackie as Kennedy wives: fashionable, attractive, pitching in on the Kennedy political agenda and publicly ignoring rumors of frequent infidelity on the part of their husbands.
The course of Joan and Ted Kennedy's 24-year marriage included the assassinations of his brothers John and Robert; the bone cancer of their son Edward Jr., then 12 years old; multiple miscarriages; rumors of Ted's philandering; and Joan's battle with alcoholism.
Throughout, Joan was open about her own demons: trying to fit in with the Kennedy clan, fearing for her husband's safety. She went to a psychiatrist when it was taboo in Washington, and admitted it. When she joined Alcoholics Anonymous, she revealed that, too.
In July 1969, on the way home from a party, the senator's car went off a bridge at Chappaquiddick on Martha's Vineyard, drowning Mary Jo Kopechne, a young woman who worked on his brother Robert's presidential campaign. Ted Kennedy, who did not contact the police until more than nine hours afterward, pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident. It was an incident that irreparably damaged Kennedy's reputation, but in the manner of some political wives, Joan Kennedy stood by him and traveled with her husband to our area for Kopechne's funeral. A month later, she suffered her third miscarriage. When Kennedy ran for president in 1980, he had been separated from Joan for two years. She lived in her own apartment in Boston's Back Bay and studied for a master's degree in education. Nonetheless, she again campaigned for him, though it required answering questions about her alcoholism. She said that if he were elected, she would live with him in the White House. The couple's divorce in 1982 was at Joan's request. Trained as a classical pianist, Joan Kennedy has written a book about music appreciation, performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and promoted music education for children. Her battle with alcoholism has included at least four arrests for drunken driving and time in rehab. In 2005, when she was 68, her three children went to court to become her legal guardians. Judge Robert Terry ruled that she "was incapable of taking care of herself because of mental illness." Though she married Ted Kennedy long after the Camelot days, Vicki Reggie appeared made to order for the clan. She comes from a political family in Louisiana with power — her father, Edmund, ran campaigns statewide for all three Kennedy brothers — and a hint of scandal. Edmund Reggie, a judge and a banker, was convicted in 1992 of defrauding a failed savings and loan. Ted Kennedy and his second wife first met — just for a photo op — when she was an intern in his Senate office. Because of their families' friendship, their paths would cross frequently. The senator had known Edmund Reggie since 1956, when the judge helped swing the Louisiana delegation at the Democratic National Convention to support John Kennedy for vice president over Estes Kefauver. As a delegate to the 1980 Democratic convention, Vicki's mother, Doris, cast the only vote for Ted Kennedy in his failed bid to oust President Carter. In 1991, then a single mother of two young children, Vicki Reggie was working in Washington as a lawyer specializing in banks and bankruptcy. She invited the senator to a 40th anniversary party for her parents. Shortly after, they began dating, and he proposed at a performance of La Boheme. Reggie and Kennedy were married in 1992, not long after he had been embroiled in another seriously damaging scandal: the Palm Beach rape trial of his nephew William Kennedy Smith. The senator, who had been with his son, Patrick, and his nephew at the bar where Smith met the alleged victim, was in the house at the time of the alleged rape. The second marriage began a turnaround for the senator. Vicki Kennedy came from a political family herself, people who have met her think she's been a very constructive force in his life. Kennedy insiders credit Vicki Kennedy with a key strategic move during the senator's tough Senate race against Romney in 1994. It was Vicki who with her legal background realized that the Republican's business ties could be used against him. The Kennedy campaign produced an ad featuring laid-off workers in Indiana blaming Romney, then head of Bain Capital, a private equity firm that owned their employer. What was once a tight race became a comfortable win for Kennedy, who was re-elected with 58% of the vote. 22 years his junior, Vicki was politically astute, ambitious and ready to do whatever it took to advance Ted's career. At the funeral of Rose Kennedy, who died in 1995 at age 104, her youngest child received Communion, an indication he was in good standing with the Roman Catholic Church, which frowns on divorce. After Kennedy's marriage to Vicki, the senator sought an annulment of his first marriage with the consent of Joan. Though Ted credited Vicki with saving his life, the couple always characterized their relationship as simply a love match. Many think she's been a very positive force in his life. As far a political wife goes or for that matter, any wife, as men, we'd all be in some gutter without one keeping an eye on us. Ted Kennedy was lucky enough to have 2 that watched his back and saved his ass.
Sources: USA Today, NY Daily News, LuLac archives.