Ethel Kennedy spills family secrets

January 20th, 2012

New York Post
Jan. 20, 2012

PARK CITY, Utah — Robert F. Kennedy feared the Mafia would try to blind his young children in an acid attack to deter his investigation into labor racketeering, his widow, Ethel, reveals for the first time.

Speaking out in a documentary by her daughter Rory premiering today at the Sundance Film Festival, feisty matriarch Ethel Kennedy recalls a scary threat when her husband was counsel to a Senate subcommittee probing organized crime’s control of labor unions.

“There was a journalist for the New York Post they had thrown acid in the face of,’’ Mrs. Kennedy, 83, says, referring to crusading columnist Victor Riesel, blinded by a hood linked to the Mafia in a shocking 1956 attack. “We were told they were going to do the same with our children.’’

Eldest daughter Kathleen, one of several siblings also interviewed in the film, recalls, “We couldn’t leave [school] with the other kids at the end of the day. We had to wait in the principal’s office to be picked up.’’

The documentary “Ethel,’’ which will play on HBO later this year, offers an extraordinary look into the private lives of a celebrated family that was at the center of some of the most famous events, triumphant and tragic, of the 20th century.

Asked about her husband’s 1968 assassination, Ethel says to her filmmaker daughter: “When we lost Daddy . . .” then stops, pain written on her face.

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