A Kennedy Content to Stay in the Shadows

Caroline B. Kennedy ’80 leads quiet life after years of hardship

For a Kennedy, she sure doesn’t adore the limelight.

In fact, Caroline B. Kennedy ’80, daughter of late President John F. Kennedy, would rather remain behind the scenes—as a reporter, covering the news as opposed to making it.

Her freshman year, Caroline was introduced at a campaign function for her uncle Sen. Edward Kennedy’s ’54 (D-Mass.) re-election bid—but without a word, quickly faded back towards the cake, doughnut, and coffee table.

“I [already] talked the other night,” the young Kennedy said at the time, more comfortable mingling with the guests one-on-one than mobilizing large crowds.

“And she was scintillating, eloquent, and a warm feeling spread through the crowd as she spoke,” interjected a supporter at her side.

The press-shy Caroline seems to have inherited her mother’s quiet, humble demeanor.

And although Caroline carried the daunting Kennedy surname—the Harvard school of government stands in her father’s honor and John F. Kennedy street cuts through Harvard Square—she attempted to spend her undergraduate career at Harvard like a normal college student.

She lived on campus her freshman year, although with heightened security. She underwent the competitive Ivy League admissions process and came out lucky—fellow celebrities, such as the kin of Katherine Hepburn and son of Gregory Peck, were never granted acceptance into the Class of 1980.

And she even endured the obligatory Expository Writing requirement.

Scott W. Pink ’80 recalls seeing the famous blonde attending a handful of the Expos classes he shared with her.

“I remember personally being awe-struck,” says Pink today. “I was from a public high school in Long Island. That I was actually in a class with the daughter of one of the most famous presidents ever—and she was just like another normal person.”

But Caroline was an awe-struck admirer sometimes herself.

She would be spotted, as a senior, in a crowd gathered in front of the Coop straining to catch a glimpse of then-professional bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger, who would go on to marry a Kennedy—her cousin Maria Shriver—seven years later.

HER SHARE OF PAIN

With the Kennedy name comes the Kennedy hardship.

Her mother, Jacqueline B. Kennedy, lost a stillborn daughter only 15 months before Caroline’s birth. And another premature child named Patrick died only three months before her husband, President Kennedy, was assassinated in 1963.