Kennedy Family

The Young Robert Kennedy

The future icon as a boy and budding public servant.

So many of the most well-known photos of Robert F. Kennedy show him in his professional years as attorney general, as a U.S. senator, and as a presidential candidate. But what about the time before then, when he was a boy growing up a scion of a politically ambitious Massachusetts clan that had not yet become the most famous last name in American politics? Here, a look at the young Bobby with his iconic American family. Pictured: Robert with his sisters, Eunice and Kathleen, and his mother, Rose.

THE BOYS OF HYANNISPORT Historical/Corbis via Getty Images THE BOYS OF HYANNISPORT The most famous Kennedys lined up as teenagers in their birth order: John, Bobby, Ted. TOTS AT THE ZOO, 1938 Bettmann/Bettmann Archive TOTS AT THE ZOO, 1938 Bobby watches over his brother Ted playing with a baby elephant at the London Zoo, during the time their father was U.S. ambassador to England. YOUTH SUMMIT, 1939 Bettmann/Bettmann Archive YOUTH SUMMIT, 1939 At a garden party hosted by his father at the American embassy in London, Bobby (left) and a school friend very politely eat strawberries and cream. TENNIS IN FLORIDA, 1941 Bert Morgan/Getty Images TENNIS IN FLORIDA, 1941 Bobby (second from left) with siblings Eunice, Ted, and Jean. HORSEBACK, 1938 Bettmann/Bettmann Archive HORSEBACK, 1938 Kathleen and Bobby, out for a ride. TRUSTED ADVISER Bettmann/Bettmann Archive TRUSTED ADVISER The future United States president and his attorney general confer on a balcony in London. ALL-AMERICAN, 1948 Historical/Corbis via Getty Images ALL-AMERICAN, 1948 Thanksgiving with the Kennedys in Hyannisport. (Bobby is pictured second from right.) CADET, 1943 Bettmann/Bettmann Archive CADET, 1943 With his father, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., looking on, Bobby is sworn in as a naval aviation cadet. AS A GRANDSON, 1939 Bettmann/Bettmann Archive AS A GRANDSON, 1939 With sisters Kathleen and Eunice, Bobby celebrates the 50th wedding anniversary of his maternal grandparents. TOUCH FOOTBALL, 1961 Leonard McCombe/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images TOUCH FOOTBALL, 1961 Bobby accomplished so much over his lifetime that it's startling to remember just how young he was when he died — just 42, younger even than John had been at the time of his assassination. But here, in a treasured time before all that, 36-year-old Bobby plays touch football with his wife, Ethel.



For more FOTO stories directly in your inbox, sign up for our weekly newsletter.