The 50-year anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy's assassination is on Thursday
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JFK Library Fundraiser, McLean, USA
Credit: Charles Tasnadi/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Ethel Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier got off to a famously bad start.

In 1953, Ethel invited her brother-in-law Sen. Jack Kennedy and his new girlfriend to her formal St. Patrick’s Day party. Emerging from a Rolls Royce, Jackie wore black, like all of the other ladies in attendance — except Ethel, who upstaged her guests in a shimmering emerald-green gown.

Allegedly miffed, Jackie left early, complaining of a “dreadful headache.”

PEOPLE’s new special edition, The Kennedys: Jack & Jackie and Bobby & Ethel, remembering Robert F. Kennedy 50 years after his assassination, is available on Amazon and wherever magazines are sold.


Despite this initial encounter, much has been written since about how the two Mrs. Kennedys, who shared the horrific bond of losing their husbands to assassins’ bullets, actually got along.

The condolence letter Jackie sent to Ethel in the wake of RFK’s assassination 50 years ago — on June 6, 1968, addressed to “My Ethel” — displays the potential friendship. It reads:

“My Ethel –

No one in the world could have ever been like you were yesterday — except maybe Bobby –

We are going home now — Your phone was busy

You don’t want any more callers you must be so tired — I stayed up till 6:30 last night just thinking — and praying for you — and for you in the months ahead –

I love you so much –

You know that anything — Stas will take little Bobby to Africa — I’ll take them around the world + to the moon + back — anything to help you + them now and always –

With my deepest deepest love


Robert F. Kennedy, Ethel Skakel, Ethel Kennedy
Ethel and Robert Kennedy on their wedding day in 1950
| Credit: AP

The two-page note went missing for years, prompting an FBI investigation. As of 2011 it remains in the hands of the FBI, according to The Dallas Morning News.

And Ethel remains devoted to her late husband.

She is still married to Bobby,” a friend of the 90-year-old once told PEOPLE. “She believes he is in heaven looking down on her.”