When Robert F. Kennedy was U.S. attorney general, his wife, Ethel, would take their children to the FBI building to watch sharpshooters at target practice. It was fun for the kids, though they risked running into FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who disliked Robert Kennedy and didn’t care for children. So when Ethel came across a suggestion box, she wrote, “Get a new director,” on a piece of paper, and slipped it in the slot.
Directed by her Emmy-winning daughter, Rory Kennedy (HBO’s “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib”), ETHEL celebrates the remarkable life of the Kennedy matriarch, highlighted by revealing, little-known anecdotes from those who know her best: her family. Debuting THURSDAY, OCT. 18 (9:00-10:45 p.m. ET/PT) on HBO, the feature-length documentary had its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Watch Ethel Trailer Video
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This personal portrait, featuring candid interviews with Ethel – her first extended
interview in more than two decades – and her children Kathleen, Joe, Bobby, Courtney,
Kerry, Chris and Max, spans her political awakening, the life she shared with Robert
Kennedy and the years following his death, when she raised their 11 children. ETHEL is
the first film made about the Kennedys from within the family.
Now 84, Ethel is described by one of her daughters as “the most fiercely competitive person I’ve ever met.” On camera, she comes across as a force of nature who is also self-effacing.
Given the Kennedys’ place at the forefront of many of the pivotal events of the
modern era, the documentary’s sweep is vast, ranging from the McCarthy hearings and
the Civil Rights movement, to Vietnam and the anti-war movement, to the assassinations
of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, and beyond.
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