Page last updated at 16:42 GMT, Thursday, 27 August 2009 17:42 UK

Kennedy death leaves no clear heir

Joseph P. Kennedy and descendants
The Kennedy dynasty's grip on US politics began with former US ambassador to the UK, Joseph P Kennedy. Three of his children would help to shape the country's political landscape in the 20th Century.
John F. Kennedy and descendants
John F Kennedy had three children with wife Jacqueline, prior to his assassination. Patrick survived for just two days and John Jr died in a plane crash in 1999; Caroline works as a lawyer and author.
Robert F. Kennedy and descendants
Robert F Kennedy, also assassinated five years after brother John, had a large family with wife Ethel. A number of his children remain active in politics, or indirectly as activists, broadcasters and lawyers.
Edward Kennedy and descendants
Of Edward Kennedy's three children with wife Joan, only Patrick has opted to follow the political path of the previous Kennedy generation, winning a congressional seat in 1994.
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The death of US Senator Edward Kennedy, the last of the Kennedy brothers, leaves no obvious successor to take on the leading role in one of America's most famous political families. Below are the surviving members of the Kennedy clan who have been politically prominent or active to date.

File photo of Patrick Kennedy

Edward Kennedy's son, 42, is the only remaining Kennedy to hold elected office, having served as a member of the House of Representatives for Rhode Island since 1988.

Although he does not have the political gravitas of his father, Patrick Kennedy has become a renowned campaigner for the mentally ill.

He was instrumental in helping to push through legislation last year requiring health insurance companies to give equal coverage to mental and physical illnesses.

Patrick Kennedy has acknowledged his own personal battles with mental illness, admitting he has suffered from depression and alcoholism.

After crashing his car into a security barrier in Washington in 2006, he confessed to an addiction to prescription drugs and checked himself into rehab.

"I hope that in some small way my decision to be proactive and public in my efforts to remain healthy can help remove the stigma that has served as a barrier for many Americans reluctant to get the help they needed," he has said.

File photo of Caroline Kennedy

The 51-year-old author, lawyer and philanthropist is the only surviving child of former president John F Kennedy.

Caroline Kennedy trained at Sotheby's in art and graduated from Columbia Law School.

She has co-written two books on civil liberties and helped raise millions of dollars for schools in New York, where she lives with her exhibit designer husband Edwin Schlossberg and their three children.

She had stayed out of the political limelight until last year, when she endorsed Barack Obama in the presidential election.

Following the election, she put her name forward to take the US Senate seat for New York left empty by Hillary Clinton, who took up the post of Secretary of State.

But Ms Kennedy withdrew in January, after failing to impress in media interviews.

File photo of Maria Shriver

The 53-year-old former television journalist is Edward Kennedy's niece and is the First Lady of California.

Although her husband, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, is a Republican, Maria Shriver has remained loyal to the Democratic Party.

She even backed Barack Obama for president in the 2008 presidential election, while her husband came out in support of Republican candidate John McCain.

Ms Shriver was once one of the best known faces in the US media as a TV journalist for NBC but took extended leave from her job when her husband ran for governor in 2003.

She left the network a year later, saying she was unable to juggle her job with her duties as California's first lady, and has since worked to raise awareness of women's issues in the state as well as addressing issues of poverty and the community.

She is the daughter of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a campaigner for the mentally disabled, who died earlier this month.

File photo of Joseph Kennedy

Joseph Kennedy is the eldest son of Robert Kennedy, who served six terms as a congressman from Massachusetts, until 1999.

Now 56, he runs the non-profit Citizens Energy Corporation, which provides affordable heating oil to low-income families.

He considered running for governor of Massachusetts in 2002, but decided against it citing family reasons.

He has been mentioned as a possible candidate to take over his uncle Edward Kennedy's Senate seat in Massachusetts.

File photo of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

The 58-year-old ex-lieutenant governor of Maryland is the eldest of Robert Kennedy's 11 children.

Her political career is considered to have foundered when she made a failed bid to become governor in 2002.

Archive photo of Mark Shriver

One of Eunice Kennedy Shriver's four sons, 45, he was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 1995 to 2003. In 2002, he was defeated in a Democratic primary in Maryland for a seat in the US House of Representatives.

He subsequently moved away from the state and is now a director for Save the Children.


Politically untested family members include two of Robert F Kennedy's children: Robert F Kennedy Jr, a prominent environmental activist and lawyer, and businessman Chris Kennedy. Another of his children, Kerry Kennedy, is a human rights activist and the founder of the organisation Speak Truth to Power.

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