Washington D.C.- Celebration of the 77th Birthday of Senator Ted Kennedy was held yesterday with the “Happy Birthday” song led by President Obama. The photo above appeared in Vanity Fair February 2007 Issue.
Irregardless of your political opinion, the Kennedy dynasty is the closest Americans get to royalty. Having the opportunity to meet Senator Ted Kennedy, for my job with Vanity Fair and Newsweek, was a chance to step into living American History.
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The Senator from Massachusetts’s walls, at his office in the Hart Building in Washington, D.C., was covered from floor to ceiling with photographs, awards, and mementos. The victories and tragedies are intimately laid out for the visitor to observe and absorb. Most spectacular families have their share of triumph and tragedy. As is the case with the Kennedy family, all the emotions are there to experience in the many photos including an old photo of JFK as a young military man, John Jr. looking handsome in his wedding tuxedo, the senator’s wife, Valerie, and he on their sailboat in Mannasis, magazine covers and hand painted thank-you’s from children were all mixed together as a gallery representing many years.
As I gazed around the two office rooms, I took in all the stories, all the tears, all the joys and felt moved by the events before me. Time slowed down. You had to take a moment to understand the influence the Kennedy family has had on our political system. Of particular interest to me was an oil painting, which depicted a sailboat in the waters off the Cape, signed by the artist, Ted Kennedy. The thoughtful brushstrokes, peaceful waters and the sturdiness of the boat seemed to anchor the painter and to make the observer wish they were there, on the water, in control of a great beast that is the ocean. Sometime later, I noticed in then Senator Barack Obama’s office a similar painting by Ted Kennedy. I was not surprised when Kennedy endorsed Obama for the Presidency.
Sunny and Splash, the Senator’s obedient and loyal Portuguese water dogs, were at his side throughout the photo shoot. The homeyness of having animals in the Federally Secured halls of the Senate building made me more at ease. Senator Kennedy was managing phone calls, visits with Irish Dignitaries and signing documents all within the half hour we were privy to the details of his day. He was cordial and flashed that Kennedy-esque grin for the camera. Vanity Fair editors later called me to ask , “What did you do for grooming? The Senator looks great!”. Nothing special or out of the ordinary, I thought to myself. I told them the products I used including PhotoFinish Primer from Smashbox, which is my go-to, must have items. Needless to say, in the 2006 Green Issue of Vanity Fair, did not list the product. How surprised I was, however, to find my name linked to the Senator through a conservative think tank in California. The group published an article about how silly they thought it was that the magazine promotes products by listing grooming information on their non-model subjects. Check out the article at
I felt like I should defend my job by writing to the author, but then decided against it. As P.T. Barnum famously stated about publicity, ” I don’t care what you say about me as long as you spell my name right.” Which takes me to my next client, the owners of Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey circus! You see it’s all connected. The six degrees of separation is not just for Kevin Bacon, although I haven’t met him yet. Let me just say that circus owner is an interesting job. To get a view of the big top go to