The Kennedy family is intimidating on its own, being American royalty and all, but throw in an aggressive offering of team sports and even the most composed among us (Oprah) would struggle to keep up.
The family would congregate at least four times a year at their Hyannis Port compound for Ted Kennedy’s clambake. In addition to the many, many Kennedy cousins (Ethel and Robert Kennedy shared 11 children alone), friends of the family and members of the press would also attend, resulting in about 150 guests.
Sports games, sailing, and other methods of competition dominated the event’s activities, with the ever-athletic John F. Kennedy Jr. always eager to whip off his shirt and engage in whatever physical challenge was presented. His wife, Calvin Klein publicist Carolyn Bessette, was a bit overwhelmed by the whole ordeal. According to The Kennedy Heirs by biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli, Bessette wasn’t exactly a natural when it came to sports. “Carolyn was so clumsy. Someone threw her a football, and when it came at her, she ducked, and it sailed right over her head,” Ethel’s employee, Leah Mason, said in reference to Bessette’s first Kennedy clambake.
Bessette wasn’t the only one who struggled to acclimate to the Kennedy culture. Jackie Kennedy, too, faltered at first. During a game of football at the compound early in her relationship with John F. Kennedy, the First Lady-to-be reportedly asked, “If I catch [the ball], which way shall I run?”
Oprah Winfrey, a friend of Kennedy cousin Maria Shriver (daughter of Eunice Kennedy and Sargent Shriver), has been open about her own experience at the compound, reflecting, “As an outsider, I though, God, I’m actually here on the lawn with all the Kennedy cousins. But the games never ended. I’ll never forget being in the house and someone saying, ‘Where is she? Oprah, we’re starting another game!’ And I ran into a closet and closed the door and hid in there because I’d already done three games. Enough! It was all very intense.”
If Oprah can’t take the heat, there’d be little hope for the rest of us.