Author, actor, Christopher Lawford

Author and actor Christopher Kennedy Lawford, who was born into political and Hollywood royalty, sank into substance abuse and addiction and rose to become a well-known advocate for sobriety and recovery, has died at age 63.

Lawford was the only son and oldest child of Patricia Kennedy — sister of John, Robert and Ted Kennedy — and Peter Lawford — the English actor and socialite who was a member of Frank Sinatra’s “Rat Pack.”

“I was given wealth, power and fame when I drew my first breath,” Lawford wrote in his 2005 book, “Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption,” the first of several books that he wrote about his substance struggles.

He wrote that his parents got telegrams predicting big things for him from Bing Crosby and Dean Martin. The cover of his book shows him sitting poolside as a child with his uncle and soon-to-be-president John F. Kennedy looming behind him.

He spent his youth frolicking with Hollywood stars on one coast and rubbing shoulders with political stars on the other, living between libertine Los Angeles and the hyper-competitive Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Mass., where he was a big-brother figure to John F. Kennedy Jr.

His life with drugs began with LSD while at boarding school. Before that, he had experienced the assassinations of his two uncles and his parents’ divorce.

Lawford leapt into deeper substance abuse in the drug-heavy culture of 1970s Holly­wood. In his memoir, Lawford told tales of mugging women for money, panhandling in Grand Central Station and getting arrested twice for drug possession before getting sober at 30.

His life’s work became helping others recover. After his memoir, Lawford author­ed several more books on addiction and recovery.


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