Elected to the United States Senate in 1962, Edward Kennedy owed his early success to his close identification with his elder brothers, President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. But ultimately, despite personal travails and controversy, Kennedy became a power in his own right and established himself as one of the Senate's major voices of liberalism. He also evolved into an adroit political strategist, capable of exerting influence even when his own Democratic Party was not in the majority. Kennedy became best known in recent years for his role in the effort to achieve reforms and improvements in the nation's health care system. His death leaves vacant a Senate seat that the Kennedys have held for nearly sixty years.
Andy Warhol's silkscreened portrait was created as a campaign fund-raiser for Kennedy's unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 1980. It suggests the intensity and glamour of politics by enhancing Kennedy's features with thin red and blue lines and diamond dust.