The once-beautiful blond socialite hasn’t been seen in public for years and has “basically faded from the scene,” an insider spills.
Sources say she’s still haunted by Ted’s betrayal that drove her to drink and the brink of a devastating collapse.
Now squirreled away in the Cape Cod home of a longtime friend, who is trying to keep her from “falling off the wagon,” the 82-year-old has been known to guzzle anything alcoholic, say sources.
“She was drinking mouthwash and vanilla extract because it has alcohol,” tattles the insider. “She’s had a really messed-up life. I’m surprised she hasn’t been put in a nursing home.”
Many believe Joan, who has battled the bottle for decades, drank to numb her pain from Ted’s cheating during their 25-year marriage that ended in 1983. They had sons Edward (Ted) Jr., 57, Patrick, 52, and daughter Kara, who died at 51, from a heart attack in 2011.
Joan’s hard drinking exploded out of control after Ted’s 1969 Chappaquiddick scandal.
The then-presidential hopeful drove off a bridge on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, killing his pretty young female passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne.
“Joan stood by Ted after that, but she never really got over it,” says a family friend. “It wasn’t too long afterward that she had her first drunk driving arrest.”
Joan’s been busted four times for drunk driving and has tried to dry out numerous times — usually at McLean Hospital, a psychiatric facility in Belmont, Mass.
In 2004, alarmed by Joan’s uncontrollable boozing that left her sprawled in a gutter with a gash in her head and a broken shoulder following a nasty fall, her children sued for legal guardianship over her affairs.
Furious Joan put the family’s oceanfront Cape Cod home on the market for $6.5 million — in what Ted Jr. said was retaliation against her children.
He insisted the guardianship action was to “save our mother’s life. That’s what is at stake. You can imagine how bad this situation has gotten for us to risk angering her and undertaking this legal action against our own mother.”
The 13-room Hyannis Port home was sold and her affairs were put under the charge of two trustees.
In 2011, two years after Ted died of brain cancer at 77, Joan was devastated again when Kara passed away, triggering fears she’d drown her sorrow in a sea of booze.
“Joan was a wreck,” another insider says. “She wept uncontrollably over the coffin and collapsed.”
Then she was humiliated in 2015 when alcoholic son and former Congressman Patrick penned a tell-all book confirming his father suffered from “dark, disabling alcoholism.”
Joan then seemingly vanished. She was last seen publicly in 2015 at the dedication of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston.
Meanwhile, her lawyer pal Margo Nash insists Joan’s been attending AA meetings and is “great! She’s been sober a long time now. She’ll be 83 in September and she is in good health.”