"If all he wanted was to get married and convince people that he was settling down, he could have picked someone who looked the other way when he caroused," said Milligan. "Instead, he picked someone who was very much his intellectual equal. People like to think she tamed him, but he picked her for a reason."
Just a few years before the trial, at the 1988 Democratic National Convention, Kennedy tore into then-Republican nominee George H.W. Bush in a scathing speech that repeated the refrain "Where was George?"
"I'll tell Teddy Kennedy where George is," retorted Harold Rogers, a Republican congressman from Kentucky. "He's home sober with his wife."
In 1989, the National Enquirer printed photos of Kennedy on a boat, very different from the images of the senator and his family snapped during the Figawi race.
Snapped by a paparazzo, Kennedy was caught having sexual intercourse on a motorboat during a European vacation.
In time, however, even the most hard-hearted cynics in Washington were won over by the romance that grew between Kennedy and Vicki. Since their courtship began in 1991, stories shared at beltway dinner parties about Kennedy's carousing were replaced with talk of Kennedy's reinvention as an avuncular, family man, an Uncle Teddy to the whole country.
"Since Vicki Reggie became Vicki Kennedy, Ted Kennedy became a happy man. He had gone through a very troubled period and that just ended" when they met, said ABC News correspondent Cokie Roberts.
"She created a home for him and made a place where family could come and friends could come that was his place," Roberts said.
Vicki Kennedy, 55, still retains her southern accent and her southern charms. Following Kennedy's diagnosis, she sent hundreds of thank-you notes in response to the torrent of letters wishing the senator well.
She left her job as a bank regulatory and loan restructuring attorney in 1997 to focus on her family and avoid conflicts with Kennedy's political work, and quickly achieved a reputation on Capitol Hill as a relaxed and fun-loving political wife who often opened her home to parties.
In 1999 she founded a gun violence organization that advocates for child victims.
"It's disarming how very normal she is. She puts you at ease," said Milligan. "Of all the senators' spouses, she's the most approachable. She is very protective of her husband, but also doesn't mind making fun of him."
A mother of two, Vicki and her first husband divorced in 1990, some eight years after Kennedy divorced his first wife, Joan.
In 1991, Vicki and Kennedy began their relationship after she invited him to a 40th anniversary party in Washington she threw for her parents, but they had actually met once before years earlier. The summer after she graduated from college, she interned in the mailroom of Kennedy's Senate office, meeting her future husband just once.
Her father, Edmund Reggie, a former judge from Crowley, La., managed the Louisiana presidential campaigns for John F., Robert and Ted Kennedy.
In 1992, the senator proposed at a performance of the opera "La Boehme," and the couple married in July just in time for the Democratic National Convention held that year in New York.
Kennedy has retained his seat in the Senate since 1962, and a special election will soon be held to fill it. Many have speculated that Kennedy wanted his wife to replace him, and that she wants the seat.