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Taylor Swift, Alec Baldwin among celebs at Kennedy gala fundraiser
Taylor Swift, Alec Baldwin, Lorraine Bracco and Jerry Springer were among the celebrities to walk the red carpet at Monday night's gala for the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights in Manhattan.
Among the last to arrive was Swift, who posed for photos with RFK Center president and Mount Kisco resident Kerry Kennedy, before bypassing reporters on the red carpet. In recent months, the country star dated and reportedly split from Bedford's Conor Kennedy, a nephew of Kerry Kennedy.
Kerry Kennedy, one of RFK's daughters, told Newsday tonight that she was pleased so many celebrities came out to champion the cause.
"The point of this dinner is to support the work of the RFK Center, and that carries on Robert F. Kennedy's unfinished work on social justice in the United States and around the world."
The RFK Center champions international human rights and social justice causes and educates 500,000 students worldwide annually, according to Kerry Kennedy, who hoped to raise $2 million for the charity Monday night.
In an interview Friday with Newsday, she raved about Swift, who tonight was honored for her charity work as the youngest recipient of the Ripple of Hope Award.
"She's getting it [the award] because my father believed in the power of the youth," Kerry Kennedy said. "He described it in his Ripple of Hope speech, which this award is named after. He said, 'This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease.' Here's a young woman — 22 years old — who has put herself out in the world, and in an incredibly powerful and strong way."
Kerry Kennedy said she was impressed with the way Swift donated $100,000 to relief programs following the Iowa floods of 2008, $500,000 to similar charities after flooding devastated Nashville two years later and $750,000 to victims of last year's Alabama tornadoes. Kennedy also cited Swift's initiatives with Hope for Haiti, St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital and the Red Cross.
Bracco, a former Rockland County resident and star of "The Sopranos," was among the first stars to arrive to Monday's gala.
"I'm a big believer in human rights, and Kerry Kennedy and Ethel [Kennedy] have continued to push for what her father and husband believed in," Bracco told Newsday. "It's always an extremely moving night."
Although better known to many as the host of the outrageous talk-show that bears his name, Springer has had a long association with both politics and the Kennedy family.
"Bobby Kennedy was the inspiration of my life," Springer said. "[He gave me] my first job out of law school. And to see his daughter, Kerry, carrying it on, as all his family does, it's great. It's almost embarrassing: It's so obvious that everyone should be for justice and human rights, and yet, you read the headlines ... people are dying every day because they don't have the most basic human rights and justice. God bless her for keeping it alive."
Springer added he was glad someone as young and as famous as Swift has taken on the cause of human rights.
"When she talks about it, there are probably a lot of young people who hadn't even thought about it," he said.
Among the other celebrities to walk the red carpet were actors Dianna Agron, Alec Baldwin, Antonio Banderas, Melanie Griffith, Charles Grodin, Dennis Haysbert, Cheryl Hines, Mandy Patinkin and Alfre Woodard. Baldwin is serving as master of ceremonies.
One of Kerry Kennedy's sisters, Rory, directed a recent documentary about her mother, "Ethel," for HBO. She told Newsday on Monday night she was thankful for the support of those who excel in front of the camera.
“We have so many wonderful people here: Alec Baldwin, Taylor Swift,” she said. “We probably got about 30 family members here, and people who have been supporting the cause for so many years now, so it’s really fun to see some of the old and new faces.”
Photo: Honoree Taylor Swift stands with Kerry Kennedy before the RFK 2012 Ripple of Hope Holiday Dinner and Auction.