Her father, who worked in construction, and her mother, an assistant at the Department of Revenue, were private about their politics, if they even had any. “If I ever asked my mom who she voted for, she would tell me it’s nobody’s business and it was her own secret,” Ms. Hines said. “I don’t recall my dad ever once talking about politics or current events, so it was not part of my life. Really, the only thing I knew about the Kennedys was what I learned in public school, in history.”
After cosmetology school and the University of Central Florida, her first acting job was at Universal Studios, where she performed the shower scene from “Psycho” up to 15 times a day for a live audience. It was a gig that involved standing in a flesh-colored body suit while an audience member stabbed her with a rubber knife.
In her 30s — practically of a certain age in Hollywood years — Ms. Hines was still paying her dues: bartending, working as the personal assistant to the filmmaker and actor Rob Reiner and going to improv classes. Her break came in 1999, when she was cast in “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” In 2002, the show won the first of its many Emmys and Golden Globes.
Ms. Hines recalled being backstage at the Golden Globe Awards and running into Harrison Ford. When he stopped to congratulate her, she extended her hand and said, “I’m Cheryl Hines. Harrison Ford said, ‘I know who you are,’ and I thought, Oh my God, what?”
She and Mr. Kennedy met in 2006 when Mr. David, a longtime friend of Mr. Kennedy’s, introduced them at a ski-weekend fund-raiser in Banff, Canada, for Waterkeeper Alliance, an environmental nonprofit co-founded by Mr. Kennedy. Ms. Hines had no plans to ski, “but the next thing you know, we’re in skis and we’re on a ski lift,” she said. “I was looking at Larry like, ‘What is happening?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah,’ giving an indication like, ‘That’s Bobby.’” Ms. Hines said she was aware of Mr. Kennedy’s work as an environmental lawyer, but “I still didn’t know too much about the politics of it all.”