Christopher Kennedy Lawford, the actor born into political and Hollywood nobility who turned his recovery from drug addiction into a career as a public health advocate and best-selling author, died on Tuesday in Vancouver, British Columbia. He was 63 and had homes in Los Angeles and Hawaii.
Mr. Lawford, whose mother was Patricia Kennedy, a sister of John F. Kennedy, and whose father was Peter Lawford, the British-born actor and member of the Rat Pack, began acting in the late 1980s and had parts in television programs like “Frasier” and “The O.C.,” as well as in films including “Terminator 3.”
He struggled with drug addiction from a young age, describing in his books how he was “a cutting-edge pharmaceutical engineer” by the age of 13. In spite of his pedigree and his problems, he never received as much attention as his cousins, saying he was a “second-string Kennedy.”
Mr. Lawford was also a public health campaigner, working with the United Nations, the Canadian Center on Substance Abuse and Addiction, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the World Health Organization.
He was born in Santa Monica, Calif., on March 29, 1955, held a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University, a law degree from Boston College Law School and a master’s certification in clinical psychology from Harvard Medical School, according to his website.
Mr. Lawford, who was married and divorced three times, is survived by his children David, Savannah and Matthew; and his sisters Sydney Lawford McKelvy, Victoria Pender and Robin Lawford.