The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: RFK

Remembering Robert F. Kennedy

  Robert F. Kennedy, Ambassador Hotel, June 5, 1968.  

  June 5, 1968, Kennedy Shot  

I pulled together a series of posts in 2008 for the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel. Here’s an index to the Daily Mirror’s coverage:

June 1, 1968: Robert Kennedy and the 1968 presidential campaign.
June 2, 1968: Kennedy debates Eugene McCarthy.
June 3, 1968: Kennedy leads McCarthy in state poll; Arab nations are in a sober mood before the first anniversary of the Six-Day War.
June 4, 1968: Kennedy to watch election returns at Ambassador Hotel.
June 5, 1968: Kennedy shot.
June 6, 1968: Kennedy dies.

The late Times reporter Eric Malnic recalls the Kennedy assassination.
Former City News Service reporter Sandi Gibbons recalls the Kennedy assassination.
Remembering Robert F. Kennedy
Sirhan B. Sirhan on the Daily Mirror

Elijah Muhammad Calls for Separate Black Nation

  April 14, 1961, Mirror Cover  

  April 14, 1961, Elijah Muhammad  

April 14, 1961: "Elijah Muhammad, 63-year-old leader of the politico-religious cult known as the Muslims, today held his first press conference in 30 years and asked for a part of America to form his own country," the Mirror's Bill Kiley said.  And yes, that is Malcolm X. I’ll see if we still have the original of this photo. Do you think The Times put the story on Page 1? No.

The Times said: He scoffed at suggestions that Negroes in America are steadily achieving more rights and status but shied away from an outright condemnation of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People....

"We never will believe in anything but the religion of Islam. Islam will give us absolute freedom, justice, equality and brotherly love," Muhammad said.

It would be interesting to see how the Eagle and Sentinel, Los Angeles’ African American weeklies (on microfilm at the Los Angeles Public Library), covered this story. So many stories, only one Larry Harnisch.


Note to history tour buffs: The news conference was held at the Clark Hotel, 1824 S. Central Ave.  at Washington Boulevard. 

Continue reading »

Kennedy Mystery Photo

  April 20, 1968, Robert Kennedy  

  April 20, 1968, Robert Kennedy  


June 6, 1968, Robert Kennedy jacobs_rfk

Robert F. Kennedy at the Ambassador,
June 5, 1968, photo courtesy of Howard Decker

Robert F. Kennedy in an undated photo
by Paul Jacobs

L.A. Observed recently posted a photo – from Chip Jacobs’ blog -- of Robert F. Kennedy outside the Biltmore Hotel during his 1968 presidential campaign. Jacobs’ older brother Paul snapped the photo and the question arose of when it was taken. Jacobs believed it was from June 5, 1968, the day Kennedy was shot at the Ambassador. According to L.A. Observed, Kennedy aides, including  Paul Schrade, who was wounded in the shooting, said Kennedy didn’t go to the Biltmore that day.

A comparison of a photo taken by Daily Mirror reader Howard Decker (alias Fibber McGee) the night Kennedy was shot and Jacobs’ photo shows a number of differences, including the length of Kennedy’s hair. Kennedy’s tie is similar in both photos, but the stripes are angled in different directions. 

One possible date is April 19, 1968, when Kennedy made a Town Hall appearance at the Biltmore Bowl. The story, by Carl Greenberg, notes that Kennedy arrived at Burbank Airport and had a private security escort rather than the LAPD.

It’s unclear whether the LAPD’s absence was due to ill feelings between Mayor Sam Yorty and Kennedy,  but Kennedy said: "It was nice of Mayor Yorty to provide me with a police escort -- it was just when I started to go through Pomona."


Robert F. Kennedy on the Daily Mirror
Continue reading »

Paul Conrad, RIP

Aug. 9, 1974, Nixon Resigns, Conrad

Aug. 9, 1974, Paul Conrad on Richard Nixon's resignation.

Also, Paul Conrad on the shooting of Robert F. Kennedy.

From the Archives

Photograph by Boris Yaro / Los Angeles Times

My friends on the photo desk have started a terrific blog featuring images from the archives. Here’s Boris Yaro’s famous photograph of the 1968 shooting of Robert F. Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel.

Boris writes: I had gone to the Ambassador Hotel on my own with the idea of making a photo of Bobby Kennedy for my wall. The idea went further than I had expected.

When the shooting started I thought someone was tossing firecrackers because I was being hit in the face with debris. I grew up playing with fireworks, and this was not an unusual thing to happen.

Then the crowd parted, and I watched in horror as Sirhan emptied his revolver at Robert Kennedy. I had my camera at chest level, but I didn’t make a photo during the shooting.  It was dark, and I think I was afraid.

Read the rest here.

The Bosses

July 12, 1960: Robert F. Kennedy
Los Angeles Times file photo

July 13, 1960: Robert F. Kennedy puts the arm on New York Democratic leader Carmen DeSapio as New York Mayor Robert Wagner and Rep. Michael Prendergast (D-N.Y.) listen.

July 12, 1960: Robert F. Kennedy

This is one of my favorite photos from the convention because it strips away all the smiling for the camera and shows the raw muscle of politics.  Look at Bobby Kennedy’s hand. He means business.

Much was written during the convention and afterward about the new generation replacing the old in American politics. Here’s a sample: 

Theodore White  in “The Making of the President 1960,” (Page 155):

”Even such currently active politicians as Carmine DeSapio and Mike Prendergast, leaders of New York’s huge but impotent delegation, seemed of an ineffectual age, dazed and somewhat bemused. They strolled through the lobby of the Biltmore on their first day almost hand in hand, as if afraid to be alone in this sunny city and alien mingling of strangers, then retired to lounge by the swimming pool of the Ambassador Hotel.”

Norman Mailer in his 1960 Esquire magazine article:

“Bobby Kennedy, the archetype Bobby Kennedy, looked like a West Point cadet, or, better, one of those reconstructed Irishmen from Kirkland House one always used to have to face in the line in Harvard house football games. "Hello," you would say to the ones who looked like him as you lined up for the scrimmage after the kickoff, and his type would nod and look away, one rock glint of recognition your due for living across the hall from one another all through Freshman year, and then bang, as the ball was passed back, you’d get a bony king-hell knee in the crotch. He was the kind of man never to put on the gloves with if you wanted to do some social boxing, because after two minutes it would be a war, and ego-bastards last long in a war.

“Carmine DeSapio and Kenneth Galbraith on the same part of the convention floor. DeSapio is bigger than one expects, keen and florid, great big smoked glasses, a suntan like Man-tan -- he is the kind of heavyweight Italian who could get by with a name like Romeo -- and Galbraith is tall-tall, as actors say, six foot six it could be, terribly thin, enormously attentive, exquisitely polite, birdlike, he is sensitive to the stirring of reeds in a wind over the next hill. "Our grey eminence," whispered the intelligent observer next to me.

“Bob Wagner, the mayor of New York, a little man, plump, groomed, blank. He had the blank, pomaded, slightly worried look of the first barber in a good barbershop, the kind who would go to the track on his day off and wear a green transparent stone in a gold ring.”

More photos of the bosses on the jump. 

Continue reading »

Robert Kennedy Sets Up JFK Campaign Headquarters

May 21, 1960, Robert Kennedy

May 21, 1960, Robert Kennedy 

May 21, 1960: Robert F. Kennedy talks to reporters at the Biltmore Bowl after arriving in Los Angeles to set up campaign headquarters for his brother Sen. John F. Kennedy (D-Mass). And a headline writer takes the easy way out, shortening “Robert” to “Bob.”

On the jump, "La Dolce Vita"  wins the Palme d’Or at Cannes ...  And the Southern Baptist Convention approves a resolution against having a Roman Catholic as president.

Continue reading »

Legislators Debate Chessman and Death Penalty

Feb. 21, 1960, Caryl Chessman
Los Angeles Times file photo

Feb. 21, 1960: Caryl Chessman, center, after receiving a stay of execution, with attorneys George T. Davis and Rosalie Asher.

Feb. 21, 1960, Chessman

Feb. 21, 1960, Chessman

Feb. 21, 1960, Chessman

Feb. 21, 1960, Chessman

Feb. 21, 1960: A 60-day stay of execution for Caryl Chessman so the Legislature can weigh the death penalty carries political implications for Gov. Pat Brown, whose hopes of entering the presidential race might be affected by accusations that he is “soft” on crime. Vice President Richard Nixon says he supports the death penalty, but notes that he isn’t speaking specifically of the Chessman case.

Ike Rides Wave of Popularity; Dodgers Call Up Reinforcements

Sept. 2, 1959, Cover

Sept. 2, 1959: A story about President Eisenhower's European trip marking the 20th anniversary of Hitler's invasion of Poland notes that he remains popular. But look at what's happening in the country as Ike prepares to leave office: The prime rises half a point to 5%, the highest rate in 28 years (1931) ... and a deficit, though small, is forecast for the national budget.

Sept. 2, 1959, Chavez Ravine
The Times spent a lot of space covering the sentencing of two women convicted on misdemeanor charges stemming from the eviction of Chavez Ravine residents to clear way for the Dodgers' new ballpark.

Here's my problem with that.

This is a story The Times covered (I believe) only because it became a huge television story. You couldn't ignore the pictures.

Covering the judge's lecture was an obvious way to paint two Chavez Ravine residents as villains in the drama. This from a paper that had spent years ignoring the Chavez Ravine neighborhood and its residents while taking every opportunity to push reasons why a ballpark should be built

Makes me wonder how many other misdemeanor cases were covered so thoroughly. I think I know the answer.

-- Keith Thursby

Sept. 2, 1959, North by Northwest

Should I see "North by Northwest" at the Picwood or the Panorama in Van Nuys? Never mind, let's go see Robert Mitchum and Linda Darnell in "Second Chance."

It's interesting to note that the original display ads featured Cary Grant and the crop duster, one of the classic sequences in film.

Sept. 2, 1959, Laos
Meet Ho Chi Minh, communist leader of North Viet-Nam. You'll be hearing more about him.

Sept. 2, 1959, Prime

Sept. 2, 1959, National Debt

Troubling economic news -- and wedding bells for Ernest Borgnine and Katy Jurado.

Sept. 2, 1959, Ben Blue

Isn't Mr. Pilsnerhead great? I particularly like the little bow tie.

Sept. 2, 1959, Gun Control

The Gallup Poll surveys America's attitudes on gun control. Remember that this is before the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and the resulting Gun Control Act, which took effect in December 1968. Note the attitudes toward gun ownership in the South compared with the rest of the country.

Sept. 2, 1959, Khrushchev

Rep. Williams, a Mississippi Democrat, takes a stand against Khrushchev's visit.

Sept. 2, 1959, Beatniks

The jukebox and bongo drums at the Gas House in Venice aren't culture!

Sept. 2, 1959, Comics

"She Will! You Can Be Sure of That!"

Sept. 2, 1959, Sports

The Dodgers called up some minor league reinforcements who turned out to have staying power.

Frank Howard, Norm Sherry and Bob Lillis were among the September call-ups. The Times' Frank Finch reported that team officials also were considering elevating Tommy Davis, who was leading the Pacific Coast League in hitting.

Now that's some farm system.

-- Keith Thursby

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's Eulogy for Robert F. Kennedy

June 9, 1968, RFK Eulogy

"Love is not an easy feeling to put into words. Nor is loyalty, or trust, or joy. But he was all of these. He loved life completely and lived it intensely."

June 9, 1968: The Times' obituary of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) describes him delivering the eulogy for his brother Robert. Above is the full text.

State Tax Plan; Dodger Breaks Ankle, April 9, 1969


1969_0409_sports Tommy Davis was a star with the Dodgers, a two-time National League batting champion. Then everything changed with one slide.

Davis was headed toward second in a 1965 game at Dodger Stadium, a routine play that forever slowed his career. Davis broke his ankle trying to slide into second and although he played again, the batting champion became a well-traveled hitter with a promising past.

Davis said he "didn't know how it happened. I thought there was going to be a play on me and I came up with a new kind of slide. When I looked down, I thought my ankle was in right field."

He won consecutive batting titles by hitting .346 in 1962 and .326 in '63. But the Dodgers traded him to the Mets after the 1966 season. By 1969, Davis was starting over again with the first-year Seattle Pilots. The Times' Mitch Chortkoff visited with the former Dodger, who still had good things to say about his old team.

"I've been with four teams but the Dodgers are still special to me," he said. "I think they have a chance to be real good this year. When I heard they had won their opener I was happy for them."

His new manager, Joe Schulz, planned to play him regularly. But by August he was on the move again, to Houston. There would be more stops, including a brief stint with the Angels in 1976.

--Keith Thursby

The Rosey Grier Show, March 16, 1969

Los Angeles Times file photo

The Fearsome Foursome: Merlin Olsen, David "Deacon" Jones, Lamar Lundy and Rosey Grier make their singing debut on "Shindig," 1965. 

1969_0316_rosey Rosey Grier is no one-dimensional ex-football player. He's well known as a singer, needlepoint enthusiast and sometime actor who became an associate of Robert F. Kennedy during the late senator's run for the presidency in 1968.

In 1969, Grier had become the star of a weekly show on Channel 7, which The Times' Ray Loynd said was "designed as a personal showcase and the obligatory look of today ... framed by Grier's random efforts 'to reach all the kids I can. I dig kids. I really dig 'em.' "

Grier had been a defensive lineman for the New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams, and a member of the Rams' Fearsome Foursome that included Hall of Famers Deacon Jones and Merlin Olsen. Grier certainly was not the first Los Angeles athlete to find his way into television or movies, but Grier might have been the most talented. Duke Snider on "The Rifleman" he was not.

"I started singing gospels when I was 5 in Benevolence, Ga.," he told Loynd. "When I left I took my whole roots with me. I haven't been back."

Grier briefly recounted his relationship with Kennedy. "We've forgotten the great need of a man like Kennedy," Grier said. "We should care more, not wait for tragedy to bring up our need to love one another."

-- Keith Thursby


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