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JFK Says 'No Pictures, Please'

July 11, 2010 |  2:47 am

July 11, 1960, John F. Kennedy 

July 11, 1960, John F. Kennedy, Vel Phillips

July 11, 1960: In the photo above, Sen. John F. Kennedy (D-Mass.) tells photographer Joe Kennedy “No pictures, please” while sitting with Vel Phillips on July 10, 1960. The photo was taken during a rally at Shrine Auditorium led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. urging a civil rights plank in the Democratic platform. This is probably the most interesting photo in the entire Times folder on the convention because it captures Kennedy when he assumed he was out of the political spotlight.

I’ve been going through The Times photos of the Democratic National Convention and wondering why there weren’t more pictures of John F. Kennedy. Then, just for fun -- at least my idea of fun -- I counted them and realized he led all the other candidates, even though he only appears in about 21% of the pictures.

To be more scientific, of the 98 photos and drawings in the folder for the 1960 convention, 21 show Kennedy; 9 show Sen. Stuart Symington; 7 show Adlai Stevenson; 6 show Sen. Lyndon Johnson and 5 show Sen. Hubert Humphrey.

Naturally, some men appear together in a single photo, which must therefore be counted twice. One group photo, published July 11,  shows Symington, Johnson, Kennedy and Stevenson. Another, published July 16, shows Johnson, Kennedy, Symington and Humphrey, plus House Speaker Sam Rayburn and Rep. James Roosevelt.  There are no photos showing all five candidates.

Many photos in the folder show the candidates' campaign headquarters; the Sports Arena; other dignitaries like Eleanor Roosevelt, California Gov. Pat Brown and Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley; and random shots from the convention floor. 

What does this mean? Well, according to a July 11, 1960, story, Kennedy preferred TV and radio interviews over print media. In fact, Theodore White touches on the issue of television coverage in "The Making of the President 1960." 

"TV displays events, action, motion, arrival, departure; it cannot show thought, silence, mood or decision. And so the TV camera caught the carnival at the outer husk of the convention in all its pageantry and motion...." (Page 151-2)

Fortunately, there are several video clips from the convention on YouTube.

Part 1 (July 11-12, 1960) shows what appears to be one of the banquet rooms at the Biltmore Hotel, including some energetic campaign rhetoric by Johnson and what became Stevenson’s farewell to his presidential ambitions.  Part 2 (July 13-15, 1960) shows the Sports Arena and includes a segment of Sen. Eugene McCarthy’s nominating speech for Stevenson, which is often described as the high point of the entire convention.

Here is audio of Kennedy’s acceptance speech, July 15, 1960, at the Memorial Coliseum, from the JFK library.

Here are search results for material at the JFK library on the 1960 convention.

July 11, 1960, Kennedy Press

July 11, 1960, Kennedy Press