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. 

July 12, 1960, Richard Daley
Los Angeles Times file photo

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, Pennsylvania Gov. David Lawrence and California Gov. Pat Brown.

July 11, 1960, Jim Farley
Photograph by George R. Fry Jr. / Los Angeles Times

”Jim Farley. Huge. Cold as a bishop. The hell he would consign you to was cold as ice,” Norman Mailer said

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1960 Democratic Convention, JFK, Photography, Politics, RFK. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Bosses

  1. Lee Rivas says:

    I remember the convention well.
    I also remember that little Teddy was having the time of his life chasing and bedding anything with a skirt.
    Or was all the gossip of the time wrong?


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