The Man for the ’60s

July 15, 1960, John F. Kennedy
Photograph by Wayne F. Kelly / Los Angeles Times

July 15, 1960, John F. Kennedy

July 15, 1960: Presidential nominee John F. Kennedy arrives at the Coliseum. 

If you didn’t live through this era, if all you know about JFK is the womanizing and the Rat Pack, then maybe this photo is nothing more than an interesting and somewhat ironic curio. But if you’re of the right age and recall those scant years of optimism before LBJ’s “My fellow Americans”  and Nixon’s “I’m not a crook,” this photo is heart-piercing.

Today, we know that Camelot was nothing but a movie set of plywood and 2 by 4s, with the carpenters, grips and makeup crew waiting just out of the frame while Jackie Kennedy showed us the White House and John John played under his father’s desk in the Oval Office. And most of us have learned far more than we care to know about the many transgressions of the Kennedys, who had more dirty laundry than a Motel 6. 

One ride in a convertible in Los Angeles in the summer of 1960. Another ride in a convertible in Dallas in the fall of 1963. The 1960s were not a more innocent time. It is only some of us who lost our innocence in them.

About lmharnisch

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

7 Responses to The Man for the ’60s

  1. fibber mcgee says:

    The photog in the white shirt, with two 35mm cameras, at the top right of the frame looks to be Ernie Schwork of UPI Photos. After JFK was killed he had the idea the public might like a book of photos of JFK. On an inventment of a few hundred bucks he made a ton of money. It was the first of its kind, a memorial photo book. He bought a castle above Lake Elsinore and as far as I know he’s still there, glowering down at the world, God bless him.


  2. Native Angeleno says:

    The photo of JFK riding in the convertible is stunning, in part because there is no sign of any Secret Service to protect him. In Dallas 3 years later, the Secret Service was waved off from riding on the running board, as they customarily did for presidents, by their chief in charge whern the motorcade started off. There is film of consternated Service agents throwing up their hands at that order at the Dallas airport as the motorcade pulled away.


  3. Paul M. Mock says:

    That photo just takes my breath away. The commentary is so true. Now, all the kids want to know is if JFK slept with Marilyn!


  4. BartA58 says:

    Yeah, well the Kennedys surely had their issues, but JFK stood down the gravest threat to humanity during the Cuban Missle Crisis in 1962 and stood up for civil rights in the mid-60’s like no president had since, let’s make sure we document everything that he did…just for the record.


  5. AJ Buttacavoli says:

    There will never be another JFK.


  6. Arye (Leslie) Michael Bender says:

    Beneath the illusion of Camelot, there was a real vision of intelligence, social justice, and hope for a better world. It was the intangible we all, in some way responded to. That vision died that day in Dallas.
    As a nation, we never recovered from JFK’s assassination.


  7. esr says:

    I was just a boy but I remember the magical feeling the world had about Kennedy. In the Latin American countries he was more popular than the Pope or any of their own leaders. I remember going into any Latino household and seeing a photo of Kennedy on the front room wall.


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