Kennedy Mystery Photo

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

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1968, Mystery Photo, Photography, Politics, RFK. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Kennedy Mystery Photo

  1. fibber mcgee says:

    Molly says “LandoGoshen, in this Twitter-age everybody gets his 15 seconds of fame.” Now you’ve got us worried about the boys in blue when RFK was in town. I’ll have to drag out my old negs and color slides and take a look. At one time I was looking for the girl in the polka dot dress.


  2. Chip Jacobs says:

    Just to be clear, no one knows for sure when the two up-close photographs captured by older brother were taken, but he is quite sure nearly 43 year later that it was either the afternoon before RFK was killed at the Ambassador Hotel or, at the very least, a day before that. I am trying to solve the mystery myself in as respectful a manner as possible. Mr. Schrade’s account must be considered, because he was a confidante to the candidate and injured in the shooting along with others. My brother’s certainty that his picture was not taken earlier in April, when RFK spoke at the Ambassador, is also an important consideration. Just because the photograph was taken outside the Biltmore doesn’t mean he did not stop outside of it to chat with reporters and cheer on well-wishers. Light, location, hair length, suit color, tie color — all tough to ferret in a black and white shot — need to be factored in.
    So what was a presidential candidate and brother of an assassinated president doing when my brother took two candid photographs of a politician he respected? Whose car was he in and who are the people with him inside?
    Even more, how could the United State allow a major candidate for the White House to go unprotected by the U.S. Secret Service after the events in Dallas and, later, Martin Luther King’s senseless killing. (Protection was instituted immediately after RFK’s death, or, in other words, after the tragic fact.) This to me is far more disturbing than the timing of a pair of June 1968 photographs by a college kid amazed he could get so close.
    For more, please see this link and this one


  3. Chip Jacobs says:

    I meant to say above when RFK presented an April speech at the BILTMORE.


  4. chris morales says:

    Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.’s extensive biography of RFK notes that the Senator was known to have a compulsion towards cleanliness often took the form of several showers per day and complete changes of wardrobe. This may account for the speculation over different dates.


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