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What would the American Civil Rights Movement have been without the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? On September 20, 1958, we almost lost him.

The weather boded well for a good turnout. It was a sunny Saturday in New York City and Blumstein’s Department Store – at  230 W. 125th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues, Harlem – was hustling to get ready for their big guest. On the ground floor, behind the shoe department, clerks had roped off an area where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would sit behind a desk to autograph copies of his first book, Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story. 

The book related the success of the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott that lead to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the unconstitutionality of segregated transit systems.

wo black ministers who were active in the long boycott of segregated buses in Montgomery, Alabama were among the first to ride after a Supreme Court integration order went into effect on December 21, 1956. At left, front seat, is the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, while at left in the second seat is the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Beside King is white minister, Rev. Glenn Smiley of New York, who said he was in Montgomery as an observer.

Two black ministers who were active in the long boycott of segregated buses in Montgomery, Alabama were among the first to ride after a Supreme Court integration order went into effect on December 21, 1956. At right, is the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, while at left is the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Black Americans no longer had to sit at the back of the bus or give up their seats to white people.

Dr. King, with his powerful oratory, had rocketed to fame nearly overnight and had become a significant figure on the national political scene for his participation in the victory. He was making four speeches a week to persuade the nation to stop the practice of racial segregation. It was the dawn of the civil rights movement.

“Dr. King is a rather soft-spoken man with a learning and maturity far beyond his 27 years. His clothes are in conservative good taste and he has a small trim mustache.”(1)

Izola Ware Curry

Blumstein’s Department Store – the site of the autograph party for Dr. King – wasn’t far from where Izola Ware Curry, 42, lived in a brownstone, at 121 West 122d Street in Harlem. Izola was a drifter, a sometimes maid, who had been in Harlem only two months. Izola had Dr. King on her radar. She detested him and all black preachers, calling their boycotts and protests a sham. She felt that blacks should move for social change through appeals to Congress. She hated the NAACP in particular – thought they were controlled by Communists – and white people in general. By 1956, paranoia had taken over her thinking. She started writing the FBI claiming that Communists were out to get her. She was anti-social, tended to babble and rant, her words often unintelligible and ungrammatical. Her neighbors wrote her off as “eccentric.” Izola Ware Curry was African-American.

The Rally The Night Before the Signing

The night before Dr. King’s book signing, just around the corner from Blumstein’s, a rally was held for Dr. King in front of the Hotel Teresa. On the podium he was joined by other dignitaries, among them baseball great Jackie Robinson, New York Governor Averell Harriman, and gubernatorial hopeful, Republican Nelson Rockefeller, with music provided by Duke Ellington. The crowd numbered 5,000. Izola Ware Curry, in her unstable mental state, was there.

When Rockefeller spoke:

This business about [Eisenhower] going slow on integration….I know the man!….Who sent the troops to Little Rock?”(2)

Curry heckled him, calling white people racists. King’s escort in the city, William Rowe,

“did his best to calm her down. And Frederick Weaver, a platform guest, motioned for police officers to make her stop. But the police were reluctant to get tough with her, fearing…an incident…that could escalate into a larger racial disturbance.” (2)

When Dr. King spoke, Curry jeered him, too, as did a few others. Curry shouted that no “negro” should ever try to cooperate with a white person. Rowe had to calm her down once more.

Miraculously, the rally ended without dissolving into chaos. Rowe feared more trouble at the next day’s signing, suggesting a bodyguard for Dr. King, an idea that Dr. King rejected.

The Booksigning

Saturday, September 20, 1958

Blumstein’s Department Store

3:30 p.m.

Izola Ware Curry, 42

Izola Ware Curry, 42

As she pushed her way through the crowd to the desk where Dr. King sat, bystanders couldn’t help but notice the elegantly dressed black woman in her stylish suit, showy jewelry, and sequined cat’s-eyeglasses. Nothing on the surface betrayed the insanity beneath. Little did onlookers suspect that, secreted in Izola Curry’s bra, was a loaded Italian automatic pistol, and, in her enormous leather purse, a 7-inch steel leather opener.

With her purse slung over one arm, Izola Curry strode with purpose straight up to Dr. King, where he was seated, signing a book for a customer.

“Are you Martin Luther King?” she asked.

“Yes,” he replied, not looking up. (3)

She reached into her purse and withdrew the letter opener in an arc. Instinctively, Dr. King yanked his left arm up to block the weapon, cutting his left hand as she plunged the blade into his chest. Dr. King recalled:

“The next minute I felt something beating on my chest.”

A bystander knocked Curry’s hand away from the blade before she could withdraw it and stab Dr. King again.

“I’ve been after him for six years!” shouted Curry, starting to run. “I’m glad I done it!” (2)

A group of women chased her with umbrellas, shouting, “Catch her!” A journalist jumped out and grabbed Curry by the left arm and turned her over to the store security guard, who handcuffed her.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sits calmly with a letter opener protruding from his chest as Nettie C. Jackson tends his cut hand. September 20, 1958

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sits calmly with a letter opener protruding from his chest as Nettie C. Jackson tends his cut hand. September 20, 1958

Meanwhile, Dr. King sat still and calm and clear-thinking, with the letter opener protruding from his chest. Someone called for an ambulance to Harlem Hospital. Dr. King was carried, still seated in his chair, to the back of the store. When the ambulance arrived, he was placed carefully on his back. He was told, as was everyone present, that he must not touch the letter opener.

The stabbing nearly cost Dr. King his life, as the blade of the letter opener had lodged in his sternum, within millimeters of piercing the aorta. At Harlem Hospital, surgeons extracted the blade in a delicate operation. He developed pneumonia and had a long convalescence.

Surgeons performed a delicate 2 1/4 hour surgery to extract the letter opener from Dr. Martin Luther King's manubrium, the top bone of the sternum. September 20, 1958

Surgeons performed a delicate 2 1/4 hour surgery to extract the letter opener from Dr. Martin Luther King’s manubrium, the top bone of the sternum. September 20, 1958

A rare photograph of the operation on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, when he was stabbed in Harlem on September 20, 1958

A rare photograph of the operation on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, when he was stabbed in Harlem on September 20, 1958

Izola Ware Curry, Dr. Martin Luther King's assailant. Following her arrest, psychiatrists evaluated her and diagnosed her with paranoid schizophrenia and an I.Q. of about 70. She was institutionalized and died in 2015, at the age of 98. (Getty Images)

Izola Ware Curry, Dr. Martin Luther King’s assailant. Following her arrest, psychiatrists evaluated her and diagnosed her with paranoid schizophrenia and an I.Q. of about 70. She was institutionalized and died in 2015, at the age of 98. (Getty Images)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is embraced by his wife Coretta Scott King during a news conference at Harlem Hospital in New York, Sept 30, 1958, where he is recovering from a stab wound following an attack by a woman. At left is his mother, Alberta Williams King. (AP Photo/Tony Camerano)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is embraced by his wife Coretta Scott King during a news conference at Harlem Hospital in New York, Sept 30, 1958, where he was recovering from a stab wound following an attack by Izola Ware Curry. At left is his mother, Alberta Williams King. (AP Photo/Tony Camerano)

Ten Years Later

On April 3, 1968, ten years after the Harlem stabbing, Dr. King recalled it in his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech in Memphis, Tennessee:

“The x-rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And, once that’s punctured, you’re drowned in your own blood – that’s the end of you.”

The surgeon told him that, if he had sneezed before the operation, he would have died. To lively applause, he continued, in his “Mountaintop” speech:

“And I want to say tonight – I want to say tonight that I, too, am happy that I didn’t sneeze. Because if I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1960, when students all over the South started sitting in at lunch counters. 

 “If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1961, when we decided to take a ride for freedom and ended segregation in interstate travel.

“If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been here in 1963, when the black people of Birmingham, Ala., aroused the conscience of this nation, and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream I had.”

He closed his speech with remarks about the possibility of his untimely death. The next day, in Memphis, he was assassinated by James Earl Ray, a white supremacist.

(1) “Battle Against Tradition: Martin Luther King, Jr.” The New York Times, March 21, 1956

(2) Pearson, Hugh. When Harlem Nearly Killed King. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2003.

(3) “Izola Ware Curry, Who Stabbed King in 1958, Dies at 98.” New York Times. March 22, 2015.

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at the March on Washington, August 28, 1963. Credit:-/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at the March on Washington, August 28, 1963. Credit:-/AFP/Getty Images

On Aug. 28, 1963,  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and delivered his rousing, “I Have a Dream” speech to over 250,000 civil rights supporters gathered for the March on Washington. The speech calls for an end to racism in America. It was considered by many to be the most important speech of the Twentieth Century and helped advance President John F. Kennedy‘s important civil rights legislation then in Congress.

At the March on Washington, August 1963, peaceful African-Americans called for decent jobs with equal pay.

At the March on Washington, August 1963, peaceful African-Americans called for decent jobs with equal pay.

Dr. King timed his March on Washington to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln‘s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation which freed millions of American black slaves in 1863.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stands in front of the statue of President Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C. ca. 1963

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stands in front of the statue of President Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C. ca. 1963

His opening lines in his speech evoke the Gettysburg Address by President Lincoln:

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.” 

Dr. King asked for justice to be made a reality for all of God’s children.

We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities….

We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. “(1)

He spoke of his dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’


I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.'”

***

Fast forward to August 28, 2013, the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s March on Washington and his landmark speech. 

Anderson Cooper of CNN is interviewing African-American writer Maya Angelou (1928-2014). They reflect on the state of Dr. King’s dream. Maya Angelou knew Dr. King and was part of the struggle for civil rights change in this country.

Cooper: Do you believe that the arc of history is moving in the right direction? President Obama, recently, when he was talking about Trayvon Martin, he said that he looks at his daughters and that his daughters’ generation is better than his generation was. Do you believe that?

Angelou: Yes, I do. I know that there was a time when people were lynched with everybody’s agreement – not everybody – but with the “Might’s” agreement. The might was white and white was might and so people were lynched.

I grew up in a village in Arkansas where a man was lynched and the skin of his body – after being lynched and burned – the skin was taken off in skin the size of a postage stamp and given to people as mementoes.

You can’t do that in the United States today. I mean you can lynch people and murder people in many ways but you can’t do it in the city square.

Cooper: Hmm.

Angelou: You see? We are better. Not nearly enough. Not nearly enough. But we come and we have to admit that. Because, Mr. Cooper, if we don’t, young people will say, ‘You mean to tell me, with the lives and deaths of Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and Rosa Parks and the Kennedys, then there’s no point in me trying, because those people were bigger than life.’ So we have to say, ‘You have come a long way.’

***

President Barack Obama spoke from the Lincoln Memorial steps to honor the half-century anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s iconic speech, “I Have a Dream.” August 28, 2013.

Our first African-American president was on hand at the Fiftieth Anniversary of the March on Washington Celebration. Like Dr. King, President Barack Obama is a great orator. In his speech to those gathered at the Lincoln Memorial, he echoed Maya Angelou’s sentiment in regard to the civil rights movement, progress, and where America stands.

To dismiss the magnitude of this progress, to suggest as some sometimes do that little has changed, that dishonors the courage and the sacrifice of those who paid the price to march in those years.”

Members of Dr. King’s family, including his then 5-year-old granddaughter, Yolanda King, were present as bells rang at 3 p.m. to mark the historical moment.

President Obama greets Yolanda King, age 5, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s granddaughter at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. August 28, 2013. Credit; Getty Images

President Obama greets Yolanda King, age 5, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s granddaughter at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. August 28, 2013. Credit; Getty Images

For more on Maya Angelou, click here.

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Jackie and President Jack Kennedy land at Orly Airport, Paris, on May 31, 1961

It was May 31, 1961, when Air Force One, carrying  American President John and First Lady Jackie Kennedy, landed on the tarmac at Orly Airport in Paris. The president was less than five months into his term of office and this was his first European stop. The Kennedys were greeted by French President Charles DeGaulle and Madame DeGaulle. The contrast between the trim and stylist Americans and their “grizzled” counterparts was striking.

“As soon as the crowds pressed against the airport fences spotted Jackie in her navy-blue silk suit and black velvet pillbox hat, they broke into a rhythmic chant: ‘Vive Jacqui! Vive Jacqui!’ (1)

First Lady Jackie Kennedy is greeted warmly by Parisians on May 31, 1961. Her style was understated: a wool suit, double strand of pearls, and her trademark pillbox hat. The French were captivated by "Zhak-kee."

Hundreds of thousands of people followed their motorcade through the streets of Paris, waving little French and American flags as the open limousine carrying Jack and DeGaulle passed by. When the second car appeared, carrying Jackie and Madame DeGaulle, the crowd sent up a wild roar.  Later, during an official luncheon at the Palais de L’Elysée, Jackie chattered away in French about Louis XVI, the Bourbons, and French geography. DeGaulle turned to Jack Kennedy and said:

‘Your wife knows more French history than any Frenchwoman!’ [He then] turned back to Jackie and did not take his eyes off her for the rest of the meal.” (1)

The Hall of Mirrors at Versailles

The next night was the big event of the three-day visit: a candlelit supper in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palais de Versailles. Jackie wanted to look extra good. But to look good, Jackie had to “feel good” – and Jackie didn’t.  She suffered from migraines and depression since her C-section 6 months earlier.  Jack didn’t feel good either. His back pain was  agonizing.  That’s why, on this trip to Europe, Jack had brought along not just his extra-firm horsehair mattress but New York physician Max Jacobson. Presidential photographer and friend Mark Shaw had referred President Kennedy to Dr. Jacobson. Jacobson’s “miracle injections” instantly stopped Jack Kennedy’s pain. Jack didn’t know what was in the shots – only that they worked.

First Lady Jackie Kennedy wore this graceful Givenchy gown to the June 1, 1961 dinner at the Palace of Versailles.

The night of the Versailles dinner, Max visited Jack Kennedy at the Palais des Affaires Estrangères. Jack occupied a suite of rooms called “the King’s Chamber” in the elegant 19th Century palace on the Quai d’Orsay. The president soaked his back in “a gold-plated bathtub the size of a pingpong table” (2) then Max gave him his customary injection. Max then ambled down the long hallway to the Queen’s Chamber and was admitted to Jackie’s bedroom.

“Jackie sat in front of a mirror, being fussed over by Alexandre, the famous Parisian hairdresser, and a bevy of his assistants….In another part of the room, Jackie’s maid was laying out two different gowns for the evening – one an American design by Oleg Cassini, and the other a French creation by Hubért de Givenchy. Earlier, Jackie had planned to wear the Cassini [Jack preferred her to wear American clothes], but then she was not so sure.”   (2)
 

Alexandre finished with Jackie’s hair and left the room so she could slip into her gown. But first Jackie motioned to Max. She was ready for her shot. The short, dark-haired man with the red cheeks and German accent reached into his black doctor’s bag and withdrew a syringe.

“He injected his magic elixir into her buttock. She was ready for Versailles. She took one last look at the two ball gowns hanging side-by-side…and chose the one she knew would attract the more favorable reaction from the French press [and play up her French bloodline]. She slipped into the Givenchy….” (2)

Jackie Kennedy with French President, Charles de Gaulle, June 1, 1961

Jackie Kennedy dazzled French President Charles DeGaulle at this June 1, 1961, dinner in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles. 150 guests ate a 6-course dinner served on Napoleon's gold-trimmed china. Jackie sported an elaborate topknot with a diamond tiara. Her rhinestone-studded white satin gown with embroidered bodice was by French designer Givenchy.

Jackie dazzled everyone at the dinner, and it is no wonder. Dr. Jacobson’s shots were a mixture of amphetamines, vitamins, painkillers, and human placenta. (3)  The mysterious physician referred to his particular brand of therapy as “miracle tissue regeneration.”

“You feel like Superman,” said writer Truman Capote, one of the high-profile clients who experienced instant euphoria from Dr. Feelgood’s injections of ‘speed.’ “You’re flying. Ideas come at the speed of light. You go 72 hours straight without so much as a coffee break….Then you crash….” (2)

The crash for Dr. Jacobson came in 1969 when his patient and Kennedy friend Mark Shaw died at the young age of 47 due to “acute and chronic intravenous amphetamine poisoning.” The Bureau of Narcotic and Dangerous Drugs discovered that Dr. Jacobson was buying huge quantities of amphetamines in order to deliver high level amphetamine doses to his clients. “Miracle Max” and many of his clients had become amphetamine addicts. Dr. Jacobson’s medical license was revoked in 1975.  

(1) Spoto, Donald. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: A Life. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000.

(2) Klein, Edward. All Too Human: The Love Story of Jack and Jackie Kennedy. New York: Simon & Schuster Inc., 1996.

(3) Leaming, Lawrence. The Kennedy Women: The Saga of An American Family. New York: Random House, 1994.

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Jackie Kennedy holds son John F. Kennedy, Jr., born November 25, 1960, 16 days after his father, John F. Kennedy won the presidential election. He was nicknamed "John-John." Three years later on his own birthday, John F. Kennedy, Jr., would salute his father's coffin at his funeral.

Jackie Kennedy holds son John F. Kennedy, Jr., born November 25, 1960, 16 days after his father, John F. Kennedy won the presidential election. He was nicknamed “John-John.” Three years later on his own birthday, John F. Kennedy, Jr. would salute his father’s coffin at his funeral.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1929-1994) is remembered for many things, her fashion statements, her redecoration of the White House, her brave young face at the 1963 funeral of her slain husband President John F. Kennedy. There were many things she cared about. But what mattered to her most in life was raising her two children, John F. Kennedy, Jr., and Caroline Kennedy (Schlossberg), to be good people. She said:

“If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.”

She wanted so much for her children to lead normal lives. But, in the aftermath of JFK‘s assassination, it proved to be an impossible dream. She tried to continue living in their Georgetown home but tour buses added it to their route and reporters mobbed them on their doorstep. The crowds were too much to bear.

“The world is pouring terrible adoration at the feet of my children,” she’d once confided to her decorator Billy Baldwin, “and I fear for them, for this awful exposure. How can I bring them up normally?” (1)

Jackie ended up moving them all to New York where, to her dismay, she discovered her children weren’t being invited for playdates and parties by their school friends. It turned out that their parents were intimated by the Kennedy children’s fame.

Jackie Kennedy, wife of then-Senator John F. Kennedy, reads a bedtime story to daughter, Caroline, at the family home in Hyannisport, Massachusetts. Jackie Kennedy loved books and passed this joy on to her children. September 13, 1960

Jackie Kennedy, wife of then-Senator John F. Kennedy, reads a bedtime story to daughter, Caroline, at the family home in Hyannisport, Massachusetts. Jackie Kennedy loved books and passed this joy on to her children. September 13, 1960

In the post-JFK years, Jackie wasn’t just mobbed by tourists and reporters. The beautiful and charming young widow was besieged by male suitors, among them author Philip Roth, Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, and director Mike Nichols. Jackie’s friend and White House advisor Letitia Baldrige said that, even in the pre-JFK years, “she [Jackie] had more men per square inch than any woman I’ve ever known.”

Jackie Kennedy Onassis with husband Ari Onassis on June 5, 1969, at New York's Kennedy Airport

Jackie Kennedy Onassis with husband Ari Onassis on June 5, 1969, at New York’s Kennedy Airport

By 1968, Jackie’s most serious – and unlikely –  suitor was Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, “Ari,” for short. Whereas Jackie was cultured, sleek, and classy, Onassis was short, paunchy, and often rumpled and vulgar. Plus, he was 23 years Jackie’s senior. The Kennedy clan despised him. JFK’s younger brother, Robert “Bobby” Kennedy, who was running for president that year, urged Jackie to break off her relationship with Onassis. She promised him that she would put off talk of marriage until after the presidential election.

Then, on June 5, 1968,  just moments after winning the California primary, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. Jackie was devastated – and terrified.

I despise America,” a distraught Jackie told a friend. “If they are killing Kennedys, my children are the No. 1 targets. I want to get out of this country.”

She did, on October 20, when, in a small private ceremony, she wed Ari Onassis on the Greek isle of Skorpios. She was 39; he was 62. (1)

Readers, I’ve written several posts on the Kennedy family. Scroll down the sidebar to the right: Categories – Kennedys. Among them are:
“How to Be Jackie O”
“Did Jackie Love Bobby Best?”

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Rose Kennedy, wife of newly-appointed American ambassador to Great Britain, Joseph Kennedy, is shown at center with two of her daughters, Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy (l) and Rosemary, at their 1938 presentation at Buckingham Palace. Kathleen's 1944 marriage to Billy Harrington, the Marquess of Hartington, an Anglican, infuriated the intensely Catholic Rose Kennedy, who refused to attend the wedding. Widowed just four months later, Kathleen fell in love with a very married man, Peter Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, 8th Earl Fitzwilliam, and became his mistress. Rose was further incensed - because he, like Billy, wasn't a Catholic. Over her mother's objections, Kathleen and Peter planned to wed after his divorce. Instead, in a 1948 trip to the south of France, they both died in a plane crash. No one but Kathleen Kennedy Cavendish's father, Joseph P. Kennedy, attended her funeral in Devonshire, England, in the Cavendish family plot. It has been said that Rose Kennedy discouraged Kathleen's eight surviving siblings from attending the service of their sister.

Rose Kennedy, wife of newly-appointed American ambassador to Great Britain, Joseph Kennedy, is shown at center with two of her daughters, Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy (l) and Rosemary Kennedy, at their 1938 presentation at Buckingham Palace. Kathleen's lively personality made her a great hit among the British social set. In 1944, Kathleen made what many considered a brilliant marriage to William "Billy" Harrington, the Marquess of Hartington, the heir to the 10th Duke of Devonshire. Kathleen became the Marchioness of Harrington. Her mother, however, was incensed that Kathleen would marry an Anglican and refused to attend the wedding ceremony. Only Kathleen's eldest brother, Joe Kennedy, Jr., attended. Then, four months later, Billy was killed in the war and Kathleen became a widow. It wasn't long before Kathleen was back in the social whirl of London parties and country estate weekends, and with a new man - a married man. He was Peter Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, 8th Earl Fitzwilliam. Kathleen fell madly for him and publicly became his mistress. Rose was furious - but not why you think. She was incensed because Peter - like Kathleen's first husband, Billy - was an Anglican and not a Catholic. Nevertheless, over her mother's objections, Kathleen planned to wed Peter after his divorce, Catholic or not. Their wedding never came about. In a 1948 trip to the south of France, both Peter and Kathleen died in an airplane crash. Still furious with Kathleen, Rose Kennedy did not attend her daughter's funeral and discouraged Kathleen's eight surviving siblings from attending. Only Kathleen's father, Joseph P. Kennedy, attended her funeral service. Kathleen Kennedy Cavendish was buried in the Cavendish family plot in Devonshire, England. There her body remains today.

Factbox: Kennedy Political Dynasty Marked By Tragedy

By REUTERS
Published: August 26, 2009

(Compiled from Web sites by the World Desk Americas)

The lives of Kennedy family members, noted for their extraordinary accomplishments, have also been marked by tragedy, including the assassinations of President John Kennedy and of Senator Robert Kennedy.

Following is a chronology of some of the tragedies that befell the storied U.S. political dynasty:

1941: Rosemary Kennedy, (pictured here), the oldest daughter of Joseph and Rose Kennedy, who was mentally disabled, was institutionalized for the rest of her life after a lobotomy reduced her abilities. She died in 2005.

Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. (c) with 2 of his 4 sons: Joe Kennedy, Jr. (l) and John F. Kennedy

Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. (c) with 2 of his 4 sons: Joe Kennedy, Jr. (l) and John F. Kennedy

1944: Joseph Kennedy Jr., the oldest of the nine Kennedy children, died at age 29 in a plane crash over the English Channel during World War Two while flying a mission.

1948: Kathleen Kennedy Cavendish, the fourth of the Kennedy children, was killed in a plane crash in France at age 28.

1963: President John Kennedy was assassinated on November 22 while riding in a presidential motorcade with his wife in Dallas, Texas, at age 46.

1964: Senator Edward Kennedy, the youngest in the family, narrowly escaped death in a plane crash that killed an aide.

1968: Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated on June 5 in Los Angeles at age 42, just after he won California’s Democratic presidential primary election.

1969: Edward Kennedy drove off a bridge on his way home from a party on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts. An aide in the car with him, Mary Jo Kopechne, died in the accident.

1984: David Kennedy, a son of Robert, died of a drug overdose at age 28.

1997: Another of Robert Kennedy’s sons, Michael, died in a skiing accident in Aspen, Colorado, at age 39.

1999: John Kennedy Jr. along with his wife and sister-in-law were killed when the plane he was flying crashed in the waters off Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

For more on the Kennedys, scroll down the right sidebar in “Categories – People – the Kennedys.”

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Michael Jackson unveiled his moonwalk dance on March 25, 1983, when he performed his hit song, "Billie Jean," on the TV special, Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever

Michael Jackson unveiled his moonwalk dance on March 25, 1983, when he performed his hit song, "Billie Jean," on the TV special, Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever

I was 29 years old when Michael Jackson and his brothers blew through Texas with their 1984 summer Victory Tour. It was July. I was a fifth-grade school teacher during the regular year. During the summer I was waiting tables at the Night Hawk Steakhouse. Michael Jackson’s record-setting album and video, “Thriller,” was a huge hit.

On Fridays during the school year, I gave my students a treat. At lunchtime, I ordered out for pizza. Then I rolled a TV on a tall stand into my classroom, turned out the lights, shut the blinds, and showed my students the “Thriller” video. We got up out of our chairs and danced. Michael Jackson gave us the chills. We just couldn’t get enough of his energy.

Back to the Victory Tour. It was July 15, 1984 – a Sunday – and I’d just finished my wait shift at the Night Hawk. I clocked out then jumped into my un-air-conditioned Honda and headed South to my apartment. I turned on the radio. The announcer was talking about how exciting the Victory Tour was. Michael Jackson was in Dallas! He had performed Friday and Saturday nights. He was to perform just one more night at Texas Stadium before continuing on his tour. Hasting’s on the Drag across from U.T. still had tickets.

I exited IH 35 and headed straight to Hastings, bought a ticket, raced home, changed clothes, and hit IH 35 for Dallas. When I got there, I realized what a crummy seat I had. The concert started and the lights went down real low, low enough, I discovered, for me to jump over a concrete wall, hunker down, and slither all the way down to the wheelchair section at the front of the stage undetected. A mother sitting in a front row seat gestured to me to come over. She was holding a child in her arms and offered me the empty seat to her right. I took it. I watched the show from a front row seat.

The show was great.  Michael Jackson performed all the songs from the tour, but what I most remember was watching him moondance to “Billie Jean.” Wow. He didn’t sing “Thriller,” which confused me at the time. Now I understand that he didn’t think the choreography translated well into a stage song.

Curtis Jerome Haynes

Curtis Jerome Haynes

On a previous post, I’ve written about Marcel Marceau‘s influence on Michael Jackson’s moonwalk (“Michael Jackson and the Moonwalk“). Here’s a video sent to me via an old friend, musician Curtis Jerome Haynes, showing the origins of the moonwalk. Some of the “Origins of the Moonwalk” dancers featured in the video are Cab Calloway, Fred Astaire, and Sammy Davis, Jr.

In reference to the youtube clip shown below, Curtis Haynes writes that, 

Missing from the montage are James Brown, the Nicholas Brothers, and Marcel Marceau.”

Thanks, Curtis!

Readers, for more on this blog on Michael Jackson, click here.

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Jackie Kennedy during the White House years

Jackie Kennedy during the White House years

From USA Today Online, July 6, 2009:

Book: Jackie, RFK had four-year affair

The New York Post, quoting a new book, reports that Jackie Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy had a four-year love affair that began shortly after President Kennedy was killed.

Author C. David Heymann says Bobby was Jackie’s “true love” and that the affair was well known among family members. When Bobby was shot after winning the California presidential primary, Jackie — not Bobby’s wife Ethel Kennedy or his brother Ted Kennedy — ordered that he be removed from a respirator, the book says.

The book, Bobby and Jackie: A Love Story, arrives in stores this month. The Post says it “includes recollections of the steamy affair” from Kennedy family intimates, including Pierre Salinger, Arthur Schlesinger, Jack Newfield, Gore Vidal, Truman Capote and Morton Downey Jr. Heymann told the paper he spent nearly two decades researching the book and had access to FBI and Secret Service files. Tapes of his interviews are available at the SUNY Stony Brook library.

The Kennedy family at their home in Hyannisport, Massachusetts on the night after John F Kennedy won the 1960 presidential election. Front row from left: Eunice Shriver, Rose Kennedy , Joseph Kennedy , Jacqueline Kennedy, and Ted Kennedy. Back row, from left: Ethel Kennedy, Stephen Smith, Jean Smith, John F Kennedy, Robert F Kennedy, Pat Lawford , Sargent Shriver, Joan Kennedy, and Peter Lawford

The Kennedy family at their home in Hyannisport, Massachusetts on the night after John F Kennedy won the 1960 presidential election. Front row from left: Eunice Shriver, Rose Kennedy , Joseph Kennedy , Jacqueline Kennedy, and Ted Kennedy. Back row, from left: Ethel Kennedy, Stephen Smith, Jean Smith, John F Kennedy, Robert F Kennedy, Pat Lawford , Sargent Shriver, Joan Kennedy, and Peter Lawford

Among the book’s revelations:

— Six months after JFK’s death, during a May 1964 dinner cruise on the presidential yacht the USS Sequoia, Bobby and Jackie “exchanged poignant glances” before disappearing below deck, leaving Ethel upstairs. “When they returned, they looked as chummy and relaxed as a pair of Cheshire cats,” according to Schlesinger.

— At one point, Ethel Kennedy implored family friend Frank Moore to “tell Bobby to stop sleeping with Jackie.” Instead, Moore told her to find a marriage counselor.

— Shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis — RFK’s rival for Jackie’s attention — once threatened to “bring down” Bobby by going public with details of the affair. “I could bury that sucker,” Onassis said, “although I’d lose Jackie in the process.”

The New York Daily News reports that the book already is generating criticism:

“It’s a new low, and you just wonder how far people are willing to go,” Laurence Learner, author of The Kennedy Men, The Kennedy Women and Sons of Camelot told the paper.

“[Heymann] is just trying to make a buck. Yes, Bobby and Jackie had a relationship as friends, but [the romance] is a total exaggeration. I feel sorry for Heymann,” he said.

 

To read more on Ethel Kennedy, read “Mama Remembers Ethel Kennedy.”

To read more on Jackie Kennedy Onassis, click “How to be Jackie O” and “Why Jackie Kennedy Married Ari Onassis.”

 To read more on the Kennedys, scroll down the right sidebar to “Categories – People – Kennedys.”

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