The 1968 Exhibit: Robert F. Kennedy dies in Los Angeles, June 6, 1968

 

Robert F. Kennedy dies in Los Angeles, June 6, 1968

 

Senator Robert F. Kennedy was mortally wounded in a shooting in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968 about 15 minutes after midnight, and after nearly 26 hours was declared dead on June 6.   The assassination took place in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel, just moments after Kennedy had declared victory in the California Democratic primary for the party's presidential nomination.  The gunman was a young Palestinian-American, Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, who had become obsessed with Kennedy's support for Israel.  Sirhan Sirhan was tried and convicted in 1969, and sentenced to death, a sentence later commuted to life imprisonment.  At age 67, he remains in prison in California.  

58 It's easy to forget how very brief Kennedy's presidential campaign was.   He had only declared his intention to seek the nomination on March 16-- after Eugene McCarthy's surprising show of strength in the New Hampshire primary (March 12), but before the famous announcement (March 31) by President Lyndon Johnson that he would not be seeking a second term, opening up space for Vice President (and eventual nominee) Hubert Humphrey.   March, April and May 1968 were thus months of immense volatility.  

Kennedy's campaign went into high gear by the end of March, producing vast quantities of brochures, mailers, and buttons--most of which, sadly, were never 61 distributed.  Many boxes of unused campaign materials ended up with the Robert Kennedy Papers at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, which has generously shared some of them with "The 1968 Exhibit."  

 

Most amazing, however, is this extraordinary full-page advertisement, published in the New York Times on May 16, 1968:  a seemingly endless list of "boldface" names and their professions, followed by the simple line "..... are for Kennedy."  It's worth enlarging the image and taking a look at the still-famous names who endorsed Kennedy.  In alphabetical order, it starts off with Hank Aaron ("Atlanta Braves") and Charles Addams ("Cartoonist") and concludes with Donald Zagoria, a political scientist.  Along the way are Hollywood stars (Warren Beatty, Rod Steiger, Sidney Poitier, Janet Leigh) and directors (Otto Preminger, Joseph L. Mankiewicz); artists (Larry Rivers, Andy Warhol); writers (Norman Mailer AND Truman Capote); sports figures (Vince Lombardi, Bob Cousy, Roosevelt Grier); and entertainers, including Sammy Davis, Jr., Bill Cosby, and  Diana Ross and the Supremes ("singing group, Detroit, Mich.").   Take a look:  63