10 Things You Didn’t Know About Robert F. Kennedy

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Robert F. Kennedy

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1. He attended nearly a dozen schools and failed the third grade.

Born in Brookline, Massachusetts, on November 20, 1925, Robert Francis Kennedy was the seventh child (and third boy) born to Joseph P. Kennedy and his wife Rose, the daughter of a former Boston mayor. Smaller and frailer than his siblings, Bobby was often considered the “runt” of the family, spending much of his youth at church with his devout mother. Due to the family’s peripatetic nature and his own difficulties adjusting, Kennedy was constantly shuttling between schools.

He eventually attended 12 different primary and secondary schools in the U.S. and London, where his father served as U.S. ambassador to the Court of St. James. Kennedy eventually graduated from Milton Academy and later Harvard, where he managed to letter in varsity football despite his small stature and a severely broken leg. Breaking with family tradition, Kennedy attended law school not in the leafy confines of Cambridge, but in Charlottesville, at the University of Virginia.

2. Bobby Kennedy worked for Joe McCarthy.

In 1952, shortly after graduating from UVA, Kennedy got one of his first jobs thanks to an old family friend, Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy, who had vacationed with the Kennedy family and even dated two of Bobby’s sisters, agreed to hire the young lawyer to work on his Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations examining possible communists infiltration of the U.S. government. Kennedy left six months later, after clashing with McCarthy’s brash young deputy, Roy Cohn.

Though both he and his brother John became increasingly disillusioned with McCarthy’s brutal tactics, neither brother completely disavowed him. In fact, Bobby Kennedy named McCarthy godfather to his first child, Kathleen, and when McCarthy was finally censured by the Senate in 1954, John Kennedy, ostensibly recuperating from back surgery, was the only Democrat not to vote in favor of the measure. It would be take two more years before the elder Kennedy publicly denounced one of the chief architects of the Cold War Red Scare.

3. He tried to take down Jimmy Hoffa.

Less than five years after leaving McCarthy, Robert Kennedy found himself back on Capitol Hill, this time as the chief counsel for a new subcommittee investigating corruption in the country’s trade unions. Kennedy and the Senate “Rackets” committee took on one of the most powerful groups in the country, the 1.3 million-member Teamster Union, led by Jimmy Hoffa. Hoffa and Kennedy took an instant dislike to each other, and the two squared off in a series of dramatic televised hearings that raised Kennedy’s national profile. Hoffa openly antagonized his opponent, refusing to answer questions about his involvement in money laundering, extortion and his relationship to the mafia. As Hoffa later recalled, “I used to love to bug the little bastard.”

4. Bobby ran most of his elder brother’s political campaigns.

Thanks in part to an eight-year age difference, the JFK and RFK were not close as youths. It wasn’t until the 1950s that Jack gained a greater appreciation for his brother’s tenacity and shrewdness. When JFK’s first campaign for the U.S. Senate began to flounder in early 1952, Kennedy patriarch Joe Sr. demanded that Bobby be hired to right the ship. Initially reluctant to put his own career on hold to serve his elder brother, Bobby proved adept at the job and went on to manage his brother’s successful 1958 senate re-election and 1960 presidential campaigns.

5. JFK put him in charge of the plot to overthrow Fidel Castro.

While Bobby would play a key role in nearly every critical event of his brother’s presidency, it was his involvement with one group in particular that would eventually garner the most controversy. In the months after the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, President Kennedy asked his brother to oversee a clandestine mission, Operation Mongoose, dedicated to the removal from power of Fidel Castro. Hundreds of millions of dollars were spent building secret bases, training spies and developing what many operatives realized, even then, were increasingly bizarre ways to do away with Castro for good. Though historians remain uncertain if either Kennedy expressly ordered Castro be executed, Operation Mongoose is known to have made at least eight failed attempts on the Communist leader’s life.

6. His frosty relationship with Lyndon Johnson came to a head at the 1964 Democratic Convention.

Bobby Kennedy’s dislike of Lyndon Johnson was almost instantaneous. When his more pragmatic brother chose Johnson as his running mate in 1960, Bobby was furious, going so far as to ask LBJ to refuse the request. Tensions between the two men continued to rise throughout the Kennedy presidency, with the attorney general openly disparaging the vice president, and vice versa. Bobby reluctantly agreed to remain in Johnson’s cabinet after JFK’s assassination, and was livid with what he saw as Johnson’s attempt to gain credit for many of the slain president’s initiatives. Johnson, for his part, developed a near paranoia over the continued popularity of the Kennedy family.

The dysfunctional relationship reached its nadir as Johnson prepared for the 1964 presidential campaign. That year’s convention, held in Atlantic City, New Jersey, featured a tribute to John F. Kennedy, including a speech by Bobby. Fearful that the sure-to-be-emotional delegates would be so overcome that they would move to nominate Bobby instead, Johnson ensured that the tribute was scheduled after his own formal nomination. Johnson’s concerns may not have been entirely without merit: When Bobby did make his appearance, convention attendees broke out in thunderous applause, which continued for more than 20 minutes before Kennedy could speak. Still emotionally shattered by his brother’s death, he nearly collapsed once backstage, remarking to a friend that, contrary to Johnson’s belief, the crowd’s response had been a tribute to his brother, and not for him.

7. Before he made his famous ascent of Mount Kennedy, he had never climbed a mountain before.

Hundreds of schools, parks and buildings were named (or renamed) for John F. Kennedy in the wake of his death, but one posthumous honor in particular held special meaning for Bobby Kennedy. When a 14,000-foot mountain in Canada’s Kluane National Park was to be named Mount Kennedy, RFK was determined to become the first person to climb to its peak. There was just one problem—Kennedy was a strong athlete but had practically no rock climbing experience. He jokingly told friends that his preparation for the trek consisted of little more than climbing to the top of the stairs of his Hickory Hill home and shouting for help.

Traveling with a seasoned team of climbers, Kennedy’s group tackled the challenge in April 1965. As they approached the summit, Kennedy broke away from the group and approached the mountain’s peak himself. Once there, he deposited several JFK-related items, including a copy of his inaugural address, a memorial medallion and even one of President Kennedy’s World War II-era PT-boat tie clips.

8. He authorized FBI surveillance on MLK, but is credited with preventing a riot after King’s death.

Bobby Kennedy was considered far more progressive than his brother on the critical issue of civil rights, but he at times had a difficult relationship with many of the movement’s leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1963, under pressure from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Kennedy approved the installation of wiretaps on King and several of his associates, who the Bureau believed were Communist sympathizers. For more than three years the Bureau kept King under constant surveillance, with its agents sending him anonymous threatening letters in the hopes of stopping his social justice campaigns.

On April 4, 1968, five years after his approval of the surveillance, Kennedy delivered one his most famous speeches on the evening of King’s assassination. Learning of King’s death after arriving in Indianapolis, Indiana, for a campaign event, Kennedy, despite warnings from law enforcement and his own staff who feared for his safety, attended the scheduled rally. Ditching his campaign speech for one he had hastily written on the way to the event, he informed the crowd of King’s death, urging them to not react angrily to the news and making an impassioned call for racial unity. In the wake of King’s death, riots broke out in more than 100 cities nationwide, but Indianapolis remained calm. Kennedy’s words were later enshrined on a memorial in Arlington National Cemetery as well as a sculpture garden in Indianapolis dedicated to both Kennedy and King.

9. Two people were killed during the procession of RFK’s funeral train.

Just two months after King’s death, Bobby Kennedy himself was assassinated in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. After a funeral mass in New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral on June 8, Kennedy’s body began its trek towards its final resting place beside his brother at Arlington. Intended to give a grieving nation an opportunity to pay their respects, Kennedy’s funeral train passed by tens of thousands of mourners waving flags and signs. The already tragic events of the assassination were compounded, however, when two onlookers, hurrying to move out of the path of the Kennedy train near Elizabeth, New Jersey, were struck and killed by a train moving in the opposite direction.

10. The Ambassador Hotel is now the site of a school system named in Kennedy’s honor.

A Los Angeles landmark that had played host to several Academy Awards ceremonies and was the home of the Cocoanut Grove nightclub, the Ambassador Hotel fell on hard times in the years after Kennedy’s assassination. Closed to guests in 1989, it fell into complete disuse by the late 1990s, with many of its contents auctioned off soon after. Slated for demolition, the historic hotel became the focal point of a battle between preservationists and the Los Angeles school district, which hoped to build a charter school on the site. A settlement was finally reached when the school district agreed to preserve parts of the exterior, though the areas where Kennedy had spoken and been shot were demolished. The site is now home to the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools, which includes facilities for more than 4,200 students.

Watch RFK: The Kennedy Family Remembers, a new HISTORY special about the life of Robert F. Kennedy.

10 Things You Didn't Know About Bobby Darin

3. He Recorded Pretty Much Every Genre of Music
Bobby Darin wasn't afraid to take chances with music. While he started his career successfully as a rock and roll teen idol, he knew that bubblegum pop would only take him so far down the road. One night he went to see the play The Threepenny Opera, and decided that he was going to record a swing arrangement of the production's signature song, "Mack the Knife", a German ditty about the murderous thug in the cast of characters, Macheath. Dick Clark thought he was crazy--advising Bobby not to record since he risked alienating his teenage audience. Luckily for us, Darin didn't listen to him. The song was recorded in December 1958 and Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic Records recalled telling Darin that he nailed it after the first take. It was released as a single in August 1959. By October 5th, 1959, the song rose to No.1 on the national Billboard chart and remained in that position for 9 weeks, earning him a Record-of-the-Year Grammy award for 1959.

But Darin didn't stop there. He dabbled in country-western, folk, blues, and even gospel. Darin's personality and passion is evident in just about anything he sang. I've heard one male fan say that Darin is the only singer who could make him like the song "Mame." His vocals were equally adept on showstopper Broadway numbers as they were on covers of gentle John Sebastian compositions. On the catchy "Me and Mr. Hohner", a song he wrote about police brutality against hippies, he even does an early style of rap:

During the time this song was released, Darin was going by Bob Darin in concerts and on television appearances, because he said it made his name sound more like Bob Dylan. Darin's manager, Steve Blauner, described the music Darin was churning out during this period of his career as "absolutely brilliant." Audiences, however, didn't take kindly to Darin's new found persona during this time it didn't help that he was sporting a mustache, dressing in denim and refusing to perform "Mack the Knife." After too many boos and walks outs, Darin met them in the middle and went back to wearing a tux and incorporating his classic hits into his set lists.

And speaking of Bob Dylan, Darin was not only a fan of his, but of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and pretty much anyone else on the rock and roll scene during the 1960s. He saw The Beatles and The Stones in concert (and had to put up with Mick Jagger making fun of his sharkskin suit after a performance.)

I have no doubt that had he lived, Bobby Darin would have embraced and covered the music of the 1980s.

Two of my favorite songs written by Darin during the mid and late 1960s are "Change" and "Distractions", the latter being performed on The Tom Jones Show.

4. He Really Wanted to Be An Actor
Darin once confessed that given the option of singing or acting, he would have loved to have been an actor. As it is, he was given decent roles in many films over the length of his career, starting with Come September, where he met his first wife, Sandra Dee, and ending with a 1973 Ron Howard film, Happy Mother's Day, Love George. Unlike Elvis, he managed to get offered parts that didn't pigeon hole him into playing himself. He played a Nazi sympathizer opposite Sidney Poiter in 1962's Pressure Point. But it was his portrayal of a soldier dealing with flashbacks after the war in 1963's Captain Newman, M.D. that earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. Darin also made several appearances in television series and specials throughout his career.

And did you know that he was a master imitator of other celebrities? Here's one of the comedic routines that Darin would perform in concert where he impersonates Marlon Brando, Cary Grant, W.C. Fields and others:

6. He Was Almost Killed By Connie Francis' Father
Darin was hired as a songwriter for Francis early in their careers. After a few weeks, Darin and Francis fell in love. For reasons unknown, Francis' strict Italian father strongly disapproved of Darin--maybe it was because of the rumors that Darin's grandfather worked for the mafia and died in Sing-Sing prison. Darin orchestrated a plan to have Francis run off with him and elope, but when her father caught wind of the idea he ran Darin out of the building at gunpoint, telling him to never see his daughter again.

Francis saw Darin twice more–once when the two were scheduled to sing together for a television show, and again when Francis was a guest on This Is Your Life. By the time of the show's taping, Darin was married to Sandra Dee. In her autobiography Francis declared that she never did fall out of love with Bobby Darin, and that not marrying him was the biggest mistake of her life. (Who's sorry now?)

10 Things You Didn't Know About Bobby Darin Reviewed by Pam on Saturday, December 21, 2013 Rating: 5

11 Facts About Robert Frost

Though Robert Frost has been gone for more than half a century—he died on January 29, 1963—his poems remain timeless, inspiring everyone from John F. Kennedy to George R.R. Martin. Though most people know him for "The Road Not Taken," there's more to Frost than that—and according to him, we've all been interpreting that poem wrong anyway.


Frost's father, Will, ran away from home at a young age in an attempt to join the Confederate Army. Though he was caught and returned to his parents, the elder Frost never forgot his war heroes, and eventually named his son after one of them.


First, Frost attended Dartmouth for just two months, later explaining, "I wasn't suited for that place." He got his second chance in 1897 at Harvard, but only made it two years before dropping out to support his wife and child. “They could not make a student of me here, but they gave it their best,” Frost later said. Still, he managed to get a degree anyway—Harvard bestowed honorary honors upon him in 1937.


Published by the New York Independent in 1894, when Frost was 20, Frost’s first paid piece was called “My Butterfly: An Elegy.” The payday for the poem was the equivalent of $422 today the sum was worth more than two weeks’ salary at his teaching job.


As an established poet with a following, Ezra Pound exposed Frost to a much larger audience by writing a rave review of his first poetry collection, A Boy's Will. Frost considered it his most important early review. Pound might have reviewed the book sooner had it not been for a bit of a misunderstanding—he once gave Frost a calling card with his hours listed as "At home, sometimes." Frost "didn't feel that that was a very warm invitation," and avoided visiting. When he finally stopped in, Pound was put out that he hadn't come sooner. He wrote his review of Frost's poetry the same day.


"The Road Not Taken" is often read at high school and college graduations as a reminder to forge new paths, but Frost never intended it to be taken so seriously—he wrote the poem as a private joke for his friend Edward Thomas. He and Thomas enjoyed taking walks together, and Thomas was constantly indecisive about which direction he wanted to go. When he finally did choose, he often regretted not choosing the other way.

Frost was surprised when his readers began taking the poem to heart as a metaphor for self-determination. After reading "The Road Not Taken" to some college students, he lamented to Thomas that the poem was “taken pretty seriously … despite doing my best to make it obvious by my manner that I was fooling. … Mea culpa.”


John F. Kennedy invited Frost to do a reading at his 1961 inauguration though Frost prepared a poem called "Dedication" for the ceremony, he had a hard time reading the lightly typed words in the sun's glare. In the end, that didn't matter—the poet ended up reciting a different piece, "The Gift Outright," by heart.

Frost's performance paved the way for later appearances by Maya Angelou, Miller Williams, Elizabeth Alexander, and Richard Blanco.


Frost knew tragedy. Of his six kids—daughters Elinor, Irma, Marjorie, and Lesley, and sons Carol, and Elliot—only two outlasted him. Elinor died shortly after birth, Marjorie died giving birth, Elliot succumbed to cholera, and Carol committed suicide.


Though Frost adored living the bucolic life on his 30-acre farm in Derry, New Hampshire, his neighbors weren't exactly impressed with his skills. Because Frost mostly paid the bills with poetry, he didn't have to be as regimented about farm life as his full-time farming neighbors did, so they thought he was a bit lazy.

Even if his farming skills weren't up to par with the pros, the estate itself did wonders for his writing. According to Frost, "I might say the core of all my writing was probably the five free years I had there on the farm down the road a mile or two from Derry Village toward Lawrence. The only thing we had was time and seclusion. I couldn't have figured on it in advance. I hadn't that kind of foresight. But it turned out right as a doctor's prescription."


If Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire sounds a bit like Frost's poem "Fire and Ice," well, it is: “People say I was influenced by Robert Frost’s poem, and of course I was," Martin has said. "Fire is love, fire is passion, fire is sexual ardor and all of these things. Ice is betrayal, ice is revenge, ice is … you know, that kind of cold inhumanity and all that stuff is being played out in the books.”


Frost took home the award in poetry a whopping four times. His honors were for New Hampshire: A Poem with Notes and Grace Notes (1924), Collected Poems (1931), A Further Range (1937), and A Witness Tree (1943). No other poet has yet managed to win on four occasions.


The inscription on Frost's tombstone is his own words: “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.” It's the last line from his poem “The Lesson for Today.” Here's the whole thing:

"And were an epitaph to be my story

I'd have a short one ready for my own.

I would have written of me on my stone:

I had a lover's quarrel with the world."

Paul Conklin / Time & Life Pictures / Getty Images

Contrary to popular belief, John F. Kennedy was not the first person to try to create the Peace Corps. The first person to introduce a bill creating the organization was Senator Hubert Humphrey in 1957. Sadly, it didn't pass. Three years later, during his 1960 presidential campaign, Kennedy mentioned the idea again in a University of Michigan speech. He called the group the Peace Corps and, after he was elected President in 1961, he signed the executive order officially founding it.

8 The Movie Led To Spielberg Founding His Animation Studio Amblimation

Allegedly, the success of The Land Before Time, An American Tail, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (on all of which Spielberg acted as an executive producer) led to the founding of his own animation studio, Amblimation.

Unfortunately, the studio only worked on three features and closed after eight years of operation with all 250 crew members of the studio joining DreamWorks Animation.

7 Frank Sinatra vs. Marlon Brando

While Frank Sinatra had quite a few high-profile friends, the one guy he never liked was Marlon Brando. In fact, the two actors hated each other&rsquos guts.

Their rivalry started while filming Guys and Dolls, a 1955 musical directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Things started off badly when Sinatra showed up already holding a grudge, claiming he should have landed the part of Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront, a role that won Brando an Oscar. Making matters worse, he was jealous that Brando was cast as the romantic lead in Guys and Dolls while he was relegated to comic relief.

Infuriated, Sinatra decided to be a class-A jerk for the rest of the production. So when Brando asked for help in the singing department, Sinatra gave him the cold shoulder, saying he wasn&rsquot into &ldquothat method crap,&rdquo referring to Brando&rsquos acting style. When talking about Brando, Sinatra dubbed him &ldquoMumbles&rdquo and told people he was the &ldquoworld&rsquos most overrated actor.&rdquo And instead of playing the funny guy, Sinatra always tried to outshine Brando, going into full crooner mode when it was his turn to sing.

Brando didn&rsquot exactly turn the other cheek. Notoriously difficult to work with at the best of times, Marlon went to the mattresses. Since Sinatra hated doing retakes, Brando intentionally screwed up shots. During a scene where Sinatra ate a piece of cheesecake, Brando repeatedly &ldquoforgot&rdquo his lines, forcing Sinatra to eat a new wedge of dessert with every retake. Nine takes and nine whole slices of cake later, a nauseous Sinatra lost his temper, tossed his plate, stabbed his fork into the table, and shouted, &ldquoHow much cheesecake do you think I can eat?&rdquo

6 Romancing The Stone

Romancing the Stone is a comedy adventure movie released in 1984, and it has everything to do with the creation of Back to the Future. Director Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale had made two movies under Steven Spielberg called Used Cars and I Wanna Hold Your Hand. Both bombed. And while the duo thought of involving Spielberg in Back to the Future, they didn't want to produce another bomb with him.

Zemeckis went on to make Romancing the Stone, which proved a big hit. Now more confident (and more popular), Zemeckis approached Spielberg. The rest is history.

3 Tiger Woods and Many, Many Women

Pro Golf golden boy Tiger Woods seemingly had it all. Wildly talented with an astoundingly successful career, large endorsements and brand partnerships, a loving family&hellip But it just wasn&rsquot enough for the young star. On November 27, 2009, his fortune came crashing down around him. You don&rsquot know what you got, am I right?

It was this day that Woods crashed his Escalade just outside of his home shortly after taking pain medication. This crash brought out the press sniffing around for a scandal. Seek, and ye shall find, soon enough, an alleged mistress was releasing text messages and voicemails sent by the professional athlete. She wasn&rsquot the only one coming forward with accusations of an affair, however. The women who revealed themselves were waitresses and nightclub staff, to models and adult film actresses.

The once-revered golfer attempted to deal with the scandal behind closed doors but eventually released several statements in which he publicly acknowledged his indiscretions and apologized for his actions. Woods lost sponsorships and brand deals and ultimately stepped away from his career and public scrutiny to focus on therapy and repairing his marriage. While that worked for some time, the pro and his wife announced a divorce in 2010. That same year Woods returned to golf, but due to the resulting injuries of the car crash, he never again regained the height as in his early career.

The president has to pay for their own groceries.

In an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2018, Michelle Obama revealed that first families foot the bill for their own food.

"Nobody really tells you this stuff, and they let you get whatever you want," she said. "Like, if you say you want some exotic fruit — 'Yes ma'am, we'll get that right away.' And then you get the bill for a peach and it's like, 'That was a $500 peach!' I would tell Barack, 'Do not express pleasure for anything unless I know how much it costs.'"

10 Things You Didn’t Know About TIME

A new book, Inside the Red Border, celebrates the magazine's 90-year history. A look at the greatest covers that never ran, the woman who has been on the magazine’s front page more than any other, and the story that unleashed the greatest number of complaints in the magazine’s history

1. TIME has pulled out its famous red X to mark the end of four men and one flag: Adolf Hitler (1945), the Japanese flag (1945), Saddam Hussein (2003—three years before the Iraqi leader’s actual death), al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (2006), and Osama bin Laden (2011).

2. As of July 2013, men have appeared on the cover 4,267 times women only 754 times.

3. Richard Nixon has graced TIME’s cover more than any other person, appearing on the front-page 55 times so far.

4. Hillary Clinton has outpaced all other women, earning 19 covers as of Oct. 2013.

5. TIME’s best-selling issue was the its Sept. 11 commemorative edition, published on September 14, 2001. It sold 3,397,721 copies on newsstands.

6. So, why the red border? TIME’s ad execs were told in 1930 that to perform better on newsstands, the magazine’s covers should have “pretty girls, babies or red and yellow.” Only one of the four seemed appropriate.

7. Three notable covers that never ran:

The New New Deal, 2008

“The editors opted for a photo-illustration of Obama’s head on FDR instead of C.F. Payne’s painting.”

Bush’s Last Stand, 2007

“This take on the U.S. surge in Iraq was set aside for a black-and-white photo of a serviceman’s face.”

“TIME planned to do a cover on Gloria Swanson if she won an Oscar for Sunset Boulevard in 1951, but she lost out to Judy Holliday.”

8. A 1973 cover on the steamy film, The Last Tango in Paris, incited the most reader’s letters in the magazine’s history: 12,191 (6,710 were cancellations and non-renewals).

9. The first TIME cover without an image (and one of the most controversial) was “Is God Dead?” published 1966.

10. TIME didn’t change “Man of the Year” to “Person of the Year” until 1999 (though it broke the formula many times before then, beginning with Wallis Simpson as “Woman of the Year” in 1936).

For more TIME history, from war reporting to American social trends, check out Inside the Red Border.

Watch the video: 10 Things You Didnt Know About Pumpkinhead (May 2022).


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