Thursday, July 09, 2009

Joseph P. Kennedy

What follows are my comments to my long-time friend, Cari Beauchamp, after reading her latest book: Joseph P. Kennedy Presents: His Hollywood Years. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.

Dear Cari,

How delicious the Kennedy book! Only you would have the ability to deliver the brilliant and bold bon mots-- sprinkled as they are throughout the text like sparkling jewels--they drive home a particular barb without belaboring the insight!

I needn’t comment what a bastard he was (you've done a good job of it), but I’m glad you cleared up the point about his making a large chunk of his fortune on illegally bringing in liquor during prohibition…the why of the liquor aspect of his fortune is just another example of his duplicity in business dealings, somehow even worse than just booze-running! I am also very impressed with your business acumen as I know it wasn’t easy following the twists and turns he took in ripping off nearly all his acquaintances and in the end most of his best friends and fuckees – all done under the guise of rescuing them from their respective dilemma.

The other point you clarified was my long-held assumption that he was responsible for bringing the Mafia to Hollywood; instead he brought it into Jack’s campaign and presidency and, if another rumor is taken seriously, caused Giancana to order his death (always for me the most plausible of them all).

Also, having undertaken the years of in-depth research before writing my book, Daughter of Derry: The Story of Brigid Sheils Makowski, I know what sorting through prevailing myths and misconceptions entails so I’m in awe of what you undertook and accomplished. Aside from this being an exposé of Kennedy, the book is also a basic social history of the early years of Hollywood. As such, it should be on the core reading list of all film studies curriculum. Additionally, the book's notes are a gem in and of themselves!

But more than anything, I was left with such a bad taste in my mouth about the Rosemary saga! I can understand Joe trying out this latest hyped lobotomy treatment on her, but after its failure, he literally and figuratively ‘disappeared’ her and apparently Rose never questioned the why of it or even appeared to be concerned about her absence from the family circle. So this, along with all the other family duplicity, gives a new definition of a dysfunctional family!


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