DATELINE: 21 Years Later!
Hard as it is to believe, this July is now 21 years since the death of the prince to the Kennedy legacy. His demise in a plane crash completely shut down a direct line to the mythic Camelot of his father. The documentary is called JFK, Jr: the Final Year.
Of course, this is not an objective biography, but it is the result of research and memories of a teaching assistant who mentored young John at Brown University. He has access to people who have heretofore not spoken about the tragic, premature death of the hope of a family and political dynasty.
Kennedy died in 1999, and his mother in 1994. In that way, they never made it to the 21stcentury. Around the same time his mother died, his closest friend, first cousin Anthony Radziwell, son of his mother’s sister, contracted cancer and followed Kennedy in death too. Kennedy’s life was filled with personal loss, and yet he blew up at the press rarely—and may have been planning for a political career in the upcoming decade.
He had a parade of movie star girlfriends and was often called the sexiest man alive, which he accepted as part of his legacy, but he was also considered not too bright, failing the bar exam at least once. Yet, he surrounded himself with some bright people to start George, the magazine.
He was enough of an entertainer to know that the mix of politics and show biz was the future. He failed to cover the Clinton sex scandal and impeachment because it was too close to his own father’s behavior, and he begged the media to give him privacy. He made dumb decisions frequently. Bill Clinton is a major contributor to this film.
In those ways he was the Democrat version of Trump: not terribly bright. And he took risks with threats to his person all around him in New York City. His mother, during her life, mistrusted the Secret Service, and he eschewed protections.
As Dr. Steven Gillon’s film reveals, in mid-1999, his life was falling part in many ways, but he had the future still in mind. He was writing his cousin’s eulogy, but sickly Radziwill ended up giving a eulogy for John before he died two weeks later. It is another tale of hope dashed.