Like many members of the Baby Boomer generation, Josh Mankiewicz awoke on June 5, 1968, to the news that Sen. Robert F. Kennedy had been shot shortly after celebrating his California Democratic presidential primary win.
Mankiewicz was 12 years old at the time, and the first report created anxious moments in his Washington, D.C, home. His father, Frank Mankiewicz, served as Kennedy’s press aide and was with the candidate that night at the Ambassador Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. After the shooting was first reported at 12:15 a.m. Pacific time, Josh’s mother was on the phone through the early morning hours trying to get word on his father.
“In the first early hours of this there were a lot of people that thought my dad had been one of the first people who got shot,” said Mankiewicz, now 62 and a correspondent for NBC’s “Dateline.” His family was relieved when Frank Mankiewicz appeared on TV that morning to give his first press briefing, standing on the roof of a police car in front of the Good Samaritan Hospital. Inside, surgeons were attempting to save Kennedy’s life.
Frank Mankiewicz was a somber but steady presence in the 25-hour span after the shooting, a period filled with terror, disbelief and sorrow — much of it seen live on TV.
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