JF Ptak Science Books Post 1239
"Much of what we used for Caroline will serve for the new baby, too. Any new things I buy, I choose in neutral shades, being completely impartial as to whether it's a boy or a girl"--.Jacqueline Kennedy, on how she will dress her coming baby, November, 1960.
The Kennedy presidential campaign of 1960 was certainly of a different era--it had its fair share of good and bad, but what it lacked was the noble predator of massive television coverage. There's was a minor major attempt at utilizing the new medium, and certainly from where we sit today, the effort looks quaint, naive.
What we have here is Jackie Kennedy's copy of a script entitled "Talk About Tennessee", (dated Oct 17, 1960) for a 15-minute television endorsement for John Kennedy's presidential campaign. Its a six-page insight into the workings of the campaign, an x-ray of fifteen minutes of Jackie Kennedy talking with the leading ladies--featuring Mrs. Kennedy, Mrs. Albert Gore, Mrs. Estes Kefauver, and Mrs. Buford Ellington.of Tennessee--in a hearts-and-minds attempt for women's votes. In fact, the scripts are titled "Mrs. Kennedy TV Show" in the hand of her acting social/press secretary, Gladys Uhl--it is in fact a full-fledged commercial spot, a long advertisement, though called something a little higher-minded than that. But an ad is an ad, and this is definitely an ad. We see the enterprise from the director's eye, who arranges the motion of the camera, the arrangement and style of music, and suggestions for conversation. [This document is available for purchase from our blog bookstore.]
In the current era of micro-micro-management of micro-details, created nuance, utterly lost spontaneity, carefully crafted breathing and absolutely scripted off-the-cuff remarks, this effort seems extraordinary to the room that it left for instantaneous discussion.
This material is from the estate of Mrs. Gladys Uhl, who served as the press liason and secretary for Mrs. Kennedy for a short time at the end of the election during the fall of 1960, though she did not follow Mrs. Kennedy into the White House. (Mrs. Uhl was the wife of Alexander Uhl, a very prominent and superb reporter who covered the Spanish Civil War in the front lines for several years, and who reported first hand on action during WWII, and covered many early civil rights movements for the Associated Press, the far-ish Left PM Newspaper, and many others. Her second husband, David Katcher, was the founding editor of Science Today magazine and who served a number of administrations in various high-level capacities.)
The document, purple ink printed on yellow paper, and was evidently produced by Guild, Bascom and Bonfigli, Inc., and dated 17 October 1960, and is inscribed (in Uhl's hand) "Mrs. Kennedy" in ink at top center of the document. It details the look, feel and sound of the "TV show", and also has suggestion about the content of the conversation. There are outlines for conversation *only* as there appears not to have been a definite script for each of the women. The entirety of the show does seem to be here, though, directing how the show should look to the viewer. The document is essentially divided into two sections, left and right, one side describing the video segment and the other describing the audio. A sample as follows:
VIDEO (pg 1). "Open sequence on N street" (home of the Kennedys during this period was 3307 N in Georgetown, DC)
AUDIO (pg 1). Music: "something that establishes homey, friendly mood".
VIDEO (pg 1): "camera pans with women as they walk up to door, opened by Mrs. Kennedy". [The conversation is mostly directed towards Jackie and the campaign.]
AUDIO (pg 2): "guests relate own experiences as wives of political figures, then ask Mrs. K if it isn't a worry to see her husband go 17 or 18 hours, 1700 miles a day".
AUDIO (pg 2): "Other possible questions: how do the Kennedys keep in touch during campaign (any interesting or unusual notes or phone messages)?". Other questions put to Jackie: --what does Senator Kennedy do on his day off? --does he have a favorite meal? --how does Mrs K spend most of her time? --how does Caroline adjust to the activity around her? --has Mrs. K had time to fix up nursery, gather baby clothes? --where does she do her shopping? Then there is this nugget (on page 4) about a possible response for Mrs. Kennedy on her impending childbirth: "Much of what we used for Caroline will serve for the new baby, too. Any new things I buy, I choose in neutral shades, being completely impartial as to whether it's a boy or a girl".
VIDEO (pg 5): "suggested to close program: if there is a family picture, or a picture of Senator Kennedy in the room, someone might draw attention to what a good picture it is. Mrs. K could either bring it in closer or rise and walk over to it. Women would then continue in conversation, silent footage, while the announcer concludes the show, voice over."
VIDEO (pg 6): "Drop super, camera cuts to picture of Sen. Kennedy, if possible within the Kennedy household". VIDEO (pg 6.) "Super: Vote Kennedy-Johnson the Democratic Ticket. Ending."
Kennedy TV SHow, pg 2
Kennedy TV SHow page 3
Kennedy TV SHow 4
Kennedy TV SHow 5