Ted Kennedy and the Dead Girl Movie Opens April 6 Mar 25, 2018 9:14:23 GMT -5 jason and pat like this
Post by Graveyardbride on Mar 25, 2018 9:14:23 GMT -5
Chappaquiddick: Ted Kennedy and the Death of Mary Jo Kopechne
HAZLETON, Penn. – It’s been 49 years since Wyoming Valley (Pennsylvania) native Mary Jo Kopechne died when presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Kennedy drove his car into the water on Chappaquiddick Island, at the eastern end of Martha’s Vineyard, and now the tragedy is coming to the big screen. Chappaquiddick, a movie touted as “the untold true story” about the sensational 1969 case opens in theaters across America on Friday, April 6.
Ms. Kopechne’s surviving relatives recently attended a private screening at Movies 14 in Wilkes-Barre and say the filmmakers did a tremendous job and shows the world who Mary Jo was and where she came from. “It’s nice to see the focus now isn’t only on Ted Kennedy, but it has shifted toward Mary Jo. If you show who Mary Jo was, the tragedy becomes even more compounded. We lost a very bright star that night,” said William Nelson, 46, a cousin who was born after Kopechne died and spent his life researching the case.
Mary Jo, 28, was an up-and-coming Washington political operative who worked tirelessly on Robert F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign until his assassination in June 1968, and was being recruited to assist Ted Kennedy’s quest to become president.
In 2015, Nelson and his mother, Georgette Potoski, 75, of Plymouth, who was a first cousin and close friend of Mary Jo’s, released a book, Our Mary Jo, using sympathy cards and other photos they inherited after her parents died.
After Kennedy’s 1967 Oldsmobile (above) plunged into the water on Friday, July 18, 1969, he escaped the vehicle, left the scene and didn’t report the crash for close to 10 hours. It is believed the young woman didn’t drown immediately, but instead found an air pocket in the submerged car and suffocated to death after several hours.
Potoski is of the opinion that Jason Clarke, the actor who plays Kennedy, did a great job. “He walks a fine line of being despicable and being weak,” she said.
“It doesn’t look like it’s a character playing Ted Kennedy,” Nelson added. “It seems like you are watching Ted Kennedy.”
Kennedy, who claimed he panicked after several attempts to dive into the water to rescue Kopechne, quickly pled guilty to a minor fleeing-the-scene charge. He never became president, but remained a U.S. senator until his death at age 77 on August 25, 2009.
Mary Jo’s funeral was held at St. Vincent’s Catholic Church in Plymouth and Kennedy, wearing a neck brace, attended. She was laid to rest in the parish cemetery in Larksville.
Time hasn’t changed Potoski’s feelings about Kennedy. The movie, she admitted, caused her disgust to escalate, particularly when visualizing her cousin’s slow death as she struggled to stay alive in the submerged car. “Am I angry? It’s 50 years, but I still am.”
The granddaughter of two coal miners from Luzerne County, Kopechne helped craft and type the speech Bobby Kennedy delivered in March 1968 announcing his bid for the presidency. He was assassinated three months later, a crushing moment in the young woman’s life. The July 1969 party that brought Mary Jo to Chappaquiddick was billed as a small get-together for Bobby’s former staffers.
The opening of the book Potoski and Nelson wrote recalls a conversation Potoski and Mary Jo had on a beach in Pensacola, Florida, in which the young woman discussed her dreams for the future. The movie similarly opens with Kopechne and friends on a beach on Chappaquiddick Island talking about their hopes for the future. Nelson and Potoski sent multiple copies of the book to the movie’s writers, director and producer. They must have read carefully, because the portrayal of Kopechne and some real-life situations were spot on, they observed.
Much of the movie is based on testimony from a coroner’s inquest, which included everything that happened before and after the crash. But what led to the crash and how Kennedy reacted have always remained a mystery.
Joseph Kopechne, Mary Jo’s father, died in 2003, and her mother, Gwen, in 2007, and neither believed justice was served in their daughter’s case.
Nelson and Potoski, who have been interviewed by media from all over the world, explained the movie idea was started by a rookie writer who never heard about the “Chappaquiddick incident” or how Mary Jo Kopechne was left to die, until he stumbled upon it on the internet. “He said the whole thing kept eating at him. He said he felt obligated to write this screenplay,” Nelson asserted.
Likewise, many young relatives in the Kopechne family didn’t truly understand the case until they sat in on the private screening. “It has appalled this generation as it has appalled the generations before,” Nelson concluded.
Source: Bob Kalinowski, The Standard Speaker, March 25, 2018.