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The Death of RFK

Kennedy, Robert F.
Ambassador Hotel
3400 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, California

On June 5, 1968 at 12.15 A.M., Senator Robert F. Kennedy was making his way from the ballroom at the Ambassador Hotel to give a press conference after winning the California Primary. The prearranged route went through a food service pantry. While walking through this area, a Palestinian Arab, Sirhan Sirhan, stepped forward and fired a .22 revolver at the senator. Although Sirhan was quickly subdued, Kennedy and five others were shot, although only Kennedy was fatally wounded. Sirhan as arrested at the scene, charged and convicted of first degree murder. He was to have been executed, but the U.S. Supreme Court voided the constitutionality of the death sentence before the sentence could be carried out. Sirhan has been incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison, California, ever since. The Ambassador Hotel itself still stands, but it has been closed since 1988 and there are no immediate plans to re-open it. The ballroom looks much the same as it did the night Kennedy was here, and there is an "X" carved into an old tile in the pantry floor where Kennedy lay slumped after being shot.

A few other historic moments at this hotel…

  • Shirley Temple and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson used to rehearse their dance numbers in one of the ballrooms.
  • The Oscar statuette was introduced inside the Coconut Grove, during the 1930 Academy Awards.
  • Buster Crabbe used the hotel’s Olympic-sized Lido Pool to practice for the Olympics.
  • F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald snuck out of the Ambassador in the middle of the night after setting fire to their bungalow and skipping out on the bill.
  • Physicist Albert Einstein called the front desk once to complain about a honeymoon argument between boxer Jack Dempsey and his wife.
  • Russian Premier Nikita Krushev threw a famous fit after hearing that, for security reasons, he could not go to Disneyland. (To appease the Communist leader, Walt Disney sent Mickey Mouse over to cheer him up.)
  • In the 1940s, Marilyn Monroe got her start here with the Emmalean Snively’s Blue Book Models.
  • Richard Nixon composed and delivered his famous "Checkers" speech from inside the hotel.

© 2003 Chris Epting



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