Off-Ramp

Off-Ramp host John Rabe and contributors share thoughts on arts, culture, and life in L.A.

TMZ pays Rabe cool million for another JFK photo, then takes it back

By now, you’ve probably seen that TMZ, the celebrity gotcha site, got gotcha’d itself with a JFK photo that turned out to not be a JFK photo, especially since it was taken several years after Kennedy was assassinated. TMZ’s own experts failed to realize it was a photo from a Playboy shoot.


The hullabaloo about this photo (above) totally scotched my chance to make it big with my own photo of JFK. It doesn’t feature topless babes cavorting with the famed Lothario-in-Chief, but it nevertheless could have changed history, because had I interviewed JFK back in the mid-1990s, as this photo undeniably shows, I could have been the next Pierre Salinger or even Bill Moyers, with my own PBS series, and I’d have a much bigger house.

To make a long story short, TMZ made me return the $1,000,000 cashiers check it sent me for this photo, saying its lawyers had advised them that, “no matter how carefully this photo was vetted, the current air of suspicious (sic) and jealousy would make its publication untenable. However, please keep us in mind for next time.”

Needless to say, I was heartily disappointed, but the good news is the rights to the photo now revert to me, and I can share it with you.


… along with this one, taken after Charles Phoenix’s famed Holiday Slide Show at the Brown Derby, which was regularly attended by RFK, Peter Lawford, Harris Wofford, and – as clearly shown in this 1962 photo – JFK.


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