This dramatic photograph of Ethel Kennedy stirred controversy and debate over the ethics of photojournalism following its publication hours after the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy in Los Angeles, 1968. Led to where her husband lay Mrs Kennedy bent down by his side and whispered “I’m with you my baby”. She then stood, turned to the crown and shouted “give him air.”
Ethel Kennedy, shortly after Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1968. (Photo by Harry Benson)
Harry Benson has captured this moment of raw emotion and trauma perfectly. Her outreached hand is blurred and slightly obscures her face, yet her eyes engage the viewer and reveal her anguish. Just after securing this shot, Benson was knocked to the floor by a Kennedy aide. Instinctively he changed films and hid the valuable spool, which featured many of his iconic pictures of the scene, down his sock.
“Bobby Kennedy, to me, was the first celebrity political person,” Benson says. “He was like Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney. He was an event.”