Ted Sorenson was John F. Kennedy's speechwriter and chief legislative aide.
We spoke to Sorenson in October 2010, the month he died. It was the 50th anniversary of the JFK-Nixon debates, famous in media lore as the moment that being telegenic became important in American politics. Kennedy, the legend goes, looked like a movie star, while Nixon looked nervous, sweaty, and untrustworthy.
Anyway. Sorenson gave us this tiny image of Kennedy after the debates that I've always liked and which we had to cut from the interview for time. It's small. The first debates just finished, and Sorenson and Kennedy are leaving. Here's Sorenson:
He and I were walking off that soundstage together, and passed a pay telephone. And the millionaire Senator turns to me and says, “Got any change?” So I fished a quarter out of my pocket and gave it to him, and he called his father. And I heard him say, "What’d you think Dad?"
I stepped back a few paces but I could see a smile light his face. They talked a little awhile. Finally he said, "Thanks Dad, I gotta go to Ohio." And he hung up and he turned to me and he said, “That’s the great thing about my father. If I had just fallen flat on my face out there. He would’ve said Jack, the way you picked yourself up the floor was magnificent.