May 31, 2015
Chuck Pick has been Hollywood’s go-to parking valet for decades. Most recently his company handled the exclusive Vanity Fair Oscars party. In his time he’s interacted with not only film personalities, but also presidents, including JFK.
Pick recounts that when working an early 1960s Hollywood event at which the Kennedys and Marilyn Monroe were present, Secret Service men told him: “You have eyes but you can’t see, you have ears but you can’t hear and you have a mouth but you can’t speak. You’re going to see a lot of things, but you have to keep quiet.”
That party was held at the home of JFK’s British-born brother in law, Peter Lawford, according to James Spada’s 1991 Lawford biography, “The Man Who Kept the Secrets.”
On November 22, 1963, Pick was working as a personal assistant to Lawford, who was doing a show with Jimmy Durante at the Harrah’s resort in Lake Tahoe, Calif.
Pick and Lawford were up until dawn that night and had just got to bed when a Harrah’s representative woke them with the news that JFK had been shot in Dallas. Lawford, who was reportedly instrumental in arranging JFK’s presidential “affairs” such as his alleged liaisons with Marilyn Monroe, immediately prepared to travel home to Los Angeles on Harrah’s private plane, which had been made available to them.
As Pick told Spada, it was when they were frantically packing to leave that they heard Walter Cronkite’s tearful announcement that Kennedy was dead. Lawford collapsed on to the kitchen floor, beyond consolation, vomiting between sobs.
The assassination was the beginning of a downward spiral for Lawford, who, already estranged from JFK’s sister Pat, descended into drink, drugs and a series of brief marriages. He died at age 61 in 1984.
Pick told Spada that he later mustered up the courage to ask Lawford what “had really happened” in Dallas.
“You’ll never know the truth of what happened in Dallas,” Lawford replied. “You’ll never know the truth.” Pick pushed further to no avail. “I interpreted it as meaning that he knew what happened and few other people ever would.”
Spada also quotes Paul Wurtzel, a Lawford friend who was the assistant director on the films “Dear Phoebe” and “The Thin Man.” Wurtzel had become “a student” of the assassination, and asked Lawford to answer a single question: “Did Oswald kill Kennedy or was it higher up?”
“It was higher up,” Lawford answered.
“I let it drop,” Wurtzel told Spada, “and I never asked him what he meant. I’m sure he wouldn’t have said anything more to me. He still had kids and the family.”