DEBORAH LEFF: First of all, it's fabulous. Happy Fathers' Day to everyone. We can't think of a better way to celebrate than to have Red Fay with us. [Applause]
Just a few quick introductions. I'm Deborah Leff. I'm Director of the Kennedy Library and Museum. And on behalf of myself and John Shattuck and Tom McNaught of the Kennedy Library Foundation, it's terrific to have Paul Fay, a long-time and intimate friend of John F. Kennedy here. I want to thank the sponsors of this Forum: Boston Financial, Boston Capital and the Lowell Institute, along with our media sponsors, WBUR, the Boston Globe and Boston.com.
I know some of you are here today because you love hearing history from the first person, especially from a great storyteller. And I know some of you are here today because you’ve just visited our very special exhibit in the Museum downstairs, celebrating the 50th wedding anniversary of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier. And if you haven't seen it yet, I encourage you to do so.
Today, we have with us an usher from that wedding. But Red Fay is so much more. He first met President Kennedy a mere 62 years ago when they served together in the South Pacific in World War II. A few years later, he took a leave from his father's business to help John F. Kennedy in his first campaign for Congress. He served as Undersecretary of the Navy, a position to which he was appointed by President Kennedy, from 1961 to 1965. And throughout it all, they maintained a close and dear friendship. Red took some fabulous home movies, which he'll share with us today. And he also documented that friendship in his marvelous book, The Pleasure of His Company, which you can get in our bookstore, and maybe Red will even sign it.
Guiding us through this very personal journey in history is Tom McNaught, Deputy Director of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, our stealth person who makes this whole institution run and run better. And, personally, I'm kind of curious if Tom, in that long-time JFK tradition, will ask Red to lead us in a rousing rendition of "Hooray for Hollywood." [Laughter] But more on that later. Tom, I turn it over to you. [Applause]
TOM McNAUGHT: Thank you, Deborah. Deborah, as the Director of the Kennedy Library, has turned this place upside down and has helped us. She has a passion for history. And when we told her about the opportunity of having Red Fay, she was our biggest supporter on this.
I've got to tell you, there are a couple of people we do need to introduce that are part of this story. Those of you who have not read the book -- and I do encourage you to get it, and it's out in our bookstore -- he truly is a friend of JFK. When President Clinton was in office, there were many FOBs. And you keep hearing FOB, FOB: they were Friends of Bill. This truly is a FOJFK.
Also in the audience is Red Fay's wife, Anita, the bride. [Applause] Stand up, bride, stand up! JFK actually met her before Red Fay met her, and we'll get to that a little bit later. [Laughter] His daughter, Kathy. [Applause] And his other daughter, Sally Fay Cottingham. [Applause] Their son, Paul, could not be with us today, but there are several grandchildren and nieces and nephews. I do want to point out that Sally is my coconspirator on this. It being Fathers' Day, Sally approached us and said, "What better way to pay tribute to this man than on Fathers' Day?" And you can't have a better daughter than that, who orchestrated this for us.
I'm not going to be talking much. I'm going to be asking the questions. There are chairs over there, by the way, for people in the back of the room. If you can just help yourself to that stack, and there's some more inside that cabinet. We're going to have a conversation today. It's not really a public forum. We've had President Kennedy's Cabinet members. We've had his advisors. But we've never really had a friend of JFK's at the Kennedy Library.
In addition to reading Paul Fay's book, I did some research and went through every historian and everywhere I went, in the index, there'd be a reference to Red Fay, and I'd go look up the page number and it'd say, "Friend of JFK." And I think the most important one I found was by Ted Sorensen, former Special Counsel to President Kennedy. And in his book, Kennedy, Sorensen wrote, and I'm just going to read a short thing:
“For the most part, the Senator's social friends had little to do with the serious side of his life, and his working associates and staff were not involved in his social life. He liked the companionship of such men as Lem Billings, Chuck Spalding and Red Fay. His closest friends differed from him and from each other in background and interests, and not all of them liked each other. But they were all normal, healthy, intelligent and affable men, and they were all loyal to Jack Kennedy. He in turn was loyal to them. One expressed surprise to me after the Presidential election that, 'Jack still has time to bother with me.' But the President said later in a news conference, 'The Presidency is not a very good place to make new friends. I'm going to keep my old friends.'"
So we're very delighted to have one of those old friends. And if I could right away start with how you met JFK?
RED FAY: Well, it's very interesting. I went to Melville, Rhode Island, where the PT boats were stationed, and there were six of us. And we had about an hour-and-a-half before our program and we had to go in for dinner. And so I said, "Why don’t we go out and play touch football?" So we went out to play touch football and then this skinny young fellow comes up. He's got a sweater on, an H inside-out; you could see the H on it. And he said, "Well, can I get in the game?" And I said, "Well, you get somebody else and get in the game with us." So he got somebody else and they got in the game. And no sooner does he get in the game, he says, "Why don’t we play Razzle-Dazzle?" And I thought, this guy just got in the game and now he's trying to change the rules on the game! [Laughter]
Well, Razzle-Dazzle turns out to be an awful lot more fun if you play touch football. I'm sure most of everybody here has played touch football. In Razzle-Dazzle, when you cross the line of scrimmage, you can't cross until the receiver gets the ball, and then you can throw the ball to anybody, any time, any place on the field. It's not like the usual thing where you go out and you throw the ball and you tag them, that's it. But when you play Razzle-Dazzle, you can throw the ball and once you catch it, you can throw it to somebody else on your team and keep throwing it around. It's a much more exciting game. So Jack did a real number on that.
And then, the next day … Tom, am I ahead of you?
TOM McNAUGHT: Oh, no, you keep going.
RED FAY: The next day I was supposed to go out on Lieutenant Kennedy's boat. And he had a 77-footer. And I knew I was going out on an Elco 80-footer, and I didn’t want to go out on his boat. So I was semaphoring down to his boat to say, "I'm going to go on another boat." Well, nobody could read my semaphore, which was understandable. [Laughter] So I get out. I come back in after being out for about an hour-and-a-half on this boat, and I come back and I had orders to go to see Lieutenant Kennedy in his Quonset hut. So I go up to Lieutenant Kennedy and he said, "Fay, I want you to know that if everybody did what you did today, the Japs would be marching at Times Square at Christmastime." [Laughter]
TOM McNAUGHT: I understand he was a little more severe than that. In your book, you said you were close to … you almost had to get on your knees to beg him to give you another chance.
RED FAY: [Laughs] I don’t know. I might have exaggerated that a little bit. But I think it's probably reasonably accurate.
TOM McNAUGHT: At that time, you were 24 years old. JFK -- at the Library we kind of have this thing where we don’t call him JFK, but he was JFK back then, so we'll call him JFK for this interview -- he was 25 years old. Were you aware of the Kennedy family? Was their name known to you?
RED FAY: Yes, I did, because I come from a large Irish Catholic family. I had five sisters, and I was the only boy, spoiled rotten. My oldest sister points that out very clearly. [Laughter] So I knew about the Kennedys and what they had done, what Mr. Kennedy had done when he was in the Roosevelt Administration. He was, I believe, the head of the Securities Exchange Commission, the Maritime Commission, and then he was over as Ambassador to Great Britain.
TOM McNAUGHT: So you had figured out by this time that Lieutenant Kennedy …
RED FAY: Yeah, I had figured that he was somebody of some importance. So I didn’t treat him very roughly. I was very nice to him about the whole thing.
TOM McNAUGHT: Were you a Republican or were you a Democrat?
RED FAY: I was Republican all my life. And it was amazing enough-- in fact, we were up at Camp David, and I said to the President, I said, "Mr. President, does it bother you having me being a Republican?" And before he could answer, Jackie said, "You stay a Republican!" Because Bob McNamara was also a Republican and there were a couple others in his Administration, and she thought it was very good for the Administration.
TOM McNAUGHT: So that's where you first met, but that's not really where the friendship began, right? The friendship actually began in the South Pacific when you were both stationed with a PT patrol boat squadron.
RED FAY: Well, it was interesting, the PT-109, when it was split in two by the Japanese destroyer. We were hit by 12 Japanese torpedo planes, and they thought we were a cruiser, a carrier and a destroyer. And thank God they thought that, because when they saw three -- LCI, LCT and a PT boat -- they got down so low that when they dropped their torpedo, it skipped like a rock and went right straight through the bow of our boat. And the Jap plane banked to get out of the way, and when it banked to get out of the way, its wingtip hit the gunnel and went over like a top 100 yards or so away.
But it was after that accident when we went down to Tulagi to kind of get things put together, to get our boat repaired. And I'll never forget, there were about 40 enlisted men came up to be interviewed, the first time they'd been out on Tulagi. And so Jack Kennedy was the one who was in charge. And instead of getting them all around him, he had … I mean, instead of having them line up in a form, he had them all gather around him. And when he gathered around, he was telling them all about the things. And you could see they were all fascinated by what he had to say. And then he said, "All right now, it's time to go report to your boat, and that's the end of the discussion." And all the officers were there watching, and I said, "If you want to give me 10,000-to-one odds, Jack Kennedy will be President of the United States one day." There were no takers. [Laughter]
TOM McNAUGHT: I'm going to come back to that, because you are a little bit ahead. I want to go to PT-109. Did you know JFK at the time PT-109 was sunk?
RED FAY: I did.
TOM McNAUGHT: Other than the brief meeting?
RED FAY: I just knew him. Actually, Jack was very sincere about, after the PT-109 was split in two and we had our problem, why, he made us all think about getting involved in some way in the government, in some way or other, in order that we wouldn't have to come back out there again after World War II was completed.
TOM McNAUGHT: Where was this? When did this happen?
RED FAY: This happened in Tulagi.
TOM McNAUGHT: So describe Tulagi. What is Tulagi? Is it an island?
RED FAY: Well, islands. It's in the Solomon Islands. Tulagi, across from Guadalcanal. In fact, I'll just tell another story about Jack. Does the name Krulak, the Marine Corps, ring a bell? Anyway, Brute Krulak, his son ended up the Commandant of the Marine Corps. And Jack got the word that there were about 20 Marines over on Choiseul Island, across the Slot. The Slot was the center line down through the Solomon Islands. And he got the word that they were going to be pinned down, and the Japs were moving in on them. So Jack, knowing he'd been out on patrol almost all night long, had just really enough to get across the Slot and maybe halfway back. And he told Dick Kirksey, who was also a PT boat skipper, "You’ve got to come over, because I think I'm going to run out of gas." So Kirksey is fueling up as fast as he can. And then what happens is …
I'm glad you brought this up. This is Jim Reed's picture right here. [Applause] Now, where was I?
TOM McNAUGHT: JFK was rescuing a contingent of Marines.
RED FAY: So then Jack got in his boat and went over there to try and get the Marines off the island. And he did get the Marines off the island, but then he ran out of gas. And luckily, the Japanese were just setting up a cannon, and they were going to blow his boat apart. But Dick Kirksey got there in time to throw him a line and pull him out of range of the Japanese cannon. But I don’t think anybody ever really knew how he volunteered to go in there, risking his life, to go out there and to do what he did.
TOM McNAUGHT: How long were you at Tulagi?
RED FAY: We were there, I guess, maybe for about two months getting repaired.
TOM McNAUGHT: In your book, you say he almost had these nightly salons. You'd go into JFK's tent and you would talk about the war, about politics.
RED FAY: Absolutely. He had us all reading Saturday Evening Posts. I know you're too young, a lot of you, to even know what the Saturday Evening Post is and Liberty, and things like that. But Jack had us reading to make sure that we understood exactly what was happening to the country and how we could eventually get involved in doing something to make sure it never happened again.
TOM McNAUGHT: In a couple letters to you, he signs it, "Shafty." You all seem to have these nicknames. How did JFK get the name Shafty?
RED FAY: Well, he was thin to begin with. But he was not the only one; there was another fellow in our squadron that was also called Shafty; Shafty Mason was his name. He was in our squadron and a great guy. So Jack only used that name at only one time that I ever saw him use that name.
TOM McNAUGHT: So I still want to stay with Tulagi, because the big thing is when friends make friends something happens. And something happened between you and JFK on Tulagi. The fact that after that experience in World War II, you two remained friends up to 1963. So what went on in those salons? What else did you talk about? Did you guys talk about dying? Did you talk about going back to the States? Did you talk about girls?
What was it that bonded you?
RED FAY: Why would we talk about girls? [Laughter]
TOM McNAUGHT: You had to talk more than about politics.
RED FAY: Actually, I would say that, as I mentioned earlier, Jack had us really concerned about the fact that if we didn’t do something when we got back after the War, we'd be back out there again. Or our children would be back out there again. So from that point of view, he made an impact on every one of us, and that's when we all kind of got on the board with him. Well, when he decided he wanted to run for Congress in 1946, I shared a room with him in the Bellevue Hotel.
TOM McNAUGHT: We're going to get there, but we're not there yet. Back to Tulagi. I understand you put on variety shows?
RED FAY: That's where I sang "Hooray for Hollywood." But Barney Ross was also a star in the Princeton Triangle Show, and so Barney Ross did a lot of things. He was really great in pulling the things together.
Is that Jack Warnecke out there? No, it isn't. But anyway. Where was I?
TOM McNAUGHT: Barney Ross. And everyone should know from this picture, it's Barney Ross, JFK, Red, and Secretary Reed.
RED FAY: Secretary Reed is right back there.
TOM McNAUGHT: So you and Barney Ross put on shows.
RED FAY: We put on shows, and that's when Barney -- we named the field out there in Rendova, we named it Ross Park because of Barney Ross.
TOM McNAUGHT: Did JFK talk about running for office back during World War II in the South Pacific?
RED FAY: I think he felt his older brother, Joe, was the one that his father would lean on to get involved in politics. And so, therefore, Jack never thought about it as that way. In fact, he came out to the UN in 1945 where he met my darling wife. He was out at the Legion of Honor. And she went out there with a fellow named Jack Bates, who ended up the managing partner of Pillsbury, Madison and Sutro in San Francisco. And she got him invited out there. And then he went out and didn’t show up, and who comes over and sits down opposite her but Jack Kennedy. And that's when my dear wife met Jack Kennedy. And that was in 1945 when they formed the UN at San Francisco.
TOM McNAUGHT: Were you there in San Francisco when he was covering the United Nations?
RED FAY: No, I wasn’t. I was stationed down in Hollywood, Florida, before I went into flight training.
TOM McNAUGHT: Did you think he was going to go into journalism?
RED FAY: Yeah, he was very interested into going into journalism at that time. And that's when he was out in San Francisco, covering for one of the -- I think a Boston newspaper. He was then covering the UN formation. And it was through him that … I'll never forget. We were at the Mark Hopkins Hotel, and there was some girl who was a very attractive reporter. One of my friends at the San Francisco Golf Club came up and ran his hand through Jack Kennedy's hair. And Jack wasn’t feeling that great. I said, "Jack, don’t worry about it. I'll take care of this guy." So he goes over -- and Jack was so mad at this thing. So he goes over and this fellow sits down, Ralph Rebbly[?], and he goes to sit down. So I go over to him and I say, "Ralph, Jack Kennedy wanted to know whether your hair was real or not." So I ran my hand through his hair and got it completely pulled apart. I waited for the guy to stand up, and he didn’t move. [Laughter]
TOM McNAUGHT: Jumping back a little bit. Before JFK covered the United Nations in San Francisco, there's a bunch of photographs in our archives and in your book of you all playing football -- Secretary Reed, yourself -- at Hyannisport, 1944. Why were you all in Hyannisport in '44?
RED FAY: Well, I think after we got home from PT boats, we went down there to Hyannis, and we got playing touch football, and also got playing tennis and things like that.
And this is kind of jumping ahead, but I want to talk about something about Jack Kennedy's golf game. This Richard Reeves is a horse's rosette in my book, and that's a real compliment for him, because he keeps talking about Jack's poor health, and things like that. Well, in 1960, before the convention, I was a six handicap, and thanks to Roger Lapham, whose father was the Mayor of San Francisco, we went down and played Cypress Point three days in a row. I gave him five a side the first day and lost. I gave him three a side the second day and lost. I gave him one a side the last day. We got to the 15th hole, which is about a 150-yard hole, and he hit the pin with his tee shot, and he was scared stiff it would go in the hole, because -- our caddy was named Handsome Hank -- he said to me, "Red, would I have to pay Handsome Hank to keep him quiet so he wouldn’t think another golfer's trying to get in the White House?" Eisenhower played 800 rounds of golf when he was President, the eight years he was there. So I said, "$100 is the minimum." [Laughter] In 1960, that was a lot of money. But to think he birdied the 15th hole. He parred the 16th, which is one of the toughest three-pars in the country. He bogeyed 17th and parred 18 and beat me again.
TOM McNAUGHT: Do you still play golf?
RED FAY: I play at it. [Laughter]
TOM McNAUGHT: We have a lot of footage of you playing golf. So we'll catch up there. '46, JFK declares for Congress. When did he give you an idea that he was thinking of going into politics?
RED FAY: I know that when his brother was killed, when Joe was killed, and Jack had said, "I can feel that Pappy's eyes are on me now, and I'm going to have to be the one that's going to have to carry the ball." And that's when he got the word that he should probably run for Congress, get in the political wheel. And that's when he made the decision to run for Congress.
TOM McNAUGHT: Do you think he really wanted to or do you think he was doing it because his father expected him?
RED FAY: I think when he first started, I think he wasn’t that sold on it. But then once he got involved in it, he really loved it. He loved the going around to the different schools and different places and talking to the students. These are colleges that he was going to, and going to these different meetings. He really enjoyed and appreciated the whole regime.
TOM McNAUGHT: Well, Dave Powers describes him as being pretty shy except when he was around you and some of his other friends, and then he would be outgoing and relaxed and affable. But that in public situations, initially, he was very shy and he didn’t like crowds and he didn’t like campaigning.
RED FAY: In the time that I spent with him, I don’t remember him being shy. I can remember him, when he went to speak at different gatherings, he had … I remember he spoke at a Saint Patrick's Day meeting, and he had [inaudible] speech, which he gave me the copy of the speech, and he had it memorized almost totally, to do the whole thing. And he had to go another time. So then he sent me a letter saying, "Send me that speech." [Laughter] So I finally got him the speech.
TOM McNAUGHT: You came out to help him, and you came out and spent two months, stayed at the Bellevue Hotel in Boston and helped him run for office.
RED FAY: Right.
TOM McNAUGHT: So tell us about the first Kennedy campaign.
RED FAY: It's like every campaign that you get involved in. He got out. You had to go to the different meetings. He marched down one of the main streets in Boston. I think Jim Reed might have been with him at the time and Ed McDonald. Does that name ring a bell?
TOM McNAUGHT: Just from your book.
RED FAY: Ed McDonald, he lives in Hyannis, in that area of Hyannis and he was also, I think, a Lieutenant Governor at one time. And he also got involved with Jack. He did everything that you would want someone to do as far as if you want to be elected to something.
TOM McNAUGHT: You spent two months. I understand you kind of got in trouble with your father back in San Francisco for abandoning the company.
RED FAY: We had a heavy construction company, and I had a responsibility for running a good part of that company. My father got very upset because I was spending more time helping John Kennedy than I was running the family business.
TOM McNAUGHT: That's a big deal for any best friend, to give up two months of your life to come out and help a friend run for office. Did he have that kind of friendship with all his friends, that you guys all dropped what you were doing?
RED FAY: Well, I can tell you, everybody that knew Jack Kennedy, I was a very lucky guy to be a friend, believe me. He was unbelievable.
TOM McNAUGHT: That kind of leads into he's elected. We might go back, but we have so much footage. I want to read a letter that you received from Jack Kennedy in July of 1953. It's the only thing I'm going to read from your book. It's a letter, and this is a direct quote:
"I gave everything a good deal of thought, so I'm getting married this fall. This means the end of a promising political career as it has been based up to now almost completely on the old sex appeal. I hope you and the bride will be able to come -- the date is September 12th -- as I need you to come down the aisle with me. Your special project is the bride's mother -- one fine girl -- but who has a tendency to think I'm not good enough for her daughter.
As I am both too young and too old for all of this -- will need several long talks on how to conduct yourself during the first six months -- based on your actual real life experience.
Let me know the general reaction to this in the Bay Area. Your buddy, Jack."
Everybody in the audience, we're very fortunate that in addition to being JFK's dear friend, Red and his wife, Anita, always carried -- or happened to carry a camera with them quite often, and we're going to show you the first of several clips of these home movies that were taken by Red and Anita Fay.
This first one, I'll set the stage, I believe this is Hyannisport right before the wedding. But you can correct me. You can see it on the monitor, but the audience can see it up there.
RED FAY: This is their honeymoon.
TOM McNAUGHT: Okay, I got it out of order. But we'll still watch this.
RED FAY: This is down at Monterrey, when I come up and Jack hits me with his elbow, not meaning to do it. But there it is.
TOM McNAUGHT: Still Monterrey?
RED FAY: Yeah, that's Monterrey. Look at that golf swing. [FOOTAGE]
RED FAY: This is at the Cypress Point Club, and I love this exchange here. That's my dear wife. [Laughter] This is at Hyannis.
TOM McNAUGHT: Now, is this before the wedding?
RED FAY: I think it is. There's Bobby. There's Dave, the driver. Ethel, Pat. There's Teddy, Pat Lawford, my wife, Jean Kennedy Smith, Teddy, Bobby, Ethel.
This is where we're going around the Cape.
TOM McNAUGHT: Carol, why don’t we keep going with the next clip, too, since I got these out of order. Okay, this is your touch football. Is this the game you were telling us about, the Razzle-Dazzle?
RED FAY: No. At the PT boat was the Razzle-Dazzle.
TOM McNAUGHT: Who are all these guys? Is this pre-wedding?
RED FAY: Jim Reed is there. You'll see him right there. There're the girls: Ethel, Pat, Eunice. There's Jack.
Tennis was really not his sport. [Laughter]
TOM McNAUGHT: Who are all these guys?
RED FAY: Jim Reed is in one of those pictures there.
TOM McNAUGHT: Is this the wedding party?
RED FAY: There's Jim Reed right there. [Laughter] I dropped it. He threw a perfect pass. There's Ben Smith, a former … There's Jim Reed again. Great athlete. There's Sarge Shriver. And Ben Smith, you can see back there. And Teddy. There's Teddy again. Jim Reed right there. There's my dear wife, and there's Ethel. This is at Bailey's Beach in Newport. After the wedding.
TOM McNAUGHT: Okay, we have a lot more. We're going to stop there. For the audience who don’t know Jim Reed -- and it says a lot about President Kennedy. There's something that happened to you guys in World War II, because you bonded as friends.
Jim Reed went on to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, I believe …
RED FAY: Absolutely.
TOM McNAUGHT: … under President Kennedy. You were in his wedding party as well. You were in these home movies. You served as Undersecretary of the Navy. It seems like President Kennedy bonded with you guys back then and developed a friendship and relied on that friendship, even through his Presidency.
RED FAY: I want to tell you an interesting story about when I had my birthday aboard the Sequoia. And I was sitting at the head of the table and sitting on my right was Ginny Tidings[?], and sitting on her right was the President of the United States. I loved Jack. He got up to toast me and he said, "I never realized 20 years ago that Red Fay one day would be Undersecretary of the Navy, and I'd be privileged to sit to his right." [Laughter] TOM McNAUGHT: Tell us a little bit more about meeting Mrs. Kennedy for the first time.
RED FAY: Number one, she had a certain charm about her. She was really, I think, of all the women that Jack took out, she was far and away the most attractive that he had ever taken out. There was no question about it that he fell in love with her. It was the real thing as far as he was concerned. She was very, very special to him.
TOM McNAUGHT: Why did you go out so early? It sounded like the biggest, longest pre-wedding/post-wedding party I've ever read about. Weren't you there three weeks before the wedding and a couple weeks after it?
RED FAY: I don't remember exactly how long it was.
TOM McNAUGHT: Well, you say in your book that there was a huge party at the Parker House in Boston …
RED FAY: Oh, yeah, that's right.
TOM McNAUGHT: … ten days before. So let's say September 12th for a bachelor dinner of 350.
RED FAY: That's right. But the bachelor dinner that was the greatest of all was at the Clambake Club in Newport, Rhode Island. And we were up there, and I was sitting next to Jack, and Jack said, "Now, Red, you know what the thing is, you’ve got five sisters. What is the drill at the bachelor dinner?" I said, "The first thing is, you have a drink out of your … the first toast is to your bride-to-be." And Hugh D. Auchincloss was funding the whole dinner, and he had these beautiful crystal wine glasses. So Jack, he said, "Gentlemen, we're going to have a toast to my bride-to-be. Drain the thing out and then in the fireplace!" And so with that, all the other 16 or 18 of us at that party, every one of those glasses, those crystal glasses, go in the fireplace.
Then Jack says, "I'm so moved." They put all the glasses back on again, and he said, "I'm so moved. To my darling wife again, darling wife-to-be again." And so he drinks, he said, "Drain it all. In the fireplace!" And then after that, what we got was not crystal glasses, we got goblets, the things you'd see at the cheapest restaurant. [laughter]
TOM McNAUGHT: Did you bring any of your kids to the wedding? Were any of your children there?
RED FAY: No, we didn’t.
TOM McNAUGHT: Kathy, were you born yet?
RED FAY: No. But Sally was Jack's godchild. And I'll never forget when he was running for Senator, he came out to our house in Clay Street, and I said, "Well, now, your godchild is upstairs." And he didn’t know how to handle a little thing. Sally comes down -- she's just learning how to walk and everything -- and she comes down and I said, "Jack, just throw your arms around her." He didn’t know what to do. So he just kind of gave her a kiss on the cheek and that was it.
TOM McNAUGHT: Back to the wedding. Do you remember what you gave as a wedding gift, either of you?
RED FAY: I know it was very expensive. [Laughter] I really can't remember what it was.
TOM McNAUGHT: No problem. Why don’t we show the footage. And before we even show this footage, I want everyone to know that Red Fay is an extremely good friend of the Kennedy Library. This footage, as you see if you go through our Museum, not only will you see it in the wedding exhibit, but you also see it in the family exhibit. It's owned by Red Fay, but any time any news organization wants to do it, they have to pay a very, very big fee, and that fee is turned over to the Kennedy Library Foundation by Mr. Fay. He's one of our longest supporters, and this footage, thank God both for history's sake and for the Kennedy Library Foundation's coffers, that he and Anita took all these movies. So we're going to show the wedding footage. Now, some of this you may see downstairs, but you haven't seen all of this. And we're going to show that now. [Wedding footage shown]
TOM McNAUGHT: You guys were always playing football. This is the morning of, I believe.
RED FAY: Yeah, it might have been the day before at Bailey's Beach in Newport. We were playing Razzle-Dazzle, as you can see. We're throwing the ball all over.
I forget whose house I was staying at, some Ambassador's house in Newport. That's my dear wife. This is a view of the Newport landscape. It's just fantastic. I can't believe that these are the only colored movies of this wedding with all the photographers that were there. They were taking pictures. There's Mr. Kennedy.
Oh, look at all the photographers there taking pictures of the wedding couple. There's Bobby and Jean. There's Whitehouse, Sylvia Whitehouse. There's Jackie's mother. There's the fellow who paid for the bachelor dinner. [Laughter] There, I got cut into the picture. Eunice, Pat, Teddy. Ethel and Jean come running by very shortly. Bobby. There they are. There's the former Senator. There are the bride and groom. Lem Billings cut in on Jack. Teddy. Jack dancing with his mother-in-law. There's my dear wife. There's Eunice. There's Joe dancing with Jackie. I want you to notice when Joe is dancing with his wife, how well they dance together.
There's Jackie's sister. There's Jim Reed. There's Ted Nash and his wife, Ruth. There's one of the great PT heroes, right there. I forget his name. There's the Mayor, Senator Green. There's Jack, Bobby. You can see the hair was red then. [Laughter]
Bobby toasting the bride and groom. I was taking the picture. That was Lenny Thom's widow. He was killed. He got through the PT-109 and got into an automobile accident after he came back.
TOM McNAUGHT: You're right, everyone wonders how come that's the only color footage of the wedding. Especially with Joseph P. Kennedy, Ambassador Kennedy was involved with film-making. That's it. It's great, thank God you guys were really good at what you did.
RED FAY: It's amazing. Mr. Kennedy got into the filming business, and the Jewish people who were down in Florida -- I mean, down in Hollywood -- were very concerned that he was going to come in and maybe take part of their business away from them, because he was expanding his filming company so broadly and so fast. And so they finally … I had a television show in 1951, in San Francisco, and I looked at some of Joe Kennedy's films and I never used them. They were that bad. But anyway, he ended up selling that thing and Jack said he got about 20 times its value, because they were so scared that he was going to come in and take it away.
TOM McNAUGHT: Interesting. Still, how come no one else brought a camera? The word was, and this could be urban myth, that the Ambassador had said no cameras. Is that true?
RED FAY: Not true.
TOM McNAUGHT: We had thought you had snuck it in. We were wondering about that.
1955, you say in your book, you'd gotten a call from the family saying that JFK was pretty down, pretty depressed. His health was so bad, his back was so bad, that they asked you to stop by. Remember this? This is when your father took ill. Could you just briefly talk about that?
RED FAY: My father's nickname was the Battler. And he was a fabulous human being. So he was not well, and so Jack asked me -- Mr. Kennedy actually asked me to come down, because he felt that Jack was very down in the dumps and he was not feeling well, and he was very concerned about his health. And in fact, I got some letters that Mr. Kennedy wrote me about Jack's health, being very concerned about it. And so I went down there. Jack would give himself a shot in the leg and I was in my tennis shorts and I said, "You know, it doesn't look like it really hurts you at all," and so he jabs it in my leg.
[Laughter] And I screamed.
He got back and was back in great shape. We would go out and watch the Ambassador and Commissioner Timulty play. I loved it. The Palm Beach Country Club, there's a totally Jewish country club. And it was maybe a long drive from Mr. Kennedy's house to their club. So he asked if he could get in the club, and they accepted him in the club. And I love the fact that when Jack and I would follow him around on a cart, somebody would yell from another fairway, "Mr. Ambassador, great to have you out here!" And he'd wave back and say, "Oh, nice to be out here, nice to include me." And he'd turn to Jack and me and say, "I haven't the vaguest idea who that fellow is." [Laughter] But he enjoyed it, and it was very close to him, and they really accepted him with a warm heart. He felt very much at home.
TOM McNAUGHT: Back to JFK's health. You probably knew him as well as any of his friends did. How much in pain was he?
RED FAY: Well, if there was pain, I wasn’t really conscious of the pain that he had. He would talk about it, saying that, "This isn't this bad." He never really complained about his health in the sense that he wanted to have anybody feel sorry for him.
TOM McNAUGHT: Campaigning for the Presidency, seems like you left your construction business again to go help. Did he ask you to come help? Or is this one of those friends' things where just because your friend's in need, you drop everything?
RED FAY: No, I knew that he wanted some help in West Virginia. In fact, we went to Missouri first. Michigan first. And then we were up there, and I'll never forget there was one of my friends. He gave me five dollars to give to Jack. And so we were in some restaurant having lunch and Jack said, "Now tell the little fellow that I really appreciate the five dollars. He bought me my lunch." Five dollars then, in 1960, was a pretty good piece of change.
TOM McNAUGHT: What'd you do? How'd you help?
RED FAY: When I went down, I was in charge of a section of West Virginia. I had the responsibility of organizing that whole area. Amazingly enough, I never saw Jack through the whole campaign, because I would set up the meetings ahead of time and then he would come in and speak, and I'd already had set the meetings up
TOM McNAUGHT: So you were an advance man for him.
RED FAY: Advance man, absolutely.
TOM McNAUGHT: And did the fact that you were a Republican interfere at all with your …
RED FAY: It never even became an issue.
TOM McNAUGHT: And did you actually think he had a chance?
RED FAY: I thought if he could win West Virginia, where they were supposedly antiCatholic, I thought that he would have an absolute, outstanding chance. In fact, what was it, who was the fellow who ran against him? I'm trying to think of his name.
TOM McNAUGHT: Humphrey?
RED FAY: Hubert Humphrey, that's right. And Hubert Humphrey, he lost to Jack in Michigan and I came down on the plane with him and Hubert Humphrey, and he said, "You might have won in Michigan, but you're not going to win in West Virginia." And he was so adamant about that. And of course, Jack won in West Virginia. And that was a turning point of his campaign.
I'll never forget I was in a mine. I had to go in this coal mine on my belly on this thing that brought me in there. And the fellow that owned the mine said to the workers, "I want you to meet Fay. He works for Senator Kennedy." He said something about being a Catholic. And I loved that one of the miners said, "Listen, if he can get the Pope over here and we can get a better job and more pay, bring him over!" [Laughter]
TOM McNAUGHT: You tell one wonderful story of the President and Mrs. Kennedy, or rather Senator Kennedy and Mrs. Kennedy in Wisconsin, campaigning. And they were supposed to be at a Polish hall outside of Milwaukee and they ran late. You were there, the PT crew were there. And they ran late, and they ran late, and they ran late. And they were about an hour-and-a-half, two hours late. And you describe how Mrs. Kennedy came in and defused the entire audience.
RED FAY: She absolutely spellbound them, because she had -- I forget the language that was natural to that group.
TOM McNAUGHT: Polish.
RED FAY: Polish people. And my God, she said something in Polish to them, and everybody else just flipped over it.
TOM McNAUGHT: How long did you work on the campaign?
RED FAY: I think I was down there for three months.
TOM McNAUGHT: And then you got summoned home again by your … oh, no, we'll get to that later. So you worked on it three months and then went back to San Francisco.
RED FAY: Right.
TOM McNAUGHT: And the convention was in LA. So were you part of the convention crowd?
RED FAY: I went down to the convention.
TOM McNAUGHT: Did you work it or did you just get to watch?
RED FAY: No, I worked it. I covered the San Francisco area during the campaign. And John Harley, a former skipper of the PT boats, was down there with us. And I made him the head of the campaign in the Bay Area. And then I worked eight hours a day on the campaign and eight hours a day in the business.
TOM McNAUGHT: Then the convention comes. It's August of '60.
RED FAY: It's August, right. And I can remember going down there. We went to some restaurant, and Jack was there. And I was with a fellow named John Galvin, and we went down and Jack said, "Come on over here, Red. You can bring Dirty John with you." And that was a nickname he didn’t deserve, he was a great guy. He went through flight training with me, and he was always showering up all the time. Anyway, Jack brought us over, and here we were in the front lines at the campaign. It really meant something to us.
TOM McNAUGHT: He gets the nomination in 1960. Did you campaign for him after, between August and November?
RED FAY: Absolutely.
TOM McNAUGHT: And where did you do that campaigning? California?
RED FAY: In the California area. And we didn’t do very well.
TOM McNAUGHT: So Nixon carried California?
RED FAY: I think he did.
TOM McNAUGHT: So he's elected. I'm unclear now on the book, but I believe you were in Switzerland with your family?
RED FAY: Right.
TOM McNAUGHT: After JFK had been elected. He's President-elect, and your whole family's in Switzerland. And you get a call.
RED FAY: I get a wire from Bobby Kennedy, and I get a call from Bobby Kennedy saying, "Jack wants you to be the Undersecretary of the Navy." And so, I come flying back in because I thought it was going to be a wonderful position, and I wanted to be part of his Administration. And then I come back and go down to Texas to see John Connolly -- I see McNamara first and I knew from McNamara that he didn’t want any part of it – and John Connolly said, the last thing he said after a great meeting, "Don’t sell your business." [Laughter]
So I knew that things were not going to be in good shape. Then I got a call from Jack. I was in the men's club at the PU Club, in San Francisco, and somebody comes up and said, "Jack Kennedy wants to speak to you." Well, I had a friend named Tommy Sullivan, who would imitate Jack Kennedy's voice and so he was calling me about every other day imitating Jack Kennedy's voice. So when Jack comes on the phone, I said, "Well, Hot Louie," which is his nickname, "what do you want now?" And Jack said, "Don’t you recognize your old pal's voice?" He said, "Now, Red, I promised you I was going to give you the Undersecretary of the Navy, but I forgot that I promised Lyndon Johnson that he could have the Undersecretary of the Navy and the Secretary of the Navy." And he said, "So I can't give it to you, but I want you to come back for the Inauguration." And I said, "You don’t want a hanger-on if I'm not going to be part of the Administration, because I promised my father I wouldn’t take less than the Undersecretary." So I come back for the Inauguration, and I'm in the back of the reviewing stand when the PT-109 goes by, and a Secret Service man comes up and said, "Mr. Fay, the President wants to talk to you." So I go down to the front of the reviewing stand, and I'd seen Lyndon Johnson three nights in a row. I had the very difficult job of taking care of Angie Dickinson for three nights in a row. [Laughter] But I suffered through it; it's one of those things you have to do. So then I get down there and Lyndon says, "Hell, yes, I know Red Fay. He's an old friend of mine." Three nights in a row I'd seen him. And so Jack said, "Shake the hand of the new Undersecretary of the Navy." And Lyndon's face just fell. And that's how I got the job.
TOM McNAUGHT: Wow. Can you explain -- and Sally asked me to ask this question -- why your wife stayed in Switzerland and didn’t come home for the Inauguration?
RED FAY: Well, it was dollars completely. When I became Undersecretary of the Navy I was getting $20,000 a year, and it was costing me another $25,000 to be Undersecretary of the Navy. And I loved Jack. He would invite us over for dinner. He'd call up maybe the day before or the morning of the Friday, and he'd invite us over for dinner. And I had to ring up some Ambassador of some place and tell them we couldn’t come because the President had asked us for dinner.
And so this happened, I think, three Fridays in a row. And I loved Jack saying, "Red, it sounds like you and the bride aren't cutting socially in Washington, DC." [Laughter] And I had to cancel every one of them beforehand.
TOM McNAUGHT: Did you find your relationship changed when he was elected President? That all of a sudden the stature of the office …
RED FAY: Not at all. It really didn’t change at all. In other words, he treated me the way he always had. As I think I might have mentioned to you, about the first time we left the White House -- the President always gets in last and gets out first so he doesn't have to wait in the car, and I being polite said, "Mr. President, after you," and he gets in the car. So I get in after him, and as we're going out the West Gate all the crowd is on my side. [Laughter] They're all waving at me as I go by. And I loved Jack saying, "I hope this is an early indication of strong support for the Undersecretary of the Navy and not a waning of support for the President of the United States." [Laughter]
TOM McNAUGHT: Did you ever slip and call him Jack or did you always call him Mr. President?
RED FAY: When we were alone together, I never called him Jack. I said, "Is it all right if I call you Chief? You're the Commander and Chief." And so, when we were alone, with nobody else around, I called him Chief.
TOM McNAUGHT: Your family stayed. It seems from the excerpt I read from Ted Sorenesen when we opened up the Forum that he did keep his personal friends separate from the office. And Carol Ferguson is our technical director, who's been doing this wonderful filming. If we could show the next segment of the film, just a few more home movies of the Fay and Kennedy families. [FOOTAGE]
RED FAY: There's young John-John. This was when Jack was President. He loved to just tease young John.
TOM McNAUGHT: This was in Palm Beach?
RED FAY: Palm Beach, right. There's Caroline. Does that look like a man that's got any health problems? Perfect. There are the two brides.
TOM McNAUGHT: Is this Monterrey?
RED FAY: This is Monterrey, yeah.
TOM McNAUGHT: Carol, why don't we keep going to the next one, too? There's Sally.
RED FAY: Sally, when Jack was President, on the Honey Fitz.
TOM McNAUGHT: This is Florida?
RED FAY: Florida, yeah. He loved those cigars and he said, "I'm sure they're not from Cuba." [Laughter] Here are the gang, all in the car.
I've got to tell you about a Good Friday evening. We were down there having dinner. There were about 10 or 12 individuals for the Good Friday dinner. And Caroline and John come walking in, and we go on and they shake hands with everybody there. And I love John at the end, he said, "Goodnight, PooPoo Head," to his father. [Laughter] And Jack said, "How dare you call the President of the United States a PooPoo Head?" And young John just runs out of there.
There's the car we still have. Never will sell it. There's Oliver Washington, who was our driver, who was absolutely fantastic. This is going out, leaving the White House, heading up to Hyannis.
There's the President with one of his Naval aides. This is up in Hyannis. There's our family. Sally. This is up at Camp David when I mentioned to the President, "Does it bother you, me being a Republican." And before he could answer, Jackie said, "You stay a Republican."
TOM McNAUGHT: So this is Camp David.
RED FAY: Camp David.
TOM McNAUGHT: These are some home movies. [Applause]
TOM McNAUGHT: We have a little bit more footage at the end. We had set this Forum for an hour, but if you don’t mind can we carry it on just a little longer?
RED FAY: How does everybody else feel? [Applause] All right.
TOM McNAUGHT: So he's President of the United States. The relationship hasn’t changed too much. Did you have a sense of disbelief though, that here was this friend of yours, and all of a sudden he's President of the United States.
RED FAY: When you felt he had it to begin with, there was no reason … I mean, I'm starting back when we were in PT boats together, when he was such an outstanding figure at that time, with all of us, all the officers in our squadron. To be with him, and the fact that he projected the fact that we had to do something about it or we'd be back out here again, or our children would be back out here again. So there was no surprise to any of us that were with him out in the Solomon Islands.
TOM McNAUGHT: You don’t go into too much politics in your book, though you do address a couple areas where he did share with you his anger after the Bay of Pigs disaster.
RED FAY: The Bay of Pigs was a disaster, as far as he was concerned. I want to make sure I get it accurate now. He really was not for going into the Bay of Pigs. He thought the Cubans would rise up against Castro, and he felt that from that point of view it would be -- the Cubans themselves would overthrow Castro.
Well, it turned out it wasn't. And he felt he'd let the country down, he'd let the Democratic Party down. And he said, "If they think they're going to get me to run again in 1964, they're out of their mind." And then if it wasn’t fair, the Missile Crisis, when he handled the Missile Crisis, when he saved this country from total war, all the heads of the military all wanted him to go in and blow up all the missiles in Cuba and that's when he said, "I'm going to have a blockade." And the blockade was the thing that saved us from going in there and blowing up all the Russians and blowing up their missiles.
And I'll never forget. Admiral Anderson was the CNO of the Navy at the time. And Jack said to him, "I want to speak to any skipper that stops a Russian ship coming in, because I want to be able to know exactly what the situation is, and I want to be able to give the skipper the right advice." And the Admiral said, "Mr. President, we have very bright people heading our ships. Don’t worry about it; they'll know what to do." And he said, "Admiral, I said I want to speak to the skipper of that ship." And as a result of that, history, if you take a look at it … we had some missiles in Turkey, and Bobby Kennedy was the one that said to Jack, "You know, Jack, we can get off this hook if we just take the missiles out of Turkey, and then that's going to go to Khrushchev, that he can fill it out."
And so I think that’s what saved us from total war. I think I also mentioned to you earlier, Tom, about the Vietnam situation. I was up with the President off of Newport when he was up at Hammersmith Farm, and he got a call -- it came from Vietnam -- to the Pentagon and then to the radio shack aboard the yacht. And he said, "Red, come up here, I want you to hear this." So I went up there and he said, "We've got 20 advisors out there who want to attack the Vietcong. They think they can kill at least over 100 or 150 Vietcong." And the President said, "For every one of those advisors that gets involved in it, I'm going to pull them out and an equal number to that." He said, "We're going to settle this thing diplomatically."
Now, people don’t remember the Bay of Tonkin. I remember the Bay of Tonkin because I was Undersecretary of the Navy at the time. And this was supposedly when we had been attacked by submarines and all sorts of things from North Vietnam. And there was not one of my aides, Naval aides, out there at the time, and he said there was never an attack by any submarine, never an attack by a PT boat, never anything that ever happened. And as a result of that, Lyndon Johnson, after Jack was killed, Lyndon was, as you know, became President, and he sent us into Vietnam, to go in there, and we lost 58,000 Americans.
TOM McNAUGHT: You stayed Undersecretary of Navy after JFK died until '65. Did Johnson ask for your resignation? Did he want his own people in there?
RED FAY: He asked for everybody's resignation. But you had to fill it out on a piece of paper that you knew that you were going to be out of the picture if he wanted you out. But I'll never forget, when Fred Korth was the Secretary of the Navy, after John Connolly went back to Texas to run for Governor, and Fred Korth was Secretary of the Navy and they had John Glenn over for an evening, I'm the last person to leave Fred Korth's office, the Secretary of the Navy, and I'm in there with Lyndon Johnson, the Vice President. And he said, "Red, when you give an order, it's carried out. When I give an order, it falls off the table." [Laughter] And of course, after he became President, I was treated like -- I don’t want to use the term. [Laughter]
TOM McNAUGHT: The first day of JFK's office in Presidency, he called you and wanted you to join him for Mass.
RED FAY: It's interesting. The first day when he was President, we were in the White
House, and we were moving things out from the upstairs, the top floor of the White House and taking them over to the Oval Office. And I thought to myself, Here we are, the three of us -- Teddy, Jack and myself -- we're over there and I said to him, "Any minute somebody's going to walk in here and say, 'You three kids, get out of here!'" It was hard to believe that we were-- nobody there to bother us whatsoever.
TOM McNAUGHT: He would call you to go to movies.
RED FAY: Yeah, but we also went to Mass. And that was on the Sunday after his
Inauguration. And he never carried any money. So I opened my wallet. He said, "Redhead, you're going to have to give me some money. And I want them to know they have a generous President." [Laughter] So he reaches into my wallet and takes out a 20.
And he said, "I want them to know they have a very generous President." [Laughter]
I think I mentioned about the PT-109. Or did I? The fact that they sent him the script.
TOM McNAUGHT: You told me upstairs.
RED FAY: And he sent the script over to me to look at it and I said, "Mr. President, you can't let them do this to you. This thing, it looks like you're out there for a good time when you were a serious Naval officer out there." And he said, "All right, Redhead, you're in charge. They've got to clear everything through you." So the PT-109, I got Barney Ross right here. He was out on the night with Jack Kennedy when he went on the PT-109. Because Barney was in the Princeton Triangle show, so I got him in the movie.
And he worked as a chief. And I have great pictures of Jack, which he signed, saying, "You mean to tell me I've got to tell Red Fay he's got to go to New Guinea?" [Laughter] After we left the Solomon Islands, we went over to New Guinea and finished off the Japanese.
TOM McNAUGHT: You mentioned JFK was a history nut, absolutely fascinated with history.
RED FAY: Absolutely. He read everything you could possibly imagine that had anything to do with current history. That's the reason why I think he was such an outstanding President.
TOM McNAUGHT: You mentioned the trip you took to Gettysburg.
RED FAY: We went to Gettysburg and he said, "I want you all to read up before you go to Gettysburg." So all of us went over there, all the children went over there. And we got over there to Gettysburg and we had a pretty good idea of what happened, and that's when I lost Robert E. Lee. He had the Confederate troops going up that hill, and they had never … They were supposed to have another group come around, another general come around behind the US forces, and the slaughter that went on, going up that hill in Gettysburg. And I thought, how could he have ever sent them up there?
TOM McNAUGHT: It is said that JFK's knowledge of history helped him during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Guns of August, I think, was a book that was out at the time that showed how misunderstanding had led to World War I. And his passion for history was where his heart was, that had he not gone into the Presidency or into public office, he would have either taught history or been a newspaperman.
RED FAY: Well, he would have maybe been a newspaperman because he came out, as I mentioned earlier, for the formation of the UN in San Francisco, and he was very much involved at that time. That's before Joe was killed.
TOM McNAUGHT: In the opening of your book, you borrow a line from Ben Bradlee's book, who wrote, "You could see a laugh coming in his eyes before you could hear it from his lips." Speaking of JFK.
RED FAY: Well, Ben Bradlee's book …
TOM McNAUGHT: Well, let's not go into Ben Bradlee's book, but it's a good quote, and it's a good quote in the sense that it talks about JFK's wit and humor.
RED FAY: He had it all.
TOM McNAUGHT: Talk about his humor. Talk about, if you would, just the man. Did he ever lose his temper with you? Was he doing practical jokes with his friends? I mean, we see the President. We see the public image, the papers here at the Library, the film footage downstairs of his press conferences. But we don’t see what Red Fay saw. We don’t see the man relaxing, or the man comfortable and putting his guard down.
RED FAY: I can tell you, Arthur Schlesinger isn't going to want to hear this but at the time of the Missile Crisis, Arthur Schlesinger was evidently taking a lot of credit for the decisions that had been made on the blockade. And I loved Jack telling me, "I'll tell you, Schlesinger can be in charge of the furniture going into the upper stairs of the White House." [Laughter] I don’t want that to go any farther than this, right here. [Laughter]
TOM McNAUGHT: We'll edit it. You describe an exchange between you and the President where -- it was actually around the Bay of Pigs -- where he said, "I don’t want this job anymore." And then he calmed down and he said, "Maybe eight years, eight years would be a good run." And you said, "Assuming you are elected again and serve eight years, what will you do?"
RED FAY: After the Missile Crisis, when he was able to solve that problem, then he was talking about, "I have a pretty good chance I'm going to run against Goldwater in '64.
And I don’t think I'll have to leave the Oval Office to do that." [Laughter] It wasn’t a great compliment. And then he said, "But after I finish that tour of eight years, why then Bobby will probably be the next President of the United States." And he said, "I could probably be a pretty good Secretary of State for him." [Laughter] So he was thinking of that. Who were the people from the Boston area? There was a president …
TOM McNAUGHT: John Quincy Adams.
RED FAY: John Quincy Adams. He said, "Well, John Quincy Adams ran after he was President. He ran for the Senate. So why shouldn't I run for the Senate again?" That's kind of what he had in mind. Too bad he never lived to do it.
TOM McNAUGHT: What was it about "Hooray for Hollywood" that broke up the President so much?
RED FAY: I don’t know why. Should we kill it off with a "Hooray for Hollywood" here? [Applause]
TOM McNAUGHT: Well, let me set the scene, if I could. No matter if you read through the book or if you hear any story at all, you read any book at Red Fay's friendship with President Kennedy, they would describe how Red Fay would sing "Hooray for Hollywood" at every social event.
The funniest one, there was one in Palm Beach in front of a very Yankee patrician crowd, where the President kept egging you on to sing "Hooray for Hollywood" and you actually did, much to your embarrassment and much to his delight. And then on his last birthday, May 29, 1963, on the Sequoia, there was a big birthday party, and once again you regaled the President. And I understand it was so bad, he loved it so much, that he would bend over in pain from laughter.
I'm just wondering if you would be willing to share with the audience what so pleased President Kennedy.
RED FAY: [Sings "Hooray for Hollywood"] [Applause]
TOM McNAUGHT: We have one more thing, and we'll have another standing ovation. We always forget thank-yous. I want to thank Allan Goodrich, our Chief Archivist, who's here tonight, and also head of the audio-visual department and his staff, Jim Cedroni in particular, who put together this final segment of film that Carol Ferguson is going to show you. And I also want to thank Sandy Sedaca and Sarah Donovan for their help in arranging this Forum.
But here's our little tribute to Red Fay that was put together by our audio-visual department. It is from his own footage where the big question was, What were you on?
RED FAY: There's the Kennedy house down in Palm Beach.
TOM McNAUGHT: Did you ever show these to the President?
RED FAY: No! Tom, thank you very much.