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Posted By - Brian Falk
Aug 29, 2013 at 2:22pm | Filed Under “Parkland

“Infamous by Association”

One key storyline in PARKLAND examines the affect of Lee Harvey Oswald's infamous crime on his family, specifically his blue-collar brother Robert (played by James Badge Dale) and his more-than-eccentric mother, Marguerite (Jackie Weaver). Robert and Marguerite now belonged to a small group of people, famous for reasons beyond their control and judged for actions they personally did not commit. The Oswalds became infamous by association.

The black mark on an infamous family is not an easy one to erase. Several of John Wilkes Booth's siblings were arrested as possible co-conspirators and continued to receive hate mail and death threats for many years following their brother's assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Booth's sister Asia ultimately fled to England, never to return to the U.S.

In the case of the Oswalds, Marguerite spent time and considerable energy trying to clear her son's name. Robert, on the other hand, opted to avoid speaking about his brother for more than 20 years. "You can either light a situation or defuse it, and we chose a long time ago to [defuse] it," he said. "Why put all of that on kids?"

Oswald finally broke his silence many years later, in part to offer support for other infamous families. Robert gave several interviews acknowledging that he can't help but feel for the families of John Hinckley (President Reagan's would-be assassin) and Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma City bomber). "My heart just ached when I saw [them]," Oswald said.

Although Lee Harvey Oswald's claim to infamy occurred 50 years ago, his brother Robert can attest that the family name will likely never emerge from under that dark cloud. The distinction of being an infamous family is a permanent one, right or wrong.

What infamous families in history do you remember the most? To what extent should these people be villified for the actions of their relatives? Are they scapegoats, accomplices, or collateral damage?

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  • TonyM
    09/18/2013 at 6:04pm

    TonyM

    Every family has a distinct history. I know when my ancestors emigrated to the United States from England, who was first to get a college education, and even the first to be elected to public office. While these aren't things I've personally done, they are facts about me, and they do have an impact on how I view the world.

    Knowing this, I truly feel for the Hinckleys, the Oswalds, and others with "infamous" ancestors. With that said, history should inform our actions - not control them - and I respect Robert Oswald's decision to do what he could to protect his family and simply continue to live his life.

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  • HistoryManiac
    09/10/2013 at 3:37pm

    HistoryManiac

    Life isn't fair. You've heard that before, right? So is it surprising to any of us that the immediate family of someone associated with a crime be branded a villain? It's not fair, true, but it's reality. I bet there has been a precipitous decrease in the first name "Adolf" or the last name "Hitler" since the criminal by that name wreaked his havoc on the human race, and I bet his family was not loved. I regret that good people get a raw deal, but that's reality.

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EXPERT PROFILE

Brian Falk

President, The American Film Company

Brian Falk recently directed GHOSTS OF THE PACIFIC for The American Film Company. His producing credits include THE CONSPIRATOR and PARKLAND. Brian has also produced more than eighty hours of broadcast news, documentaries, and television series worldwide for a variety of outlets including PBS,... More

Brian Falk

DID YOU KNOW

“Oscar L. Hubert was the priest who delivered the last rites to Kennedy, though the President had already passed by the time he arrived.”

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