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?
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
“Lee Harvey Oswald was treated by many of the same doctors and nurses at Parkland Hospital as the President.”