It was one of those horrific events — everyone remembers where they were, if they were anywhere.

Fifty years ago, I was sitting at a typewriter and writing the lead story for the next morning’s Sacramento Union, Mark Twain’s old newspaper that, like so many print dailies, no longer exists.

My first paragraph began: “U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy kept his presidential hopes alive Tuesday by winning the California primary….”

Kennedy was leaving through the kitchen when Sirhan Sirhan shot him with a .22-caliber revolver. The senator died 25 hours later on June 6.

The assassination altered California politics and American history. Experts differ about whether Kennedy would have beat out Vice President Hubert Humphrey for the Democratic presidential nomination and gone on to capture the White House over Republican Richard Nixon. I’ve always thought he would.


He had momentum after California. He also had youth, elegance, political skills, a revered family brand and a popular…