Finn’s final dispatch: How he upset a Kennedy

Sen. Ted Kennedy and Phil Finn.( low-res)jpg

Former Daily Express New York editor PHILIP FINN, who was known as Lord Ace to his friends, has died of cancer aged 79. This is his final dispatch, written in March 2015:

You have probably listened to tales of Lord Ace's brushes with Senator Ted Kennedy with a glazed look in the eye, and the hovering, unasked question: "Who the hell is he kidding?”  

Well we have proof of these combatants' final confrontation, thanks to the industrious Mick Brennan, who sent this contact sheet from his home in Costa Rica.

The pics were shot as we flew on Kennedy's campaign plane to Phoenix. Mick provides the editorial, and the outcome was a total ban on any interviews with British reporters.

You will note his Lordship has a full head of hair, unlike today when he is competing for roles Yul Brynner wanted. One tough chemo down, and five more to go. Spirits high.

Photographer Michael Brennan takes up the story:

It was a big story that had us all scuffling to the airport when we saw the the first editions of the New York Daily News. Their front page exclusive announced that Senator Ted Kennedy was going to run for President of the United States.

This was a significant story, given that his brothers had both been assassinated.

Phil Finn, Chris Buckland from the Mirror and myself (I think Finn only hired me since I happened to be at the bar leaning on a Heineken) headed to where Kennedy was going to start his campaign, some cold place in the middle of the country. The following day we managed to be ‘invited’ on board the campaign plane for the flight from Iowa to Phoenix, Arizona.

Phil had requested an interview with Kennedy while we were travelling.

The Senator was well aware of Mr Finn since Phil had covered Chappaquiddick and had caused Kennedy some serious discomfort.

The theme of the interview request was: ‘Should Senator Kennedy become President, what would he do about the situation in the North of Ireland?’ The PR asked Kennedy if that was OK with him but the Senator said no; he would discuss only domestic issues. 

Both the Mirror man Buckland and the Express man Finn agreed to the conditions and it was OK for me to take pictures. We were escorted to the front of the plane where the great man was sitting with his shoes off smoking a cigar.

Kennedy cautiously acknowledged Finn, remembering having been ‘dug-up’ by the dogged Express man in the past. Before the interview proceeded the nervous PR bloke once again laid out the ground rules: ‘Remember, only domestic issues.’

Finn’s first question to Kennedy went something like this: ‘Senator what do you have to say about the scurrilous reports of your being a womaniser?’

Interview over.

We were escorted to the back of the aircraft where Philip proceeded to polish off five vodkas and tonics. Around about the fourth he looked around, pointed at the rest of the travelling press corps and said to Chris Buckland and myself: ‘Look at this lot, CBS, NBC, ABC, BBC, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, Washington Post, they none of them would have the balls to ask that kind of a question. They are too close to the subject, they don’t want to offend him.’ 

He took another swig and paused.

‘I remember when I travelled with Doncaster Rovers; I never mixed with the players.’

Just goes to prove… you can take the man out of Doncaster but you can’t take Doncaster out of the man.

Phil Finn.jpeg

Tee time: Philip Finn at home in the US

I’m a transvestite

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