New book alleges coverup

Les Leland was the grand jury foreman in the Chappaquiddick investigation. Les Leland was the grand jury foreman in the Chappaquiddick investigation. (Peter Simon)
By Mark Shanahan & Meredith Goldstein
Globe Staff / October 10, 2009

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

  • E-mail|
  • Print|
  • Reprints|
  • |
Text size +

Les Leland says it’s just a coincidence that his book about Chappaquiddick is coming out so soon after Senator Ted Kennedy’s death. “I’ve been working on it for six years,’’ says Leland, who was the foreman of the grand jury that looked into the tragedy. “I’ve lived for 40 years with the innuendos about what really happened.’’ In the book, called “Left to Die,’’ Leland says he was a naive, 29-year-old pharmacist when he found himself at the center of a national news story. He details the events of July 19, 1969, when Kennedy drove his car off Dike Bridge on Martha’s Vineyard and left without recovering his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, who was found dead inside the car the next morning. Leland alleges that the grand jury attempted to investigate the accident, but was “stymied’’ by a DA and judge unwilling to cross the Kennedys. Leland also writes about the death threats that left him terrified and intimidated. (He was eventually given 24-hour police protection.) “It was all a coverup,’’ Leland said yesterday. “The rich and powerful can change the outcome of justice, and they did in this case.’’ In his memoir “True Compass,’’ Kennedy admits that he made “terrible decisions’’ in the minutes and hours after the accident. Leland, who has lived on the island since 1963, said he wrote his book (with J.B. Shaffer) to dispel the notion that he wasn’t interested in the truth. “I’m tired of people saying the grand jury was bought off,’’ he said.

Strong foundations
Doris Buffett, founder of the benevolent Sunshine Lady Foundation and sister of billionaire Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, was in town the other night to bequeath some of her bread to the FRAXA Research Foundation. The event at the Seaport World Trade Center was MC’d by Channel 5’s Kelley Tuthill (above left, with Buffett). Buffett donated $2 million to the foundation.

As traffic snarls, remember this: It’s only a movie
Sunday’s shaping up to be a rough one on I-93. Not only are the Sox playing the Angels at noon, but the Turnpike Authority is warning drivers of “intermittent delays’’ on 93 North and South. Officials won’t say why, but we will: Weather permitting, producers of the big-budget film starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz are planning to land a helicopter on the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. There will be a rolling roadblock that will result in periodic lane closures. But look on the bright side, it could have been worse. The original plan, we’re told, was to overturn an 18-wheel truck on the bridge.

Mad about McGovern
Who knew ’70s siren Maureen McGovern was such a draw? The singer, who had a No. 1 hit with her milquetoast movie theme “The Morning After,’’ is doing brisk box-office business with “A Long and Winding Road,’’ a one-woman show that’s set to open at the Wimberly Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. We’re told “A Long and Winding Road’’ has the largest pre-sale of any show presented by the Huntington Theatre Company at the BCA. That includes shows starring Campbell Scott and Melinda Lopez.

At home in Anaheim
It’s fun and games for John Henry in LA. While out west to watch the playoff series against the Angels, the Sox owner and his missus, Linda Pizzuti, were guests at a posh party hosted by Peter Guber, the Newton native who was once studio chief at Columbia and CEO of Sony Pictures. Sox chairman Tom Werner was there, too, and spent a lot of time chatting up director/actor Eli Roth and his brother Gabe. Seems Werner is wild about Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds,’’ in which Roth has a starring role. (Roth, another Newton native, took a few minutes to teach Werner how to say “wicked retarded’’ with a Boston accent.) Also schmoozing the Sox owners was Sox-crazy comedian Dane Cook.

Barrios denounces slur
Former Bay State lawmaker Jarrett Barrios doesn’t back down from a fight - even with “The Wrestler.’’ Barrios, who’s now the president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, is condemning Mickey Rourke for his use of an anti-gay slur. “Rourke is showing himself to be painfully ignorant of how this vulgar, abusive slur feeds a climate of anti-gay hatred, intolerance, and violence,’’ said Barrios. Rourke used the word most recently in an exchange with a paparazzo.

Broadway bound
Bravo to Boston-bred actor Matt DeAngelis, who’s been added to the Broadway cast of “Hair.’’ In his bio, the thespian says he believes in “true spirituality, equality for all . . . and the Boston Red Sox.’’ Almost on Broadway is local 9-year-old Caroline Workman, who’ll travel to New York City next week to have a third call-back audition for the musical “Billy Elliot.’’ Workman’s mom, Linda Chin Workman, says her daughter isn’t terribly nervous - she’s a pro.

Around town, and beyond . . .
Actress Katie Holmes spent an hour at Madewell on Newbury Street yesterday and even got some fashion advice from her favorite stylist, daughter Suri. The pair walked out with bags full of Madewell denim, motorcycle boots, and multiple scarves. . . . Former governor Mike Dukakis and wife Kitty dined at Legal Sea Foods the other night. . . . Union Oyster House owner Joe Milano joined Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the American cemetery in Normandy this week. Milano is a past commander of the Ancient & Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts.

Fostering goodwill
Tabitha Goggins (left), 91, and Josephine Worrell, 97, were honored this week at the Action for Boston Community Development’s foster grandparent luncheon. The Roxbury women were feted for their work with disadvantaged children. Worrell volunteers five days a week at Children’s Hospital Boston, while Goggins has volunteered at the Hennigan School in Jamaica Plain for the past 13 years.

Read the Names blog at Names can be reached at or at 617-929-8253.

Latest Entertainment Twitters

Get breaking entertainment news, gossip, and the latest from Boston Globe critics and A&E staff.