When an uncommon name invites questions
Twelve years ago, I looked up Woody Harrelson on Wikipedia. I forgot the reason why, although I was a longtime fan of his work. At the time, I was already aware that his father Charles was a convicted hit-man who at one point confessed to the John F. Kennedy?s assassination but then recanted.
It was there that I read that his mother, Diane Lou Harrelson, had the maiden name of Oswald. Well, isn?t that unusual, as Lee Harvey Oswald is officially acknowledged as JFK?s killer. Any relation?
At the time, I kept running into dead ends; it seemed the Wikipedia page was the only place ?Oswald? came up. Even in JFK forums, few people asked about the connection. So, as it turns out, anyone curious about ?Diane Lou Oswald? came to my Independent Country blog; it?s probably my most-read piece.
From time to time I?d check up on this myself. Today I?ve noticed Woody?s page had a little bit more information, and free searches on geni.com determined that if there is a common Oswald ancestor, it is likely at least four generations back, with Diane Lou?s tree in Ohio and Lee Harvey?s in the Deep South.
The ?Oswald? name, then, was likely coincidental. If Charles Harrelson and Lee Harvey Oswald were connected, family had nothing to do with it.
Nevertheless, I believe I was justified to be curious. Looking up the frequency of names, the best (or only) information I could find is that there are around 5 Oswalds for every 100,000 people. I don?t recall meeting anyone with the surname. I probably wouldn?t have thought twice about it if Diane Lou?s maiden name, and Lee Harvey?s last name, was Smith; there are 881 of them per 100,000.
In contrast to Oswald, it seems to me that Epstein is fairly common in my experience. There are far more prominent people with that surname. As it turns out, however, it?s no more common that Oswald, again with about 5 per 100,000.
I hadn?t thought much about it until last month when the now-deceased Jeffrey Epstein was arrested. A week or two after that news came out, I found out that the late Linda McCartney, wife of Paul McCartney, was actually from an Epstein family; her father Lee had changed his name to Eastman, presumably to avoid anti-Semitism.
I also found out that he was a very well-connected entertainment lawyer; as an heiress, Linda would have been filthy rich even without marrying Paul. It seemed weirdly coincidental that the Beatles? manager Brian Epstein died in 1967, a few years later another Epstein, Lee Eastman, became Paul?s business manager.
I thought that?s weird, so I started to speculate about other potential weirdness.
For instance, the Lee Eastman family were New Yorkers, as was Jeffrey?s family.
Were they cousins? Is Chicago Cubs President Theo Epstein a cousin? He was born in New York. Or libertarian legal scholar Richard Epstein, also a native New Yorker? Kathie Lee Gifford (nee Epstein)? She?s from the East Coast.
Of course, even if they are related, none of it implies guilt-by-association with Jeffrey Epstein?s crimes. The curiosity about the family biography is the issue of networking. Were there cousins who were influential enough to help others in the extended family? Did Jeffrey?s father, a city employee of seemingly modest means, have more ?pull? than the groundskeeper job title suggests?
We do know that Jeffrey Epstein was hired by a ?former? OSS/CIA employee, Donald Barr, to teach at the Dalton School even though he didn?t have a college degree. We know Donald was the father of another ?ex? CIA employee, William Barr, the current Attorney General. And that former Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, while a prosecutor, was lenient toward Epstein in 2007 because he ?belonged to intelligence.?
Or maybe he really did earn billions through investments and bought power and intelligence connections that way.
I?m still curious, however, if there were connections of prominent Epsteins to each other and to the intelligence community.
Maybe Jeffrey Epstein was groomed to be what he became.
James Leroy Wilson writes from Nebraska. He is the author of Ron Paul is a Nut (And So am I). Follow him on Facebook and Twitter. If you find his articles informative or entertaining, your support through Paypal helps keep him going. Permission to reprint is granted with attribution.