Richard Jewell’s mom Bobi Jewell features prominently in the story of her son, the Georgia security guard who was falsely accused of being the bomber at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Jewell didn’t do it, but that didn’t save him from media hounding once the FBI investigation into Jewell was revealed. He was later completely exonerated, and his life story was recently told by Clint Eastwood on the big screen and now by Netflix in Manhunt: Deadly Games, which first ran on CBS.
The real bomber was Eric Rudolph, an anti-government extremist named Eric Rudolph. Jewell died young in 2007 of natural causes. Before his death, he sued multiple news organizations for libel, and some of them settled with him. He likely saved lives at the bombing scene when he discovered a suspicious backpack and ushered people to safety before Rudolph’s pipe bombs exploded.
In the Eastwood movie, Bobi Jewell is played by Kathy Bates. In the Netflix show, she’s played by Judith Light. In real life, her full name is Barbara Jewell.
Where is she now? Today, Bobi is still alive. In fact, she helped the Eastwood movie get Richard’s character right. A woman who knows her wrote recently on Facebook of Bobi Jewell: “Bobi Jewell is the nice lady at my church who works with the Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes…I am still saddened by the tragedy.”
In 2019, Bobi spoke to the Los Angeles Times about the Eastwood movie and said she wants people to remember her son as a hero. “That’s what I want people to know, instead of what we have had to contend with,” she told the newspaper “I just want the world to know what can happen to a little old lady. I was 60-something when it happened and I’m 83 now. So life goes on.”
Today Bobi Jewell is 84 years old and lives in the Atlanta area.
Here’s what you need to know:
Bobi Jewell Felt the Actor in the Clint Eastwood Movie Looked ‘Just Like Richard’
The Hollywood Reporter spoke to Hauser, who plays Richard Jewell, about what it was like to meet Bobi Jewell. “The first time I met Bobi Jewell was on the Warner Bros. lot,” he told THR.
“I was more nervous about meeting Bobi than I was Clint, because Clint and I have a certain commonality based on what we do for a living. With Bobi, our commonality was telling the story of this tragedy. I was worried, but she gave me a lot of tidbits and little nuggets of Richard that were indicative of greater truths.”
Hauser says Bobi told him, “You look just like Richard. You’re doing things like him that you don’t even know you’re doing.” She even brought treats to the set, THR added.
Richard is played by Cameron Britton in the Netflix show.
Bobi Jewell’s Emotions Are Still Raw When It Comes to What Happened to Her Son
The case still takes a toll on Jewell’s mom, even now. Bates, who played her in the Eastwood movie, told the Los Angeles Times in 2019:
“I met Bobi when I went down to shoot in Atlanta and we spent quite a few hours together. Even after all these years, it’s still really raw for her and she teared up quite a few times as she told me some anecdotes: how they were supported by their church but prevented from seeing them and how Richard was prevented from going to visit a friend when he was dying. It was just devastating. You don’t realize when you throw a grenade in a foxhole like that that you’re going to have so much collateral damage.”
A 1997 article in Vanity Fair on the Richard Jewell case gives extensive details on the effect on Bobi at the time. She described how her Tupperware was wrecked by FBI agents in a search who marked up her possessions. Once, the Vanity Fair article reports, her cat jumped on a window ledge and photographers camped outside “began frenetically shooting pictures.”
“If my mom and I had something we wanted to talk about that we didn’t want anyone to hear, we wrote it on pieces of paper. When she left to go to work the next day, she would take it with her, tear it up, and put it in the trash! That is how I kept my mother informed about what was going on with the case,” Jewell told Vanity Fair.
To Vanity Fair, Richard Jewell described how people would “holler obscenities at her (Bobi). They would yell, ‘Did he do it? Did he blow those people up?’ They would yell, ‘You should both die..’ All she was trying to do was walk her dog.”
Jewell’s father was Bobi’s first husband, a Chevrolet worker named Robert Earl White, according to Vanity Fair. The marriage resulted in divorce. Her second husband John Jewell adopted Richard. That marriage eventually broke up too, and Jewell felt abandoned.