Bobi Jewell, the mother of Atlanta, Georgia security guard turned hero turned suspect Richard Jewell – is a prominent character in the new Clint Eastwood movie, Richard Jewell.
The movie focuses on the media frenzy around Jewell when it was reported that the FBI was investigating him as a suspect in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing. Jewell didn’t do it, and he was eventually completely exonerated. The real bomber was an anti-government extremist named Eric Rudolph. Jewell, who died in 2007, sued multiple news organizations for libel, and some of them settled with him. He had originally been declared a hero for discovering a backpack and ushering people away from the scene before the bomb exploded, likely saving lives in the process.
In the Eastwood movie, Bobi Jewell is played by Kathy Bates. Her full name is Barbara Jewell.
Where is she now? Today, Bobi is still alive. She is 83 years old and still living in Georgia. In fact, she spoke to Paul Walter Hauser, the actor who plays Richard, before the movie was completed. 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 looking forward to seeing this movie although I am still saddened by the tragedy.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Bobi Jewell Brought Treats to the Set & Told Hauser He 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.
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.
READ NEXT: Jersey City Shooter’s Social Media Posts.