Judith Light portrays Barbara “Bobi” Jewell, the mother of Olympic bombing security guard Richard Jewell, in new CBS drama Manhunt: Deadly Games.
Barbara “Bobi” Jewell is the mother of Richard Jewell, the security guard who found the bomb at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games bombing. When reporter Kathy Scruggs dropped the bombshell that the FBI was looking into Jewell as a possible suspect, the media descended upon his home and a firestorm ensued. At the time, Jewell lived with his mother, Bobi, who got caught up in the deluge of reporters just like her son, maintaining his innocence all the while.
New CBS drama Manhunt: Deadly Games chronicles their story and how Jewell was eventually cleared of the crime and the real perpetrator was caught years later. Ahead of the series premiere, here’s what you need to know about Bobi now, who is alive and well at 83.
Even after Richard Jewell was cleared of the bombing, his life was devastated by the media coverage of him as a possible suspect. He eventually died of heart failure and complications from diabetes in 2007, and his mom later told ABC News that she thought it was this intense scrutiny and suspicion that caused his health to deteriorate and eventually killed him.
In a January 2020 interview with Fox and Friends, Bobi, 83, told the anchors, “I believed that he was innocent from the first time that he came home and I asked him and he said, ‘No ma’am. I did not do this, mom.’”
But after journalist Kathy Scruggs ran a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that said the FBI was looking at Jewell as a possible suspect, they “lived in hell” for the next three months.
“[F]or 88 days we lived in hell, with the photographers out front, the newspapers out front. My apartment was bugged,” said Bobi. “It was just sheer hell for 88 days.”
But she said that Eastwood’s 2019 film Richard Jewell is “200 percent accurate” in its portrayal of them.
In 2003, the real bomber, Eric Rudolph, was caught and he later pleaded guilty to that and three other bombings. In 2006, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue heralded Jewell a hero in an official commendation.
“Mr. Jewell deserves to be remembered as a hero for the actions he performed during the Centennial Olympic Games. He is a model citizen, and the State of Georgia thanks him for his long-standing commitment to law enforcement, both as a security guard during the Olympics and as a sheriff’s deputy in Meriwether County today,” read the commendation and the governor added in a personal statement, “Richard Jewell’s actions saved lives that day. He deserves to be remembered as a hero. As we look back on the success of the Olympics games and all they did to transform Atlanta, I encourage Georgians to remember the lives that were spared as a result of Richard Jewell’s actions.”
Light portrays Bobi in the CBS series and she told reporters at the 2020 Television Critics Association winter press tour that this series continues to exonerate Jewell in a way he was never exonerated before by the FBI.
“What does it mean to be a mother of a son, who you want so much for, and keeps showing up in a way that’s not what you thought was the way he should be showing up, and yet you come to understand that this child of yours is an actual hero? … this will be an exoneration for him beyond the minimal exoneration that he was given,” said Light.
She later added that this may have happened in 1996, but it certainly could happen today.
“[What happened to Jewell] is a teachable moment of how do we be in the world and how do we relate to each other differently, from law enforcement to the media to the human being who we are dealing with? And I think we lived in it for all of this time and it had a profound effect on all of us.”
Centennial Olympic Park bombing, Richard Jewell, CBS, Judith Light, Cameron Britton
World news – US – Is Richard Jewell’s Mom Bobi Still Alive Today?