Transcript for Jose Menendez Achieves His American Dream: Part 1
My name is Lyle Menendez. I've been in prison for 26 years. I am the kid that did kill his parents. And no river of tears has changed that. No amount of regret has changed it. You are often defined by a few moments of your life. But that's not who you are in your life, you know? Your life is your totality of it. If you survive it, you're left having to explain it and it's just almost impossible to explain. I think I will end up dying still being in the nightmare of this horrifying event and tragedy. Bring down the Berlin wall. ??? Lyle and Erik Menendez seemed to have it all. They lived in this fairy tale world of wealth and country clubs. They were top flight tennis players. One at princeton, the other heading to UCLA. They were rich. The father was a powerful, Hollywood executive. They had achieved the American dream. They were living in the mansion in Beverly hills. They were living behind the gate. So, on the outside, to most people, this was the perfect all-American family. People assume that if you have money, you have no problems. And you're certainly not going to do anything like kill your parents. Because you've got it made and it turns out that rich people have dysfunctional families just as much as poor people. One kid killing the parents is a bad seed. Two kids killing the parents is a bad family. Jose hen then December was an immigrant. He wanted to make good. And he was very driven to become the American success story. He immigrated from Cuba at about the age of 16. He was the only boy, and mother adored him. And emphasized his male image. So much so that he became a little bit of a bully in Cuba. And he became a little bit of a monster to the parents. It was hard to control him. Here is a Cuban immigrant coming to this country as a teenager, with very little, driving, driving through industry after industry, rental cars, music industry, Hollywood production. One after another, with this ferocious drive and talent. Jose and Katie Menendez met at southern Illinois university. Kitty was my sister, my younger sister. She was stunningly beautiful. And I mean beautiful on the outside and even more so on the inside. Jose saw in her what everybody else saw in her, and she saw this handsome Cuban. They got married when they were both in college. And then, after graduation, they moved to New York. Sniper's bullet cut down Dr. King. The most significant change in the marriage of Jose and kitty Menendez took place when their sons, Erik and Lyle, were born. Kitty Menendez had dreams of becoming an actress, and after her sons were born, Jose basically told her, you can't work. You need to take care of our sons. The boys were extremely spoiled. I would tell kitty, I said, there's got to be some discipline in their life and it would be smart to rein them in and hold them accountable. And of course, she would come right back, don't tell me how to raise my boys. She wanted Lyle and Erik to be as competitive as she was, and as her husband was. When I think of Jose Menendez and his sons, the word that pops into my head is ownership. These were his prized thoroughbreds. His sons. They were going to reflect his own glory, and if they didn't, god help them. The world that the Menendez brothers grew up in was very affluent and it started in princeton, New Jersey. Jose had success on both coasts. First, the leafy precincts of princeton, New Jersey, and then, all the way in California, in Beverly hills, one of the legendary luplaces of the world. In princeton, we saw them as rich kids. They were like a step above everybody else. Princeton was about old money, and you didn't show off. But they were different. As Jose changed jobs and became involved in different companies, this beautiful home in the center of princeton came on the market. And they just both fell in love with it and they wound up buying it. And so, this is a beautiful stately place with a beautiful reservoir or detention pond behind the home, which, again, is also beautiful. And she was so proud of it. Jose and kitty Menendez were very concerned about the facade of their family. They wanted the public image to be perfect. One of the ways they did that is, they did their son's homework, so the homework was always perfect. Then they would take fetests in school and they would fail the tests. Lyle and Erik were very influenced by what their father thought. And they wanted, at all times, to please dad. The affluence was all around them, but they were expected to work for it, and the work was to become tennis stars. They were going to be at the country club owning the scene there. They were going to have beautiful girls on their arms and go to ivy league top-notch colleges. He gave them everything in princeton. Limousine rides to New York. Limo rides to school. Because, in that extent, he was showing off. Through the kids. Lyle Menendez was going to be the better improved version of Jose. For Jose, having a son go to an ivy league school like princeton was the end of the American dream. But Lyle Menendez had mediocre grades, was not a great student. He really wasn't princeton material. He was a very strong tennis player, and so, through a combination of his tennis abilities and also Jose Menendez made a $50,000 donation to princeton, he was able to act actually get his son into the school. But Lyle was flunking out of princeton, not only academically, but socially, he was doing things he wasn't supposed to do. He was accused at one point of plaguerizing a paper. Jose rushed in to meet with the Dean and try to save his son, to stop the suspension, but his pleas didn't work. He was never satisfied. Lyle and Erik, I think, had a strong fear of dad. It was so obvious, but it was not spoken. Jose was such a dom that force in that family that the brothers looked at him, it was like he was the sun and blotted everything else out. The impression I got about Jose Menendez's character was that he could be charming when he chose to, but that his basic nature was very abusive. And that he was abusive to his sons, especially, and to his wife. Describe your relationship with your father. Brutal. Painful. Torturous. And yet, I admired him, because he was so strong and he was -- he was everything that success was that I was taught that access was. And I thought that he was the most powerful and brilliant person I had ever met. To me, the Menendez brothers became homicidal monsters that
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