"Mobituaries": Remembering first brother Billy Carter

President Jimmy Carter's and his brother, Billy Carter.

President Jimmy Carter and his brother, Billy Carter.

National Geographic Image Collection/Alamy Stock Photo

In a new episode of the podcast "Mobituaries with Mo Rocca," former President Jimmy Carter shared candid memories of his brother Billy, who gained notoriety in the 1970s. 

"He became the most famous person in our family," he said. 

Perhaps best known for marketing his own Billy Beer, Billy Carter made headlines for his outlandish promotional appearances and eyebrow-raising liaisons with the Libyan government.

Rocca spoke by phone with the 39th president as part of a revealing profile of Billy Carter, who died of pancreatic cancer in 1988. The former president spoke lovingly of his brother's good humor and hard work, but acknowledged the consequences of his sibling's dealings with the Libyan government.

"The news media kind of turned on Billy," President Carter recalled. "He had been their darling, and he became kind of a pariah."

The scandal (also known as "Billygate") came to a head during the Iran hostage crisis and President Carter's battle for re-election in 1980. Mr. Carter said: "I spent a lot of my time, you know, defending Billy to the press instead of explaining my foreign policy and domestic policies to the news media."

mobituaries-book-cover-simon-and-schuster-244.jpg
Simon & Schuster

In the episode, the first of a new series of "Mobituaries" podcasts, Rocca traveled to Plains, Georgia to spend time with Billy Carter's widow, Sybil, and their six children, all of whom challenge how their father has been portrayed over the years.

Mrs. Carter told Rocca that her husband was "trying to be what the press had tried to turn him out to be, a redneck brother, and he would play to that." She explained that "he would tell outlandish stories just to see what the press would do."

The family also discussed Billy Carter's public struggle with alcoholism, and how his eventual recovery affects his legacy to this very day.

For the rest of the story, listen to this week's episode of "Mobituaries with Mo Rocca."  You can download the episode for free on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, iHeartRadioMegaphoneSpotifyStitcher or Tunein. New episodes will be available weekly. For RSS feed click here.

And be sure to check out the brand-new book "Mobituaries: Great Lives Worth Reliving," published by Simon & Schuster (a division of CBS). It's filled with stories not in the podcast, from the life and death of the station wagon, to disco and dragons. (Yes, dragons!) In Hardcover, eBook and Audio formats, available November 5 via Amazon.

     
For more info:

See also: