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May 15: Zapruder and the Kennedy Assassination

May 15, 2014
maxresdefaultAbraham Zapruder, a women’s clothing manufacturer who inadvertently filmed the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, was born on this date in Kovel, Russia, in 1905. He moved from New York to Dallas in 1941, and had offices directly across the street from the Texas Book Depository from which Lee Harvey Oswald fired his shots. Zapruder was filming the President’s motorcade when the shots were fired, and the 26.6 seconds (486 frames) of film he shot were the only pictures taken of the killing. Zapruder gave the film to Secret Service Agent Forrest Sorrels on the condition it would be used only for investigation of the assassination. When television station WFAA was unable to develop the film, it was taken to the Eastman Kodak processing plant in Dallas. Zapruder kept the original, plus one copy. He later sold the print rights to Life magazine for $50,000, and eventually all rights to the film to Life for $150,000. Zapruder gave the first $25,000 to the widow of Officer J.D. Tippit, the Dallas cop who was killed, probably by Oswald, within an hour of the Kennedy assassination. “[A]s the President was coming down from Houston Street making his turn, it was about a half-way down there, I heard a shot, and he slumped to the side, like this. Then I heard another shot or two, I couldn’t say it was one or two, and I saw his head practically open up all blood and everything, and I kept on shooting. That’s about all, I’m just sick . . .” --Abraham Zapruder There are many versions of the Zapruder film on YouTube. This is one of the better quality versions, stabilizing and slowing the film down to 100 frames per second. (Warning: graphic images of violence.)