Home Movie Of JFK Assassination Remains Important Historical Artifact
It's the most famous home movie in history—the Zapruder film, documenting the final seconds of President Kennedy's life.
As the 50th anniversary of the assassination approaches, the Zapruder film remains the most complete record of the tragedy.
The day President Kennedy came to Dallas, November 22, 1963, clothing manufacturer Abraham Zapruder was in Dealey Plaza with his brand-new, 8mm Bell & Howell home movie camera.
First, Zapruder filmed a quick test shot of some friends. Then, the presidential motorcade appears. Kennedy's vehicle is obscured for a moment by a street sign. When it emerges, the president is clutching his throat, having been struck by the assassin's first bullet. Just as Jackie Kennedy realizes something is wrong with her husband, a second bullet shatters his skull. The horrified first lady climbs over the back seat. Then, with a Secret Service agent clinging to the trunk, the driver floors it and the car races away.
The Kennedy Half Century Author Larry Sabato told INSIDE EDITION, "Can you imagine how difficult it would be to ever figure out what happened to President Kennedy without that one short piece of film?"
The day after the assassination, two Secret Service agents came to Zapruder's house to view his film. Even looking at a tiny home movie image, the agents were horrified by what they saw. But apparently not realizing the historical significance the film would have, they left it in Zapruder's possession.
Zapruder sold the rights to the film to Life magazine for $150,000. But a complete version of the footage was not shown in public until 1975.
"That's one reason why so many people developed conspiracy theories," said Sabato.
The new Life magazine book, The Day Kennedy Died, has an incredible eight-page foldout, showing all 486 frames of the 26-second film. Frame 313 captures the second bullet striking the president's head.
As for Abraham Zapruder, he never filmed another home movie.
In an interview, Zapruder said, "After that tragedy, somehow I lost, I don't know what you call it, the appetite or desire to take home pictures."
Zapruder was portrayed in Oliver Stone's 1991 movie JFK. And in the new film Parkland, he's played by Paul Giamatti.
Abraham Zapruder died in 1970. His legacy to the world is this priceless relic of a great American tragedy.