Au­thor tells of dark days in Dal­las

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By REUTERS in Dal­las

Alexan­dra Zapruder was not born when her grand­fa­ther trained his home-movie cam­era on Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy’s mo­tor­cade rolling through down­town Dal­las 53 years ago, but that 26-se­cond film has be­come a dif­fi­cult fam­ily legacy.

On Nov 22, 1963, Abra­ham Zapruder, a de­voted sup­porter of Kennedy and his vi­sion for the United States, shot a home movie on 8 mm film that be­came the best-known mov­ing im­age of the Kennedy as­sas­si­na­tion.

“Grow­ing up, my par­ents didn’t talk about this be­cause it was grand­fa­ther’s wish that we ap­proach it with dis­cre­tion and re­spect for Kennedy,” Alexan­dra Zapruder, 46, says in an in­ter­view.

An im­mi­grant Rus­sian Jew who be­came a suc­cess­ful cloth­ing man­u­fac­turer in Dal­las, Abra­ham Zapruder went to Dealey Plaza to film Kennedy’s mo­tor­cade, his grand­daugh­ter says.

He ended up cap­tur­ing one of the most in­deli­ble mo­ments in US his­tory.

Grow­ing up in Wash­ing­ton DC, where her fa­ther, Henry Zapruder, worked as a gov­ern­ment at­tor­ney, Alexan­dra Zapruder, an au­thor and mem­ber of the found­ing staff of theUS Holo­caust Me­mo­rial Mu­seum in Wash­ing­ton, knew lit­tle of the film’s back story.

She de­cided the fam­ily’s com­pli­cated re­la­tion­ship with the film, which has been used in gov­ern­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tions, fu­eled con­spir­acy the­o­ries and been viewed by bil­lions of peo­ple, may make for an in­ter­est­ing book.

Zapruder, who came to Dal­las for the an­niver­sary of the as­sas­si­na­tion to dis­cuss her book on the film, Twenty-Six Sec­onds, says her fam­ily had al­ways been guided by her grand­fa­ther’s wishes to main­tain the in­tegrity of its deeply dis­turb­ing con­tents.

Abra­ham Zapruder sold an orig­i­nal copy and the rights to Life mag­a­zine for $150,000 to help tell the story of that fate­ful day in Dal­las.

The mag­a­zine pub­lished sev­eral frames of the film days af­ter the as­sas­si­na­tion. It did not sur­face again pub­licly un­til a ver­sion ap­peared on Ger­aldo Rivera’s ABC-TVshowGood Night Amer­ica in 1975.

Abra­ham Zapruder tes­ti­fied be­fore theUS gov­ern­ment’sWar­ren Com­mis­sion in­ves­ti­gat­ing the as­sas­si­na­tion.

The com­mis­sion con­cluded that a lone gun­man, Lee Har­vey Oswald, killed the pres­i­dent and wounded Texas Gov­er­nor John Con­nally. Zapruder died in 1970.

Film rights re­turned to the fam­ily in 1978 and Zapruder says she watched her fa­ther jug­gle the de­mands for pub­lic dis­clo­sure with her grand­fa­ther’s wishes “to do good with it.”

In 1999, the gov­ern­ment paid the fam­ily $16 mil­lion plus in­ter­est for the orig­i­nal ver­sion of the film.

“He said he would have been happy to have never seen it again,” Alexan­dra Zapruder says of her grand­fa­ther.

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