Daily Mail

How Oswald shot JFK then killed a cop, hid in a cinema – and was attacked by an old lady with an umbrella

- by Jonathan Mayo

BY NOVEMBER 1963, 46-year-old President John F. Kennedy, the youngest elected leader in American history, had been in office for almost three years. He had won admiration for his handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis and brought glamour to the White House but for many he was a divisive and hated figure.

His assassinat­ion in Dallas gave birth to hundreds of conspiracy theories that are argued over today. As the 60th anniversar­y of JFK’s murder approaches, JONATHAN MAYO tells the story of the day that shook the world.

Friday, November 22, 1963 7.30am

PRESIDENT Kennedy is asleep in Suite 850 in the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth. Today he will make two speeches in the city and then fly to Dallas. JFK is in Texas because he needs to win friends in the South — his support for civil rights has severely dented his popularity and the election is just a year away. Also with him on the trip is his Vice President Lyndon b. Johnson.

George Thomas, his valet, knocks on the door to wake Kennedy. ‘Mr President, it’s raining out.’ He hears him stir and reply: ‘ That’s too bad.’

JFK’s wife Jackie, 34, is happy that it’s raining, as that means the bubbletop cover will be on the presidenti­al limousine and it’ll keep her hair from blowing about. This trip is Jackie’s first extended appearance in public since losing a baby in August.


THIRTY miles away in Irving, 24-year- old Lee Harvey Oswald kisses his sleeping children, Rachel and June, and says to his wife Marina: ‘I’ve left some money on the bureau. Take it and buy everything you and Junie and Rachel need.’

Oswald was briefly a U.S. Marine, who in 1959 defected to the Soviet Union where he married 19-yearold Marina. Within two years they were back in the U.S. Oswald beats her and so a few months ago Marina left him and moved in with her friend Ruth Paine.

Last night he failed to persuade her to come home to him in Dallas, where he is living temporaril­y in a boarding house. Oswald dislikes Ruth, but she did help him find his current job as a stockboy at the Texas book Depository in Dallas.

Oswald takes off his wedding ring and puts it in a china cup then walks to the garage, where he picks up a long paper package containing an Italian World War II rifle.


IN HIS hotel room JFK attaches a large back brace around his middle and ties its laces tightly. He then slips large stretchabl­e bandages up over his hips to support the bottom of his torso. Since he was a teenager Kennedy has suffered from a chronic bad back, which means for much of the time he’s in pain. Sometimes it’s so bad he uses crutches or a walking stick — but never in public.


THE speeches in Fort Worth over. Air Force One lands at Love Field on the outskirts of Dallas. In the crowd waiting for the President are people holding placards.

Some say: ‘We love Jack’ but others say, ‘Your a traitor’ (sic) and less concisely, ‘ Mr President, because of your socialist tendencies and because of your surrender to communism I hold you in complete contempt’. Earlier, Kennedy warned Jackie they were heading into ‘nut country’.


THE motorcade is travelling through downtown Dallas. In the car with JFK and Jackie are Governor John connally and his wife Nellie. The sun is shining so the car’s protective bubbletop has been removed.

In the vehicle behind are eight Secret Service agents concerned about the motorcade, as the President has asked them not to ride on the steps of the back of his limousine as they block his view of the crowd. Jackie has her sunglasses on because of the noonday sun but the President asks her to take them off, as they’ll make her look aloof. Marina Oswald is at home watching live TV coverage of the motorcade with Ruth Paine.


THE Dallas crowd suddenly surge forward towards the President’s car and driver bill Greer has to slow down to a crawl, forcing the police motorcycli­st on Jackie’s side to drop back. clint Hill, the agent responsibl­e for the First Lady’s safety, ignores the President’s order and gets on the rear step of the car, crouching as low as he can. He’s concerned that someone might try to grab Jackie or throw something into the car.


ALONE on the sixth floor of the book Depository, Oswald is moving some boxes to the south- east corner, close to a window with an unobstruct­ed view of the motorcade route. He places a box by the window on which to rest his rifle. He only has four bullets.

Onlookers Arnold Rowland and his wife barbara are standing on the sidewalk opposite the book Depository. Arnold can see a man at a sixth-floor window holding a rifle. He discusses with his wife whether they should tell the policeman standing near them, but they reckon the man must be a Secret Service agent.


SITTING in front of Jackie Kennedy, Nellie connally is listening to the President saying: ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’

Whenever Jackie waves her white-gloved hand, the crowd goes wild. As the crowds are thinner as

60 years after that sunny November day in Dallas, a compelling minute-by-minute reconstruc­tion reveals the surreal aftermath of the assassinat­ion that stunned the world

they near the end of Main Street, Clint Hill jumps off the back of the President’s limo and heads to the follow-up car.


NELLIE CONNALLY turns to Kennedy and says: ‘you certainly can’t say that the people of Dallas haven’t given you a nice welcome.’

‘No, you certainly can’t,’ he replies. looking through the telescopic sight on his rifle, oswald sees the limo emerge from behind a tree and squeezes the trigger.

Jackie thinks the bang is a car that’s backfired. Sparks fly off the pavement behind the limousine. oswald has missed and so fires again. The second bullet hits the

President in the back, passing through his throat and hitting Governor Connally, going through his chest and shattering a rib.

Now travelling backwards, the bullet hits Connally’s wrist and ends up embedded in his left thigh. Connally cries: ‘My God! They are going to kill us all!’ and slumps towards Nellie. Kennedy doesn’t fall — his back brace keeps him upright and so an easy target.

Just 8.4 seconds after his first shot, oswald fires for a third time and hits the President in the head.

Jackie said later: ‘as i turned and looked at him, i could see a piece of his skull and i remember it was flesh coloured. i remember thinking he just looked as if he had a slight headache. Then he put his hand to his forehead and fell in my lap. and then i just remember falling on him and saying: “oh, no, no, no! oh, my God, they have shot my husband”.’

Fragments of Kennedy’s head fall at the feet of Press photograph­er ike altgens. Secret Service agent Clint Hill jumps onto the back of the car and sees Jackie crawling towards him, he thinks to catch something that’s falling from the back of the car. He grabs her arm and pushes her back into the seat.


OSWALD drops his rifle between some packing cases, puts another box on top to conceal it and heads down the stairs of the depository. Some people are pointing to the railway yard nearby where they think they heard shots and a motorcycle policeman runs, gun in hand, up a grassy knoll towards the tracks.


THE President’s limo screeches to a halt outside the emergency Room of Parkland Hospital. The hospital isn’t ready so there is no one outside to help.

Secret Service agents surround the car, some with submachine guns. Kennedy is finally wheeled in on a trolley with Jackie holding his hand. a nurse suggests that she wipe the blood off her clothing. ‘absolutely not. i want the world to see what Dallas has done to my husband.’


IN TRAUMA Room one, surgeon Dr Malcolm Perry rushes in from the canteen, still chewing his lunch. His first thought is that the President looks taller than he thought he would be; his second is: ‘Here is the most important man in the world’. The President’s face is blue-white and his breathing spasmodic, his eyes are open and staring. Soon there are six doctors trying to keep the President alive.


IN THE CBS studios in New york, the soap opera as The world Turns is being transmitte­d live.

Suddenly a caption appears on the screen saying, ‘CBS News Bulletin’, followed by the voice of news anchor walter Cronkite. ‘in Dallas, Texas, three shots were fired at President Kennedy’s motorcade in downtown Dallas.’ when he finishes, the network cuts to a coffee advertisem­ent.


AT GRANADA Studios in Manchester, Mike Scott, the presenter of Scene at 6.30 breaks the news of the shooting in Dallas. The other regional iTV networks are running the pop show Ready Steady Go! but will later replace their scheduled programmes with news bulletins and recorded music.

The BBC will be criticised because after their announceme­nt of the death of Kennedy, they run The Harry worth Show and Dr Finlay’s Casebook as normal.


THE Dallas Police radio a descriptio­n of oswald to their officers: ‘attention all squads, the suspect in the shooting at elm and Houston is reported to be an unknown white male, approximat­ely 30; slender build; height five feet, ten inches; weight 165 pounds, reported to be armed with what is thought to be a rifle.’ oswald is currently in a cab heading to his boarding house.


IN DOWNTOWN Dallas, 24-yearold englishman John Ravenscrof­t (later known as DJ John Peel) is reading in the toilets of the Republic National life insurance Company where he works. The Pa system suddenly comes on, announcing to the staff that the President has been shot.

Ravenscrof­t had met Kennedy three years before when he came to the city as a presidenti­al candidate. They had chatted about why an englishman would be working in Dallas, and Kennedy had then posed for a photo. Ravenscrof­t is shocked to hear his colleagues break into applause when they hear the news of the shooting.


OSWALD leaves his boarding house wearing a light grey jacket to cover the .38 Smith & wesson pistol tucked into the waist of his trousers. Meanwhile at Parkland Hospital, a sheet is pulled over the body of President Kennedy.

The medical team remove the tubes and monitoring equipment, back away from the body and leave the room. Jackie kisses her husband’s feet, stomach and lips and starts to cry.


POLICE patrolman J.D. Tippit is driving along Tenth Street in Dallas and ahead of him he can see a man walking briskly who matches the descriptio­n of the assassin.

He pulls over and starts talking to him. Something in their exchange makes Tippit suspicious and he gets out of the car. oswald pulls out his revolver and shoots the policeman four times in the head and the stomach. as he runs past sisters-in-law Virginia and Barbara Davis, he empties the spent cartridges out of his gun. They can see he is smiling.


ON STAGE at london’s old Vic, before the start of a National Theatre production of uncle Vanya, laurence olivier asks the audience to join him in singing The Star-Spangled Banner. Three years earlier, olivier had paid tribute to the new President at JFK’s inaugural gala in washington.


IN HARDY’S Shoe Store in Dallas, the manager Johnny Brewer is listening to news reports about the assassinat­ion. a man stops briefly in the entrance of the store and Brewer can see that he looks scared and out of breath.

Suspicious, Brewer follows him to the Texas Theater, a cinema showing a double-bill of Cry of Battle and war is Hell. The box office cashier tells Brewer that the man didn’t buy a ticket and she calls the police.


ON U.S. television, all adverts have been suspended and for the first time ever, the three networks are broadcasti­ng only live news. on

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 ?? ?? Moments from tragedy: JFK in motorcade seconds before assassinat­ion. Above, his killer Lee Harvey Oswald poses with rifle
Moments from tragedy: JFK in motorcade seconds before assassinat­ion. Above, his killer Lee Harvey Oswald poses with rifle

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