CBC Digital Archives

1963: John F. Kennedy slain in Dallas

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The United States, and perhaps the entire world, is in shock on Nov. 22, 1963 as word spreads that U.S. President John F. Kennedy is dead, murdered by an assassin in Dallas. In this broadcast from that unforgettable day, CBC-TV brings viewers extensive coverage of the day's tragedy, talking to stunned citizens and politicians in both the U.S. and Canada as they mourn the popular young president.
• Assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was initially arrested for the murder of Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit, who he shot approximately 45 minutes after John F. Kennedy. Seeing Oswald, who matched witness descriptions of Kennedy's shooter, Tippit approached him and two spoke briefly before Oswald pulled a gun and shot Tippit four times. Oswald fled the scene and ran into the nearby Texas Theater. The manager saw him enter and notified police, who arrived and arrested Oswald. Oswald's seat in the theater is embroidered with his name and the date of his arrest.

• Dallas resident Abraham Zapruder filmed the presidential motorcade that day and inadvertently ended up with the best visual record of the assassination. His film became a central piece of evidence for the Warren Commission, the special board of inquiry investigating the assassination. Zapruder sold the film to Life magazine for $150,000 and gave the first $25,000 to a policemen's charity with the suggestion it be donated to the Tippit family.

• Theories abound over whether Oswald acted alone in the assassination, as well as how many shots were fired. The Warren Commission reported some witnesses heard as many as six shots, although "the consensus among witnesses ... was that three shots were fired." The Commission rejected the conspiracy theories and no firm evidence of multiple shooters has ever surfaced.

• Oswald himself was fatally shot and died just over 48 hours after Kennedy. During a transfer to the Dallas County Jail, local nightclub owner Jack Ruby stepped from a crowd of reporters and police and shot Oswald. Oswald was rushed to Parkland Memorial hospital (where Kennedy had died two days prior) but died of his wound.

• Ruby claimed he shot Oswald because he was distraught over Kennedy's death, but in a 1965 press conference, he said, "The world will never know the true facts of what occurred, my motives ... The people who had so much to gain ... for putting me in the position I'm in, will never let the true facts come above board to the world." Then in 1966, just days before his death, he said he acted alone and "there was nothing to hide." He died of a pulmonary embolism in January 1967 at the same hospital as Kennedy and Oswald.
Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television News Special
Broadcast Date: Nov. 22, 1963
Guest(s): Réal Caouette, John Diefenbaker, Tommy Douglas, Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson, Lester B. Pearson, Adlai Stevenson, U Thant, Robert Thompson
Host: Lamont Tilden
Reporters: Norman DePoe, Michael Maclear, James Minifie, Craig Armstrong
Duration: 40:26

Last updated: November 15, 2012

Page consulted on November 21, 2014

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