New clip shows JFK arriving in Dallas in 1963

February 15, 2010 6:04:07 PM PST
New color video footage showing President John F. Kennedy's arrival in Dallas the day he was assassinated is the best home movie ever made of the event, the curator of the Dallas JFK museum said Monday. The short clip, shot on 8mm film by a 15-year-old student, provides a rare, high-quality color close-up of John and Jackie Kennedy as they arrived in Dallas. The Sixth Floor Museum put the film on display for public viewing on Presidents Day.

Kennedy was killed Nov. 22, 1963, as his motorcade made its way through downtown Dallas. The footage shot earlier that day by William Ward Warren mainly shows Air Force One and Air Force Two arriving, and briefly features the Kennedys making their way through the crowd at the airport.

"Viewing this footage makes you feel as though you're standing next to Warren as he's filming it on that very day," said museum curator Gary Mack. The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza chronicles Kennedy's life and death and is located in the old book depository building from where Lee Harvey Oswald fired at the president's motorcade.

Warren was at the airport because Dallas students were given the day off for Kennedy's visit.

"I was very excited," Warren, who donated the footage to the museum, said in a news release. "It was cool and yet the sun was shining bright, and there was lots of excitement."

The final few seconds of the three-minute film show JFK passing through the crowd, smiling at cameras. Jacqueline Kennedy follows, carrying a bouquet of red roses given to her by local officials. She's walking alongside Lyndon Baines Johnson, the vice president at the time. A smiling Lady Bird Johnson appears briefly. She's followed by Gov. John Connally, who was wounded in the shooting later in the day.

Warren, now the 61-year-old owner of a freight brokerage business, tells the museum in an oral history that Kennedy came so close he couldn't decide whether to keep filming or stop to shake his hand.

The clip offers interesting historical perspective, showing the suits and dresses of the day and the old-style TV cameras. It briefly cuts to a shot of students flying a Texas flag and a Confederate flag.

The event was captured by local black-and-white TV cameras. There were numerous other cameras at Dallas' Love Field that day, but most of that footage hasn't been released to the public, Mack said.