DALLAS, Texas - The story behind the infamous home video of former President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas was retold by the videographer’s family at a sold-out event.
Tuesday marked 53 years since the nation was left in a state of shock and morning with Kennedy was killed while his motorcade passed through Downtown Dallas. The home video taken by Abraham Zapruder captured the horrific moment and is now one of the most iconic pieces of that dark history. His story was shared at a sold out event at Dealey Plaza.
Many of Abraham’s descendants still live in the Dallas area and have largely avoided the spotlight over the decades. But several of them made an appearance at the Tuesday forum that featured Abraham’s granddaughter, Alexandra Zapruder, and her new book “Twenty-six Seconds” — the story of the most famous home movie ever.
Alexandra never knew her grandfather who died when she was a baby. When he died, it left her father to deal with ownership and ethics of the film's use. It was initially sold to Life Magazine and not shown as a film to the public but was eventually leaked and shown on national TV. But she says it was her father's death that sparked the book.
"I felt a real sense of responsibility to sort of gather our family papers, interview the people close to our family and make sure that the story from our family's point of view was preserved,” she said. "It was not easy for my grandfather first and then for my father to know how to handle it to both meet the needs of the public and make sure the public had access to it. But also reflect our grandfather's wishes that the film never bee sensationalized or exploited. That was the tension, and that was the responsibility they tried to meet."
Ironically, there was a vendor at Dealey Plaza on Tuesday that was selling bootleg copies of Zapruder’s film, just yards away from the pillar that Abraham climbed to shoot.
It was a twisting path, but all rights to the film were eventually returned to the family. In 1999, they donated the film to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.
"They understand the importance of the film,” said Stephen Fagin, curator of the museum. “But as a family, they've always treated this as a private matter. So it's wonderful to get this book which shines a light on their perspective for a change."