DALLAS - The Sixth Floor Museum recently inherited another significant piece of historical record from the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy.
It's a collection of video and still pictures captured by an eyewitness in the moments before, during and after the shooting.
Most people are aware of the Abraham Zapruder film which captured the assassination sequence from very close range. But there are actually four other known films that show the fatal shot. And now the Sixth Floor Museum owns the rights to three of them.
Abraham Zapruder's film has been called the most famous home movie of all time. The entire Zapruder film went unseen for decades. It is maybe the most important piece of evidence in the assassination of JFK, a terribly graphic look at a moment frozen in history that was donated to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in 1999
Orville Nix home movie captured the last few seconds of the assassination from the opposite angle. It was further away and less footage but also considered important by historians. Nix's granddaughter donated his film to the museum in 2000.
Also on that day, a 45-year-old engineer named Charles L. Bronson was standing on a pillar at the corner of Main and Houston. Bronson had two cameras.
"He had a still camera, a Leica, and a film camera. So he was going back and forth taking stills and home movies,” explained museum curator Stephen Fagin. “He was aiming his Leica camera at this vantage point as the motorcade made its way down Elm, and he was startled by the first shot."
Fagin says Bronson shot one still photo and then raised his film camera, capturing two seconds and the fatal last shot.
“What you see in that two-second sequence in the Bronson film is what you see from the opposite angle of the Abraham Zapruder home movie,” he said. “President Kennedy reacts to that fatal shot and Mrs. Kennedy begins to rise up in her seat and head for the trunk of the car."
Fagin says the Bronson films helped disprove the conspiracy theory that suggests a secret service agent in the follow-up vehicle accidentally shot the president.
“You can clearly see in the Bronson film that that does not happen,” he said.
Six minutes earlier, Bronson shot film of a seizure victim being loaded into an ambulance, which became important later because the Sixth Floor window can be seen in the background
"This did not come to light until the 1970s, and it came to become of interest to the House Select Committee on Assassinations,” Fagin said. “They recommend the Justice Department follow up, which they never did."
Fagin says subsequent film analysis of the window where Lee Harvey Oswald fired three shots has been inconclusive
“They can't find any real evidence in the window that would suggest two or more people up there,” he explained.
Charles Bronson died in 1995. The collection was inherited by four daughters who have now decided to donate copyrights.
The fourth home movie that captures the fatal shot was filmed by a woman named Marie Muchmore. She was standing fairly close to Orville Nix, but her film didn't capture as much of the assassination. The Associated Press is hanging on to its copyright.