The Day Kennedy Died - On Smithsonian ChannelCategory: Television
2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. To commemorate this tragic event in America’s history, many new films, documentaries, books, and television shows have been produced. Among them is the new documentary on Smithsonian Channel – The Day Kennedy Died. This insightful film takes viewers back to November 22, 1963 and follows the movements of the president and his accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald as they make their way, minute by minute, through the day.
Narrated by Kevin Spacey, The Day Kennedy Died is a good history lesson for those who were not alive fifty years ago, and for those who were it is a flashback in our minds. “The assassination of President Kennedy stunned the nation and continues to be a defining and highly scrutinized moment in American history,” said David Royle, Executive Vice President, Programming and Production, Smithsonian Channel. “In this new film, we allow the images, the witnesses and events of that agonizing day to speak for themselves. They remain as vivid as they were five decades ago.”
The film begins that morning in Fort Worth, with the world’s most famous couple. JFK is labeled “a global superstar” and his wife was just as beloved around the world. With narration and interviews with witnesses who were there in Texas that day, the atmosphere in Dallas is described as “charged.” It was a dangerous situation in Texas at that time and Kennedy haters were everywhere. Tension was high, but so was love. The streets of Dallas were filled with Kennedy admirers who wanted to get a glimpse of the first couple.
Mrs. Kennedy’s Secret Service agent, Clint Hill, said the president wanted to be “accessible to the people” so the agents were supposed to maintain a respectable distance from the couple to let the people feel they were not closed off from their president. To this day, Hill wonders if he had acted just a split second faster if he could have saved Kennedy’s life.
First hand accounts from people who were there, describe the moments after the shooting as “mass pandemonium.” Doctors and nurses at the hospital talk about treating the president, who had no pulse when he arrived. When Attorney General Robert Kennedy spoke to Clint Hill, Hill told him “It’s as bad as it can get.” Mrs. Kennedy exchanged rings with her husband before his body was taken from the hospital to the waiting jet where Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as the 36th President of the United States.
The film shifts back and forth between the president’s location and what was happening with Oswald the remainder of the day and into the following days – through the tumultuous streets of Dallas to Bethesda Naval Hospital where the autopsy was performed, back to the White House (at 5:30 am November 23), then back to Dallas where Oswald claimed to be a “patsy” then was shot and killed on November 24. After being shot, Oswald was asked if he had anything to say. He simply shook his head.
The Day Kennedy Died is a fascinating look at a historic event through the eyes of those who were there. It’s an interesting dissection of November 22, 1963 and relatable to viewers.
The Day Kennedy Died will premier Sunday, November 17, 2013 on Smithsonian Channel. I highly recommend this for anyone over the age of 13.
About the Author
Francine Brokaw has been covering all aspects of the entertainment business for 20 years. She also writes about technology and has been a travel writer for the past 12 years. She has been published in national and international newspapers and magazines as well as Internet websites. She has written her own book, Beyond the Red Carpet: The World of Entertainment Journalists, from Sourced Media Books.
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