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Updated: Monday, Oct. 25, 1999 at 22:07 CDT


JFK Film: TCU Library hunts for owner of movie made on tragic day

By Paul Bourgeois
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

FORT WORTH -- A home movie shot at Fort Worth's Hotel Texas just hours before President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas has become a mystery that Texas Christian University would like to solve.

The 8 mm footage shows Kennedy; his wife, Jackie; Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife, Lady Bird; Texas Gov. John Connally and his wife, Nellie; Raymond Buck, president of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce; and former House Speaker Jim Wright at a breakfast meeting at the Hotel Texas, where the Kennedys stayed before traveling to Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.

The hotel is now the Radisson Plaza Hotel.

Glenda Stevens, the archivist at the TCU Library, said the film is an interesting and mysterious piece of history.

TCU, she said, wants to find the owner.

"It's one thing that is bothering us right now," she said.

The film was found amid books, papers, documents, photographs and whatnots that Wright donated to the library.

It was easy for the little film to get lost in Wright's documents, which aren't measured in volumes, but `by' volume. Stevens said there are 4,000 cubic feet of papers.

Stevens quoted Wright as saying that he doesn't know how the film came to be stored with his documents. Wright declined to comment.

Stevens said the Wright papers were donated to the university in 1989. She said a preliminary inventory was done years ago, but that archivists are now delving more deeply into the contents and cataloging them.

"The film looks like it would have come from someone's home movie camera," Stevens said.

It is in color, a little unusual for the time, and is in very good condition considering that it is 36 years old, she said.

She said the university's greatest concern is over copyrights. Word of the film's existence has spread, but TCU is wary of allowing anyone to use it without knowing its owner or source.

"If the person who shot it is still alive, they would still hold copyrights," Stevens said, adding that copyrights typically last 70 years.

Ownership would be another issue because the film was donated to TCU.

Stevens said filmmakers working for Japanese television are scheduled to visit the university this week while researching a documentary on presidential wives. She said the film might be of some value because it contains clear, color shots of both Jacqueline Kennedy and Lady Bird Johnson.

Anyone who knows more about the film can call Stevens at (817) 257-7595. She said claimants to the film's copyright would have to provide some kind of proof.

Paul Bourgeois, (817) 390-7796

Send comments to bourgeois@star-telegram.com

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