It was the assassination that stunned the world. On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was shot as his motorcade swept through Dallas, Texas.
Film footage captured the moment the 35th President of the United States was hit in the head as wife Jackie sat inches away.
Lee Harvey Oswald, thought initially to be acting alone, from the adjacent Texas Book Depository, was held responsible. Nightclub owner Jack Ruby shot and killed Oswald on November 24.
But an unprecedented welter of claims, counter claims and theories were put forward. As the 50th anniversary approaches, those conspiracy theories refuse to die.
TONY SUMMERS was a student earning extra cash in an Oxford bar when news of the shooting came through.
Within minutes bosses at ITV’s World In Action programme, where he’d been working, were on the phone telling him to get on a chartered plane to Dallas.
For half a century Tony, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, has had an inside track.
Now, in new book Not In Your Lifetime, he reveals the first-ever plausible assassin other than Oswald a crack Cuban marksman known to have killed at least 20 people.
The name came from Cuban exile Reinaldo Martinez Gomez, then in his 80s and living in Florida, who contacted Robert Blakey, former Chief Counsel of the House Assassinations Committee.
“Martinez said he wanted to get something off his chest before he died,” Tony told The Sunday Post. “Blakey and I came away feeling he believed what he was saying. He had nothing to gain by talking to us.
“He had been in a Fidel Castro jail when he learned that his childhood friend, Herminio Diaz, had been killed in a raid on the coast.
“But a survivor confided that just before the raid Diaz had said he’d participated in the Kennedy assassination.
“Blakey and I concluded it fitted into the pattern of a conspiracy if it wasn’t Oswald. This was a known killer who’d been committing assassinations for 15 years.
“He was in cahoots with a Mafia boss who had been suspected and was involved with anti-Castro exiles furious with Kennedy.”
Tony has interviewed and re-interviewed countless witnesses and experts, and says he’s tried to write a “sane and comprehensive book for the open-minded citizen”.
“There has been so much rubbish written both on the conspiracy side and those who said there could be no possible conspiracy.
“Over the years I’ve been appalled at the number of witnesses and other relevant people I’ve approached only for them to say nobody had ever spoken to them.
“The mainstream media did a lousy job and there was much more trust in what the government said than would be the case today.
“It’s feasible that it was Oswald and just as feasible that there was more than one killer and it was covered up. Many sensible scholars say it’s by no means convincing he even took part.”
Although Tony says the anniversary is a milestone as “it’s moving out of current affairs into history”, the fascination remains.
“There’s a perception by millions around the world that there is a mystery and the full truth remains unknown,” he adds. “More than 1,000 documents are still withheld by the CIA.
“No other death of a single individual traumatised an era so much.”
Not In Your Lifetime: The Assassination Of JFK by Anthony Summers. Headline Books, £9.99.
Ten things you (probably) didn’t know about the JFK assassination
DOCTORS refused to let JFK’s corpse be removed without an immediate autopsy until Secret Service agents held them at gunpoint and left the hospital with his body.
AFTER the shooting wife Jackie held the top of her husband’s head, trying to keep the brain tissue in. She kept saying: “Jack, can you hear me? I love you Jack.”
AN amateur cameraman called Abraham Zapruder rushed home to get his forgotten camera at the last minute. He got back to capture 18 grisly seconds and sold the film for $250,000.
OF 178 people in Dealey Plaza, 132 said that only three shots had been fired tying in with the cartridges found in the Book Depository. Others said they heard as many as seven.
JUST before they headed to the motorcade, the president said to his wife: “We’re heading into nut country today.”
EARLIER this year, Robert J. Kennedy Jr son of JFK’s brother, Bobby said the evidence “is very, very convincing that it was not a lone gunman”. He didn’t say what he believed happened.
JACK RUBY died less than four years after shooting Oswald. He had been awaiting a date for his new trial, having previously been sentenced to death, when he died from lung cancer.
CRAZY conspiracy theories include Kennedy being shot with a poison dart from an umbrella, that his driver shot him and baseball legend and Marilyn Monroe’s ex Joe DiMaggio was behind it.
IT was even suggested that Jackie Kennedy had concealed the gun in a Lamb Chop puppet she’d been given earlier along with a bunch of flowers.
JACKIE insisted that she remain in her blood-splattered pink suit as she made the funeral arrangements. The unwashed suit is in storage and won’t be on public display until 2103.