John F. Kennedy Assassination Still Intrigues, 47 Years Later

New Documentary and Motion Picture Will Probe Grim Day in Dallas

November 22, 2010, 1:46 PM

Nov. 22, 2010 -- 47 years have passed since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, but the man who served less than a full term in office still casts a long shadow over the American politics and culture even as his relatives have slowly retreated from it.

A new movie, as well as a documentary featuring Secret Service agents on duty in Dallas when JFK was shot, ensure that the Kennedy assassination will not fade from our minds any time soon.

In January, when JFK's nephew Patrick leaves Congress, it will be the first time since 1944 that no member of the Kennedy clan is on Capitol Hill.

The retiring Rep. Kennedy was not even born when his uncle was killed, but the events of that day in Dallas still capture the interest of Americans.

The documentary about the Secret Service is set to air Monday night on Discovery.

Two agents appear in it. They have kept silent about the events of Nov. 22, 1963, up to now. But a new book by agent Gerald Blaine, "The Kennedy Detail," has brought a new perspective to the story.

Clint Hill, who was assigned to protect the first lady, was the first agent by his bosses' side after the shooting in Dallas. Hill writes the forward to the new book and appears in the documentary, speaking of his regret and how he has kept silent about the events.

"It has taken me decades to learn to cope with the guilt and sense of responsibility for the president's death, and I have made it a practice to keep my memories to myself. I don't talk to anybody about that day," writes Hill in "The Kennedy Detail."

A new feature film is in the works to examine the Kennedy assassination. This one, adding to the canon of films that explore conspiracy theories, most notably by Oliver Stone and Clint Eastwood, will feature Leonardo DiCaprio and is based on a book by Lamar Waldron that used information from the National Archives to suggest that a mob boss ordered Kennedy's assassination.

JFK Assassination, 47 Years Later

That book was also the basis for a Discovery Channel documentary that aired one year ago, the 46th anniversary of the assassination. Last year's documentary was called, "Did the Mob Kill JFK?"

The agents in this year's movie reject such theories as a "cottage industry" of conspiracy.

But the doubts persist. Why are Americans still so interested in a killing that occurred nearly half a century ago and has been studied more than any other?

"There are so many angles on President Kennedy's death, including the public killing of the murderer," said David Rehr, a former President of the National Association of Broadcasters who now teaches at George Washington University.

He was referring to the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby. Further, he says, the special commission that investigated the assassination "only increased speculation about motive, conspiracy theories."

"A picture-perfect Presidency with so much hope is ended by a bullet – the story line gets more complicated as time passes and others suggest various motives," said Rehr.

The Secret Service has grown exponentially since then, from 400 agents to ten times that with a budget of about $1.4 billion annually.

And while Kennedy, on that fateful day, was able to insist that he ride in an open convertible to wave and be seen by the people, presidential security is is now as tight as the Secret Service can make it.