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The assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, thirty-fifth President of the United States. Is there any single moment in our nation's history that has been the subject of more speculation and debate? There was one shooter. There were multiple shooters. There was someone on the grassy knoll. The magic bullet. The schoolbook depository. The indelible, haunting grainy images of Kennedy slumping over, of his head coming apart, of Jackie climbing onto the back of the car. Every element of the assassination, especially the infamous Zapruder film, has been analyzed, dissected, re-analyzed, nitpicked, and prodded. And to this day, show me a dozen people and I'll show you two-dozen heartfelt opinions about who was really responsible for that day's violence. We love a good conspiracy theory, and the death of JFK has become a nexus for conspiracy like no other.
With today marking the 48th anniversary of JFK's assassination in Dallas, legendary filmmaker and documentarian Errol Morris has released a new short film on the subject, via the New York Times. Called The Umbrella Man, the six-and-a-half-minute short examines one specific bit of that day that will live in infamy, November 22nd, 1963. As President Kennedy's motorcade trundles through Dealey Plaza, standing along the street is a man holding an open umbrella (seen to the left of the above picture). In and of itself, nothing unusual, except that it is a clear, bright, sunny day in Dallas, and he is thus the only person who appears to have come prepared for rain. Looking at the footage closely, an even more sinister detail presents itself: the Umbrella Man is standing at the exact spot where bullets begin hitting Kennedy's car, just as they pass the strange man with the open umbrella.
What does it mean? Is he some sort of covert signal to the hidden assassin(s)? Could his umbrella be some sort of souped-up spy gadget, a cleverly disguised weapon designed to shoot Kennedy from close range with no one being the wiser? Is the Umbrella Man the key to uncovering the entire JFK conspiracy?
Well...click over and watch Errol Morris' The Umbrella Man for an object lesson in the fact that truth is, indeed, often far stranger than fiction. The short features an interview with Josiah "Tink" Thompson, a former Harvard philosophy professor who quit his day job to write Six Seconds in Dallas, and later to become a private detective. In the video, Thompson tells the bizarre story of the Umbrella Man, and you just can't make up stuff like this.