Anniversary of JFK assassination brings more television speculation

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JFK & Jackie arrive in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963

By Jeff Pfeiffer

This Sunday, Nov. 22, will be the 46th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The exact details behind this act remain among our country’s most enduring mysteries, and have led to many theories, some reasonable, others bordering on — or crossing into — crackpot conspiracy territory. It’s likely we will never know for sure what actually took place leading up to the firing of those bullets in Dallas’ Dealey Plaza in 1963, but it will always remain good speculative fodder for TV networks and fascinated audiences. This year is no exception, as a few new and repeat specials are airing to keep the mystery alive.

The Kennedy Assassination: 24 Hours After (repeat) — History, Nov. 21 at 8pm ET. For the first time, using never-before-seen transcripts only recently made public, this film pieces together the 24-hour period after the shots were fired. The timeline reveals startling new information about the death of the president and the traumatic transfer of power to his successor, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. From new details about when JFK really died, to the truth behind LBJ’s Oath of Office photo on Air Force One, this special uncovers an unfamiliar story born out of one of the most crucial days in American history.

Did The Mob Kill JFK? (premiere) — Discovery Channel, Nov. 22 at 8pm ET. This special purports to have new information and never-before-heard details of a startling confession supposedly given by infamous New Orleans mob boss Carlos Marcello to a prison cellmate, which may link him to JFK’s murder. “I had the little bastard killed. He was a thorn in my shoe,” Marcello said, according to the cellmate, who was a secret FBI informant. This informant has now come forward in this special to provide an exclusive interview with Discovery. The program links Marcello — who had long been suspected of having a hand in the assassination — with both Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby (“He was my man. He did what the hell I told him to do,” Marcello reportedly told the informant, regarding Oswald, and also mentioned that a debt-ridden Ruby “owed him big”) and draws on an array of historians, investigators and eyewitness, including a Secret Service agent who claims that an aborted attempt on the president’s life in Chicago early in November was covered up.

JFK: The Ruby Connection (premiere) — Discovery Channel, Nov. 22 at 9pm ET. What was the real Ruby/Oswald connection? The producers of this new special look to find out by re-creating and restaging the Nov. 24 shooting of Oswald by Ruby, which took place on live television. Using the same vintage cameras and lights, and their same positions, the program illustrates minute-by-minute who was standing where and why. Even the remaining eyewitnesses are on hand for the re-creation, including detective and Oswald escort Jim Leavelle. Forensics experts analyze every available frame of film and photography from the shooting, including a little-seen video taken from behind Oswald.

The Lost JFK Tapes: The Assassination (premiere) — National Geographic Channel, Nov. 23 at 9pm ET. In this new special, NGC combs through hundreds of hours of news footage, radio reports, audio recordings and home movies not widely seen that captured this historic tragedy as it was chaotically unfolding. All of this footage has been digitally reassembled to retell the events of that day. This unique eyewitness material was first stored by local news stations in Dallas/Fort Worth, then preserved by The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, which is dedicated to chronicling the life, death and legacy of President Kennedy.

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The Kennedy Assassination: 24 Hours After: Credit History/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum