Documentary retraces JFK's last day alive

Yahoo News
Bill Paxton, the child propped up above the adults' heads, in the parking lot of Fort Worth’s Hotel Texas where Kennedy gave one of his last public speeches  on Nov. 22, 1963.
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Bill Paxton, the child propped up above the adults' heads, in the parking lot of Fort Worth’s Hotel Texas where Kennedy gave one of his last public speeches  on Nov. 22, 1963.

Few events have been more scrutinized than the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But to those who were with Kennedy that day, it’s more than history: It’s memory.

An upcoming documentary from National Geographic, “JFK: The Final Hours,” tells the event from the viewpoints of people who came into contact with the president on the day he was shot, Nov. 22, 1963.

“I just wanted to find a new way to tell an old story,” Erik Nelson, the film’s writer and director told Yahoo News. He described the 24-hour look at Kennedy’s last day on earth as a “time-traveling documentary.”

The story brings viewers back in time through the anecdotes told by those who interacted with JFK on that day. “They seem like a collection of small moments, tiny moments, but they add up to a portrait of this guy as a human being,” Nelson said.

Those personal memories include some from the film’s narrator, actor Bill Paxton (“Hatfields & McCoys”). He was in the crowd that day to hear JFK speak. (In the photo above, he’s the kid perched on an adult’s shoulders.)

“I was eight years old that day, and I remember thinking it was like seeing a movie star,” Paxton said in a statement provided to Yahoo News. “There stood a man at the peak of his life and his career, but little did he or any of us know that in three hours he would be murdered in cold blood.”

The two-hour movie will air on the National Geographic Channel on Nov. 8, two weeks before the 50th anniversary of JFK’s death. Another documentary, which focuses on the man who was supposedly seconds away from killing Kennedy in a car bomb only weeks after JFK’s election, will air Nov. 17 on the Smithsonian Channel.

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