The Final Hours Of John F. Kennedy
Smiling and joking, just three hours from tragedy. Footage of JFK and Jackie Kennedy captures the president's last-ever formal function exactly 50 years ago today. The film was shot at an event at a hotel then called the Hotel Texas. It's now the Fort Worth Hilton.
On this morning, 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie, woke up in a hotel suite. Back then, it was one suite. Now, it's been divided into three rooms.
The Secret Service installed two secure White House phones in the suite. Priceless works by Picasso and other artists, loaned by their owners, had been placed in the rooms for the president and first lady to enjoy.
Looking out the window, they would have seen thousands of supporters gathered in the rain, hoping to catch a glimpse of the president. And he would not disappoint.
At 8:50 a.m. the day of his assassination, the president left the hotel briefly to shake hands with members of that crowd, many of them adoring women.
At 9:05 a.m. he strode into the hotel ballroom for a Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce breakfast at which he was the guest of honor. A local TV reporter noted someone was missing. No Jackie.
Twenty minutes later, at 9:25 a.m., Jackie appeared to the delight of the crowd. She was in a suit that will soon become perhaps the most famous outfit in history. Jackie took her place between Vice President Lyndon Johnson and her husband.
Then, JFK gave the last speech he would ever deliver. It lasted 12 minutes. Afterwards, he accepted a Texas-style gift—a Stetson.
"Put it on," the crowd in the hotel ballroom yelled.
"I'll put it on in the White House on Monday. If you'll come up there, you'll get a chance to see it," said the president.
Jackie also got a gift—a pair of ladies cowboy boots.
At 10:05 a.m. the president and first lady made their way out of the ballroom. They smiled and shook hands with no inkling of what fate has in store for them.
The Kennedys returned to their hotel suite to freshen up.
At 10:45 a.m. they climbed into the Lincoln Continental convertible and headed to an air force base for their flight to Dallas, and a date with destiny in Dealey Plaza.