Skip to main content

Museum posts video of JFK appearance on eve of assassination

By Phil Gast, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Texas man donates Kennedy film to museum in Dallas
  • Roy Botello was attending a November 21, 1963, meeting at a Houston hotel
  • President John F. Kennedy was assassinated the next day in Dallas
  • Botello's film is in color and lasts four minutes; there's no audio

(CNN) -- Dressed for a later dinner, President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy smile as they greet guests in the grand ballroom. A mariachi band plays behind them. Men and women, the latter wearing the bouffant hairstyles of the time, shake their hands.

It's shortly before 9 p.m. on November 21, 1963.

President Kennedy will be assassinated less than 24 hours later.

A home movie of the event, filmed by Roy R. Botello, now 89, was recently donated to the the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas. It is featured on the museum's website.

Botello was attending a convention of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) at the Rice Hotel in Houston. Botello was an official with the organization in San Antonio.

He shot about four minutes of the Kennedys with his Bolex camera. There is no audio.

"It was a great thing because he was there with her," Botello told CNN Tuesday,

"This is the first home movie of the LULAC meeting," said museum curator Gary Mack.

A local news station shot sound audio of the event, but Botello's film provides something special.

"Home movies give the viewer a very personal look at these events," said Mack. Portions of the footage often are out of focus and shaky, an indication of the operator's jostling to get in better position.

The color video shows Jacqueline Kennedy, fashionable in a black dress with pearls and white gloves, speaking during the meeting. The crowd cheered "ole" as the first lady finished speaking, according to audio recordings of the event.

"She just stunned the whole crowd when she spoke in Spanish without notes," said Mack.

"I don't think he would have been as popular as he was without her," Botello said of the young president.

Botello returned to San Antonio, where he worked as a state caseworker for quality control.

He remembers the news on the afternoon of November 22.

"It was awful," Botello said. "We just couldn't believe it."

The retiree, who serves on San Antonio recreation boards, put the film in a steel case and in a drawer until a television reporter asked to see it last year.

The Rice Hotel was the second stop of a planned five-city Texas visit that was to have finished at a fundraiser dinner in Austin, the museum said.

The museum, which corrected the colors and exposure of the 8-millimeter film, now has home movies of all cities Kennedy visited during the trip, with the exception of Fort Worth, Mack told CNN Tuesday.

It owns the copyright to the most famous home movie of JFK's visit: Abraham Zapruder's movie of Kennedy being shot while traveling in the motorcade through Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963. The museum licenses the Zapruder film for commercial use.

CNN's Phil Gast contributed to this report.