>Fifty years later, LIFE Books looks back at the assassination of JFK. Dick Stolley, 85, then a LIFE magazine editor (and later People’s founding managing editor), remembers the horror.

How did you get the news?

A correspondent reading the AP teletype shouted, “Dick, Kennedy’s been shot in Dallas!”

You were sent to report there. What was the scene?

By the end of the weekend it was a ghost town. Partly because people wanted to see what was happening on TV, partly from a sense of shame that it had happened in Dallas.

You got the Zapruder film of the shooting for LIFE.

Yes. I watched it first with two Secret Service agents. We saw his head erupt, and we all went “Ugh.” It was shocking.

There are still conspiracy theories. What do you think?

A single shooter. I think the film shows precisely and tragically what happened that day.


PEOPLE’s commemorative Jack & Jackie: Remembering Camelot features pictures of the photogenic couple through the years; in Dallas 1963, former People staffer Bill Minutaglio and coauthor Steven L. Davis examine the city’s role in the tragedy.

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