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Friday, November 21, 2014

Difference Between Life Magazine's Warren Report Editions of October 1964

Above, the former Texas School Book Depository and the Dal-Tex Building
behind it at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

During the process of putting away my belongings and tossing out stuff I have no need or use for after the pipe rupture, I came across my collection of newspapers and magazines that covered the JFK assassination. I was looking through them yesterday and found something interesting.

My dad saved the newspapers from that weekend in November 1963 along with magazines from that period. He also saved the Life magazine of October 2, 1964 that had the cover story on the newly-released Warren Commission Report on the assassination along with the Spanish edition of the same magazine. The magazines are similar except that the text of the Spanish edition was, naturally, in Spanish.

But there was one (big) difference between the two editions, which I will point out.

First though, a little bit of history. On the night of November 22, 1963 at about 11:00, dress-maker Abraham Zapruder took a call from Life magazine's Los Angeles Bureau Chief Richard Stolley about the 8mm home movie he shot of the assassination. Stolley asked if he could come out to see the film, but Zapruder was tired and emotionally worn out at the time and said no. He asked Stolley to meet him at his office the next morning at 9:00. Stolley showed up at 8:00.

The next morning, at Zapruder's office in the Dal-Tex Building that was located across the street from the Texas Book Depository Building at Dealey Plaza, Stolley viewed the film with the Secret Service while reporters were outside screaming and pounding on Zapruder's door.

Following the viewing, Stolley negotiated the print rights to Zapruder's film (he later obtained full rights to the film) for $50,000. Zapruder made one request, out of fear of exploitation of the film. That request was that Life would not publish movie frame 313, which was the moment of the fatal head shot. Stolley agreed to this. After signing a contract with Zapruder, Stolley left with the film through another exit (away from the other reporters).

True to his word, the edition of Life was published with frames from the Zapruder film without frame 313 among them (I have this issue, too). But they were in black & white. They were unable to print in color at that point for some reason. Color frames were published in the following issue.

Getting back to the October 2, 1964 Life magazine issue featuring the Warren Commission Report.

Frames from Zapruder's film accompanied the article. Again, frame 313 was not among them.

However, as I mentioned at the top of this article, I also have the Spanish edition of this issue (I have no idea how my dad or I acquired it). And, as I also mentioned, there was a big difference between the two editions (besides the Spanish text).

The Spanish edition included frame 313 that clearly shows Kennedy's head explode upon impact by Oswald's bullet. This raises a question. Did Richard Stolley and/or Life magazine renege on their agreement with Zapruder to not publish the fatal head shot frame by including it in the Spanish edition?

It is unclear if Zapruder's request to not publish frame 313 is part of the rights agreement. If so, then it appears that Life may have violated the agreement. They have since published frame 313 a number of times since the 1960s.

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