Dallas, Texas. November 22, 1963. While the world was plummeting into a dizzying tailspin of shock and horror after reports emerged that President John F. Kennedy was shot, a 24-year-old man swiftly snuck into the Texas Theatre, hoping to go unnoticed. With his adrenaline pumping and heart pounding, he slipped into an empty seat and fixed his eyes at the screen, which was playing a Korean-War film, War Is Hell. It was but a momentary reprieve. The hurried footsteps of Dallas police were right outside the door…
It was at this moment the name Lee Harvey Oswald would go down in infamy and would drastically alter the course of American history.
It has been almost 50 years since the Warren Commission released a report concluding that Oswald acted alone, yet there is no shortage of conspiracy theories, thanks in some part to Oliver Stone’s famous 1991 film JFK. In an era rendered in the grainy blur of an 8mm home video, what constitutes as “true” is still under debate by many. But here are 9 “facts” about the man who is believed to have killed the 35th president of the United States.
1. Lee Harvey Oswald was born on October 18, 1939, in New Orleans, Louisiana. His father died only two months later and Lee and his two older brothers were sent to an orphanage.
Watch a mini bio on Oswald and the JFK assassination:
2. Oswald said his interest in Communism began at the age of 15, when he was handed a pamphlet about saving Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, an American couple found guilty of passing nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union. Two years later, he joined the marines and earned high marks as a sharpshooter.
3. Seven months before assassinating JFK, Oswald is believed to have made an unsuccessful attempt at killing a military general, who was sitting in his home office when a bullet was fired through his window and narrowly missed his head.
4. Oswald had a tense relationship with his Russian-born wife, Marina, although he appeared to try to make peace with her the night before the shooting. The next morning, he left his wedding ring on his wife’s bedside before heading off to the Book Depository. In October 2013, Marina Oswald sold the ring at auction for $90,000.
5. On November 22, 1963, Oswald fired his deadly shots from the the sixth floor of the Texas Book Depository in Dallas, the same building where only a month earlier he had gotten a temp job filling orders for schoolbooks.
6. On the morning of November 24, 1963, both the FBI and the sheriff’s office received calls from an unidentified man warning that Oswald was being targeted for an assassination. Despite taking steps to protect him, Oswald was fatally shot later that day by local nightclub operator, Jack Ruby.
7. Upon his insistence, Jack Ruby was given a lie detector test by the Warren Commission, which indicated that he had acted alone in murdering Lee Harvey Oswald. However, since Ruby was diagnosed as a psychotic depressive, the Commission said the polygraph results were not significant.
8. Oswald’s murderer, Ruby, died of a pulmonary embolism on January 3, 1967 at the same hospital where Oswald died and where President Kennedy had been pronounced dead.
9. Despite the fact that it has been five decades since the assassination of President Kennedy, there remains heated debate over whether Oswald acted alone. In 2017, however, about 1,100 government records relating to the assassination are scheduled to be declassified. Will they include any revelations about Oswald? We’ll have to wait just a little while longer.