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PBS Marks 50th Anniversary of JFK’s Assassination

A half-century after John F. Kennedy’s presidency, PBS takes a fresh look at the assassination and JFK’s legacy.

American Experience JFK

Photo: Courtesy of Image of John F. Kennedy © Ted Spiegel/CORBIS,

Poster for JFK: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE

President John F. Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963 shocked the nation and the world. With the perspective of half a century, these four specials offer fresh assessments of Kennedy—his legacy, the forensics of the assassination and a portrait of the man arrested for it, and the day which is forever etched in the minds of those who lived through it.


AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: JFK
Monday, November 11 and Tuesday, November 12 at 9 p.m.

This two-part biography from American Experience provides a fresh look at an enigmatic man who remains one of the nation’s most beloved and mourned leaders.

Beginning with John F. Kennedy’s childhood years as the privileged but sickly second son of one the wealthiest men in America, the film explores his early political career as a lackluster congressman, his successful run for the U.S. Senate, and the game-changing presidential campaign that made him the youngest elected president in U.S. history.

With the benefit of recently opened archives, the film recounts his struggles with life-threatening illnesses and his efforts to keep them hidden from the public. JFK offers new perspective on his complicated private life, including his relationship with his wife, his close connection to his younger brother, Robert, and his complex bond with his powerful father.

It also reevaluates Kennedy’s strengths and weaknesses in the Oval Office as he navigated some of the most explosive events of the mid-20th century—the disastrous failure at the Bay of Pigs, the urgent demands of an increasingly impatient civil rights movement, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the escalating conflict in Southeast Asia.


NOVA: COLD CASE JFK
Wednesday, November 13 at 9 p.m.

For decades the Kennedy assassination has fueled dark rumors of conspiracies and mishandled evidence. Now, 50 years later, NOVA asks: Could modern investigators do better? We’ll see how state-of-the art forensic tools would be applied to the investigation were it to happen today.

We also take a critical look at contemporary cases, such as the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, to reveal how charges of evidence mishandling and human error can mar even scientifically sophisticated detective work.

Will forensics ever be truly foolproof, or does modern technology just give a scientific sheen to a practice that will always be more art than science?


SECRETS OF THE DEAD – JFK: ONE PM CENTRAL STANDARD TIME
Wednesday, November 13, 10 p.m.

This episode from the Secrets of the Dead series chronicles the Kennedy assassination minute-by-minute as it was revealed in the CBS newsroom—from the moment the President was shot until Walter Cronkite’s emotional pronouncement of his death, one hour and eight minutes later.

The drama of One P.M. Central Standard Time—the title is taken from the time President Kennedy was declared dead at Parkland Hospital—is played out amid the chaos in Dallas, in the hospital, and in the CBS newsroom in New York. Included in the program are poignant memories from men and women who were there on the day in Dallas and New York.

Secrets of the Dead explores some of the most iconic moments in history to debunk myths and shed new light on past events. Using the latest investigative techniques, forensic science, and historical examination to unearth new evidence, the series overturns existing hypotheses, spotlights forgotten mysteries, and ultimately rewrites history.


FRONTLINE: WHO WAS LEE HARVEY OSWALD?
Tuesday, November 19, 10 p.m.

FRONTLINE marks the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination with a reprise of its investigative biography of the man at the center of the political crime of the 20th century.

At the heart of the assassination lies the puzzle of Lee Harvey Oswald: Was he the emotionally disturbed lone gunman of the 1964 Warren Commission report? Was he, as the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded, probably part of a conspiracy on that day in Dallas? Or was he an unwitting fall guy, the patsy, as Oswald himself claimed when he was arrested on November 22, 1963?

Twenty years ago, in the most comprehensive attempt on American television to penetrate this enduring enigma, FRONTLINE’s investigative team spent more than a year reexamining Oswald’s life and sifting through the psychological, political, and forensic evidence of his role in the assassination.

Traveling to Japan, Russia, Europe, Mexico, Canada, and across the United States, the team uncovered new witnesses, documents, photographs, video and audio recordings of Oswald, many of which had never before been made public.

Indiana Public Media is a producer and distributor of public media from WFIU Public Radio and WTIU Public Television at Indiana University including your favorite programming from NPR and PBS.

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