The Zapruder Film By the Numbers

atkins bookshelf triviaAnyone who was born after 1950 remember where they were on Friday, November 22, 1963. It was the day that John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States was assassinated at 12:30 pm near Dealy Plaza while he was riding in a motorcade to deliver a speech at the Trade Mart in Dallas Texas. It took the Warren commission ten months to conclude that Lee Harvey Oswald (and the “magic bullet”) was solely responsible for shooting Kennedy with an Italian Carcano bolt-action rifle — a finding that proved to be very controversial and was met with a great deal of skepticism. The central piece of evidence in the investigation was the Zapruder film, shot by Abraham Zapruder (pronounced zuh PROO dur), the co-owner of a women’s clothing company (Jennifer Juniors, Inc.), who happened to be filming that fateful day, standing on a concrete wall at the west end of the Bryan Colonnade’s steps, next to the Grassy Knoll. Zapruder’s film, lasting just over 26 seconds and shot with a 414PD Bell & Howell handheld camera, captured in horrifying detail the bullets that struck the president. Despite its graininess and jiggliness, the House Select Committee on Assassinations, considered how critical the Zapruder film was to understand the most public assassination in modern times; their report stated that the film was “the best available photographic evidence of the number and timing of the shots that struck the occupants of the Presidential limousine.” Over the decades, the film has been was endlessly examined, interpreted, dissected, copied, damaged, and restored; it has been sold and resold; it is now archived at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Here is a look at the Zapruder film by the numbers.

Number of people photographing or filming near Dealey Plaza: 32

Time Zapruder started filming: 12:30 PM

Length of film: 26.6 seconds

Size of film: 8 mm

Film speed: 18.3 frames per second

Length of film: 6 feet

Number of frames: 486

Frame of first shot to hit the President: 225

Frame number of fatal shot: 313

Missing frames: 155, 156, 208, 209, 210, 211

Number of initial copies made: 3 (Zapruder kept 1 and gave 2 to the Secret Service)

Sale price of the film to Life magazine: $150,000 (1963)

Sale price of the film from Life Magazine to the Zapruder family: $1 (1975)

Sale of film rights for use in a movie: $40,000 for Oliver Stone’s film JFK (1991)

Sale price of the film to National Archives: $16 million (1999)

Read related posts: The Best Books about the JFK Assassination
The Best Books for History Buffs
The Speech that Kennedy Never Gave
The Best Books on 9/11

For further reading: Twenty-Six Seconds: A Personal History of the Zapruder Film by Alexandra Zapruder (2016)
The Day Kennedy Died: 50 Years Later by the editors of Life (2013)
The Zapruder Film: Reframing JFK’s Assassination by David Wrone (2003)
The Killing of a President: The Complete Photographic Record of the Assassination, the Conspiracy, and the Cover-Up by Robert Groden (1994)
The Great Zapruder Film Hoax: Deceit and Deception in the Death of JFK by James Fetzer (2003)
National Nightmare on Six Feet of Film by Richard Trask (2005)