Filming Kennedy: Home Movies from Dallas

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F.M. "Mark" Bell

"The president’s car took off like a bat out of Hades, and I got a shot of it going under the underpass."

Mark Bell
"Photographic Memory" by Richard B. Trask

A mail carrier with the U.S. Postal Department, F. M. “Mark” Bell worked in the Terminal Annex building on the south side of Dealey Plaza. His 16-year-old daughter had hoped to miss school on November 22, 1963, to watch the motorcade, but as Bell recalled in his 1996 oral history, “I didn’t think it was as important as her education.” Bell did agree, however, to film the motorcade during his lunch hour so she could see it later.

Not wanting to obscure his view, Bell held his Kodak Brownie, Model 8 home movie camera beside his face rather than looking through the viewfinder. He briefly filmed the motorcade on Houston Street from atop a pillar at the northwest corner of Main and Houston. As he jumped off the pillar and moved across the grass to film the motorcade on Elm Street, the assassination took place. Bell captured the motorcade as it disappeared beneath the triple underpass, followed by dramatic sequences showing the crowd reaction in the plaza. Later that afternoon, he shot a sequence from an upper-story window of the Terminal Annex building showing Dealey Plaza—particularly the Texas School Book Depository.