Filming Kennedy: Home Movies from Dallas

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Maury Seitz

"He never gave you the impression that he was the President of the United States. 'Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy.' That’s the way he introduced himself, not 'the President of the United States.'"

Maury Seitz
February 13, 2002
Oral History Collection/The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

Mississippi native Jewell Maury Seitz served as co-pilot on numerous charter flights backing up Air Force One during Kennedy’s presidency. “Everywhere the president went... you would have seen an American Airlines four-engine airplane parked on the field,” recalled Seitz in his 2002 oral history. “They would take off in Air Force One, and then we would take off immediately after them ... We’d land before they landed.”

In flying these missions, Seitz had access to Air Force One and got to know the Kennedy family, including both Caroline and John, Jr. Seitz recalled, “I’ve been completely through [Air Force One]... I’ve listened to [President Kennedy’s] Marantz sound system on the airplane, and I’ve rocked John-John while I was sitting in the president’s chair. All of those clearances were given by the Secret Service, and we were escorted everywhere we went.”

Flying backup for Air Force One, Seitz landed in Detroit, Michigan, on October 5, 1962. He took his Kodak Cine Scopemeter home movie camera along to record Kennedy’s visit. The president stopped in Detroit, where Seitz filmed Kennedy and his mother, Rose, departing from their helicopter. The next day, Seitz flew to Muskegon, Michigan, where, as part of the official entourage, he filmed Kennedy’s helicopter landing and got close-up views of the president as he delivered a speech on behalf of campaigning Michigan Democratic candidates.

“I had this movie camera with me, and I talked to the Secret Service previously,” remembered Seitz. “They said, ‘Bring the camera unloaded and bring the film, and when you arrive, give it to one of the Secret Service and they’ll load it and give it back to you...’ That’s how I got my pictures inside the Secret Service... In the film, you’ll see the helicopter come down, and he gets off and he starts heading towards the speaker’s podium... I don’t think you will ever see civilian film shot that close.”