Jack Ruby: Voices from History

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Introduction

On Sunday morning, November 24, 1963, two days after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Jack Ruby, a local strip club owner, drove to the Western Union office to wire $25 to one of his dancers. When he left the office at 11:17 a.m., he noticed a crowd outside the nearby Dallas police station. Ruby slipped into the basement of the police building. He mingled unnoticed with a group of reporters who were there to cover the transfer of accused Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald from the city jail to the county jail, which was standard procedure before trial. Police Chief Jesse Curry told the news media they could be present and would see that Oswald had not been abused or mistreated while he was in custody.

At 11:21 a.m., as a handcuffed Oswald was being led to a waiting car, Ruby suddenly lunged forward and fired a single bullet into the prisoner's abdomen. Millions saw the shooting on live television. Police wrestled Oswald's assailant to the floor as he shouted, "You all know me. I'm Jack Ruby."

Jack Ruby: Voices from History tells Ruby's story through people who knew him and who had firsthand knowledge of the tragedy and events that followed. These eyewitness accounts come from sworn testimony, autobiographies, diaries and The Sixth Floor Museum's Oral History Collection.

You All Know Me. I'm Jack Ruby.

Jack Ruby, a stocky, balding, 52-year-old strip club owner, desperately wanted to be a big man in Dallas. He hung around the news media, liked law enforcement and was known as a name-dropper and publicity seeker.

Born Jacob Rubenstein, Ruby was a high school dropout raised on the streets of Chicago's notorious West Side. He worked at odd jobs, which included door-to-door salesman, singing waiter and ticket scalper. In 1947, Rubenstein moved to Dallas and legally changed his name to Jack Ruby. For the next 16 years, he ran a series of unsuccessful clubs and dance halls and was involved in other failed ventures, including selling sewing machine attachments and exercise twist boards. Born and raised in the Jewish faith, Ruby was sensitive about his religion and refused to let his club comics make jokes about Jews.

Ruby was arrested nine times by the Dallas Police Department for minor infractions before being charged with murder for killing Lee Harvey Oswald. At the time of the shooting, Ruby owned the Carousel Club, one of three downtown strip clubs.