DALLAS, TX – June 27, 2017: An eyewitness to the November 22, 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Charles L. Bronson was one of only four known home movie photographers to have captured the fatal shot on film. The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza is honored to announce the donation of the Charles L. Bronson Collection, which includes an eyewitness 8mm color film, five still photos and documents and correspondence related to the images and film.
“We’re delighted to receive this important donation to the Museum’s permanent collection,” said Nicola Longford, Executive Director of The Sixth Floor Museum. “The Bronson Collection is of both historic significance as well as a subject of investigation and careful study by the assassination research community. Every photographic viewpoint, particularly Mr. Bronson’s unique perspective some distance away, adds to our overall understanding of those tragic moments in Dealey Plaza.”
Standing atop a concrete pedestal at the southwest corner of Main and Houston streets, Bronson took a series of still photographs and home movie film sequences of the moments just before and during the assassination in Dealey Plaza. His still photographs show the presidential limousine approaching Houston Street and then traveling north on Houston towards Elm Street. Another still, taken at the moment he heard the first shot, captures a blurred yet almost panoramic view of Dealey Plaza as the motorcade proceeded down Elm Street, with many key eyewitnesses visible.
Bronson’s home movie includes a sequence filmed approximately six minutes prior to the assassination of an ambulance picking up an epileptic seizure victim in Dealey Plaza, an event that later became part of a conspiracy theory. The Texas School Book Depository is visible in the background. Because there was a possibility of movement in this brief glimpse of the sixth floor window, this film was of particular interest to the House Select Committee on Assassinations investigation and later film analyses.
More significantly, Bronson’s film includes two seconds of the assassination—one of only four known home movies to capture the fatal shot on film. Although the Bronson film features the farthest perspective of these four films, it remains relevant more than half a century later as it helps disprove an ongoing theory suggesting that a Secret Service agent in the follow-up car accidentally fired the shot that killed President Kennedy. With this donation, The Sixth Floor Museum now owns the copyright to three of the four films that recorded President Kennedy’s assassination, including also eyewitness films made by Abraham Zapruder and Orville Nix.
Bronson was 45 years old and a chief engineer of Varel Manufacturing in Dallas in 1963. He used a Leica Model III for his still photographs and a Keystone Olympic K-25 for color home movies. Both cameras are on display in the Museum. Bronson passed away in 1995, and his collection had previously been on loan to The Sixth Floor Museum since 1996. The recent donation of the film and photos was made by his four daughters: Barbara Young, Joyce Hall, Alice Bronson and Charlette Laughlin. “It is important to us that our father’s historic materials be preserved for the ages,” they said. “He always had confidence that The Sixth Floor Museum would be a fitting and proper place for their safekeeping and display, and we agree.”
“We are grateful to the Bronson family for recognizing the historic significance of these materials and helping us preserve them for future generations,” added Longford. “Their father documented an important moment in time; and the Bronson family’s gift makes an important contribution to the ongoing research and study of President Kennedy’s assassination.”
Media Note: The Bronson Film and Bronson 3 still image are provided for use by the news media from 11:00 a.m. CST Tuesday, June 27, 2017, until 11:59 p.m. CST Monday, July 3, 2017, ONLY. Any use after July 3, 2017 must be approved in writing by The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza (https://www.jfk.org/the-collections/rights-reproductions-request-form/). The film can be found here: https://youtu.be/PWvkgMDWf8s. The Bronson 3 image can be found here: https://www.jfk.org/wp-content/uploads/Bronson-3.jpg. Please credit use of film or still image to: Charles L. Bronson Collection/The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.
Judy Ivey | Director of Museum Advancement
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
About the Museum
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza chronicles the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy; interprets the Dealey Plaza National Historic Landmark District and the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza; and presents contemporary culture within the context of presidential history.
Located at 411 Elm Street in downtown Dallas, the Museum is open Monday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Tuesday – Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Audio guides for the permanent exhibit are included with admission and available in six languages, including ASL. For more information, visit jfk.org or call 214.747.6660.