Was MARY MOORMAN In The Street?

When she took her famous photo? Part Two


5. Copies of the Moorman Polaroid

Given the fact that all extant copies of the Moorman Polaroid show the same thing and that “same thing” falsifies the Fetzer/White LOS theory, it is no wonder that Fetzer and White next attempted to cast doubt on the authenticity of the copies. At first, they only accused the so-called “drum scan” copy of being altered by me. Later, however, when it turned out that this copy matched all the others, they expanded their claim to embrace all copies of the Moorman photo. They further alleged that the copies had been altered in one particular area... that of the Zapruder pedestal and the window beyond. Why? Was this done just to give critics forty years later grounds for doubting their claim, a claim that depended both on the authenticity of the Moorman photo and on a particular relationship between the pedestal and the window? No, that would be a stretch. In their theory, the Moorman photo was altered to conceal the fact that neither Sitzman nor Zapruder stood on the pedestal that day. And what about the Willis, Bronson and Betzner photos that show two similarly-dressed people on the pedestal? They were altered too.

In any case, their attempt to impeach the authenticity of the Moorman copies led to fascinating research as to how and when the copies were made. This research will be the focus of this section.


After taking her famous photo, Mary Moorman moved back from the curb and dropped to the grass along with her friend, Jean Hill. Several photos and a WFAA news film show them sitting there. Later that afternoon, Moorman executed a Sheriff’s Department affidavit where she says, “When I heard these shots ring out, I fell to the ground to keep from being hit myself.” (19H487)


Seconds later, photos show Jean Hill’s red coat flaring as she runs up the steps of the grassy knoll. Moorman stayed on the grass. Moments later, Hill returned to find Moorman, standing at her original position and talking with James Featherston, court reporter for the "Dallas Times-Herald." In 1993, Featherston told a reporters’ gathering what had been in his mind, “I wanted that picture, period. At the time, I thought that was the only picture in existence. Mary agreed to give me the film. I asked both of them to come back to the press room with me – which they did.” [NOTE: See ”Remarks by James Featherston at 'Reporters Remember Conference', Dallas, 11/20/93,” cited in "Pictures of the Pain" by Richard B. Trask (Danvers, Mass.: Yeoman Press, 1994), page 237.] Featherston spoke with the two women as they walked to Moorman’s car where she coated the Polaroids. Then he shepherded them to the “press room” in the Criminal Courts Building at the northeast corner of Main and Houston Streets. As he did all this, Featherston got their story. He also got from Moorman permission to copy her photo. Once in the press room, Featherston called his editor, Tom LePere, and gave him a run-down on what the two women had told him. The editor sent a runner over to pick up Moorman’s photo for copying and asked another reporter, Connie Watson, to take down Moorman’s and Hill’s stories over the phone.

Barb Junkkarinen is acquainted with Watson (now Kritzberg) and talked to her last week. Kritzberg recalled that Moorman clearly was upset that afternoon. “Stunned silence” were the words Kritzberg used in describing Moorman at the beginning of their talk. Kritzberg could not recall if Moorman said anything about where she was when she took her photo. Moorman didn’t remember how she got onto the ground and commented that she hadn’t seen anything since her eye was pressed to the viewfinder. In her book, Kritzberg commented that Moorman told her she “sank to the ground, or perhaps was pulled down.” (NOTE: Connie Kritzberg, "Secrets from the Sixth Floor Window", (Undercover Press, 1994), page 15.)

The "Dallas Times-Herald" shared a photo lab with UPI who immediately distributed the picture to newsrooms the afternoon of the 22nd. A copy negative of the Moorman photo was made by an unknown employee and quickly returned to Moorman via Featherston. The "Times-Herald" then published the picture on Sunday, November 24. UPI purchased distribution rights to the photo from Moorman several days later. Through this distribution, the Moorman photo became an iconic representation of the assassination. The UPI copy, however, was usually cropped for distribution. Missing was the right side of the Polaroid print that shows Zapruder and Sitzman on the pedestal. In 1967, I searched in the files of UPI for the original copy negative and any full-frame prints. I found none. To my knowledge, neither the negative nor any prints of the uncropped Polaroid are extant in the UPI (now Corbis) files. The following photo came from the files of UPI and was used in producing the book, "Four Days in November."

UPI Copy

The following photo shows that a full-frame Moorman photo was distributed on the UPI wire on November 23, 1963.

UPI Telephoto

NBC –TV Copy

The Moorman Polaroid was only absent from the Press Room for a short time while being copied at the "Dallas Times-Herald"/UPI photo lab. It was returned promptly to Moorman and was in her possession for an interview with NBC that occurred around 1:00 PM. A shot of her Polaroid was part of that interview and became one of the first photos of the assassination to be seen nationally when it was broadcast at 3:19 PM (CST) on the NBC network.


Gary Mack interviewed the freelance TV reporter who did the interview, Henry Kokojan. Kokojan had filmed the motorcade from the Adolphus Hotel when it passed on Main Street and went to Dealey Plaza immediately after learning what happened. He was working for NBC News that day and their local affiliate was WBAP-TV (now KXAS-TV). Unlike most of the news photographers, Kokojan had one of the few sound-equipped cameras. He was shooting black & white, 16 mm film, the standard for TV news in those days. After doing his interview with Moorman and Hill, he made his way to Parkland Hospital where he ran into NBC News photographer Dave Wiegman and WBAP photographer Bob Welch. All three had film and they wanted to get it processed and on the air. Either using a phone or Welch’s two-way car radio, they called WBAP and requested a runner to take their film to the station about 25 miles away in East Ft. Worth. This was done as quickly as possible and the film developed in the WBAP photo lab. It was put on the air at 3:18 PM fresh from the TV station’s processor.

NBC 11-22-63


A full-frame photo shows the Moorman Polaroid propped-up against a wall with a Zippo lighter along the right frame border.... hence the name “Zippo copy.”



This photo was taken by an unknown law enforcement officer without Moorman’s knowledge on the afternoon of November 22nd while she was being questioned. It was taken with an inexpensive “box camera” that used standard, grainy film. Therefore, enlargements from this negative are plagued by grain breakup and are of low resolution. As John Costella has pointed out, this is the “blurriest” of all Moorman copies. A copy from this version eventually found its way to the Associated Press and was distributed on the AP wire within a few days.


Zippo full frame


The FBI report of a 11/22/63 interview with Moorman ends with the remark “she furnished this photograph to bureau agents.” This may mean that she permitted the agents to view the photo or it may mean that she let them borrow it at this time. Either on November 22nd (or very soon thereafter), the FBI obtained Moorman’s photo and copied it. That copy languished in the files of the FBI Dallas field office for two decades.

In the early 1980s, Gary Mack was working with Jack White on their “Badge Man” theory. He was employed at KXAS-TV, the successor to WBAP-TV, the NBC station in Dallas-Ft. Worth. One of their reporters was curious, so Mack told him they were searching for better source material. The reporter, Ed Martelle, wondered if the FBI had a copy and contacted the Dallas FBI office. A copy was made of the Moorman photo and delivered to the reporter who gave it to Mack. He loaned it to Jack White who then made copies that he retained. The FBI print shows the entire Moorman photograph.



FBI print 1.


The Moorman photo became important to me during the production of "Six Seconds in Dallas" because it showed an anomalous shape along the stockade fence approximately fifteen feet west of the corner. Consequently, I searched various photo agencies for the best copies of the photograph. In addition, I contacted Mary Moorman and paid her to permit a Dallas professional photographer to copy her Polaroid. It was copied in February 1967 using a camera that produced 4" by 5" negatives even larger than the original Polaroid print. The photographer used those negatives to make several 8" by 10" prints.

In 1985, long before the Moorman-in-the-street controversy arose, I sent to Gary Mack and Jack White seven (7) copies of the Moorman photo from various sources. Included in this group of photos was an 8" by 10" print made by the professional photographer from his copy negative of the Moorman Polaroid. Jack White copied that 8” by 10" print and has retained a copy.

In January 2002, when Moorman-in-the-street came into controversy, I had the photographer’s original copy negative (not a print) scanned at 2400 dpi by Octagon Digital Media in San Francisco. Using a drum scanner on the original negative avoided any defects or artifacts introduced during the printing process. The work wasn’t cheap. CDs with the results of that scan were then distributed to anyone who wanted one including Jack White and James Fetzer. This scan was used by Joe Durnavich in his pixel-counting calculation using a method developed by John Costella. That calculation showed that the “Moorman LOS” was approximately seven inches higher at Moorman’s location than the “White LOS.” [NOTE: Durnavich’s study can be found at http://home.earthlink.net/~joejd/jfk/mgap/index.html. In making his calculation, he was able to identify more than 50 data points along the top of the pedestal... a fair indication of the precision of his calculation.]

Given the deterioration of the original Polaroid print both before and after February 1967 and the cropped nature of the UPI print, the drum scan copy of the Moorman photo may be one of the highest resolution copies in existence. Unfortunately, even by 1967 the badly deteriorated Polaroid had lost a lot of detail as indicated by the fingerprint that mars its surface.


Drum Scan Copy Full Frame


This copy originates with Jack White and Gary Mack. In the mid-1980s, White asked a photographer friend of his, Gordon Smith, to copy the Moorman Polaroid. Mack arranged with Moorman to borrow the Polaroid and the Moorman camera. Smith, whose photography studio also provided “restoration” of faded pictures, did so and turned the results over to White. Since then, White has posted this copy several times on the internet. It is clear that between 1967 and 1985 (when this copy was made) the Polaroid original had decayed further.



Gordon Smith Copy Full Frame

All of these copies have been generally available for decades. All have been in the possession of White and Fetzer since the beginning of the controversy. Yet all copies show the same thing when compared with what White claims to be the case. GIFs prepared by Bill Miller make this point abundantly clear.



In terms of the correct LOS, White and Fetzer failed to locate Moorman’s camera position accurately in all three dimensions. Laterally, they placed the camera too far to the right (east). Vertically they placed it too low. Finally, they judged the lens of the camera to be two feet back from the curb when, in fact, it was only inches. This latter mistake compounded the vertical error since the LOS maintains a downward slope while the grass verge slopes upward from the street.



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