50 years on, finding profit in 'truth' on JFK case
FILE - In this footage taken by presidential aide Dave Powers and photographed from a television screen, President John F. Kennedy, accompanied by his wife, Jacqueline, waves from his limousine in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. According to an AP-GfK survey done in April 2013, about 6 in 10 Americans say they believe multiple people were involved in a conspiracy to assassinate President John F, Kennedy, while only one-fourth think Oswald acted alone. Belief in a conspiracy, though strong, has declined since a 2003 Gallup poll found 75 percent said they thought Oswald was part of a wider plot. The Powers film, uncovered by the Assassination Records Review Board and released Thursday, Nov. 21, 1996, shows Kennedy's trip to Texas Nov. 21-22, 1963, prior to the assassination. Powers ran out of film before the motorcade entered Dealey Plaza where the fatal shots where fired. (AP Photo/Assassination Records Review Board, Dave Powers)
On the very day John F. Kennedy died, a cottage industry was born. Fifty years and hundreds of millions of dollars later, it's still thriving.
Its product? The "truth" about the president's assassination.
"By the evening of November 22, 1963, I found myself being drawn into the case," Los Angeles businessman Ray Marcus wrote in "Addendum B," one of several self-published monographs he produced on the assassination. For him, authorities were just too quick and too pat with their conclusion.
"The government was saying there was only one assassin; that there was no conspiracy. It was obvious that even if this subsequently turned out to be true, it could not have been known to be true at that time."
Most skeptics, including Marcus, didn't get rich by publishing their doubts and theories — and some have even bankrupted themselves chasing theirs. But for a select few, there's been good money in keeping the controversy alive.
Best-selling books and blockbuster movies have raked in massive profits since 1963. And now, with the 50th anniversary of that horrible day in Dallas looming, a new generation is set to cash in.
Of course, the Warren Commission officially concluded in 1964 that Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone — and issued 26 volumes of documents to support that determination. But rather than closing the book on JFK's death, the report merely served as fuel for an already kindled fire of doubt and suspicion.
FILE - This Sept. 26, 1964 file photo shows one of the exhibits contained in the Warren Commission report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The commission said the handbills in the image were samples of ones on which Lee Harvey Oswald had stamped his name and the name "A.J. Hidell". The image below was identified as showing Oswald distributing the handbills in New Orleans on Aug. 16, 1963. (AP Photo/Warren Commission)
Since then, even government investigators have stepped away from the lone assassin theory. In 1978, the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations ended its own lengthy inquiry by finding that JFK "was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy."
That panel acknowledged it was "unable to identify the other gunman or the extent of the conspiracy." But armed with mountains of subsequently released documents, there has been no shortage of people willing to offer their own conclusions.
Among the leading suspects: Cuban exiles angry about the Bay of Pigs fiasco; Mafiosi enraged by Attorney General Robert Kennedy's attacks on organized crime; the "military-industrial complex," worried about JFK's review of war policy in Vietnam.