53 years after JFK assassination, granddaughter of Zapruder pens personal family history

Zapruder Film

Abraham Zapruder is proof that any one of us can find ourselves in the middle of history. In his case, the Dallas dressmaker witnessed the horror of the death of President John F. Kennedy.

On November 22, 1963, he recorded it all, then ran to the WFAA studios to begin to tell the world.

What happened next is now his granddaughter’s story to tell.

"In our family we were brought up to value discretion around the subject of the film, said Alexandra Zapruder.

Zapruder said growing up in her family meant not bringing up what her grandfather witnessed. Even with her father, who passed away in 2006.

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"We never talked about the film," she said. "And I found that after he died, I found a certain sense of responsibility."

That meant writing about the most upsetting moments for those closest to her.

"The idea that I was going to in some way go against the prevailing culture of our family, and bring it up in the most public of ways was certainly difficult,” she said.

Still, she pressed on, culminating in the new book 'Twenty-Six Seconds: A Personal History of the Zapruder Film.' The author was in Dallas on Tuesday, the 53rd anniversary of the assassination to sign copies at The Sixth Floor Museum.

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In the book, she tackles the pressure her grandfather felt capturing something of that magnitude. And, what the film meant to media, debating how graphic is too graphic and whether those clips should be easily accessible.

"I think the film posed a number of those questions that we're still asking ourselves today," she said.

But at its heart, Zapruder's writing gives a window into the world of what follows when you're standing at the center of one of America's most painful moments. 

"The picture that emerges of our family, I hope, in the book is a family that was handed a very sober responsibility and a burden that we did not ask for and would not have chosen," said Zapruder. "And that we tried to do the best we could."

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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