The photo technician who made a secret copy of the Zapruder film — the clearest video footage of President Kennedy’s assassination — says he was “scared out of his wits.”
Speaking on a new podcast series called Who Killed JFK, Robert Groden tells the story of how he was working as a photo technician at a film lab when the Zapruder film landed on his desk.
“We blew up 8mm home movies up to 35mm made to professional grade so it can be transferred to final print but nobody else did the work, we did,” Groden says.
The Zapruder film was shot by Abraham Zapruder — a Dallas dress manufacturer — and he captured “frame for frame the most valuable historical document of all time.”
The 8mm silent film was purchased by Life magazine which published screenshots of it in print but never aired the movie.
Groden was working at Manhattan Effect in 1969 where he had special expertise in blowing up 8mm movies for theatrical distribution. He had previously completed a large job processing 8mm film for a documentary about the Woodstock festival.
“Life magazine found out about it and they wanted us to see if the Zapruder film would hold resolution and clarity blown up from 8 to 35,” explains Groden
“Well they brought it to us, we did it, and suffice to say that an extra copy was made that they didn’t know about.”
Groden, who went on to write several books about Kennedy’s assassination, eventually aired the film on ABC’s late-night television show Good Night America in 1975 — the footage shocked the public.
“I was scared out of my wits because I wasn’t supposed to have the film in the first place, I was afraid to release it,” says Groden.
When asked by the podcast host, Soledad O’Brien, if he “became a whistleblower” he replies, “Yeah, that’s what it is.”
Who Killed JFK is made by the Hollywood filmmaker Rob Reiner who directed the movies When Harry Met Sally and The Princess Bride. It’s been 60 years since Kennedy was murdered.
Update 11/29: Linked to the podcast.