top of page

Fatal Shooting of Oswald Witnessed by Millions Live on Television

Nov. 24, 1963 - The fatal shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald, who was being held as the assassin of President Kennedy, was seen as it occurred today by millions of television viewers. NBC telecast the dramatic happening live. Less than a minute later, CBS telecast it by means of tape made as the shooting occurred. The incident marked the first time in 15 years of television around the globe that a real-life homicide had occurred in front of live cameras. The closest parallel occurred in October 1960, when Inejiro Asanuma, a Japanese political leader, was knifed on a public stage in Tokyo. Tape recordings of this murder were played back on Japanese T.V. stations 10 minutes later. Today, it had been a quiet and subdued morning on television, with an emphasis on religious services and plans for the funeral of President Kennedy tomorrow. Under stand-by arrangements for instant switching to Dallas, NBC and CBS took their audiences to the now familiar overcrowded corridor in the Dallas Police Department. Once again there appeared in view the figure of Oswald with a plainclothes man at each side. All three men appeared to be looking toward the left side of the screen. Out of the lower right corner came the back of a man. A shot rang out, and Oswald could be heard groaning as he started to fall. Tom Pettit, NBC correspondent, said quickly: “He’s been shot! He’s been shot! Lee Oswald has been shot. There is absolute panic. Pandemonium has broken out.” On the faces of the police officers there was shock, and then a viewer could see the officers swarming over the back of the assailant, Jack Ruby, a nightclub operator. The television coverage showed Ruby being whisked away and Oswald being sped in an ambulance to Parkland Hospital. The T.V. sequence was over almost as soon as it started.


bottom of page