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Kilduff Tells of Moments after President Kennedy’s Death in Dallas

Dec. 23, 1963 - In a radio interview taped for broadcast today by the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company, Assistant Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff (right on Nov. 22) told of the tense, hectic minutes after President Kennedy’s death a month ago in Parkland Hospital in Dallas. Surgeons pronounced the President dead at 1 p.m., and Kilduff said that ten minutes later he told Kenneth O’Donnell, White House appointments secretary, that the news of Mr. Kennedy’s death had not been made public and suggested it be done. O’Donnell told him to check first with the new President. Kilduff described the moments that followed: “I walked through the hall, through the emergency room, and into the small cubicle where President Johnson was sitting with Mrs. Johnson and with Rufus Youngblood, the Secret Service agent who had been with him. For the first time, when I looked at him — very frankly, I didn’t know what to call him — I just blurted out, ‘Mr. President.’ He turned around, and I will never forget the look on his face because I am fairly sure this was the first time he had been called ‘Mr. President.’ I said, ‘I have to announce the death of President Kennedy. Is it all right with you?’ And he reacted immediately. He said, ‘No, Mac, I think we had better wait for a few minutes. I think I had better get out of here and get back to the plane before you announced it.’ He said, ‘We don’t know whether this is a worldwide conspiracy, whether they are after me as well as they were after President Kennedy, or whether they are after Speaker McCormack or Senator Hayden. We just don’t know.” Under law, House Speaker John McCormack (D-Mass.) and Senator Carl Hayden (D-Ariz.) are next in line for succession to the Presidency should anything happen to Mr. Johnson. Mr. Kilduff did not announce President Kennedy’s death until after Mr. Johnson had departed for Love Field. At the press conference at Parkland Hospital, Mr. Kilduff announced Mr. Johnson’s departure but did not divulge his whereabouts.


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