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Gayle Nix- Jackson’s new book ‘Orville Nix: The Missing Assassination Film’ (Semper Ad Meliora Publishing, 2014), details the story of her grandfather Orville Nix and how he came to record the assassination of JFK. “I did this project for him, to tell his story”, explains Gayle. Orville brought his new Keystone Auto-Zoom Model K810 8mm movie camera to the corner of Main and Houston, and sought to document the presidential motorcade making its way to the Stemmons Freeway en route to the International Trade Mart, where the president was set to make a speech. We all now know in painful retrospect the words of that speech would now be forever silenced.
Nix-Jackson informs us that Secret Service agent Forrest Sorrels was a friend of her grandfather, and told him where to stand in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963. “I truly believe it was Forrest Sorrels who determined the parade route”, she said. Some published accounts had the motorcade traveling a slightly different path, but Orville trusted the word of his friend Sorrels. Orville Nix only had a fourth grade education, and worked as an air conditioner engineer for the General Services Administration in Dallas. Nix was, however, a sharp poker player, and well versed in the game of golf. This was the avenue that led him to friendship with an important agent like Sorrels, and to allow him to receive such information from him.
Sorrels advising Nix where to stand on that fateful day may raise some eyebrows, and stir up thoughts on his intentions. Gayle Nix relates that Sorrels was “a kind man, and very professional.” Nix-Jackson clearly states that Sorrels “was innocent” of having any involvement in a plot that day. Sorrels was in the lead car in the motorcade with DPD Chief Jesse Curry and Sheriff Bill Decker. Had he known of the events to transpire, he would not have knowingly ventured into the path of gunfire on that afternoon.
During a phone conversation from work not long after Kennedy’s murder, Nix related to Sorrels that he heard shots coming from the stockade fence. Sorrels replied that, “I thought they came from there, too”. Sorrels explained that he dared not “start a war between the Secret Service, and the Dallas Police Department”. The implication being that the DPD wanted the killing blamed on the ‘lone nut’ from behind, and that they were pressured from higher up to state the case as such.
Orville Nix viewed the film he shot between 40 and 60 times at the Dynacolor Film Lab, viewing it “on a plain white wall” at their facility, related Gayle. After having conferred with Sorrels, he delivered the film to the FBI on December 1st, 1963, along with his camera. The agency would return the film in a few days, and the camera disassembled in five months. Most interestingly, according to Gayle, after the return of his movie, Orville “thought it was different upon return”. The camera would never function properly again, but came with a replacement Keystone Capris model as a token consolation.
In another twist in the story, Abraham Zapruder was friends with George de Mohrenschildt. George de Mohrenschildt was in the oil business, and is thought by many to be an agency handler for Lee Harvey Oswald upon his moving to the Dallas area from New Orleans. Zapruder, of course, shot the main footage we see of JFK’s assassination. Zapruder was paid 150 thousand dollars for his film, while Orville Nix would receive only $5,000 from UPI (later in 1999, heirs to Zapruder would be compensated to the tune of 16 million dollars for his film). Further, de Mohrenschildt’s wife Jeanne had worked with Abraham Zapruder in his clothing business. Dallas, indeed, seems to be getting smaller and smaller all the time. The more we delve into the list of players making Zapruder's acquaintance we find the the likes of D.H. Byrd, George Bush, Neil Mallen, and Earl Cabell. Dallas was as small a world as Disney ever would know, it seems. The relationships make one wonder if someone had also told Mr. Zapruder where to stand to get the main event on camera for posterity.
“My grandfather was never called before the Warren Commission”, says Gayle. “He only gave an affidavit to the FBI”. Orville had passed away in 1972, but no family members were called to testify before the HSCA which opened shop in 1976, or later in 1996 before the AARB . In many instances, the family members of witnesses who passed away were called in, and their memories were recorded in an effort to make the record as complete as possible.
Mark Lane interviewed many witnesses in his 1966 film ‘Rush To Judgment’. “Mark Lane did a lot of good in the case”, opines Gayle. His opening salvo was an article on December 9th, 1963 in the National Guardian called, ‘A Defense Brief for Oswald’. Lane took many witnesses from the JFK case, and recorded them for posterity in his documentary. “Mark Lane did not put words in my grandfather’s mouth”, she relates. In Lane’s film, Nix is firm on the fact that he felt shots came from the front, from the area of the stockade fence.
Penn Jones, Jr. spoke to Orville and his wife Ella, and he “scared them to death”, recalled Gayle. When Jones came to investigate on December 8th, 1963, he recounted strange deaths which had befallen other witnesses in the case to the couple. Then the newspaper that Jones ran, the Midlothian Mirror had its offices firebombed not long after the visit. Nix was a family man who needed his government pension. He was understandably made more reticent to continue speaking out when he contemplated these events. “He believed in his government”, and at first he did not conceive that they would lie to him”, explained Gayle.
On March 1st, 1967, Clay Shaw was charged as a conspirator in the JFK assassination, in New Orleans. When Orville was asked to testify at the trial, he refused. “By then, my grandmother was very scared”, and she did not want him to go to testify”. With concerns for his family on his mind, Nix decided that caution was the better part of valor. He had received multiple threatening phone calls. When he asked who was speaking, they ominously replied, “shut your mouth, or you’ll find out.”
Orville’s film was returned to his family in, 1992, but they believe that the original copy is missing. This has to do with what appears to be a hair appearing on screen in only certain versions of the 8mm movie. After 25 years, UPI had agreed to return the film and the rights to them. Initially, they had promised not to associate Nix’ name with the film when used, but their word was broken almost immediately after they obtained the rights. Given the experiences that the family has had to date with the media overall, their feeling is a sour one. Gayle hopes that this book “will be a bridge” to fix that, and to give voice to her grandfather. Those interested in the truth would do well to add a copy to their library.
Zorro: The Unveiling of the Killing of King by Patrick Wood brings the hidden details of the 1977 Gary Revel investigation of the assassination of Martin Luther King JR. to light. He is writing and publishing the story in chapters in a way that brings to life the intimacy of Gary's dangerous quest of finding the truth and more. To begin your own personal journey Click Here to Read.
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Gary Revel found links to those responsible for the assassinations of JFK, MLK, RFK, John Lennon and the attempted killing of President Ronald Reagan.
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