Dallas, Texas November 22, 1963 12:30pm
A 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible limousine (code named X-100 by the Secret Service), part of a 17 vehicle procession, turned left off of Houston Street onto Elm Street next to Dealey Plaza. In the car were the driver (William Greer, a Secret Service agent), Texas Governor John Connally, his wife (Nellie Connally), President John F. Kennedy, the president’s wife (Jacqueline Kennedy) and a second Secret Service agent (Roy Kellerman). The vehicles were all headed to Dallas Market Center where President Kennedy was to give a speech during a luncheon at the Trade Mart.
As the presidential limo passed the Texas School Book Depository, at least three shots were fired. Two hit the president and one hit the governor. (Of course, this has been the topic of heated debate for almost 60 years.)
The limousine raced to Parkland Hospital where the president was pronounced dead at 1pm.
A crowd of people standing along the parade route witnessed the murder. Some notable witnesses were:
Abraham Zapruder, who filmed the assassination and may have provided the most valuable information currently available in the study of this crime.
James Tague, who was hit by a fragment of concrete when a stray bullet bounced off the pavement where he was standing.
Howard Bennan, who testified that he saw the gunman on the 6th floor of the Texas Schoolbook Depository.
Orville Nix, Marie Muchmore and Mark Bell, who also took video of the assassination.
And a woman known only as the Babushka Lady, who was seen in the Zapruder, Nix, Muchmore and Bell films. It was noted by witnesses that she was also holding a video camera.
She was called the Babushka Lady because she was wearing a tan overcoat and headscarf. (Babushka means old woman in Russian.) She has never been positively identified and her film was never recovered. Film showed that even after the shots had been fired, when others were ducking for cover, she was still standing and filming.
There is speculation that her film may include the trajectory of the bullet and a view of the grassy knoll.
Later, she crossed to the grassy knoll with a group of people then walked away east on Elm Street. She couldn’t be identified from the images in other films because her camera blocked her face.
In 1970, a woman named Beverly Oliver told Gary Shaw, a conspiracy researcher, that she was the Babushka Lady.
In 1963, Oliver was 17 years old and a singer and dancer at the Colony Club, a strip club in Dallas, Texas.
She claimed to be friends with Jack Ruby, who she had met at a strip club that he owned, The Carousel Club. The two had travelled together, but Oliver insisted that their relationship was platonic. (Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald, the man accused of killing Kennedy, in the basement of the Dallas Police Station on November 24, 1963.)
Oliver was dating a man named Larry Ronco that she had met the year before while working a second job as a singer at the amusement park, Six Flags Over Texas in the Dallas suburb of Arlington.
Ronco worked for Eastman Kodak and had been hired by Six Flags to film and photograph the park for ads. Many of these included images of Oliver, but when the park found out that she worked at the Colony Club, she was fired.
Ronco proposed to Oliver, despite the fact that he was married at the time.
Oliver claimed that the camera she used to film the Kennedy assassination was a Yashica Super-8 Zoom movie camera. These would not become available for purchase until 1965, but Oliver claimed that it was a prototype given to her by Ronco. Those that doubt Oliver’s claim to be the Babushka Lady often site that she couldn’t have taken video with a camera that did not yet exist.
Oliver claims to have met Oswald, who she was told was a CIA agent, in early October 1963 when he was introduced to her by Ruby. A few days later, Oswald was kicked out of the Carousel Club when he interrupted a comedy performance.
Oliver claimed that after being out all night with Ruby, she arrived at Dealey Plaza around 11am on November 22 where she looked for a place to film the procession. After she left Dealey Plaza, she said she went home, took a sleeping pill and fell asleep. None of the friends that had dinner with Ruby the night before the assassination remember seeing Oliver. She claims that they didn’t recognize her because she was wearing a dark wig.
The next morning, she learned that Oswald had been arrested for the shooting. Two days later, she saw on television that Ruby had shot Oswald.
The following Monday, she arrived for work at the Colony Club. According to Oliver, she was met there by two men claiming to be from the FBI. (Although, in one account, she claims that one was from the FBI and the other from the CIA.) They asked her for the film she took on the day of the assassination. Oliver said that she gave them the film and they promised to return it to her in a few days.
She told others, “If they could kill the President of the United States, they could kill a two-bit show girl like me and it wouldn’t even make the back page of the newspaper.” . She also said that she was in possession of a small amount of marijuana at the time and didn’t want to get into trouble. She claims that she never got her film back.
She was asked by reporters outside the Colony Club if she knew Ruby. She said that she did not.
Shortly after the assassination, Oliver broke up with Rosco and fled Dallas, fearing for her life. He became so obsessive that she filed for a restraining order against him.
She married George McGann, a gambler and possible mobster, on July 31, 1966. Together they ran The Sky King Nightclub.
McGann was adamantly opposed to Oliver ever talking about the assassination. She claimed that one time he even threatened to kill her if she did.
It is possible that McGann was a hitman. He was killed under suspicious circumstances in 1970.
Oliver became a fundamentalist Christian and began attending revivals. This is where she met Shaw. She would grant him the first interview in which she claimed to be the Babushka Lady.
She married a Baptist preacher named Charles Massagee.
She gave birth to four children. A daughter at the age of 17 that was given up for adoption, a son with McGann that died within hours of his birth, a son with Massagee who passed within three months and her youngest daughter, Pebbles, who suffers from a genetic disorder. Oliver donated one of her kidneys to save Pebble’s life.
Shaw and Oliver connected many of the people linked to the assassination, including Oswald’s former attorney and a man arrested on the day of the shooting, to the Carousel Club.
Some people who have looked at images of the Babushka Lady and pictures of Oliver as a young women have said that the Babushka Lady looked too old and weighed too much to be Oliver.
Oliver was featured in the 1988 documentary The Men Who Killed Kennedy by the History Channel and has indicated that she believed that there was a conspiracy to kill Kennedy that included both Oswald and Ruby. She also co-authored a book with Coke Buchanan called Nightmare in Dallas that was published in 1994.
At a press conference in 1999, Oliver claimed that 4 frames of her film had been located. She showed one to Doug Horne stating that it must be hers because she wasn’t in the shot. Horne said that he believed the film to have been taken from farther west than the Babushka Lady was seen in other films. Later, at Dealey Plaza, he tried to show her where the image was taken from. She dismissed him. She showed the other three images to John Hunt, Jr. who recognized them to be stills from the Nix film.
Lolita Davidovich plays Oliver in Oliver Stone’s film, JFK.
We may never know if Oliver was, in fact, the Babushka Lady or what questions the missing film could finally answer.
A video summary of this story