“The shocking news that President Kennedy had been shot was just beginning to hit the Dallas Lab in its full impact when a call came that important films connected with the assassination were being rushed to the lab.
Dick Blair of the lab’s Service Dept. got the call about 1:30 p.m. (Central Standard Time).
Then followed a series of events that saw some of the most graphic films of the tragedy processed at the lab, and Secret Service, Dallas police and reporters questioning witnesses in the lobby.
The witnesses were Abraham Zapruder, a Dallas dress manufacturer who had exposed 8mm footage on Kodachrome II Film, and several other persons who had taken pictures at the scene. They were brought along with their films by Secret Service men and Dallas police in a squad car.
When the Dallas police squad car arrived, everything went smoothly. Marilyn Brandon received the cameras still loaded with films from police at the “will call” desk. Dick Blair was ready to remove the films from the cameras, with Kathryn Kirby standing by to number them. Travis Willey sent the films on to the processing machines. Bill Hutchins and Gordon Weilert had the 8mm machines ready to go and Phil Willis, Robert Davis and Dave VanZandt soon had the 35mm films in processing stages. Willa Dean Huffstutler later mounted the 35mm films.
Meantime, federal and local police were gathering every scrap of evidence they could obtain from the people who had exposed the films. In Walter Bent’s office a reporter sketched on Bent’s desk a map of the room from which the shots were fired and phoned it in detail to his office. The map was reproduced in the Dallas Morning News.
By this time the films were ready for viewing by the authorities. Several of the frames taken from the 8mm Kodachrome II Film were printed in a Dallas newspaper the next day. They showed the President as a bullet struck him, Mrs. Kennedy reacting to the tragic moment and then the President slumping to the floor of the car.
Processing of the film was done in the full 16mm width. After viewing, it was sent to the Jamieson Film Lab for duplicating since the Secret Service men had asked for a print. Three copies were returned to the Dallas Lab where they were slit to 8mm size by Edna Oldham.
Meantime Phil Chamberlain, production supervisor, asked Zapruder if the lab people might attend the second viewing of the films and he agreed.
A Dallas newspaper reports that the still rights to Zapruder’s films had been purchased by a national magazine for more than $25,000.
Chamberlain informed the Secret Service, FBI and Dallas police that the lab was ready to operate on Saturday if further service was required. It was, and federal authorities arrived with black-and-white films and a copy of Zapruder’s 8mm Kodachrome II Film. The latter was projected and then viewed frame-by-frame in a Kodak Analyst 8mm Projector by two FBI men who too a steady stream of notes.
It was late Saturday when the lab crew finally finished its task and departed to join the rest of the world in mourning the slain President of the United States.”
employee newsletter December 5, 1963