DALLAS — It's not the famous film you know from the Kennedy assassination, but a half century later, the six seconds Orville Nix captured could now be the most important.
"There are people in the research community that label the Nix film as the 'Holy Grail,’" said Gayle Nix Jackson, the photographer’s granddaughter.
Orville Nix, who died in 1972, had his camera pointed at the infamous grassy knoll as President Kennedy’s limousine rolled down Elm Street in November 1963.
Nix’s film shows the final bullet striking the president; then first lady Jacqueline Kennedy is seen climbing out of her seat and onto the trunk as U.S. Secret Service Agent Clint Hill scrambles aboard.
Over the decades, Nix’s original film disappeared. Only copies now exist.
Purists say that first film might show more detail and finally settle the question whether a gunman was on the grassy knoll.
"If it shows a second gunman, then we'll put an end to all these conspiracy theories, because we'll know," Jackson said. "If it doesn't, we'll put an end to that way, too."
The FBI borrowed the original film in 1963 but returned it to Nix.
The United Press International news agency then paid him $5,000 for the rights to it, but no one has seen the original reel in years.
Jackson gave up finding it in the 1990s, but just recently resurrected her search with a new book titled Orville Nix: The Missing JFK Assassination Film.
"The reason why it's so important is because it's almost the mirror image of the famous Zapruder film" said Farris Rookstool III, a former analyst for the FBI. "In my personal opinion, the film is either one of two places — either it's been discarded, not knowing that it was the original... or it's in the hands of a private collector."
Either way, the missing 8mm film has only added to conspiracy theories over the decades.
Nix's granddaughter says she's not in it for the money... she just wants to solve the enduring mystery.