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DALLAS It was the announcement that stunned the world: President Kennedy was cut down by an assassin's bullet in the prime of his life and Texas Gov. John Connally was badly wounded.

The date was November 22, 1963. Tuesday marks 48 years since that tragic day.

This weekend in Dallas, a new documentary made its world premiere, revealing how a journalist scored the biggest story of his career.

The film, Zapruder + Stolley: Witness to an Assassination, explains how Life magazine bureau chief Dick Stolley secured the only eyewitness film of the JFK assassination, beating out newspaper reporters and television networks.

Stolley calmly recalled the events of that weekend as visitors to the Sixth Floor Museum were mesmerized with new details of a familiar story.

Stolley is credited with tracking down Abraham Zupruder, a Dallas businessman who was filming the presidential motorcade when the shots rang out at Dealey Plaza.

I knew Life had to have that film, and I was determined to get it, Stolley said. Thank God I was able to do so.

Stolley shared his story of being in the right place at the right time.

The stringer got word from another reporter, who got word from a cop fourth-hand, and I happened to be in the Adolphus Hotel, he recalled. It was luck... I mean one lucky thing... a little bit of skill.

And a little bit of money.

Life paid Zapruder $150,000 for the film. The government later went on to pay the Zapruder family millions to take possession of it, but the Sixth Floor Museum now owns the copyright.

Zapruder died in 1970.

Right then it was an astonishing piece of film on a tragic murder, and since then it's become probably the most famous home movie of all time, Stolley said.

Several copies were made, and one was flown back to Secret Service in Washington, and eventually copies got out so law enforcement could look at it, added Gary Mack, curator of the Sixth Floor Museum.

Stolley's crucial piece of journalism helped law enforcement determine that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing President Kennedy.

WFAA also played a role in the world seeing the Zapruder film. It was a Channel 8 employee who contacted the local Kodak film processing center to get the film developed in the hours following the assassination.

E-mail ddenmon@wfaa.com

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