Rare color film of JFK’s last night alive posted

Rare color footage of John and Jackie Kennedy taken at the Rice Hotel in Houston just before 9:00 PM on Nov. 21, 1963, has been restored and posted online by the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.

The film was made by Roy Botello who was in town for a convention of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) held at the Rice. He was the first Scholarship Corporation Chairman of LULAC in San Antonio, so as a high level functionary he had a unique opportunity to film John and Jackie Kennedy up close on his Bolex 8mm camera as they arrived and greeted dignitaries in the ballroom.

There is no audio so we although we see the President and the First Lady at the microphone, we can’t hear him speak or hear Jacqueline Kennedy wow the crowd when she addresses them in fluent Spanish without notes, but she certainly looks the part in her black dress and triple strand of pearls. Audio recordings of the event capture the crowd shouting “ole!” after she finished speaking.

Botello returned home to San Antonio the next day. He put the film in a steel case, locked it in a drawer and kept it there for almost 50 years. Last year it finally saw the light of day again after a reporter tracked him down and asked to see it. After that first public viewing, Roy Botello decided to donate the film to the Sixth Floor Museum.

The museum has restored it, commissioning a new film-to-video transfer, correcting the color and exposure, and posted the raw footage online. With this latest addition to its collection, the Sixth Floor Museum now has home movies of every city Kennedy visited during his final trip to Texas, minus Fort Worth.

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