Gainesville woman’s famous Polaroid of Kennedy’s killing expected to fetch small fortune at auction
By Robert Wilonsky
Dallas Morning News
10:31 am on October 18, 2013
Mary Ann Moorman took the most famous — and, consequentially, the most controversial — photograph of President John Kennedy’s assassination: the one that spawned the so-called Badge Man, the one that shows Abraham Zapruder at his perch in Dealey Plaza, the one that got her subpoenaed by the House Select Committee on Assassinations years later. Decades ago Gary Mack, now curator of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, was obsessed with Moorman’s photos — not just the one taken at the moment of the killing, but those taken just before and just after.
But Mack can’t talk about Moorman’s photos now: It’s the museum’s policy to keep mum on items up for auction, and on November 14 — what timing — Cincinnati-based Cowan’s Auctions is auctioning off that Polaroid. It’s expected to go for around $50,000 to $75,000, despite the fact there’s not much of it left 50 years later.
On November 22, 1963, Hill was interviewed by the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department about what she saw. She explained:
Mrs. Jean Hill and I were standing on the grass by the park on Elm Street between the underpass and the corner of Elm & Houston. I had a Polaroid Camera [sic] with me and was intending to take pictures of President Kennedy and the motorcade. As the motorcade started toward me I took two pictures. As President Kennedy was opposite me I took a picture of him. As I snapped the picture of President Kennedy, I heard a shot ring out. President Kennedy kind of slumped over. Then I heard another shot ring out and Mrs. Kennedy jumped up in the car and said, “My God he had been shot.” When I heard these shots ring out, I fell to the ground to keep from being hit myself. I heard three or four shots in all. After the pictures I took were developed, the Picture [sic] of President Kennedy showed him slumped over. When the pictures were developed, they came out real light. These pictures have been turned over to Officers [sic] investigating this incident.
The photo appeared in the Dallas Times Herald; it would be a few more days before it became national news.
Mooreman is the subject of a new short film by Dallas documentary filmmaker Alan Govenar: The Silent Witness Speaks, which is screening at this very moment as part of an exhibition at the International Center of Photography in New York City.
When asked by the Cincinnati Enquirer why she’s selling the photo, the 81-year-old offers a simple, reasonable answer: “I don’t need the picture any longer. I have the memories.”