Marilyn Sitzman

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Marilyn Sitzman (December 14, 1939 – August 11, 1993) was a witness to the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. She was with her boss, Abraham Zapruder, as he made the Zapruder film, the most studied record of the assassination.

Zapruder's clothing company, Jennifer Juniors, was one block from Dealey Plaza, through which the presidential motorcade would be passing on November 22. When Zapruder arrived at work that morning without his 8 mm movie camera, his secretary Lillian Rogers encouraged him to go home to retrieve it. Zapruder, with Sitzman, his receptionist, standing behind him to steady him, filmed the presidential motorcade as both were standing on a 4-foot (1.2 m) high pedestal which extends from a retaining wall that was part of the John Neely Bryan concrete pergola on the grassy knoll north of Elm Street, in Dealey Plaza. The fatal head shot struck President Kennedy as his limousine passed almost directly in front of their position, 65 feet (20 m) from the center of Elm Street.

Sitzman went on record about the direction of the shots she heard, stating that they came from the direction of the Texas School Book Depository.[1] Sitzman rejected the theory that one or more shots came from behind the 5-foot (1.5 m) high stockade fence atop the knoll:[2]

And I'm sure that if the second shot would have come from a different place—and the supposed theory is they would have been much closer to me and on the right side—I would have heard the sounding of the gun much closer, and I probably had a ringing in my head because the fence was quite close to where we were standing, very close.

Between Sitzman and the stockade fence was a 3.3-foot (1 m) high, L-shaped concrete alcove along the path from the stairway up the knoll to the area behind the pergola. Some assassination researchers, studying vague shapes in a photograph taken by Mary Moorman from across the street just after the fatal head shot, saw the so-called "badge man" aiming a rifle from this area. Another person, Gordon Arnold, came forth in 1978 to claim that he had been standing in that area taking a film of the motorcade.

However, in a long-forgotten interview with researcher Josiah Thompson from 1966, rediscovered in 1985, Sitzman gave eyewitness testimony to who was in the alcove below her and about nine yards (8.2 m) to her right: a young black couple was sitting on a bench, eating lunch and drinking sodas. When the shots rang out, the couple ran along the path to the area behind the pergola. Sitzman recalled hearing a soda bottle breaking as they ran. Asked if she saw anyone else in this area between the concrete wall and the stockade fence, Sitzman said no, only the couple.

Sitzman was born in Lafayette, Colorado and attended the University of Colorado at Boulder before moving to Dallas. She died of cancer at age 53 in Mesquite, Texas.[3]

Sitzman was portrayed by Lynne Rostochil in Oliver Stone's 1991 film JFK[4][5] and by Bitsie Tulloch in Peter Landesman's 2013 film Parkland.[6]


  1. ^ "1993.011.0021 – Marilyn Sitzman Oral History Interview". Dallas, Texas: Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. 2012. Retrieved December 28, 2012. 
  2. ^ Josiah Thompson interview of Marilyn Sitzman, 1966.
  3. ^ "Zapruder aide Marilyn Sitzman dies", The Dallas Morning News, August 14, 1993, p. 40A.
  4. ^ Wilonsky, Robert (November 24, 2008). "Meanwhile, Down at Dealey Plaza ...". Dallas Observer (Dallas). Retrieved December 28, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Photograph of actors on the set of Oliver Stone's "JFK" in Dealey Plaza". Dallas, Texas: Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. 2012. Retrieved December 28, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Bitsie Tulloch Is A Part Of 'Parkland'". InsomniacMania. January 31, 2013. 

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