Evidence of Fakery in the Zapruder Film?

Was Mary Moorman Standing In Elm Street?

It sounds utterly stupid to ask whether Mary Moorman, when she took her famous Polaroid picture of the assassination, was standing on the pavement in Elm Street, as opposed to standing on the grass of the Dealey Plaza infield. After all, the Zapruder film of the assassination shows her standing on the grass, in a black coat, with the camera to her face (right).

But that's the rub.

A group of conspiracy theorists — including Jack White, James Fetzer, and David Mantik — now claims that, based on the "lines of sight" in the photo, she must have been actually standing in the street. And that has very radical implications. If Moorman was standing in the street when the presidential limo passed, that means the Zapruder film is faked! And given the technical expertise necessary to pull off such an astounding act of fakery, the U.S. government and top technical experts in government security agencies must have been involved.

But is this claim credible?

Never mind that the chief researcher making the claim — retired Fort Worth advertising executive Jack White — has a history of outlandish photo interpretations. Never mind that Moorman said she was on the grass — both to the Dallas County Sheriff's Department on November 22, 1963, and to the FBI on November 23, 1963 (Commission Exhibit 2003, p. 42; Commission Exhibit 1426). And never mind that three other films of the assassination (Muchmore, Nix, and Bronson) show her standing in the exact same spot on the grass that the Zapruder films does. If the lines of sight in the Polaroid really show that it had to be shot by someone standing in Elm Street, we might actually consider the possibility that Moorman was mistaken or lying and all the other photographic evidence forged.

In the following article, Josiah Thompson and Gary Mack scrutinize Jack White's claim.



The tests were performed by Gary Mack and Josiah Thompson in Dealey Plaza from about 12:30 to 12:45 PM on November 25, 2001.We were observed by approximately twenty attendees from the COPA conference, though this was not a COPA-affiliated event. A sign-up sheet was passed around and the following individuals added their names to it knowing that the list would be posted on the Internet: Robert Cristel, Dan Sutton, Stan Clark, Peggy Davidson, Walt Brown, Gerry Satterfield, Gary Aguilar, Terry Bright, Peter Dale Scott, Andy Winiarczyk, Steve Allred, Kathy Emberton and Betty Windsor.

Mary Moorman (right) and her friend Jean Hill in the press room of the Dallas County Sheriff's Department on the afternoon of the assassination

Photocopies of both a full-frame and enlargement from the Moorman photo were used to establish the correct line-of-sight.Two yardsticks each 36" in length were taped together to produce a total length of 60". A Minolta SRT-101 camera with a Rokkor-PF 55 mm lens was used to take reference photographs using Kodak 35mm print film.


The test was designed to establish the height above the ground of the line-of-sight present in the Moorman photo and thus Moorman's location when she took her picture.This line-of-sight is formed by a specific misalignment of two points in the Moorman photo: (1) the top left corner of the Zapruder pedestal and (2) the bottom right corner of the lowest window in the pergola. The height of this line-of-sight was measured at two locations: (a) a spot above and behind the south curb of Elm Street corresponding to Moorman's location in the grass as defined in the Zapruder and other films, and (b) a spot in the roadway two feet from the south curb of Elm Street.


In recent conversations with Mack, Moorman said she was 5' 0" to 5' 1" in those days, which suggests about 5' 1" wearing everyday shoes.A photo taken around 11:00 that morning shows her wearing ordinary "loafers." For this test, we are assuming her height in Dealey Plaza to have been 5' 1" or 61 inches.It has also been suggested that the average distance from one's eye to the top of one's head is at least four to five inches. We are accepting that Moorman's eyes were four inches or more below the top of her head.Since she appears in the Zapruder film to have had her legs apart, knees slightly bent and is leaning somewhat forward, we are assuming a further one to two inch drop in height due to her posture.

Resources on the Zapruder Film Fakery Theory
The theory of Zapruder film fakery has been promoted by Prof. James Fetzer in his two edited books on the assassination. One is titled Assassination Science, and the other titled Murder in Dealey Plaza.

Two excellent web sites debunk the theory:

Finally, the "fakery" issue was the subject of intense discussion at JFK Lancer's 1996 November in Dallas conference, and again at the 1998 Conference. Videos of both are available.

— John McAdams

Regarding the ground condition, photographs taken after the assassination showing where Moorman stood were compared with a visual inspection of the area today. A 1966 photograph of that same area shows the sod had been removed by workers.It appears the sod today is built up a little higher than it was in 1966, though the difference is likely an inch or less.

As for Moorman's camera, measurements of the same model camera show that the center of the Polaroid lens is 2.25 inches below the camera viewfinder which, according to the Zapruder film, she was using with her right eye. Other measurements show that the focal plane of the Polaroid camera was just under one inch from the back of the camera as measured from beneath the viewfinder. The lens was 4.5 inches in front of the back of the camera. Additionally, the camera lens was about 1.5 inches above the bottom of the camera as she held it.

In summary, from looking at the Zapruder film and knowing additional facts, we would expect the center ofMoorman's camera lens to be approximately between 53-54 inches above the ground.While the heels of her feet may have been about two feet from the curb, she of course held her camera in front of her face.All these observations strongly suggest that the camera lens was probably within one-half foot of the curb edge.


Moorman's approximate position by the curb was first discerned by aligning various points in the Moorman photograph.More exact sightings were then made to establish the true line-of-sight described above. Thompson held the measuring stick with its bottom on the top of the curb and with his thumb on the 54" mark for reference. Mack then placed the center of the lens of his camera alongside the measuring stick, moved slightly back and downward until the line-of-sight appeared exact, and pressed the shutter.The height above the curb to the center of the camera lens was then noted.

The same procedure was then repeated from a spot along the same line-of-sight two feet into the roadway from the curb. Once again, Thompson held the measuring stick with its bottom on the pavement.Then Mack moved the camera lens up and down until he found the same line-of-sight as seen in the Moorman photograph. At that point, he snapped the shutter and the height of the camera lens above the pavement was noted.


In the first test, the height of the line-of-sight above and behind the curb was measured to be between 53 and54 inches. A reference photograph documenting this line-of-sight can be found at the end of this report. In the second test, the height of the line-of-sight above the street pavement was measured to be between 61 and 62 inches.A reference photograph documenting this line-of-sight can also be found following this report. Full frame versions of the photos are also reproduced below.


Mary Ann Moorman stood on the grass when taking her famous photograph of the Kennedy assassination. A line-of-sight present in her photograph passes above the curb at a height of 53 to 54 inches.This figure accords nicely with the 53 to 54 inch height of her camera lens as deduced from the known physical dimensions of the camera and Moorman's height and posture as seen in the Zapruder film.

Furthermore, had Moorman been standing in the street at the time she took her famous photo, she would have had to place her camera on top of her head to achieve the same line-of-sight. Accepting her height in shoes as 61 inches and the camera lens as 1.5 inches above the camera bottom, and removing 0.5 inch of added pavement since 1963, the total height of the lens would then have been 62 inches. This is the elevation above the pavement of the line-of-sight which appears in her photo. If the pavement were considerably thinner in 1963 that it is today, she would have had to elevate the camera above her head even further.With the camera on top of her head, of course, she would not have been able to see through the viewfinder.

We are extremely grateful to Craig Lamson for taking the time and trouble to prepare the excellent comparison visuals for us.

Gary Mack
Josiah Thompson
December 3, 2001
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