50 Years Later: Where Were You When JFK Was Assassinated?

Celebrities and newsmakers talk about the day they learned that the President had been killed.

President Kennedy's limousine speeds along Elm Street toward the Stemmons Freeway overpass moments after he was shot at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Nov. 22, 1963. Secret Service agent Clint Hill is seen on the back of the car as Jacqueline Kennedy tends to her fatally wounded husband.

President Kennedy's limousine speeds along Elm Street toward the Stemmons Freeway overpass moments after he was shot at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Nov. 22, 1963. Secret Service agent Clint Hill is seen on the back of the car as Jacqueline Kennedy tends to her fatally wounded husband.

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It didn’t matter that day whether you were a Democrat or Republican, since everyone was united in their grief. President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, Texas, 50 years ago ultimately marked the end of America’s innocence and the inception of a dubious future for the nation and its people.

[READ MORE: JFK: 50 Years Later]

I was 8 years old on Nov. 22, 1963, and Kennedy’s assassination remains one of my most vivid childhood memories. Anyone who was old enough remembers where they were and what they were doing when they heard the tragic news of the president’s death. I reached out to many newsmakers and celebrities and asked them to share their memories of the day. Here’s what they told me.

“I was in my business office in Plains, Georgia, and went out the back to weep.” -- Former President Jimmy Carter

“In 1958, I ran into the back of his car in Palm Beach, Florida. We didn’t exchange license plates. We just swore to him that we would vote for him in 1960, which me and my friend did. I really respected and liked John Kennedy a great deal. On November 22nd, 1963, I was driving to have lunch with a friend when the bulletin came on the radio. I immediately made a U-turn over the railroad tracks and I remember I cut off three cars and went back to my radio station. Everything went berserk at the radio station. We were calling people and getting people on the phone. I got Kennedy’s ambassador of Ireland, Grant Stockdale, on the phone who couldn’t even speak, couldn’t even talk. It was really weird. He was crying. Three days later he would kill himself. They were very good friends. It was really a tragedy. I went on the air that night and we did a special program. We called and talked to different people. It was a calamitous day and a terrible time.” -- News broadcaster Larry King

“I was working as a floor model at I. Magnin’s, a high end department store on a corner of San Francisco’s Union Square. I was 23 years old and thought I was hot stuff. On that day, nobody was hot stuff. We had lost our prince.” -- Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick

“I was in the Senate chambers of the California legislator in Sacramento, California. We were filming a pilot for a series starring Richard Crenna. It was called ‘Slattery’s People.’ I played a veteran capitol news reporter. About four of us actors were lolling in one of the offices when this idiot of a wardrobe man came in to fit me on some clothes. After about fifteen minutes of measuring and pinning, he finally says,‘Wasn’t that terrible what happened to Kennedy.’ We said ‘What?’ And the idiot tells us. I wanted to kill him. We raced down to the floor of the legislator where the latest news would come in on the floor of the hall. Of course it got worse and worse and finally we knew it was over. They cancelled filming that day and as solace for a couple of actors and myself, the sergeant at arms provided us with a couple of aides and a car to drive us around the countryside. We ended up in Nevada City at a wonderful old hotel and drank and listened to the news. It was a memorable day.” – Award-winning actor Ed Asner

“The day that I remember most vividly in the Peace Corps was the day after President Kennedy was assassinated. Depressed, some friends and I were not in the mood to deal with the local beggar when he approached us. But then with a sad smile, he said, ‘No money. I want to tell you how sad we are that your young president was assassinated.’ There, in a remote town half way around the world, a distraught, young Peace Corps volunteer and a beggar embraced and cried together over the death of President Kennedy.” -- University of Miami President and former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala

“On that hideous day, I had just left my dentist’s office and was meeting a friend at the New York Public Library. As I turned to walk up the steps, the flag was being put at half-mast. It had only been four months since I was privileged to meet him at the White House. He lives in my heart forever.” –- Academy Award-winning actress Anna “Patty Duke” Pearce


Corrected on : Corrected, 11/13/13: Former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis ran for president in 1988.