JFK's last days: Exclusive footage of Kennedy in San Antonio




Posted on May 10, 2010 at 8:56 AM

SAN ANTONIO -- It's footage that has never been seen before of President John F. Kennedy's last days of life in 1963.

88-year-old Roy R. Botello owns it. It is an 8 millmeter film reel he shot nearly 50 years ago. JFK Museum curators have seen it and say it is a national treasure.

The three-and-a-half minute footage has been sitting in a chest of drawers in the living room of Botello's modest south-side home.

"All this time it's been right there," says Botello, opening the drawer and pulling out the reel.

You can see in the footage that it was a glamorous night. "Crazy! Everybody went nuts, it was so loud," says Botello about that night.

It was November 21st, 1963. Botello shot home video of a LULAC gala in Houston, where an impromptu visit by the President and First Lady made this the party of a lifetime.

"One time, I was taking the video, somebody knocked me down. I just went with the camera straight up to the ceiling," says Botello describing how he almost fell backward.

Botello was chairman of LULAC's scholarship committee back then, and had a front row seat during that presidential visit with film recorder in hand.

"We being Spanish speaking, and (Jackie Kennedy) spoke Spanish, we were very glad she was there. We had Mariachis behind her. She knew what they were singing." Botello said.

Botello was just feet away from the Kennedys and describes the late first lady as a very attractive and attentive woman in person, she stayed close to her husband.

"I think she tried to explain to him what was going on, as far as the singing, because I don't think he knew a word of Spanish -- maybe adios."

This is one of only two pieces of film taken that night that KENS 5 could find. In the other, found on YouTube, you can hear some of Mrs. Kennedy's remarks in Spanish.

The very next stop on their tour of Texas was that fateful trip to Dallas where America's Camelot was shattered. "I remember very well, everything stopped. Everyone was very sad, We just could not believe what had occurred."

JFK experts KENS 5 spoke with say they are very interested in the contents of Roy Botello's film. They say just about any never-before-seen footage of the former president and first lady would have historical value.

"I saw the film and it's marvelous. It's wonderful. I love films like this because it puts you there in the moment," says Gary Mack, museum curator for The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.

"What I want to do, and what I've always wanted to do, is to give this to the national archives," Botello said.

Both the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza say they would love to include this video in their archives.

"At the Sixth Floor Museum, we like all of these images because they give a unique perspective and there's always the chance that a photographer will catch something that none of the other cameras caught. So that's why we're anxious to find these and preserve them," Mack said.

"It would be nice to have it there. That would make me feel real proud," Botello said.

The Sixth Floor Museum is working with Botello to donate his film to their archives and include them as part of not just institutional history, but as part of the ongoing investigation into JFK's assasination.

There are only a handful of Texas home videos of JFK on his tour of the Lone Star State before his death.