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Filmmaker seeks to bring dad's JFK story to screen

- He was a doctor in Parkland Hospital emergency room in November 1963

By CHRIS COUNTS


Published: March 29, 2013

INSPIRED BY the recent success of a fundraising campaign on kickstarter.com to turn the cancelled television series, “Veronica Mars,” into a movie, an aspiring Carmel filmmaker has launched a similar effort to finance a documentary about the John F. Kennedy assassination. And, no, it’s not going to be about the latest conspiracy theory. The filmmaker’s father was an emergency room physician who treated the mortally wounded president.

A professional photographer with an impressive list of celebrity portraits in her portfolio, Christie Jenkins was a young spectator along the motorcade route in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, when the president was shot. At the same time, her father, Dr. Marion Thomas Jenkins, was working at nearby Parkland Hospital. “I was sorry my father couldn’t watch the parade with me,” Jenkins told The Pine Cone.


Three patients

After Kennedy was hit, his limousine sped him to Parkland Hospital. An anesthesiologist, Jenkins was called upon to try to resuscitate the dying president. And two days later, he performed the same task for the president’s assassin, the mortally wounded Lee Harvey Oswald. And he later operated on Oswald’s killer, Jack Ruby, in prison.

Jenkins said she believes her father’s unique vantage point — as well as “an extremely detailed” recording he made just minutes after leaving Kennedy’s body — will make a compelling documentary film. He died in 1994 at 77.

“He was the only person in the entire universe who stood by the head of President Kennedy while the president’s blood flowed down his legs and into his shoes,” Jenkins explained. “No one else had that perspective. My father was a warm and erudite man, and his unique voice should be heard.”

According to Jenkins, the documentary will tell the “second-by-second story of what actually took place in Trauma Room One that weekend,” including an unreleased interview she conducted with her father shortly before his death.

In addition to “being hounded, nearly ‘til the day he died, by conspiracy theorists,” Jenkins said her father was often misquoted in interviews about what transpired that day in Parkland Hospital. “This is his final say on the matter and my opportunity to get it out there,” she said.

While Jenkins is best known for his role in the aftermath of the assassination, his obituary in the New York Times notes that he “and a colleague devised a procedure that is used every day in operating rooms around the world when they found that by giving an intravenous saline solution to surgical patients with a strong blood pressure and pulse, the need for a blood transfusion was reduced.”


The timing is right

With the 50th anniversary of the assassination approaching, Christie Jenkins, who lives in Carmel, decided the timing was right for producing a documentary. So she launched the Kickstarter campaign in mid-March, and now she needs to get the word out. She’s hoping to raise $81,000 to cover at least a sizable portion of the production costs for the documentary, which she plans to title, “Kennedy. Parkland. Doctors. Daughter. The Missing Piece.” “Broadcast quality editing is expensive, and I like to hire talented people to do their jobs well,” she explained.

As a photographer, Jenkins has created intimate portraits of many celebrities, including Donald Trump, Bette Midler and Christopher Reeve. In 1980, she produced a best-selling calendar, “Buns: A Woman Looks at Men’s.” She has also worked at a variety of occupations in the entertainment industry, from actress, to screenwriter.

The Kickstarter campaign has two weeks to go, and the credit cards of contributors won’t be charged unless she reaches her goal. If you’re interested in contributing, visit www.kickstarter.com and type “JFK” into the search option.