JFK: A Few of Our Favorite Batshit Crazy Conspiracy Theories

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The Umbrella Man

The mad genius behind this one -- which happens to be one of our faves -- may be lost to history, but somehow this tall tale has managed to stick around. This could be because this individual (or portions of his umbrella) appears in the Zapruder film and in still photos, so, whether he liked it or not, he's inextricably part of the case file. And why is this fellow so appealing to some of the theorists? Because he's the only person who can be seen holding an umbrella on what was a clear, sunny day.

As the President's car passed him, the Umbrella Man ("Brella" to his friends) opened his eponymous awning, held it above his head and waved it about. Theorists have interpreted this to mean he was either signalling unknown shooters or -- because the umbrella was really a James Bond-like gun -- firing a tranquilizer dart into JFK in order to make him a more stationary target.

Apparently tired of hearing this nonsense, the House Select Committee on the Assassination in 1978 set out to find this most spectral of figures. Turns out the U.M. was a former insurance company supervisor named Louis Witt, a staunch Republican who was using the umbrella to heckle the President. Dude could've spared himself some infamy if he'd just flipped off JFK instead.

James Fetzer and the Zapruder Zig-Zag

Fetzer, a University of Minnesota-Duluth professor, has written extensively about how the famous Zapruder film was supposedly altered in furtherance of a conspiracy. He edited the unbelievably engrossing compendium of coo-coo, The Great Zapruder Film Hoax, in which he and other film fanatics dissect Zapruder's clip frame-by-frame, geometrically extrapolating the positions and angles and height of every person and their relationship to every blade of grass, deducing that, if the film is authentic, certain people would have to be over seven feet tall. We seriously cannot recommend this book enough.

Those are just a few of the kookier theories out there. Feel free to share yours, especially if they involve Bigfoot.

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Like it or not, the Oops theory, as you put it, provides the most likely explanation and has the weight of a ballistics expert behind it. Through this lens the bizarre behavior of the Secret Service, even before they knew anything about a Lee H. Oswald, makes perfect sense: they were protecting one of their own. Oswald undoubtedly saw JFK's head explode through his scope and if he didn't fire that round then he'd certainly say he was a patsy. Agent Hickey picked up a "ready to go" AR-15, which unlike Oswald's weapon, very likely was loaded with frangible rounds, and looked backwards towards the Book Depository by all accounts. The car lurched forward. It isn't at all goofy to imagine the weapon pointing towards the front at that time as he was scanning the scene behind him. The gun went off. A very low probability event but one that clearly was possible. Oswald's rifle contained full metal jacket rounds too small for the 6mm entry wound as measured by Dr. Hume. The .223 in the AR-15 fits nicely. The bullet didn't leave just a larger exit hole it left a gigantic opening. Frangible round, pure and simple. Hickey only had to flip off the safety as he brought it from the floor and pulling the trigger would fire a round. I really question how anyone can refer to this theory as "batshit crazy." I've seen all the theories, including the Warren Commission's, and believe this one to be correct.


Marilyn Monroe wasn't the only diva to sing "Happy Birthday" to President Kennedy at his extravagant 45t birthday party at Madison Square Garden on May 19, 1962. Maria Callas, the Greek-American soprano assoluto, and mistress of Aristotle Onassis was also present. Maria and Marilyn hit it off and both left with the President They partied deep into the night. Jacky was off touring India with her sister, at the time.  As later revealed by the FOI Act, JFK, Marilyn Monroe and Maria Callas did not come out of his suite at the Waldorf until late the next morning. When Callas discovered she was pregnant with JFK's child. she returned to Onassis who was livid and forced her to get an abortion. Onassis ordered a hit on JFK by a team of professionals from the Marseilles underground with help from members of the Dallas Hellenic Cultural Society (some of whom were Birchers and Mormons) With his rival dead, Onassis completed his revenge in Greek tradition; he married his rival's widow.  Jacky met Onassis through her sister, Princess Lee Radziwil, who he was currently rogering, and went cruising on the "Christina" with Onassis in Autumn 1963 after the loss of her baby. Onassis tried to arrange for Marilyn Monroe to marry Prince Rainier of Monaco. When Jacqueline Bouvier was only recently married to John Kennedy, she slept with William Holden in the same bed where JFK made love to Marilyn. When Bobby Kennedy called Onassis to urge him to stop seeing Jackie’s sister, Lee Radziwill, the Greek snapped, "Bobby, you and Jack fuck your movie queen [Monroe] and I’ll fuck my princess." Believe it or not.

johnnybench topcommenter

The "Umbrella Man" was waving an umbrella to protest Joseph Kennedy's alleged pro-nazi appeasement strategy before and during WWII.  A black umbrella was Neville Chamberlain's signature accessory.  


Gerald Posner's book, "Case Closed," wasn't as weighty, ahem, as Bugliosi's but it put a nice cork in the bottle for me.

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