Behind the Scenes
On November 22, 1963, the author of Behind the Scenes was a young Dallas Times Herald
reporter who sprinted from his newspaper desk to Dealey Plaza minutes after shots were fired
at President John F. Kennedy. Thus began Darwin Payne’s close involvement in covering one
shocking event after another on this history-making weekend.
Eyewitnesses he found at Dealey Plaza included Abraham Zapruder, who insisted from the first
moments that the president could not have survived the serious wounds he had seen so clearly
through his camera viewfinder. Payne interviewed detectives outside the School Book Depository
that early afternoon as they brought down evidence of the shooter’s location, as well as his
rifle, and he was among several journalists taken to the assassin’s sixth-floor window from
where fatal shots had been fired.
Before the day ended, Payne was in the Oak Cliff rooming house where the suspect had been
living briefly apart from his Russian wife, Marina. Payne learned that the alleged assassin,
now in police custody after being charged with the murder of officer J. D. Tippit, was known
as O. H. Lee instead of Lee Harvey Oswald.
On Payne’s regular Saturday night police-beat duty, he was among the growing number of assertive
journalists from throughout the nation who saw and heard Oswald being led to and from his jail
cell to the homicide office for interrogation. As detectives pushed their way with him through
the crowd of reporters, he responded to their questions with defiant claims of innocence. The
mind-boggling weekend was still not over, for the next morning nightclub owner Jack Ruby shot
and killed Oswald.