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Umbrella Man

The Umbrella man is a mysterious figure, still not conclusively identified, who appears in the Zapruder film of the John F. Kennedy assassination.

Umbrella man, as the name suggests, is a man holding an umbrella who was standing very close to the President's limo at the time of the shooting. The fact that he had an umbrella was unusual to begin with, as the assassination took place on a sunny day.

When the President's limo passes by, the umbrella man opens his umbrella and holds it over his head. As the president is shot, he pumps it in the air several times. He apparently is unfazed by the president's death, and sits calmly on the curb after the limo passes.

Standing (and later sitting) beside him, is a dark-skinned man. The dark-skinned man is also a source of controversy. When the limo pases, the dark-skinned man raises a fist, possibly in the "black power" gesture. When he sits down beside umbrella man, he appears to speak into a walkie-talkie of some sort.

The umbrella and the raised fist can be briefly seen in the bottom half of the screen, halfway through the Zapruder film, after the limo passes a sign.


The possible relevance of the Umbrella man and his friend were never explored by the Warren Commission, however many other analysts have their own theories.

The most popular theory is that the Umbrella man was making a signal, either to Lee Harvey Oswald or another shooter.

Another, more complicated theory is that the Umbrella man was using his umbrella as a visual metaphor to the president, as an explanation of why he was being shot. According to this theory, Umbrella man (or his friend) was a Cuban exile, and the umbrella represents the lack of "umbrella" support (ie: air support) the president gave to Cuban exiles during the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.

A third theory is that the umbrella was actually a poision-dart shooter. Such tools had been developed and used by both the CIA and the KGB.

A fourth theory, and the explanation given by a man named Louis Steven Witt who claimed to be the Umbrella man, was that the umbrella was simply used to heckle Kennedy. Apparently, John Kennedy's father had been a supporter of the Nazi-appeasing British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. By waving a black umbrella (Chamberlain's trademark fashion accessory), Witt claims he was protesting the Kennedy family. During the Warren Commission, he testified that he he was not involved in any conspiracy and was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Conspiracy theorists dispute his claim and claim that other elements of Witt's story are inconsistent with actual events.