It was the tragedy that united the nation.
And most Americans found out about it -- and lived every minute -- through TV.
On Nov. 22, 1963, at approximately 1:40 p.m., CBS interrupted the live telecast of "As the World Turns" -- just as Nancy Hughes (Helen Wagner) was telling Grandpa (Santos Ortega) about bringing the family together for Thanksgiving -- with an urgent news bulletin.
President John F. Kennedy had been shot while riding in a motorcade in Dallas with first lady Jacqueline.
For the next four days, TV bound the country in grief as millions crammed around their sets, right through to the president's funeral, with a dignified but defiant Jackie following his casket.
A generation's innocence was lost; a medium came of age.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination, many of the commercial and cable networks are looking back on those fateful days. A select look at what's ahead:
--"JFK: The Smoking Gun" (ReelzChannel, Sunday at 8 p.m.) Two forensics experts argue they can identify JFK's true assassin.
--"JFK: The Final Hours" (National Geographic Channel, Nov. 8): Those who crossed paths with Kennedy on that tragic day reminisce.
--"Killing Kennedy" (National Geographic Channel, Nov. 10): In this adaptation of Bill O'Reilly's best-seller, Rob Lowe ("Parks and Recreation") plays JFK and Ginnifer Goodwin ("Once Upon a Time") is Jacqueline.
--"American Experience: JFK" (PBS, Nov. 11 & 12) examines JFK from childhood to his rise in politics and explores "his unfulfilled promise."
--"NOVA: Cold Case: JFK" (PBS, Nov. 13) tries the assassination evidence using modern forensic techniques, includes a virtual autopsy of JFK's body and uses 3-D laser scans to re-create the grassy knoll to determine whether more than one gunman was involved.
--"As It Happened: John F. Kennedy 50 Years" (CBS, Nov. 16): The "48 Hours" team examines those four tragic days in history that shook the nation.
--"Letters to Jackie: Remembering President Kennedy" (TLC, Nov. 17): In this two-hour documentary based on the book, the famous give voice to some of the 800,000 ordinary Americans who wrote to the first lady to express their grief.
--"The Day Kennedy Died" (Smithsonian, Nov. 17): "House of Cards" star Kevin Spacey narrates this two-hour documentary that draws on first-person accounts, including Jacqueline Kennedy's own secret service agent.
--"JFK Assassination: The Definitive Guide" (History, Nov. 22) polls the American people for their thoughts on the murder and comes up with (wait for it) 311 different conspiracy theories.
--"Lee Harvey Oswald: 48 Hours to Live" (History, Nov. 22) recounts the accused killer's final two days, including the interrogation he underwent from Dallas police detectives before being shot by Jack Ruby.
--"Tom Brokaw Special: Where Were You?" (NBC, Nov. 22) In this two-hour documentary, the famous and the ordinary reveal how their lives were altered by the assassination and why it still resonates with them today.
(c)2013 the Boston Herald
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Distributed by MCT Information Services
Original headline: Remembering JFK
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