Sunday, 26 June 2022 02:34

The Assassination and Mrs. Paine (Part 2)

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Jim DiEugenio continues his review of Max Good’s new documentary The Assassination and Mrs. Paine and, in part 2, outlines the point/counterpoint approach that Good uses between Warren Commission defenders and critics and probes the involvement of Ruth herself in post-assassination investigations and media coverage.

see Part 1

[Allen Dulles] joked in private that the JFK conspiracy buffs would have had a field day if they had known…he had actually been in Dallas three weeks before the murder…and that one of Mary Bancroft’s childhood friends had turned out to be a landlady for Marina Oswald, the assassin’s Russian born wife.

James Srodes, Allen Dulles, pp. 554–55

In Part One of this review, I noted how director Max Good draws parallels in the escorting of Marina Oswald by a trio of persons who seemed to arrive out of the blue in 1963. One of the circumstances that is notable is that all three—George DeMohrenschildt, Ruth Paine, and Priscilla Johnson—spoke Russian. Again, could this be a strange accident? I, for one, have never met anyone in my life who spoke Russian. Yet, in the space of about ten months, three people entered into the lives of the Oswalds who all happened to speak Russian. And as each one left, another replaced the former, almost as if each was being managed by an off-stage supervisor as to when to take over.

Part of The Assassination and Mrs. Paine centers on the mystery of Naushon Island. Naushon Island is the largest of the Elizabeth Islands in southeastern Massachusetts. It is very much an exclusive area, having been owned by the Forbes—Michael’s family—for a century and a half. Some of the wealthiest and most powerful members of the Eastern Establishment have vacationed there, for example former Secretary of State John Kerry, as did Michael and Ruth Paine. As Barbara LaMonica wrote in Probe magazine, the FBI found out that Michael’s grandmother, Elise Cabot Forbes, took out a $300,000 trust fund for her grandson Michael. (Probe, Vol. 5 No. 5, p. 6) That would translate to about 3 million dollars today. The logical question is: what was someone with that kind of money doing living in a suburb of Dallas/Fort Worth chumming around with an alleged Marxist agitator? And, as noted in Part One, engaging with local college students on the merits of Castroism—and taking Castro’s side while doing so.

As we know, George DeMohrenschildt—aka the Baron—was the route through which Ruth and Michael first met the Oswalds in early 1963. (James Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable, p. 168) The Baron was intimately involved with the White Russian community in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area. The late Philip Melanson established that this group:

…received financial assistance from the CIA. Most of the White Russians had fled Communist persecution and had been brought to the United States by the Tolstoy Foundation, an anti-communist lobby that received yearly subsidies from the Agency. The Russian Orthodox Church, a centerpiece of the very conservative and religious White Russian Community, also received Agency philanthropy. (Spy Saga, p. 79)

George Bouhe was a prominent member of this expatriate community. Bouhe was Marina’s English tutor. (Probe, Volume 7, No. 3, p. 3) When Jim Garrison told Marina that Bouhe was also a neighbor of Jack Ruby, the man who killed her husband, Marina said she was aware of that. How? Because Bouhe visited her to tell her about it. He said it was just a coincidence that he happened to live next door to her husband’s killer. As researcher Steve Jones noted, was this not a possible connection between Oswald and Ruby? Did the Warren Commission ever explore it? This reviewer has never seen any evidence they did.


In Max Good’s film, Ruth Paine tries to imply that she only met George DeMohrenschildt once, in early 1963.

As Steve Jones mentioned in 1998 in Probe magazine, this is not accurate. In her appearance before the New Orleans grand jury, Ruth admitted to Jim Garrison that she and Michael met up with the Baron in 1967. It turns out they were dinner guests of his and they discussed, among other things, a copy of the infamous backyard photo which was recently found amongst the Baron’s belongings after the assassination, upon his return from Haiti. (Probe, Vol. 5 No. 3, p. 9)

As Carol Hewett noted, in May of 1963, Michel Paine returned a record player and some records to Everett Glover, which Marina had borrowed from the Baron. (Probe, Vol. 5 No. 1 pp. 16–17) Glover took the items to George’s storage unit. When the Baron returned from Haiti, they discovered another version of the infamous backyard photographs in that storage unit.

As the late Jim Marrs wrote, there are some notable aspects about this version of the backyard photo; but we will focus on the discovery of the picture. First, as described, it was not unearthed until George returned to Texas from Haiti. (Jim Marrs, Crossfire, p. 287) The Baron’s widow told Marrs that they had never seen the picture before then. She was also convinced the photo was planted, while in storage. Although Everett Glover later had placed the Baron’s things in storage, Ruth Paine also had access to the storage space. (ibid) George later wrote that he only discussed the photo with his closest friends, which apparently included the Paines. (Op. Cit. Probe, p. 17)

But, with the Paines, there is always a capper. Here it is:  Michael Paine told Dan Rather in 1993 that he saw one of the infamous backyard photographs in April of 1963! He told CBS that Oswald proudly showed him a photo as he picked him up for a dinner engagement. As Ms. Hewett asked: if this is true, why did Michael never say anything about this to the FBI or the Warren Commission? (Probe, Vol. 5 No. 1, p. 16)

As mentioned in the first part of this review, Sylvia Hyde—Ruth’s sister— refused to talk to Max for his film. Jim Garrison was curious about Sylvia, since he could not find out who she worked for. Garrison questioned Ruth before the New Orleans grand jury about this. To be mild, Ruth is rather unhelpful. Even though she spent over a week with her back in 1963, she cannot figure who she worked for. But what makes it even more puzzling, she cannot even say where she lived! Recall, she had driven down to the central Atlantic coast to visit her and she does not recall where she drove to? (Transcript, 4-18-68, pp 58–62). She ended up insinuating to the DA that Sylvia lived in Virginia, most likely Falls Church. But a listener to Len Osanic’s Black Op Radio program later found out that she lived in Maryland.

An aspect that Sylvia Meagher insinuated about Ruth Paine was her predisposition against Oswald. On more than one occasion, Ruth has said she was taken aback that Oswald would call her about contacting attorney John Abt. If one can comprehend it, she was surprised he was also presuming of his own innocence. As Joseph McBride later pointed out, in an article written by Jessamyn West for Redbook in July, 1964, Ruth went further. She told West she was glad that Ruby killed Oswald. This surprised the author. She gave Ruth a chance to repair the damage and this is what Ruth said: “I thought Lee’s death this way would be so much easier for Marina.” (Warren Commission Vol. 22, p. 856) Recall, Oswald never had an attorney while in custody, the Warren Commission never allowed any legal counsel for him, and their hearings were closed to the public. Ruth Paine, the kindly Quaker lady, somehow thinks that due process and right to counsel can go to Hades in regard to Oswald. And let us not forget, John Kennedy.


Max Good has structured his film as a kind of point/counterpoint dialogue between the critics of the Warren Commission and its stalwarts. From the latter side we hear from, in addition to Ruth, Max Holland, and Gerald Posner. I cannot see how anyone can complain about their treatment and/or the balance of the film. To give just one example, Posner says that Oswald’s last two calls were to Ruth about an attorney and about Marina, but that is not really the whole story. Oswald tried to make one other call on Saturday night and the Secret Service would not let it through. It was to a former military intelligence officer named John Hurt in North Carolina. How Oswald ever knew this man, or his phone number, is a mystery worthy of Sherlock Holmes. (Click here for details) It furthers Senator Richard Schweiker’s concept that Oswald had the fingerprints of intelligence all over him.

Ruth gets plenty of speaking time. And the film shows that she is a standard bearer for many Establishment-backed TV specials which support the official story, for example the London trial which featured prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi and defense attorney Gerry Spence. About that one, she says that it was like a regular trial. This reviewer spent a large part of a book showing that such was simply not the case. (See, The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today, pp. 3–70) She then mentions the Peter Jennings special on ABC in 2003, which she calls one of the best.

Recall, this was the program in which Dale Myers prepared a computer simulation which proclaimed that the Magic Bullet—about which so much controversy has swirled for so long—should not be titled the Single Bullet Theory. That title denotes the facts that one bullet went through two men, causing seven wounds, smashing two bones, and emerging pretty much intact. Dale said this should not be called a theory. With his trusty computer, he renamed it: the Single Bullet Fact. That very questionable computer graphic has been effectively attacked at least five times: by Bob Harris, by Pat Speer, by Milicent Cranor, by Dave Mantik and by John Orr. (For the Harris demonstration, click here and for the Speer version, click here)

Around the same time in the film, Holland tells the audience, well the Warren Commission was not perfect and we should be skeptical. But saying the murder of Kennedy was a coup d’etat, that is just going too far. This from a man who was responsible for one of the very worst documentaries ever assembled on the JFK case. One which was not even supported by some of the backers of the Commission. And according to Speer, Holland likely knew the main thesis was faulty before the show aired. (Click here for details)

Oliver Stone gets mentioned, for instance by former Motion Picture Association of America president Jack Valenti, who violently objected to the film, calling it a “monstrous charade.” Michael Beschloss says that Stone created myths. Since everything Stone presented about the Vietnam War in 1991 turned out to be accurate, those two statements are understandable, for Valenti was in the White House working for LBJ as he implemented the first escalations after Kennedy’s death. In 1997, Beschloss tried to dispute Stone on the Vietnam War in his first book on LBJ called Taking Charge. Unfortunately for him, at the end of that year, the Assassination Records Review Board declassified 800 pages of documents which proved Stone was correct on this issue. (New York Times, 12/23/97, “Kennedy Had a Plan for Early Exit in Vietnam”) And as Stone shows in the film JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, LBJ was fully aware of Kennedy’s exit plan, disagreed with it, and consciously worked to reverse it.

Ruth mentions Stone again and says that celebrated film director never tried to talk to her during the making of the film JFK.

Stone seems to contradict her in the film. And when I asked him about this, he stated he did try and talk to her and later added, “You can take that to the bank.” (Email and phone conversations, 6/6 and 6/8/22)


The film closes with three tantalizing areas of controversy. The first is the so-called “Walker note.” This was allegedly a set of directions left by Oswald for his wife in the wake of his attempted shooting of General Edwin Walker. There is a big problem with this: the shooting happened in April. Oswald was never even considered a suspect until after the Kennedy assassination, over 7 months later. At that point, as if by magic, two things happened.

First, the FBI turned the original bullet, a steel colored 30.06, into a copper coated 6.5 mm projectile. (Gerald McKnight, Breach of Trust, p. 49; DPD General Offense report of 4/10/63) Needless to say, that 30.06 projectile would not be fired with the Oswald Mannlicher-Carcano 6.5 rifle. Secondly, Ruth Paine transported the Walker note to Marina through a book she sent via the Secret Service. This is the note the Secret Service was so suspicious of that they thought she wrote it. (DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, second edition, p. 203)

But it’s even worse than that. The best witness in the Walker case that summer was Kirk Coleman. Coleman said he ran out when he heard the shot. He saw two men escaping the scene in their cars. Neither of the men looked like Oswald and, according to the Warren Commission, Oswald could not drive. (McKnight, p. 57) Coleman was never called as a witness by the Commission. That is how important the Walker note was.

As mentioned above, both Ruth Paine and Priscilla Johnson produced evidence that Oswald had been in Mexico City. This was after the official searches of the Paine household. In fact, with Johnson, this went on until September—10 months after the first searches. (Mark Lane, Plausible Denial, pp. 66–67) Even members of the Commission—like Richard Russell—felt this was over the top and it raised more questions than it answered. In fact, there is an internal problem with the “Oswald letter” that Ruth took from her desk secretary. Namely, Oswald likely would not have known that a certain person in the Cuban embassy had been rotated out and replaced by someone else, which is what he wrote about in his alleged letter. (Click here for details) In fact, due to some very good work by David Josephs, among others, many critics do not think Oswald went to Mexico City. (Click here for details)

One last point about the Mexico City letter. Carol Hewett wrote that it was when Ruth Paine decided to move her furniture that Ruth actually took the letter. (Probe, Vol. 4 No. 3, p. 27) Ruth appears to say that in the film also. Chris Newton, due to some insightful observations, raises the most fundamental questions about this story, namely, that the furniture was not really moved. That, in reality, it stayed where it originally was. If Chris is correct about this, at a minimum, what it seems to mean is that Ruth wanted a pretext and landmark to pick up that letter. I cannot begin to describe Newton’s work in a synoptic form. I can only advise the interested reader to please go through this attached thread. (Click here for details)

Finally, the impression left by Ruth about her picking up Marina from New Orleans and taking her to Irving, was that it was more or less made by serendipity. Yet, during her cross country trip, the FBI discovered that she had talked about it well in advance to others she had visited, presenting it like a fait accompli. (Probe, Vol. 3 No. 4, p. 15)

And related to this, in some very interesting work by Tom Gram, it appears that Oswald was getting mail at Ruth’s Irving address in late July of 1963. (Email communication of June 22, 2022) And, in fact, Marina had also signed a transfer document to Ruth’s home in May. Gram writes that Ruth likely encouraged this on the grounds that it would ensure she would not miss anything. (Click here for details)

Max Good has done a creditable job in making this film. He has raised the correct questions and raised them in a fair and adroit way, giving both sides time to mount their arguments. He has done it all in a skillful manner, considering the budget constraints he worked under. He deserves kudos for his difficult travail and the public should extend him the courtesy of watching his film. It is overdue, but still it is the first of its kind. If you were unaware of the questions, you will be surprised. If you were aware, you will be pleased that someone finally placed them in the pictorial public domain.

Last modified on Sunday, 26 June 2022 03:33
James DiEugenio

One of the most respected researchers and writers on the political assassinations of the 1960s, Jim DiEugenio is the author of two books, Destiny Betrayed (1992/2012) and The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today (2018), co-author of The Assassinations, and co-edited Probe Magazine (1993-2000).   See "About Us" for a fuller bio.

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