The JFK Assassination


Stanley Marcus circa the late 1970s (Stanley Marcus Collection, used with permission of DeGolyer Library, SMU).

The late Stanley Marcus was known as a man of both style and substance. In the fashion world, his refined tastes and attention to detail -- as expressed in part through Neiman Marcus, the legendary department store his father founded -- helped earn him the nickname "The Merchant Prince of Dallas." In his home city, he was revered for his civic leadership; Marcus helped the city with a national PR effort to restore its image in the aftermath of the assassination, and he became a leading voice for political moderation and racial unity. The Stanley Marcus Collection, housed in Southern Methodist University's DeGolyer Library, documents his impact on Dallas and his memories of JFK.

What's Right With Dallas?

On New Year's Day 1964, a Neiman Marcus ad for which Marcus wrote the copy appeared in national newspapers. "What's Right With Dallas?" contained a call for understanding during a national and civic crisis, as well as Marcus' own ideas about how the city could use this period of self-examination for its own betterment. Response to the "advertorial" ranged from furious to supportive; the Stanley Marcus Collection in SMU's DeGolyer Library documents the height and range of emotion in the reactions.

From the Stanley Marcus Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU:

"What's Right With Dallas?": High-resolution JPG | Text

Responses to "What's Right":

Paul G. Hoffman, Managing Director, United Nations Special Fund: "I hope that Dallas listened and took your good advice to heart." High-resolution JPG

Senator Hubert H. Humphrey: "It would indeed be an unfortunate example of bigotry if the thousands of good citizens of Dallas were condemned for the tragedy which occurred in their city." High-resolution JPG

Leonard A. Lauder, Executive Vice President, Estée Lauder Inc.: "I can simply say that I am proud that people still have courage...and proud that I know you as a person." High-resolution JPG

Rep. Jim Wright, 12th District, Texas: "This is truly an excellent piece of work, Stanley, and I had it incorporated in the Congressional Record. Thought you might like to have the enclosed copy." High-resolution JPG

Alliance, Ohio: "Your big city bosses hated the President!! Lee Oswald did what they wanted him to do." High-resolution JPG

Wichita Falls, Texas (letter accompanied by returned charge plate): "Your recent editorial advertisement was one step too far for me and hence I cannot continue to spend money at [Neiman Marcus] for you in turn to finance the ad of January 1 in the Dallas Morning News." High-resolution JPG

The Unspoken Speech

As a memorial in Kennedy's honor, Marcus commissioned a hand-typeset and bound edition of the speech JFK was to have made at the Dallas Trade Mart on the day he was assassinated. The 500 copies were sent to Marcus and Kennedy family, friends, and associates, with the very first given to Jacqueline Kennedy. The Stanley Marcus Collection in SMU's DeGolyer Library documents the project as well as the response -- learn more about it at The Unspoken Speech.

Under Oath: Marcus at the Jack Ruby Trial

Marcus was one of many leading Dallas citizens who was subpoenaed by Jack Ruby's defense attorney, Melvin Belli, to testify at his trial. Before and after the proceedings, Marcus incurred both anger and admiration for maintaining that, for a variety of reasons, Ruby would not be able to get a fair trial in Dallas and the venue should be moved. The Marcus Collection in SMU's DeGolyer Library houses clippings, correspondence, and other artifacts of this event.

From the Stanley Marcus Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU:

A clipping from the Dallas Times Herald (February 11, 1964) about Marcus' testimony: High-resolution JPG

Response to the Ruby trial:

Chicago, Illinois: "Your citizens are vicious swine and worthy of Nazi Germany, whose actions they have now copied all the way to Auschwitz...." High-resolution JPGs: Page 1 | Page 2

Santa Clara, California: "If Mr. Marcus' thinking represents that of the business community in Dallas, then Dallas has certainly earned its reputation as a gangster-led, uncivilized, ruthless, and unscrupulous city." High-resolution JPG