Was “Umbrella Man” Involved In the JFK Assassination?

One of the strangest enigmas of the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas was the presence of “umbrella man.” This blurry figure is seen in photographs raising a black umbrella along the presidential route, even though it wasn’t raining and the sky was clear. Some saw him as proof of a conspiracy, an advance man who was signaling the sniper. Others suspected he might be the actual assassin himself, firing a poison dart gun concealed in his parasol. However, when the House of Representatives reopened the JFK investigation in the late 1970s, a 53-year-old Dallas warehouse manager named Louie Steven Witt came forward and testified that he was “umbrella man.” Granted, his explanation was a bit bizarre: Witt disliked JFK’s father, Joseph P. Kennedy, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, whom he faulted for supporting British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement policies toward Adolf Hitler. Chamberlain’s trademark was his ever-present umbrella, and Witt chose that day to brandish a big, conspicuous one in an effort to needle the president. He brought along a visual aid to the House Select Committee on Assassinations — a battered black umbrella that he claimed was the one he had used that day. A committee staffer popped it open to reveal that it did not contain a weapon. Witt added, "If the Guinness Book of World Records had a category for people doing the wrong thing at the wrong time in the wrong place, I would be No. 1."