In ‘The Parkland Doctors,’ distinguished physicians talk about JFK’s last moments for the first time

The Parkland Doctors

What prompted Bill Garnet, a man with a long career in the entertaining world of reality TV, to take on the daunting controversy of JFK assassination?

“A gaping hole in the story,” he said in a recent telephone interview “What happened in Trauma Room One?”

Actually Garnet, the Los Angeles-based producer of “The Parkland Doctors,” a forthcoming documentary about the seven doctors who tried to save President Kennedy’s life, has long been a student of the JFK case. As an undergraduate at the University of Miami he wrote his thesis the events of November 22, 1963.

But Garnet’s 30-year career as a TV producer and director took him in different direction.

He made mini-documentaries for ABC Sports. He produced 18 episodes of “Battle of the Network Stars.” He syndicated a string of Olympic documentaries (“The Road to Los Angles,” “The Road to Calgary”). And he made concert films of artists ranging from Julio Iglesias to Kool and the Gang to the Oak Ridge Boys.

He only returned to this passion for the JFK story via a circuitous route.

Bill Garnet, producer

Bill Garnet, movie producer with a mission

“My wife’s mother worked as business manager for an ob-yyn in Orange County,” he recalled. “Six or seven years ago she introduced us to Dr. Lawrence Klein. In 1963, Dr. Klein was a third year medical student working at Parkland Hospital. He was one of the first two doctors to push JFK into Trauma Room One.”

As Garnet listened to Dr. Klein tell the story that he had long chosen to keep to himself, Garnet found a subject that he felt he had to put on film: What happened in the 22 minutes when seven doctors, thrown together by tragedy and happenstance, tried to save the life of the president of the United States?

The Witnesses

It was a central moment in JFK story, yet it has received curiously cursory treatment in the vast literature of the assassination. The 2013 motion picture, Parkland, was a slick Hollywood feature with some A-list talent, that did not attempt to depict the medical realities of JFK’s wounds In the 1990s, another doctor present, Charles Crenshaw wrote a book called Trauma Room One, but that was only man’s account.

With Dr. Klein’s help, Garnet brought together the seven doctors who were the closest to President Kennedy in the last moments of his life. Three were medical students at the time. One was a first year resident, another was a fifth year resident. One was a surgeon and professor at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. The last was the chief of medicine at Parkland Hospital.

One of them, Dr. Robert McClelland, has previously spoken about his experience on November 22, 1963 on camera. The others have not.

It would be hard to find more qualified witnesses. All seven men went on to distinguished careers in medicine. One of them, Dr. Donald Seldin, the chief of medicine at Parkland, holds the William Buchanan Chair in Internal Medicine at the University of Texas system. Under Dr. Seldin’s direction, UT Southwestern Medical School has produced eleven Nobel laureates in medicine. Dr. Eugene Braunwald, the faculty dean at Harvard Medical School, has said Dr. Seldin is “one of the most impactful figures in the history of modern medicine.” Anyone who attempts to impugn Dr. Seldin’s credibility on the JFK story will only expose his or her prejudices.

What the film reveals

“I shot them as a group,” Garnet said, “They started talking about what happened that day, comparing memories and feelings and their reluctance to talk about it.”

“That’s the first 50 minutes of the film,” he went on. “The last 34 minutes is them discussing the autopsy photographs, the findings of the Warren Commission and the HSCA (House Select Committee on Assassinations), and all the discrepancies between them.”

Spoiler alert: “They all thought the wound in the neck was an entry wound,” Garnet said. “They all saw the hole in the back of the head. They’re debunking the autopsy done in Bethesda.”

For historical perspective, Garnet also interviewed Robert Tannenbaum, the former number two investigator with HSCA.

“This is not a conspiracy theory,” Garnet explained. “It’s a factual representation of what they saw and did. The autopsy pictures are wrong and they form the basis of the Warren Commission’s report. So the Warren Commission is wrong. This film opens the question again: Now, all these many years later, why do we not know what happened?

Garnet says he hopes “The Parkland Doctors” will be ready for theatrical release “some time later this year.”

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In the next two week, you can contribute to the making of “The Parkland Doctors” via the crowd-funding site, Indiegogo. I did, and will do so again. Here’s why. How often to you get to contribute to a high-quality JFK assassination investigation involving the most credible witnesses interviewed by a documentarian with the highest professional standards? Not very often. Now is your chance.

 

 

14 comments

  1. Allen Lowe says:

    I hope this film gets made, but that’s the worst trailer I’ve ever seen; it fits into a weird and clueless tendency (that I see occur over and over on places like youtube) to describe, again and again, and in boring detail, what you are going to do instead of actually doing it. It’s like those endless books of ‘writers on writing.’ Enough of process and motivation, which are insufficient justification; the only justification is the quality of the work, and these people sound silly.

    • Pat Speer says:

      That’s not a trailer, Allen, that’s a solicitation. They are not trying to get you to watch the film, they’re trying. To get you to give them the money to.finish the film. On a certain level, I hope they are unsuccessful. it seems clear that they are trying to pass off a bunch of minor players as key witnesses, when, outside of McClelland, they are not. So why not get the key players, then, you might ask? Well, that was done, in the 80’s and 90’s, by NOVA, and then the ARRB. And the key players signed off on the legitimacy of the autopsy photos. Oh, no, not that! Well, then, let’s wait till they die off, and then come forward with some second-stringers who’ll tell us what we want to hear? Sadly, that appears to what’s going on here.
      On another level, of course, I’m all for anything that will get people talking about the medical evidence.

      • I have to agree with Pat Speer here, I think the brouhaha about the faked X-Rays and autopsy photos is a myth, a dangerous myth for the community seeking the real truth in these matters.
        At the core of this myth are people like David Mantik, who just so happens to be at the forefront of the new-age JFK propaganda claiming that the Zapruder film is a fake.
        I urge everyone to read Sherry Fiester’s book, or at least some essays and interviews with her. See:
        https://hybridrogue1.wordpress.com/2015/03/05/sherry-fiester-on-enemy-of-the-truth/
        \\][//

      • Victor says:

        Mr. Speer,
        As you no doubt know, contemporary notes on the location of the major skull defect were recorded by a number of the treatment personnel, and were affirmed in their Warren Commission testimony. Those views were summarized in the Table 1 in Aguilar and Cunningham’s work now archived at http://www.history-matters.com/essays/jfkmed/How5Investigations/How5InvestigationsGotItWrong_tabfig.htm . Such impressions are entirely consistent with the observations and measurements of the extant NARA autopsy evidence that have been published by Dr. Mantik and feature in other topics on the JFKFacts website. Furthermore, the contemporary impressions of a large defect in the right occiput were held by not only ‘a bunch of minor players’, as you disparage them, but by the senior treatment personnel who have been carried off by old age.
        As for the discrepancy between their contemporary impressions and the doctors’ impressions after examination of the autopsy material arranged by NOVA in the 1980’s, one can easily see how the deck was stacked: told that the photographic evidence was authenticicated and being presented with visual evidence that the back of the head was perfectly intact save for little blemishes in the back of the skull, at either the low 1963 autopsy report inshoot or the or the cowlick blotch that represented the choice of the high inshoot by the Clark Panel and the House Forensic Panel, what statement by the doctors would we expect?

  2. JSA says:

    I have to wonder how the Warren Commission defenders are going to try to discredit this film. They did attempt to discredit Dr. Crenshaw by associating him with Gary Mack and some creative writing on Mack’s part, even though that did NOTHING to discredit the main medical points in Crenshaw’s argument as a firsthand witness. Dr. Crenshaw was the first Parkland doctor to bravely go on national television to try to set the record straight, after years of silence due to career-mindedness and fear of retaliation drilled into him and the others by their bosses.

    The Warren Commission version won’t hold up to critical thinking as we push forward into the 21st century. The only thing still holding it up is an outdated cold war paranoia and desire to absolve CIA of all misdeeds, as if they never did anything wrong. This is Stalinist behavior on our part, and needs to stop. It’s time for “Truth and Reconciliation” for America. We’ve normalized relations with Cuba. We shop and trade with “Red China.” Times have changed, the old fogies have died off. We can be truthful now about events that happened over 50 years ago.

  3. ed connor says:

    I have attempted to contribute to this worthwhile film through Indiegogo, but their website is impenetrable
    I will mail a check -it’s what Jack would do.

  4. Mark Barsotti says:

    I kicked in my $63. Don’t expect the film to have any “mainstream” impact, but it’s important to get real evidence into the historical record.

  5. SteveMGalbraith says:

    The doctors’ memories are clearly wrong. The physical evidence shows they are wrong.

    We can clearly see in the Zapruder film – and other films and photos to a lesser degree – the wound on the right side and top of JFK’s head. There is no exit wound of any size that we can see in the rear of the head. The only large wound we can see is on the right/top of JFK’s head.

    That these doctors saw no hole in that area clearly means they were mistaken. Who believes there was no hole in the side of JFK’s head?

    The Connallys, who were sitting in front of JFK, said that right after they heard the shot hit JFK in the head – and it was, JC said, a distinctive sound – they were showered with blood and brain matter.

    Extracted from their WC testimony:

    John Connally: “…the third shot sounded, and I heard the shot very clearly. I heard it hit him. I heard the shot hit something, and I assumed again–it never entered my mind that it ever hit anybody but the President. I heard it hit. It was a very loud noise, just that audible, very clear.

    Immediately I could see on my clothes, my clothing, I could see on the interior of the car which, as I recall, was a pale blue, brain tissue, which I immediately recognized, and I recall very well, on my trousers there was one chunk of brain tissue as big as almost my thumb, thumbnail, and again I did not see the President at any time either after the first, second, or third shots, but I assumed always that it was he who was hit and no one else.”

    Nellie Connally: “The third shot that I heard I felt, it felt like spent buckshot falling all over us, and then, of course, I too could see that it was the matter, brain tissue, or whatever, just human matter, all over the car and both of us.”

    Roy Kellerman, riding in the front right seat, said he too was hit with flying flesh.

    Roy Kellerman: “Senator, between all the matter that was–between all the matter that was blown off from an injured person, this stuff all came over.
    Senator COOPER. What was that?
    Mr. KELLERMAN. Body matter; flesh.

    An examination of the limo revealed blood and brain matter throughout the front interior of the car. In front of where JFK was sitting.

    How can this material – the blood, brain and tissue – land in front of JFK if the bullet exited the rear of his end? It is impossible for this material to exit the rear of his head – and we don’t see it in the Zapruder film – and have it land IN FRONT of JFK. We can see it going upward and forward and landing in the front of the limo.

    It seems obvious that the doctors’ memories, like many memories of the witnesses in this event, have been altered by what they have read and what they have heard. Our memories play tricks on us; this is another example of it.

    • ed connor says:

      How about the Harper Fragment?
      How about EVERY Parkland doctor and nurse reporting an occipital defect? How about the Dallas Police outriders, riding to the rear of the Lincoln, who were also showered with brain matter? How about Dr. Burkley, the president’s personal physician and the only doctor who was present at BOTH Parkland and Bethesda, who sketched a baseball-sized defect in the occiput and marked it “missing?”

      • “How about Dr. Burkley, the president’s personal physician and the only doctor who was present at BOTH Parkland and Bethesda, who sketched a baseball-sized defect in the occiput and marked it “missing?”~ed connor

        Yea, how about that Ed? Care to source that?
        \\][//

        • ed connor says:

          Willy:

          I have a practice to conduct, and I don’t have time to educate fools.
          Why don’t you Google “Admiral Burkley” and see what you find? Hint: he was no lone nutter.

  6. elizabeth grossman says:

    In all viewings of the Z-film, has anybody actually detected blood coming from JFK’s neck, i.e. on his hands, or shirt etc.? In the so-called “first shot” obviously his hands clench and his arms raise from the elbow but I can’s see blood which you would have to believe would be profuse. Plus, Kellerman’s WC testimony clearly states that JFK’s shirt collar and shirt front were not damaged. So, the idea that he was first shot in the throat either from the front or the rear is curious. Is it possible that this first reaction was to a “nick” from a fragment that missed and bounced from somewhere else? Would be interested in others’ thoughts.

    • ed connor says:

      Precisely, Elizabeth.
      The first shot entered JFK’s thoracic spine around T-1 or T-2 and did not exit. No path for this missile was found at autopsy. It well may have been CE exhibit 399.
      The throat wound was described by all treating emergency physicians as a wound of entry. Such wounds leave little detritus at the point of entry, but much damage at the point of exit.
      Could the throat wound have been an entry wound which caused the large exit wound ALL Parkland doctors described in the occiput? Makes sense, particularly in light of the shrapnel wounds to the face which Joseph Gawler’s morticians repaired after the autopsy.

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