The Assassination and Mrs. Paine is a provocative portrait of 84-year-old Ruth Paine and her inescapable connection to the assassination of president John F. Kennedy. The film juxtaposes Ruth’s personal experience of this tragedy against the wider cultural significance and controversy. Fifty-three years after the assassination, she is one of the few surviving central witnesses and her story offers an intimate window into this foundational event in American history.
At the heart of the film are the suspicions and accusations that have long been aimed at Mrs. Paine and her former husband, Michael Paine. As benefactors of Marina and Lee Harvey Oswald, the Paines, became prime targets of conspiracy researchers, who view them as likely agents in a wider plot to frame Oswald. Ruth, in particular, is viewed as complicit in a vast and ongoing cover-up. Today, even as an anonymous resident of a Quaker retirement home in northern California, Ruth is still haunted by those who are convinced that she holds a secret to the crime of the century.
The project is fiscally sponsored by The Film Collaborative and accepts tax-deductible donations.
The Story of Ruth & Michael Paine
For decades, JFK assassination researchers have suspected the Paines, especially Ruth, of some role in a conspiracy. They are both in their mid-80s now, and they live at a retirement home in Northern California, where I have interviewed them several times.
The Paines were friends of Lee Harvey Oswald and his wife Marina. At the time of the assassination, Marina Oswald was living with Ruth Paine and the Oswald’s belongings, including the alleged murder weapon were stored in her garage.
After testifying against Oswald and providing some of the most crucial evidence against him, Ruth and Michael Paine have continued to be outspoken supporters of the official story in the media. Many believe that Ruth acted as a “babysitter” or “handler” in helping to set up Oswald, but that she likely didn’t know about the assassination plot beforehand.
There are many curious facts about the Paines, that depending on your perspective may either be damning evidence, or simply coincidence. When some people watch interviews with Ruth Paine, they see a lying CIA agent, others an innocent elderly woman.
Some key facts about the Paines:
- Ruth Paine answered over 5000 questions from the Warren Commission, more than any other witness. Her testimony was critical in establishing Oswald as the likely assassin.
- Ruth found Oswald his job at the Texas School Book Depository, the building from which he allegedly shot the president.
- Ruth Paine helped to produce one of the most important pieces of evidence against Oswald; the “Walker Note,” (Warren Commission Exhibit 1) which the government used to show that he had a propensity toward violence. The authenticity of this note is still debated today.
- According to declassified documents, Ruth’s sister was an employee of the CIA and her father also had contacts with the agency.
- Michael Paine’s parents were also on friendly terms with CIA director Allen Dulles & his mistress Mary Bancroft. Michael’s mother even invited Dulles to stay at the Forbes private island near Cape Cod. Ruth and Michael spent their summers on the island as well.
- On the surface, the Paines seem to be a modest liberal couple, living in suburban Dallas, but they actually came from very well-connected families. Michael Paine is a member of the famous Forbes family from Massachussetts and he received a trust fund from the family fortune.
- Despite being an avowed pacifist, Michael Paine worked for a defense contractor, Bell Helicopter, where he had a security clearance.
- There is also controversy over a Minox spy camera that was confiscated from the Paine home after the assassination. You can read more here: The Paines’ Participation in the Minox Camera Charade by Carol Hewett