For years growing up here, I knew Westport had a special connection to the assassination of John F. Kennedy: J.D. Tippit and Jack Tippit were brothers.
J.D. was the Dallas police officer killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, less than an hour after JFK was shot.
Jack Tippit was an award-winning cartoonist (“Amy”), co-founder of the Museum of Cartoon Art, and the editorial cartoonist for the Westport News. He lived here, but was born in Lubbock, Texas — and still spoke with a twang.
My 1st job after college was as sports editor of the News. I knew Jack Tippit, but I never mentioned the connection. What would I say — “Hey, sorry about your brother”?
He died in 1994. His obituary ran in the New York Times.
I had forgotten about Jack Tippit — and J.D. — until the recent run-up to the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination. Then, the other day, a Westporter posted on Facebook: “I went to school in Westport with J.D. Tippit’s niece.”
Curious to learn more, I did the obvious thing. I googled “J.D. Tippit Jack Tippit.”
Up popped several books and newspaper articles. They described an “unknown, but clearly frightened, woman” who, in the immediate aftermath of the assassination, called “a distant relative of Officer Tippit” in Connecticut. The woman claimed to have known Oswald’s father and uncle — who’d lived in Manhattan — and that they had been Hungarian communists.
But there was also a link to With Malice: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Murder of Officer J.D. Tippit. There, author Dale K. Myers writes:
There is no connection between Jack D. Tippit of Westport, CT (a self-employed cartoonist for several national magazines in 1963), and J.D. Tippit of Dallas, TX.
Mrs. Jack D. Tippit got a crank call on Nov. 30, 1963 (her husband listened in on the call), after an article appeared in the Norwalk Hour, a local newspaper, on Nov. 25, stating that Jack was a “distant relative” of Officer Tippit.
Genealogy research shows no direct relation between Jack and JD….
Author John Armstrong (“Harvey & Lee”) seized on an FBI report detailing the anonymous crank call, changed the date of the reported call to Nov.23, and used it to support his theory that two Lee Harvey Oswalds were used in an elaborate CIA plot to kill JFK.
My own book, “With Malice” explores many conspiracy allegations made over the past 50 years while focusing on the true facts of Tippit’s life and death. The obscure FBI report regarding the crank call to the Jack D. Tippit household in 1963 was not one worthy of print.
I checked out the genealogy on the J.D. Tippit home page (!). It shows that J.D. Tippit had 6 brothers and sisters. One, named John, was born in 1936. Jack Tippit was born in 1923.
So the urban myth — well, suburban myth — that Jack Tippit was J.D.’s brother is untrue.
Now, about that magic bullet theory…