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Marina Oswald Porter

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Marina Oswald Porter
Марина Освальд Портер
Marina Oswald.jpg
Marina Oswald in Minsk
Marina Nikolayevna Prusakova

(1941-07-17) July 17, 1941 (age 80)
NationalityAmerican (formerly Soviet)
(m. 1961; died 1963)

Kenneth Jess Porter
(m. 1965)

Marina Nikolayevna Oswald Porter (née Prusakova; Russian: Марина Николаевна Прусакова; born July 17, 1941) is the Soviet-American widow of Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. She married Oswald during his temporary defection to the Soviet Union and emigrated to the United States with him. She was not implicated in the assassination but testified against Oswald during the Warren Commission hearings. She remarried two years after Oswald's murder.

Early life

Porter was born Marina Nikolayevna Prusakova in the city of Molotovsk (now Severodvinsk), in Arkhangelsk Oblast, in the northwest of the Soviet Union. She lived there with her mother and stepfather until 1957, when she moved to Minsk to live with her uncle Ilya Prusakov, a colonel in the Soviet Ministry of Internal Affairs, and to study pharmacy.[2]

Life with Oswald

Marina met Lee Harvey Oswald (a former U.S. Marine who had defected to the Soviet Union) at a dance on March 17, 1961.[3] They married six weeks later and had a daughter, June Lee, born the following year. In June 1962, the family emigrated to the United States and settled in Dallas, Texas. At a party in February 1963, George de Mohrenschildt introduced the couple to Ruth Paine, a Quaker and Russian language student.

In January 1963, Oswald mail-ordered a Smith & Wesson .38 revolver and then, in March, a Mannlicher–Carcano rifle.[4] Later that month, as Marina told the Warren Commission, she took only one photograph of Oswald dressed in black and holding his weapons along with an issue of The Militant newspaper, which named ex-general Edwin Walker as a "fascist." Despite her sworn testimony that she took only one photo, the Warren Commission had two different poses of Lee Oswald, and they browbeat Marina into supposing that she might have accidentally taken the second pose. Since then, history has yielded four different poses, and a credible statement of one more.

These photos became known as the "backyard photos" of Lee Oswald, which some conspiracy theorists dismissed as fake.[5] The series of photographs were later found in the garage of the Paine household, with the exception of one, which had been given to George de Mohrenschildt.[6][7] The photograph given to de Mohrenschildt was signed and dated by Lee Oswald on April 5, 1963. It also has a quote attributed to Marina in Russian, the translation of which reads "Hunter of Fascists, Ha-Ha-Ha!!!"[8] Marina denied writing the inscription in her 1977 testimony to the HSCA.

In April 1963, Marina and her daughter moved in with Ruth Paine (who had recently separated from her husband, Michael). Lee Oswald rented a separate room in Dallas and briefly moved to New Orleans during the summer of 1963. He returned to Dallas in early October, eventually renting a room in a boarding house in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas. Paine learned from a neighbor that employment was available at the Texas School Book Depository, and Oswald was hired and began working there on October 16, 1963, as an order filler. On October 20, Marina gave birth to a second daughter, Audrey Marina Rachel Oswald.[9] Her husband continued to live in Oak Cliff on weekdays, but stayed with her at the Paine household in Irving on weekends, an arrangement that continued until Oswald was arrested for the assassination of President Kennedy.

Assassination of President John F. Kennedy

Marina learned of the assassination of President Kennedy from the media coverage of the event, and later, of the arrest of her husband. That afternoon, Dallas Police Department detectives arrived at the Paine household, and when asked if Lee owned a rifle, she gestured to the garage, where Oswald stored his rifle rolled up in a blanket; no rifle was found. She was subsequently questioned both at the Paine household and later at Dallas Police Department headquarters, in reference to her husband's involvement in the assassination of the President and the shooting of Dallas police officer J. D. Tippit.

She was widowed at age 22, two days after the assassination when her husband was mortally wounded by Jack Ruby as Oswald was being transferred from the City Jail to the County Jail. After the assassination of Kennedy and the arrest of her husband, Marina was under Secret Service protection until she completed her testimony before the Warren Commission. She made a total of four appearances before the commission. Questions about her reliability as a witness were expressed within the commission, particularly in regard to her claims about an assassination attempt on General Edwin Walker,[10] and her allegation that Lee Oswald had intended to assassinate Richard Nixon.[11][12] In her testimony, she stated her belief that her husband was guilty, an opinion she reiterated in testimony before the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978.[13]

Later years

She remained at first in Dallas, Texas. Per William Manchester in The Death of a President:

The plight of Marie Tippit [wife of J. D. Tippit, police officer shot by Oswald] and Marina Oswald appealed to American generosity; mailbags of checks and cash descended upon them. Mrs. Tippit handled herself admirably. ... Marina ... led a more colorful career. With $70,000 in donations she engaged a series of business agents. Her husband's Russian diary brought $20,000 and a picture of him holding the Mannlicher-Carcano carbine [the gun used to shoot Kennedy] $5,000. Then she went after the gun itself, arguing that since Oswald was dead it could not be held as evidence. A Denver oil man who wanted it as a souvenir sent her a $10,000 down payment – about 49,900 percent profit on Lee's original investment – and then sued [Nicholas] Katzenbach for possession. Early in 1966 a federal court threw the case out. Late that autumn the Justice Department took title to C2766 [the gun's serial number]. At first, she had told the press that the strongest force in her life was her love for the father of her children; she only wanted to live near his grave. This quickly changed. First she enrolled at the University of Michigan.[14] Returning to Dallas, she bought an air-conditioned house, a wardrobe of Neiman-Marcus clothes, and membership in the Music Box, a private club. She became a chain-smoker and a drinker of straight vodka. In the Music Box she spun through a series of romances. Then, in 1965, in a Texas town called Fate, she became a June bride.[15]

Two years after Oswald's death, she married Kenneth Jess Porter, with whom she had a son.[16] Porter was a twice-divorced drag racer who was in jail 11 weeks after the marriage. Marina accused him of domestic violence, but a justice of the peace "reunited them".[15] In the mid-1970s, she moved to Rockwall, Texas.[citation needed] In 1989, she became a naturalized United States citizen.[17] She has appeared in numerous documentaries on the Kennedy assassination. She has contended subsequently that Lee Oswald was innocent of the assassination.[17][18]


  1. ^ Granberry, Michael (November 9, 2013). "As paparazzi stalk her, Kennedy assassin's widow lives quiet Dallas-area life". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved October 26, 2015.
  2. ^ Mailer, Norman (2007). Oswald's Tale: An American Mystery. Random House. p. 137. ISBN 978-1-588-36593-4.
  3. ^ Hosty, James P; Hosty, Thomas (2013). Assignment: Oswald. Skyhorse. p. 112. ISBN 978-1-628-72187-4.
  4. ^ "Chapter 4: The Assassin". Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. 1964. pp. 118–119.
  5. ^ Groden 1995, pp. 90–95.
  6. ^ Bugliosi 2007, pp. 793–95.
  7. ^ Sabato, Larry J (2013). The Kennedy Half-Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F Kennedy. US: Bloomsbury. p. 486. ISBN 978-1-620-40281-8.
  8. ^ Johnson McMillan, Priscilla (2013). Marina and Lee: The Tormented Love and Fatal Obsession Behind Lee Harvey Oswald's Assassination of John F Kennedy. Steerforth Press. p. 360. ISBN 978-1-586-42217-2.
  9. ^ Investigation of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy: Hearings Before the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1964.
  10. ^ Groden 1995, pp. 62–63.
  11. ^ Warren Commission Report. Barnes & Noble. 2003. pp. 187–88. ISBN 0-760-74997-3.
  12. ^ Bugliosi 2007, pp. 697–98.
  13. ^ "Marina Oswald Concedes Husband Could Be Killer". Observer-Reporter. September 15, 1978. p. D–3. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
  14. ^ Marina Oswald was provided support and housing there by the First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor, led by Ernest T. Campbell ("Mrs. Oswald Enrolls Quietly at U of M". Petoskey News-Review. United Press International. January 5, 1965. p. 2 – via access)
  15. ^ a b The Death of a President by William Manchester, p. 635 (paperback)
  16. ^ Andy Soltis (November 1, 2013). "Oswald widow snapped for 1st time in 25 years".
  17. ^ a b Interview with Oprah Winfrey at the Wayback Machine (archive index) (November 22, 1996)
  18. ^ Posner, G (2003) [1993], Case Closed, Anchor Books, p. 345.


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