John F. Kennedy died more than 50 years ago, setting off a chain of events in the wake of his untimely demise that would result in the US’s entrance into Vietnam, the death of his son in a small plane crash, and a conspiracy that refuses to quit. Now, imagine if none of that ever happened—if JFK survived the assassination that shocked the world in 1963.
That is exactly the aim of Berwyn lawyer Dennis C. McAndrews’ new play, If JFK Survived Dalls: Presidential Reflections at Age 96. McAndrews wrote and stars in the play, which posits a mere critical injury for the ill-fated president, instead of the fatal one he sustained in Dealey Plaza.
For McAndrews reconstruction, Lee Harvey Oswald’s bullet strikes Kennedy in the neck, altering the President’s voice, but not killing him. Oswald, similarly, is not murdered by Jack Ruby, but instead is tried and executed on attempted assassination charges. Kennedy, having survived the attempt on his life, then sends troops to help Thailand instead of Vietnam, ruining his presidential rep. As a result, Bobby Kennedy still dies in the attempt on his life in his 1968 campaign. JFK even survives Jackie O, remarrying in 2001.
McAndrews calls the show a “labor of love,” squeezing in rehearsals and performances in between his day job, which has afforded him high-profile cases like the John Eleuthere du Pont murder case of 1996. That’s on top of his adjunct professorship in political science at Villanova.
This, of course, is not the first time the Philly area has brushed against the JFK assassination. Arlen Specter, an assistant counsel for the Warren Commission, initially investigated the assassination, eventually concocting the “single bullet” theory. Philly lawyer Vince Salandria, still a resident of the city, developed the main theories challenging Specter’s official report.
Naturally, McAndrews’ re-imagining promises a granular, thoughtful presentation of post-assassination life for JFK. And it’s accurate, too: Oswald, after all, never does kill the President. [Philly.com]