Wednesday, May 29, 2024 May 29, 2024
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The Long Lost Roger Staubach LIFE Cover

When John F. Kennedy was shot, the issue was sacked. We've uncovered it.

I moved to Chicago in 1968 to work as a junior advertising salesman for LIFE magazine. Getting acclimated to the new offices, I opened a closet and found a large stack of magazines with Roger Staubach on the cover. I grabbed a few and asked one of the production people what they were doing in storage. Here is what he told me:

Shortly after noon on November 22, 1963, 7 million copies of LIFE were coming off printing presses in four U.S. plants. Most newsstands would begin selling the magazine the next day, while the mail would be delivered the following Monday. Then news hit that President John F. Kennedy had been shot, and LIFE management put a hold on all of the trucks. A couple of hours later, they got the news that Kennedy had died. LIFE recalled all 7 million copies, ripped off the covers, and began printing a new cover, a close-up photo of Kennedy. Writers and editors feverishly gathered news and added pages to the issue. The first million copies were bound on the original magazines, now without Staubach, containing perhaps eight pages of assassination-related editorial, and sent to various postal centers. The next 2 million had maybe 16 pages of edit and were directed to more rural postal centers. The final 4 million copies had about 48 pages of edit material and completed distribution of the week’s issue.

I don’t know how many copies of the Staubach edition exist. I took a few with me when I left LIFE. I gave a couple to Staubach himself a few years ago, after which he told me he already had one, framed in his den.

Terry Murphy is a former publisher of D Magazine and created the street basketball tournament that evolved into Hoop-It-Up.