Jack Ruby

Nightclub owner Jack Ruby murdered Lee Harvey Oswald before Oswald could stand trial for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.


Born Jacob Rubenstein in Chicago, Illinois, on April 25, 1911. Jack Ruby, a nightclub owner, shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald in the Dallas Police Headquarters on November 24, 1963, two days after Oswald allegedly assassinated President John F. Kennedy.

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Early Years and Young Adulthood

Born in Chicago, Jack Ruby was the fifth of his parents' eight living children. Ruby completed the 8th grade in 1927, but it is unlikely that his education extended into high school.

Once out of school, Ruby turned to illegally scalping tickets to sporting events and other such activities to support himself. He became a street "hustler," making money wherever he could, before being drafted into the U.S. Army Air Forces on May 21, 1943. Never seeing any combat, Ruby was honorably discharged on February 21, 1946, at which point he briefly returned to Chicago.

Post-War Life

In 1947, Jack Ruby moved to Dallas, where he managed nightclubs and dance halls. He later had ownership interests in several local clubs, including the Carousel, the Vegas Club, and the Sovereign Club. He was also involved in several other side ventures, such as selling sewing machine attachments, acting as a talent manager, and selling discount costume jewelry. During this time, until 1963, was arrested eight times for various misdemeanors and liquor law violations stemming from club activities. He also befriended numerous underworld figures as well as many Dallas police officers. It is unclear whether his relationships with either the police or organized crime figures ever amounted to more than acquaintanceships, but after the death of Lee Harvey Oswald, these relationships were examined continually for greater significance.

Later Years

On November 24, 1963, Jack Ruby walked to the Dallas Police Headquarters, where Lee Harvey Oswald was being held for the murder of President John F. Kennedy, and went to the basement, apparently unimpeded. At 11:21 a.m. CST—while authorities were preparing Oswald for transport by armored car to the nearby county jail—Ruby stepped from a crowd of reporters and shot Oswald in the abdomen with his .38 revolver, fatally wounding him. The incident was broadcast live nationwide on television. Ruby was arrested immediately after the shooting, and he told several witnesses that Oswald's death would spare "Mrs. Kennedy the discomfiture of coming back to trial."

After appealing the death sentence handed down at his trial, Ruby died of a pulmonary embolism on January 3, 1967, at Parkland Hospital, where Oswald had died and where President Kennedy had been pronounced dead after his assassination.

Weeks before his death, Jack Ruby claimed sole responsibility for Oswald's death, denying a larger plot. Ruby had previously, however, implied that he was part of a greater conspiracy to kill President Kennedy and knew who was behind the plot, fueling conspiracy speculation right up to and beyond his final days. Although the official Warren Commission report of 1964 found no evidence that Oswald and Ruby were part of a larger conspiracy, it continues to be disputed.

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