Marina Oswald Facts & Worksheets

Marina Oswald facts and information plus worksheet packs and fact file. Includes 5 activities aimed at students 11-14 years old (KS3) & 5 activities aimed at students 14-16 years old (GCSE). Great for home study or to use within the classroom environment.

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    • Early Life of Marina Oswald
    • Marina’s relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald
    • Lee’s involvement in the assassination of J.F. Kennedy
    • Marina’s life following the death of J.F. Kennedy

    Key Facts And Information

    Let’s find out more about Marina Oswald!

    • Marina Oswald Porter is the widow of Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who is alleged to have killed the 35th president of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. She was Russian and moved to America in the early 60s where she settled for the rest of her life. She refused to give many interviews or be in the spotlight, preferring instead to lead a private life where she could leave behind the memory of her former husband and the assassination of J.F. Kennedy.

    Marina Oswald Porter

    Early Life of Marina Oswald

    • Not much biographic information is available on Marina Oswald. Rather, her name is very much connected to her dead husband, Lee Harvey Oswald, who was accused of murdering President J.F. Kennedy.
    • Marina Oswald Porter was born Marina Nikolayevna Prusakova on 17 July 1941 in Severodvinsk, a city in the northwest of the USSR. During World War II, she was brought up by her maternal grandmother since her mother had to work to earn a living and sustain her family. However, after the war, she moved to St Petersburg where she lived with her mother and stepfather (Biography Editors 2014). After her mother died and she turned 18 years old (1957), Marina moved to Minsk in Belarus.

    Relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald

    • In Minsk, Marina studied Pharmacy and met the American Lee Harvey Oswald on 17 March 1961, at a dance. By 30 April 1961, the two were already married (Aasen 2013). The following year, Marina gave birth to their first daughter, June, and moved to the United States.
    • They moved to Texas but did not have a happily-ever-after relationship. In fact, whenever Lee got a job, he was not able to keep it for long, and he also displayed raging and violent behaviour towards his wife. The dynamics between them were not good.

    Marina and Lee Oswald with their child

    • Lee was a controlling man, and went to the extremes of not allowing Marina to learn English, using the excuse that “he wanted to keep practicing Russian” (Biography Editors 2014). Marina even spoke to her children in Russian. When Marina was pregnant for the second time, she lived with her friend Ruth Pain in Irving (Texas). Her husband – who was now working at the Texas Book Depository – visited her at the weekends. In October 1963, their second child, Rachel, was born.
    • However, only a month later, on 22 November 1963, “shots fired from the Texas Book Depository killed President John F. Kennedy”, and Oswald became the suspected murderer since he was absent from work that tragic day (Biography Editors 2014). Two days later, Lee Harvey Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby while he was being transported to jail.
    • Following the burial of her husband, Marina and her daughters received a donation of $60,000, and claimed she visited Lee’s grave “once or twice a week” (Aasen 2013). Although she always wanted to remain out of the spotlight, she collaborated in the writing of a book on her life and relationship with her husband, Lee. The book, published in 1977, is titled Oswald, Marina and Lee.
    • It is not certain whether Marina believed that Lee had killed J.F. Kennedy since her opinion changed throughout the years. In fact, on one occasion she stated that she was certain he had committed the crime, and on another, she claimed that “her husband had been set up” (Biography Editors 2014).
    • During the next few years, Marina Oswald remarried Kenneth Porter, with whom she had lived in Dallas, and had a third child, Mark. She also learnt English and eventually managed to become a US citizen.
    • Marina also auctioned the wedding ring Oswald had given her and attached a note to it stating “at this time of my life I don’t wish to have Lee’s ring in my possession because symbolically I want to let go of my past” (Biography Editors 2014). After the assassination of Kennedy and her husband’s death, she even wondered if he had used her in order to succeed in his attempt to kill the president. For many years, Marina lived with the guilt of not being good enough and of having to make up for her husband’s wrongdoings.
    • In an interview, she claimed: “You learn to live not with the guilt that you shed because you are you and you’re not responsible for somebody’s doing, whether it’s your child or husband, gradually you get out of that guilty conscience… I’m sympathetic to Lee, many times, but I’m also angry at him. He left me to swim in the dirty water… So many times I questioned: ‘Did he use me as well? Does he really care for me at all?” (Aasen 2013).

    Following the death of J.F. Kennedy

    • Although Marina Oswald had many opportunities to speak to the public and enter the spotlight, she always refused to do so, with the wish and intention of closing that dark chapter in her life. In fact, she refused to be interviewed on the 50th anniversary of J.F. Kennedy’s death. However, in one of the first interviews she gave following her husband’s death, Marina talked to KRLD-TV in Dallas.

    Interviewer: “Did Lee Oswald kill the president?”

    Marina: “I don’t want to believe, but I have too much facts and facts tell me that Lee shot Kennedy. [...] I want to thank you, American people, thank you from me and from my children,” she said. “American people have very big heart. […] I loved Lee. I’m sorry for him. Because he died very young” (Aasen 2013).

    During the funeral of Lee Harvey Oswald

    • In 1990, Marina had a change of heart: “I can’t in my mind, I could never put Lee against Kennedy. That never made sense to me (Aasen 2013).” And by 1993, in an NBC interview, she was completely convinced her husband was not involved in the assassination and claimed that “he definitely did not fire the shots” (Aasen 2013).
    • Moreover, in another interview in 1988, Marina answered the question on whether Oswald demonstrated any tendencies in wanting to kill J.F. Kennedy, to which she answered: “I’ve asked myself the question 1,001 times... I could never make myself comfortable, I never could buy the idea that Lee did not like or want to kill President Kennedy. Everything I learned about President Kennedy was good through Lee” (Aasen 2013).
    • For the first few years, Marina raised her children by hiding who their biological father was. In 1995, Keith Khatchik released an interview with Marina and Lee’s daughter, Rachel, in which she explains the way her sister June and her had found out the truth about their father.
    • She therefore states to the interviewer: “I didn’t know my family was any different until I was about 7. One day, my mother sat my sister and me down on our big green couch and told us that the man who had raised us as our father – our stepfather, Kenneth – was not, you know, our real father, that our real father’s name was Lee Oswald and that he had, well, that he had been accused of killing the president of the United States'' (Khatchik 1995). Following her mother’s revelation, all the pieces suddenly came together at once: she understood why kids in school kept asking her “did your daddy shoot the president?” or why “the mailbox got shot at” (Khatchik 1995).
    • Khatchik then asked Rachel if she believed that her father was able to carry out the crime that changed the course of American history, to which she replied: “I think Lee was this 24-year-old guy, this youngster, who got himself in over his head. Lee was intelligent, but he was no genius. I don’t know who else was involved, but clearly it was too big of a deal for one 24-year-old kid to do by himself. For example, right before the shooting someone asked my mother to take a picture of Lee holding a rifle, and then right after the shooting, the picture was confiscated, and everyone says… 
    • … ‘Look there’s the gun, there’s the guy who did it, case closed’. […] And apparently there were police recordings of someone saying Jack Ruby was planning to kill Lee, and sure enough, the next day Jack Ruby makes his way through all the police and kills Lee live on national TV. I mean, think about it. There are just too many loose ends for it all to be dumped on my father. It was just too big of a deal. Until I was 23, I didn’t even know there were alternative theories. I’ve only read a couple of books about it. I’m sorry for my father’s pain, but basically I just want it to be over, one way or another, especially by the time I have kids.”
    • As the excerpts from Marina and Rachel’s interview demonstrate, although there are many indications that Lee Harvey Oswald was not the perpetrator of J.F. Kennedy’s death, the issue remains unsolved considering the lack of enough proof.