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Donald Paul Bellisario is the only Hollywood producer, so...

By VERNON SCOTT UPI Hollywood Reporter

HOLLYWOOD -- Donald Paul Bellisario is the only Hollywood producer, so far as is known, who has ever met Lee Harvey Oswald and has based a TV episode on JFK's assassin.

Bellisario is executive producer of TV's 'Quantum Leap' series, a time travel show in which one principle 'jumps' inside the skin of fictional characters every week to change the tide of history.

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On NBC-TV Sept. 22, 'Quantum Leap' finds actor Scott Bakula leaping into Oswald's body in the highly fictionalized episode.

'Although not as as highly fictionalized as Oliver Stone's 'JFK,'' Bellisario said. 'This is the first time in five years I've used a genuine historical figure.'

His hourlong segment is 100 percent at odds with director Stone's controversial second gun, CIA-Lyndon Johnson conspiracy in the fanciful 'JFK' film.

Bellisario, who produced 'Magnum, P.I.,' 'Battlestar Galactica' and 'Airwolf,' encountered Oswald when they were in the Marine Corps. He came away convinced Oswald was a communist fanatic.

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The time was December 1958 in Tustin, Calif. Bellisario visited his old outfit to look up some buddies in Marine Air Control Squadron 9, a unit of 120 Marines to which Oswald had been attached after Bellisario was reassigned.

Bellisario said, 'I encountered him once and I never forgot him for a good reason. I stopped to ask him where I could find a duty roster to check out my buddies.

'Oswald was sitting cross-legged on the floor reading 'The Worker.' I sat down, surprised. You just didn't see Marine privates reading communist newspapers 30 years ago -- at least not me, a 22-year-old sergeant at the time.

'He looked up and made some inflamatory comment, the exact words of which escape me now. It was like listening to Russian propaganda on the radio. So we got into a heated polemic on communism versus democracy, which still stands out in my mind.

'To this day I remember his arrogance and his sneer. I remember our verbal battle, which went on for 10 or 15 minutes.

'As I walked away I passed another private and asked, 'Who is that little (bleep)?' He told me he was a harmless little jerk who argued and fought with everybody.

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'Kennedy was shot in 1963, about four years later, and when Oswald's picture appeared on my TV screen, I came out of my chair. I said to my wife, 'I know that guy!' But I couldn't remember where or when. The name meant nothing to me.

'When they announced he was an ex-Marine, it clicked in. I saw him sitting on the floor with the paper. I remembered the argument and his arrogance. It all came into focus. I was scared because I thought at first that Oswald being a communist might lead to war with the Soviet Union.

'In 1968 I took a job in Dallas with an advertising agency and went to the book depository. I read all the books I could find on the assassination.

'Now, here in Hollywood last year my 12-year-old son came home from seeing 'JFK' and he told me about the conspiracy and all this B.S. from Stone's movie.

'I told my son, 'Wait a minute, Michael. It's not true.' But he insisted it was the truth because it was in the movie. I explained to him Stone had rewritten history to suit his own theories. My young production staff also swallowed it all as the truth.

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'It convinced me to write this segment of 'Quantum Leap,' the hardest one I've ever written. I went through the books again and clips from magazines and newspapers, and found myself agreeing with the conclusions of the Warren Commission once more.

'I'm convinced Oswald acted alone. He was an obsessed fanatic. I understood how sick he was. We fired the same weapons and went through the same training. He knew how to handle a rifle, just as I did. Being in the same outfit, we had the same knowledge.

'We were both sharpshooters. And yes, he could easily have racked off three rounds well within the time limit. Not a doubt in my mind. So could I. He had a four-power scope -- from here across the street. We fired those weapons at 500 yards with an open peepsight to qualify.

'Paul Murphy, a guy from our outfit who served with Oswald in Japan for a year, knew him well. He had lunch with me recently and I asked him honestly who he thought shot JFK. He said, 'Without a doubt it was that little S.O.B. He was a weasel. I was there when he shot himself with a derringer to escape being transferred. He did 30 days for that.'

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'Murphy said Oswald was sly and a total loner; not the kind of guy who would get involved in a conspiracy.

'In this episode of 'Quantum Leap,' I have one of my characters saying, 'Nobody wants to believe one lone, insignificant little man could bring down Jack Kennedy. It's more intriguing to believe there was a powerful conspiracy involving evil men in high places.

'Today it remains relatively easy to assassinate a national leader, even Saddam Hussein. All you have to do is be willing to give up yourself. That's an important point in my TV show.'NEWLN:

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