Welcome to Arkansas State University!

News Article

PBS To Replay TV Special About A-State Grad Bill Carter’s Role As Secret Service Agent During JFK Assassination


JONESBORO, Ark. — Most people in northeast Arkansas know the legendary Bill Carter as the man who brought the Johnny Cash Music Festival to Arkansas State University. But, Carter, an A-State graduate, has had several careers, and one of the first was to serve as a Secret Service agent for U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

Carter, like the rest of the nation, will recognize the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Kennedy throughout the month of November. He did a television interview several years ago with the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) about his life and careers as an attorney, author, manager for some of the top musical celebrities, and as protection for the First Family.

PBS is now bringing the documentary back to re-air on WKNO-Channel 10 out of Memphis, Thursday, Nov. 14, at 9 p.m. and again at 2 a.m. It will also air on the PBS’s second channel, WKNO2 on Saturday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m. WKNO2 is available over the air on Channel 10.2 and on Memphis Comcast on Channel 910.

In addition, Carter spoke about the Kennedy assassination Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Walnut Ridge Chamber of Commerce dinner, and will speak in Nashville, Tenn., Thursday, Nov. 14, and on Friday, Nov. 22, the actual 50th anniversary, in Little Rock.

The native of Rector, Ark., has written a memoir titled, “Get Carter: Backstage in History from JFK’s Assassination to the Rolling Stones.” In the book, he tells the story of investigating the crime and Lee Harvey Oswald. In 1962, Carter entered the U.S. Secret Service and worked as a special agent during the John F. Kennedy administration. Ironically, he was completing his advanced training in Washington the day Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. He was immediately assigned to President Lyndon Johnson during the four days of the funeral, but he also accompanied the slain President’s body to the Capitol, the funeral and Arlington Cemetery.

On Thanksgiving Day 1963, he was assigned to Dallas as part of the team of federal agents investigating the assassination, accompanying Lee Oswald’s family to testify before the Warren Commission. He served during the early part of the Johnson administration before returning to law school. He later worked as the attorney for music stars including the Rolling Stones and Reba McEntire.

Carter, who was inducted as one of Arkansas State’s Distinguished Alumni in 2011, also received the Crystal Award in June from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism in recognition of his work with Arkansas State University to restore Johnny Cash’s boyhood home. He co-founded the Helping Hands Foundation in Rector that has been responsible for helping disadvantaged school children of that city with basic school, health and other essentials as well as providing college scholarships for deserving high school seniors. He was also the featured speaker at Arkansas State’s spring commencement ceremony in May 2013.

Bill Carter

Secret Service agent Bill Carter (far right) keeps an eye on the Kennedy family as the members exit
the funeral of President John F. Kennedy.

Bill Carter mug
Bill Carter