Online Collection

Pencil drawing by Jack Ruby

Object Number: 2011.014.0001
Category: Art
Artist: Jack Ruby
Type of Object: Drawing
Dimensions: 12 1/2 x 10 in. (31.8 x 25.4 cm)
Medium: Paper
Pencil drawing by Jack Ruby made while he was incarcerated in Dallas County jail. Drawing is inscribed to James Barnes and signed by Ruby, dated March 24, 1965.

Inscription, also in pencil, reads:

"To James Barnes-
per courtesy to
your daddy, who
has been a most
wonderful com-
panion during my
last days.
Jack Ruby

Sketch is drawn on white paper.
Curator's Notes

Archie Barnes was one of several Dallas County deputies assigned to "babysit" Jack Ruby in his cell on the sixth floor of the Dallas County Criminal Courts building. In an oral history with the Museum, Barnes recalled that he and Ruby would primarily play board games and dominos to pass the time. In late March 1965--as he did for many of his guards and visitors--Ruby completed intricate geometric pencil drawings for Barnes's two children. Archie's son, James Barnes, donated his drawing to the Museum shortly after his father's death.

Although Ruby did not die until January 3, 1967, his reference to his "last days" on this March 1965 drawing is not really surprising. Friends, attorneys, and law enforcement officials who met with Ruby during this period recall a paranoid and depressed individual on the verge of mental instability. Prone to making illogical remarks--such as suggesting that the Jewish population of Dallas was slowly being exterminated--Ruby tried at one time to electrocute himself in jail. To some, such as deputy sheriff Benny Bob Barrett, Ruby  expressed an eagerness to die. - Stephen Fagin, Associate Curator

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