Thirty-seven years ago today, outside the Washington Hilton, U.S. President Ronald Reagan was climbing into his limousine, smiling and waving to bystanders, when he suddenly doubled over. What happened next was a blur, as a swarm of secret service men dove into action. Reagan took a bullet to the ribs, and three others — the White House press secretary, a secret service agent, and a police officer — were injured. All survived, though press secretary James Brady was left disabled.
The shooter, John Hinckley Jr., had done it to impress his obsession: actress Jodie Foster. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
(As an aside, I remember the day it happened: grade 11, at a girlfriend’s house, after school, sitting in our kilts drinking tea, watching the breaking news reports on TV.)
Seeing the footage now, there’s a certain amount of nail-biting and lip-gnawing: I know what’s coming, and I squirm as I wait for it.
It’s made me think of some other famous assassinations — here’s my ‘top 5’ list.
Ronald Reagan — Mar 30, 1981 This video takes us back to ‘the spot’ out front of the Hilton, then takes us through an analysis and computer-generated reenactment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Y5wLFeYB24 (5:05)
John Fitzgerald Kennedy — Nov 22, 1963 This CG recreation includes input from Helter Skelter author Vincent Bugliosi. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfSXkfV_mhA (4:17)
Abraham Lincoln — Apr 14, 1865 The last surviving witness to Lincoln’s assassination (he was 5 years old at the time) appears on a game show, and contestants have to guess who he is. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RPoymt3Jx4 (7:17)
Martin Luther King — Apr 4, 1968 The news of Dr. King’s assassination is delivered in Indianapolis from the back of a flatbed truck by then-New York senator Bobby Kennedy — who would himself be shot a month and a day later, on June 5, 1968. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCrx_u3825g (5:01)
John Lennon — Dec 8, 1980 This nostalgic footage is from the morning of Dec 9 on NBC’s Today Show. Just seeing Tom Brokaw and Jane Pauley takes me back. Today was on our 13” kitchen b&w religiously every morning before school. I remember girls at school crying that day over Lennon’s death. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L21zEKnw5G0 (3:35)