Wednesday, 30 March 2011

When Jodie Foster Nearly Killed Ronald Reagan - 30 Years On

On March 30th 1981, Ronald Reagan became the first President in US history to survive an assassination atttempt.

Only 69 days into his Presidency, he was gunned down by John Hinckley Jnr in Washington. At first, the secret service declared that 'Rawhide (Reagan's codename) is ok...we're going to the Crown' (codename for the White House). But when blood came out of Reagan's mouth, he was rushed instead to the George Washington University Hospital. He'd suffered a punctured lung and after a successful operation, left hospital on the 13th day.

Hinckley, who wanted to get the attention of movie star Jodie Foster and decided that the way to do so was by assassinating the President of United States of America, was found not guilty due to insanity and has been in a secure psychiatric unit ever since.

Here is footage of that moment 30 years ago today...

What if?
It's a beloved question of historians but what if Reagan had died from his wounds?

George Bush Snr would've assumed the Presidency as the incumbant Vice-President, 8 years before he would actually do so in January 1989. The Cold War could've had a variant course from the one that was followed by Reagan and Gorbachov.

There are so many imponderables but what actually happened is that on the back of his recovery, Reagan, with his sunny personality, was feted as a hero and it can be argued, made his Presidency. He swept to a landslide re-election in 1984 and left office in 1989 with high approval ratings. Had he been allowed to stand again for President, he'd probably have got it by a wider margin than George Bush Snr eventually managed.

Here, speaking to Larry King, is Reagan's own recollection of a day that shaped his life and the life of the western world.


  1. Very good :)
    Didn't Ford survive an assassination attempt?

  2. Yes, twice - but neither resulted in him actually being hit.

  3. Oh i see :D
    I liked this post - it appealed to my nerdy obsession with American Presidents :)