Ronald Reagan and the Man who Loved Jodie Foster
Only 69 days after Ronald Reagan was sworn in as President of the United States, he was grievously shot in the chest as he was leaving a Washington D.C. hotel. The entire event occurred in just seconds. Those tasked to protect the President quickly pushed him into the presidential limousine as John Hinckley Jr., a deranged man, emptied his .22 caliber revolver towards the chief executive of the United States. Outside of the Limo, few even knew Reagan was shot. Even in the Limo, initial communications indicated that the president was unhurt. But then Reagan started to cough up blood and the situation turned dire. Three men lay severely wounded as Hinckley was immediately subdued.
Only years later did the American public know just how close Reagan came to death. At the time, a doctor stated that he “was never in any serious danger”, but years afterward it was learned that his loss of blood was very extensive and that the President was indeed close to death. Reagan himself thought it was necessary to walk in to the hospital in order not to worry the American people. However, he collapsed just after entering. Luckily, President Reagan, already 70 years of age defied the odds and survived. The continuity of government was preserved during a stressful time, as the Cold War was intensifying once more.
But why did a man who was later found to be insane decide that shooting the President was the right thing to do? As it turns out, John Hinckley Jr’s delusions were growing in strength for years. At least since 1976, Hinckley was developing a growing obsession with actress Jodie Foster. He became fixated after seeing her in the popular film “Taxi Driver”, more than a dozen times. As his fascination grew, he began to follow Foster around the country, calling her and writing her letters by 1980.
Also in 1980, Hinckley decided the best way to get Foster’s attention was to assassinate a presidential candidate, just as the main character in “Taxi Driver” attempted. Hinckley was amazed at how close he was able to get to President Carter but lost his nerve. Even though Hinckley was arrested for gun possession shortly after getting so close to Carter, the connection was never made and Hinckley was free to try once more, this time succeeding to shoot the President on March 30, 1981.
A final letter which was found on his person, allows a glimpse into his crazed mind: “By sacrificing my freedom and possibly my life, I hope to change your mind about me. This letter is being written an hour before I leave for the Hilton hotel.” Hinckley continued: “Jodie, I’m asking you to please look into your heart and at least give me the chance with this historical deed to gain your respect and love.” Needless to say, the desperate delusions of a disturbed man nearly turned the world upside down some 36 years ago.