Photo Of The Day

Oliver W. Sipple (left) intervened by lunging towards Sara Jane Moore and diverting the direction of the gun she fired in an attempt to assassinate President Gerald Ford as the President was leaving the St. Francis Hotel in Union Square.

Oliver W. Sipple (left) intervened by lunging towards Sara Jane Moore and diverting the direction of the gun she fired in an attempt to assassinate President Gerald Ford as the President was leaving the St. Francis Hotel in Union Square.

The Oliver Sipple Case

On September 22th 1975, Oliver Sipple was walking past the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco where the then President Gerald Ford was scheduled to speak. As he moved forward to get a better look at the speech, he noticed the woman standing next to him reach into her raincoat and pull out a revolver. Instinctively, Sipple grabbed for her arm and deflected it as she pulled the trigger. The bullet, intended for the president, ricocheted off the wall and wounded another man in the crowd. Sipple, a decorated Vietnam vet, tackled the assailant, prevented her from shooting again and handed her over to the Secret Service.

Oliver Sipple was immediately hailed in the national press, and received thousands of letters. However, President Ford only sent him a short note, and avoided a personal meeting. News organizations wondered why the White House was avoiding Sipple; although he was openly gay, Sipple’s sexual orientation was a secret from his family and employers; he asked the press to keep his sexuality off the record. However, news organizations refused to comply.

The gay community thought it was a great opportunity too; while discussing whether Sipple’s sexuality be disclosed, Harvey Milk noted: “It’s too good an opportunity. For once we can show that gays do heroic things, not just all that caca about molesting children and hanging out in bathrooms.” Milk further suggested that Sipple’s sexual orientation was the reason he received only a note, rather than an invitation to the White House — something newspapers took and ran with.

Herb Caen, a columnist at The San Francisco Chronicle, finally ‘outed’ Sipple as gay. The Chicago Sun-Times called him a ‘Homosexual Hero’; The Denver Post was more pithy: ‘Gay Vet’. Back in Detroit, Sipple’s staunch Baptist family became the subject of ridicule and abuse by friends and neighbors. His mother refused to talk to him and when she died in 1979, his father told him not to come to the funeral.

Sipple filed a $15 million invasion of privacy suit against seven newspapers, and various publishers, but after a long and bitter process, the courts held that Sipple himself had become news, and that his sexual orientation was part of the story.  Oliver Sipple sank into a downward spiral of depression, alcoholism, obesity and drug abuse. By the time he was found dead with an empty bottle of bourbon in 1989, Oliver Sipple was already a forgotten footnote to ethics and freedom of press. His apartment was littered with press clippings from that fateful day, when he saved a man’s life and subsequently ruined his own.

Oliver W. Sipple Day in San Francisco, Resolution declaring September 22, 2011, as Oliver W. Sipple Day in San Francisco.

No, San Francisco is not gaga over the half-term president. Instead, Sipple has for more than one-third of a century been used as a symbol of homosexual awesomeness for the gay rights movement – even though he wasn’t officially out at the time. Sipple was a decorated U.S. Marine who was wounded by shrapnel during combat in Vietnam. That he risked his life to save his commander in chief, even though he was not on duty, has added to his heft.

Despite the difficult years following his saving of Ford, Sipple’s act of heroism is counted as a milestone in the fight for gay rights, irrespective of whether or not he wanted it that way.

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  • andrew carrot

    Is there more to this conspiracy than is being admitted? Afterall, could I be wrong if I suggested the woman in the circle is actually Pam Corkery? Freaky.

    • Herbert Charles

      And Fidel Castro, top left with cap and beard.

      • Albert Root

        And Putin’s next to Sipple! (He had hair in those days)

      • Kip_Dynamite

        It is Fidel! And is that Ringo Starr to his left?

        Ford was complicit in fabricating evidence in the JFK assassination to support the single bullet theory and frame Oswald. The Beatles were created by the CIA to control the minds of American youth, get them addicted to soft drugs and keep them pacified.

        Ford, The Beatles, JFK, the Bay of Pigs – I can’t make the connection but it’s there…

        • andrew carrot

          A bonus complication for all you conspiracy theorists/UFO followers: Dick Cheney was getting into the republican swing of things about the time the other Tricky Dickie was being moved on.

    • Martin

      Good Lord! Right behind her! It’s Russell Norman!

  • caochladh

    He should have hung on to the weapon and shot the reporters.

  • T. Akston

    MSM. Ethical as always. It’s just about selling the next edition.

  • Nige.

    So what do we learn from this? Gay people just want to get on with being gay. Damn lobby groups always worry about the ends. Not a hoot about the means.

  • cows4me

    Very sad. A brave man that was used by all and sundry to either feather their nests or promote their cause and damn the result. I guess as a Christian I can only hope those whose actions lead to this mans demise are or will suffer a little Kama in the afterlife.

  • Jimbob

    Not as shameful as Alan Turing’s treatment in the UK, can’t wait for that movie.