Oliver Sipple was an American man who became famous for saving U.S. President Gerald Ford from an unexpected assassination attempt on September 22, 1975. The ex U.S. Marine grabbed Sara Jane Moore as she fired a pistol at Ford in San Francisco, causing her to miss. Though he was initially celebrated by the entire nation, the incident took a heavy toll on him later which eventually destroyed him.
Saving President Ford
Oliver Sipple was part of a crowd gathered outside San Francisco’s St. Francis Hotel to see President Ford on September 22, 1975. When Ford was emerging from the building, a women named Sara Jane Moore pulled out a revolver, narrowly missing the President. Sipple immediately grabbed her arm before she could point again at the president, possibly saving Ford’s life.
Named as American Hero
The police and secret service applauded Sipple for his bravery which was further highlighted by media networks all around the world. The national media portrayed him as an American hero, and noted his status as a former Marine. Though Sipple was hesitant to reveal his identity initially, he later permitted media networks to use his name and image.
Media gets him Out of Closet
Oliver Sipple was a gay man, which was something not widely accepted by people back then. Though many people in the San Francisco gay community are aware of his sexuality, Sipple was very conservative about it. Neither his family nor his employer knows about this hidden secret. Oliver requested all the media sources to not to reveal his sexuality, when he realised that the word is spreading quickly. However, a gay community magzine made a cover story mentioning Oliver as a ‘Gay Hero’. Soon all the Media networks jumped into the band wagon and started covering the news.
Aftermath of revelation
After the revelation of his sexuality, Oliver recieved all kinds of unwanted attention from the media and local crowds in San Francisco. His family abandoned him and he was fired from his job. Inspite of showing such heroics, Oliver was not invited to the White House for appreciation. Instead, President Ford sent a short Thank you note. Media firms speculated that Ford sent a note inorder to avoid the heat from communities which were against homosexuality. Sipple was constantly in the news for over a month after the incident. He even tried to hide himself in his friends apartment to avoid the media attention.
Sipple sued as many as 7 noted News paper publishers and many other unnamed publishers for invading his privacy. However, the High Court in San Francisco dismissed the suit, and Sipple continued his legal battle for 9 long years untill a state court of appeals held that Sipple had indeed become news, and that his sexual orientation was part of the story.
Regretting his decision to save president
Sipple’s parents never fully accepted him. It was reported that his mother hung up on Sipple saying she never wished to speak to him again. His father advised his brother to stay away from him. Finally, when Sipple’s mother died, he was not even invited to attend her funeral.
Sipple suffered with mental health issues and became an alcohol addict which took a heavy toll on his physical health too. The incident brought him so much attention that, he often expressed his regret in grabbing Moore’s gun.
In 1989, Sipple was found dead with a bottle of Jack Daniel’s next to him and the television still on. The police estimated that he died 10 days ago unnoticed by neighborhood.