NEW YORK, March 20 /PRNewswire/ -- In March of 1981, just 70 days after
President Ronald Reagan took office, John Hinckley, Jr. came within an inch of
changing history forever. What led a troubled twenty-five-year-old to this
notorious fate? Follow John Hinckley's path from lonely teen to presidential
gunman on THE PLOT TO KILL REAGAN, premiering on Thursday, March 30th, at
11:00 p.m. ET/PT on The History Channel.
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Reclusive teen John Hinckley has dreams of a career in music, but his
parents insist that he attend Texas Tech to study business administration in
1973. After dropping out of college, he finds inspiration in the movie Taxi
Driver, in which Robert DeNiro's character plans to impress a woman by
assassinating a president. When that plan fails, he tries to rescue a young
prostitute, played by Jodie Foster. Hinckley sees the movie fifteen times.
According to Dr. William T. Carpenter, defense psychiatrist at Hinckley's
trial, interviewed exclusively for THE PLOT TO KILL REAGAN , "he was sort of
an empty vessel, demoralized and ready to fill up his inner world with
something that was more compelling ... and this just struck a theme with him."
Hinckley, desperate to act on his obsession with Foster, visits Yale,
where she is a freshman. THE PLOT TO KILL REAGAN offers harrowing
dramatizations of the effects of his many phone calls and letters on the
actress. After she deflects his attention, he is more determined than ever to
prove himself worthy of her.
It was then, during the presidential campaign of 1980, that viewers see
Hinckley stalk President Jimmy Carter. Soon after, THE PLOT TO KILL REAGAN
documents Hinckley's stalking of Reagan for the first time.
"He felt that notoriety would be the most important thing that he could
achieve in his life, and the only way he could do that was to take down a very
powerful figure or a celebrity that would attract the nation's attention," Dr.
James W. Clarke, author of On Being Mad or Merely Angry, tell viewers.
The program then offers a dramatic recreation of a turning point in March
1981 -- Hinckley is devastated when his father cuts him off to encourage him
to make it on his own. Taking a bus back to Yale, Hinckley makes a stopover in
Washington, DC. While there, he reads that President Reagan will be making an
appearance just blocks away.
Combining historical footage with dramatizations, viewers relive the
events outside the Washington Hilton from Hinckley's point of view. After
seeing him wave to Reagan as he and his staff enter the hotel, viewers watch
Hinckley wait patiently until Reagan returns to his limousine. Firing six
shots in 1.7 seconds, Hinckley hits President Reagan, missing his heart by an
In one of the program's highlights, those seconds and their immediate
aftermath are re-lived by two participants in exclusive interviews. Danny
Spriggs, former Deputy Director, U.S. Secret Service, who was on duty that
day, tells viewers how he didn't see anyone suspicious in the crowd, and
describes how the shooting changed how presidents have been protected ever
since. Frederick Ahearn, Special Assistant to President Reagan, offers his
account of hearing the shots, seeing the motorcade drive off, and attempting
to help Press Secretary James Brady, who was shot in the forehead by Hinckley.
THE PLOT TO KILL REAGAN sheds light on one of the darker figures of
American history -- one of the few to attempt to kill a president. Its profile
of Hinckley provides a chilling look at how a lonely boy grew up to come
within an inch of ending the life of the most powerful man in the world.
THE PLOT TO KILL REAGAN is produced for The History Channel by Indigo
Films. Executive Producer for The History Channel is Carl H. Lindahl.
The History Channel(R) is one of the leading cable television networks
featuring compelling original, non-fiction specials and series that bring
history to life in a powerful and entertaining manner across multiple
platforms. The network provides an inviting place where people experience
history in new and exciting ways enabling them to connect their lives today to
the great lives and events of the past that provide a blueprint for the
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and received the prestigious Governor's Award from the Academy of Television
Arts & Sciences for the network's Save Our History(R) campaign dedicated to
historic preservation and history education. The History Channel reaches more
than 89 million Nielsen subscribers. The website is located at
SOURCE The History Channel