Sunday, April 21, 2013


I planned six months ago to run this League of Themselves entry on April 14th.  I KNEW I should have set it up in advance.  But nooooooo, I just kept putting it off.  So of course, the date rolls around and I forgot.

So here it is, a week late, but still worthwhile an entry.....


'I've Got A Secret'

From Wikipedia:
Samuel James Seymour (March 28, 1860 – April 12, 1956) was the last surviving person who had been present in Ford's Theater the night of the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865. He was from Maryland and lived in Arlington, Virginia in his later years.

At the age of five, Seymour was taken by his godmother, Mrs. George S. Goldsboro, to see "Our American Cousin". He claimed the two sat in the balcony on the side opposite Lincoln's box. Seymour reported that "I complained tearfully that I couldn't get out of the coach because my shirt was torn—anything to delay the dread moment—but Sarah (nurse Sarah Cook) dug into her bag and found a big safety pin. I shook so hard from fright, it caused Sarah to accidentally stab me with the pin. I hollered 'I've been shot! I've been shot!'"

Once in the theater, Seymour settled down. He saw the President across the balcony as he was waving and smiling at people. Seymour said "I began to get over the scared feeling I'd had ever since we arrived in Washington, but that was something I never should have done. All of a sudden a shot rang out—a shot that always will be remembered—and someone in the President's box screamed. I saw Lincoln slumped forward in his seat." Seymour did not actually see the assassination but did witness Lincoln's assassin John Wilkes Booth jump off the balcony. In fact, he revealed that because he did not know Lincoln was shot or that Booth had shot him, his real concern was for Booth.

Just two months before his death, at age 95, he appeared on the February 9, 1956 episode of the CBS TV quiz show 'I've Got a Secret' as a mystery subject, in an episode in which Lucille Ball made an unusual appearance as a guest panelist. Seymour incorrectly gave his age on the show as 96, although his 96th birthday was actually not until March 28, several weeks later. Seymour died at the home of Mrs. Irene (Horn) Hendley, his daughter in Arlington, Va. He had been in failing health since February when he fell in a New York City hotel while preparing to appear on 'I've Got A Secret'. He came on the show with his left eye swollen. Garry Moore had suggested he not appear, but Seymour insisted. In the episode, he was initially questioned by Bill Cullen but it was Jayne Meadows who guessed Seymour's claim to fame. Moore generously awarded Seymour the $80.00 he would have won had he stumped the panel, and a can of Prince Albert pipe tobacco rather than the usual prize of a carton of Winston cigarettes (Winston was the show's sponsor, but Seymour did not smoke cigarettes).

Seymour died 15 days after his 96th birthday, two days shy of the 91st anniversary of the Lincoln assassination, and 63 days after his appearance on 'I've Got A Secret'.


1 comment:

Lisa said...

Completely amazing story! I'm a Lincoln assassination buff and I didn't know about this man or this story! So great that he made it on TV at least -- historic indeed!

Great post!