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Pete Souza

19 Photos of Ronald Reagan With Various Celebrities

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Pete Souza

It seems like a good time to bring up one of my favorite websites, the Reagan Presidential Library—specifically the MEETING WITH V.I.P.s and CELEBRITIES section of the library's historical photo archives. It's a who's who of the 1980s, with shots of The Gipper and First Lady alongside everyone from Michael Jackson to Roger Clemens, Brooke Shields to Brigitte Nielsen, and Dudley from Diff'rent Strokes to Mr. T. Here are some of the highlights:

The '86 Giants

Harry Carson dumping Gatorade (popcorn) on President Reagan with Nancy Reagan watching at the Diplomatic entrance. President Reagan met the New York Giants football team after Super Bowl XXI victory. 2/13/87.

Frank Sinatra

President Reagan cutting in on Nancy Reagan and Frank Sinatra dancing at the President's birthday party in the East Room. 2/6/81.

The King of Pop

After lending his hit song "Beat It" to a campaign against drunk driving, Michael Jackson was rewarded with a Presidential Special Achievement Award by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. 5/14/84. © Bettmann/CORBIS

Mike Seaver, Phyllis Diller, Lucy and Webster

President Reagan attending the Bob Hope Salute to the United States Air Force 40th Anniversary celebration with Kirk Cameron, Phyllis Diller, Lucille Ball and Emmanuel Lewis at Pope Air Force base in Fayetteville, North Carolina. 5/10/87.

Muhammad Ali

President Reagan "punching" Muhammad Ali in the oval office. 1/24/83.

The Cast of Diff'rent Strokes

Nancy Reagan on the set of television show "Diff'rent Strokes" with Conrad Bain, Todd Bridges, Dana Plato, and Mary Jo Cattlett. 3/9/83.

San-T Claus

Mr. T, of the television show "The A-Team," poses as Santa Claus to help First Lady Nancy Reagan unveil the White House Christmas decorations. 12/12/83. © Bettmann/CORBIS

Superman and Frank Gifford

President Reagan talking with Christopher Reeve and Frank Gifford during a reception and picnic in honor of the 15th Anniversary of the Special Olympics program in the Diplomatic Reception room. 6/12/83.

Patrick Ewing

President Reagan looking up at Georgetown basketball player Patrick Ewing, with Senator Robert Dole looking on, in the oval office. 8/13/82.

Sly Stallone and Brigitte Nielsen

President and Nancy Reagan posing with Sylvester Stallone and Brigitte Nielsen during a state dinner for Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore. 10/8/85.

The Great One

President Reagan greeting Hockey player Wayne Gretzky at a Luncheon for National Hockey League All Stars. 2/8/82.

Christie Brinkley, Cheryl Tiegs and Brooke Shields

President Reagan and Nancy Reagan posing for photo with Christie Brinkley, Cheryl Tiegs and Brooke Shields at a Tribute to Bob Hope's 80th birthday at the Kennedy Center. 5/20/83.

The Future Fellow-Governor of California

President Reagan having a photo taken with Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas. 8/23/84.

Cal Ripken

President Reagan talking with Cal Ripken Jr. in the Baltimore Orioles dugout at Baltimore Memorial stadium, Maryland. 6/24/86.

Roger Clemens and Don Baylor

President Reagan posing with Roger Clemens and Don Baylor of the Boston Red Sox baseball team in the Roosevelt room. 9/10/86.

Jimmy Johnson

President Reagan hosting the NCAA football champion University of Miami Hurricanes in the White House East Room (Coach Jimmy Johnson is at left). 1/29/88.

John Travolta and Princess Diana

Princess Diana dancing with John Travolta in the entrance hall at the White House. 11/9/85.

Mary Lou Retton

President Reagan posing with Mary Lou Retton and the 1984 U.S. Olympic team at the Century Plaza Hotel, Los Angeles, California. 8/13/84.

Harry Caray

President Reagan in the press box with Harry Caray during a Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game at Wrigley Field in Chicago. 9/30/88.

If you grew up in or are particularly fond of the '80s, check out the Reagan Library's archives for more great photos, featuring Tom Selleck, Tom Cruise, Cher, Rock Hudson, Bill & Hillary Clinton, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, David Stern, Ricardo Montalban and Rodney Dangerfield. You can order some poster-size prints.

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History
The Time Teddy Roosevelt Was Shot in the Chest, Then Gave a Speech Anyway
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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

On October 14, 1912—105 years ago today—Theodore Roosevelt was on the campaign trail in Milwaukee, running for another term. It was a tough race: Democratic candidate Woodrow Wilson proved to be a formidable opponent, and William Howard Taft, while unpopular, was the Republican incumbent. Roosevelt was running as a third-party Progressive, and in order to keep pace with his big-ticket rivals he had to work hard. By this point in the election season, he was giving 15 to 20 speeches per day, most of which stretched on for an hour or sometimes more. But this day, TR didn't feel too well. His throat was scratchy, he was tired, and so he planned a relatively quick stop.

What Roosevelt and his security team didn't know was that a man with a .38 caliber revolver had been trailing the campaign since they departed New Orleans. For a thousand miles, he rode quietly, just waiting to get his shot at the Colonel.

John Schrank was a Bavarian-born saloon-keeper from New York. He'd had some strange and troubling dreams in recent months, mostly about President McKinley, whose assassination resulted in Roosevelt's first term. In his dreams, Schrank said that President McKinley asked him to avenge his death and protect democracy from a three-term president. All Schrank had to do was kill Roosevelt before he could be reelected.

"BUT FORTUNATELY I HAD MY MANUSCRIPT"

Roosevelt stood in the seat of his automobile to wave at the crowds and Schrank, who was standing in the front row of the crowd, had his shot. He took aim: point-blank, right at Roosevelt’s head. Then three things happened at the same time. A bystander hit Schrank’s arm; Roosevelt’s security detail spotted the gun and leapt from the car; Schrank pulled the trigger. The shot landed squarely in Roosevelt’s chest just as Schrank was tackled and put in a headlock by the bodyguard. Roosevelt is said not to have noticed he was hit until he reached into his overcoat and felt the blood on his fingers.

But it turns out that Teddy’s long-winded speeches saved his life that day: The bullet traveled through a 50-page copy of his prepared speech and the steel eyeglasses case he carried in the same pocket. The bullet was slowed enough not to reach his lung or heart, which Teddy deduced from the absence of blood when he spoke or coughed. He refused to go to a hospital and insisted on giving his speech.

“Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose,” he began. He spoke for at least 55 more minutes (though some estimates say 90), still wearing his blood-soaked shirt. (You can read a stenographer’s report of his speech here.)

The pages of the speech that saved Roosevelt's life were later bound into a book.
The pages of the speech that saved Roosevelt's life were later bound into a book, which—along with the eyeglasses case and the shirt TR was wearing—can be seen at the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site in New York City.
Erin McCarthy

Roosevelt would spend the next eight days in the hospital. The bullet had lodged in his chest wall and removing it was deemed too unsafe. The wound healed and he never reported trouble from the injury again. Despite having lived through his assassination attempt, the presidency would not be Teddy’s again: Woodrow Wilson’s 41 percent of the vote meant the office would be his, though Roosevelt did beat out incumbent Taft, marking the only time a sitting president has come in third place in a reelection bid.

Schrank, in the meantime, was apprehended immediately. He lived the rest of his life in an insane asylum, and died of pneumonia in 1943.

This post originally appeared in 2012.

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"The Thing": The Mysterious Teenage Ghost That Haunted Taft's White House
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John Plumbe Jr., Library of Congress // Public Domain

“My dear Clara,” Major Archie Butt wrote in the summer of 1911, “It seems that the White House is haunted.” So began what would become the only written record of the mysterious Executive Mansion ghost known only as "The Thing."

That July, word of an apparition appearing to servants in William Howard Taft’s White House reached Butt, a military aide to the president who served as a kind of personal secretary and attaché. Reported encounters with a ghost had been scaring domestic staffers for months, as he recounted in a letter to his sister-in-law Clara. The spooky tale he told her remains an enduring question mark for White House scholars even today.

As the gossip of the time went, The Thing was felt more often than seen. Taft’s housekeeper—“a spooky little thing herself,” as Butt put it—reported that servants told stories of feeling The Thing appear as a slight pressure on the shoulder, as if a curious kid were leaning over to see what they were doing. Butt scolded the housekeeper, telling her, "ghosts have not the sense of touch, at least those self-respecting ghosts of which I have heard." But the servants maintained that it was, in fact, the spirit touching them.

“There’s a long tradition of White House ghosts,” Evan Phifer, a research historian at the White House Historical Society, tells Mental Floss. “Lincoln is a very popular one, Andrew Jackson—even a British soldier from the time of the War of 1812.” But The Thing is one of the more unusual White House spirits, because no one knows who he was. “It’s not a president or a first lady. It’s this unknown boy about 14 or 15 years old," Phifer says.

Several of the White House staff reported feeling this mysterious pressure on their shoulder, only to turn around to an empty room. Just one member of the household, though, said she actually saw the ghost. Marsh, First Lady Helen Taft’s personal maid, reported not just feeling the ghost leaning over her shoulder, but seeing the ethereal figure, whom she described as a young boy with light, unkempt hair and sad blue eyes. “Now who on Earth this can be,” Butt mused, “I cannot imagine.”

Taft responded to news of the spooky rumor with “towering rage,” Butt said, banning anyone in the house from speaking of the ghost under threat of firing. The president worried that the story would get out and the press would have a field day with the news. But his aide seemed to have a sense of humor about the whole situation. “I reminded him that the help was in such a state of mind that, if it was positively believed that the upper floor of the White House was haunted, the servants there could not be kept in their places by executive order,” Butt wrote.

Still, both of them found their curiosity piqued. Taft was “as anxious to hear about the thing as I had been,” according to Butt. And the aide, who was often on the receiving end of the housekeeping staff’s complaints, was afraid to let on just how intrigued he was by The Thing. “I don’t dare let any of them see how interested I am in it,” he told his sister-in-law. He hoped that the ghost would fade into the background as the year wore on and the staff got busier, relieving him of the duty of calming down superstitious domestic employees.

But even while publicly scoffing at the story, Butt was privately planning to research the mysterious boy’s possible origins. He asked several different servants to tell him their stories about The Thing, and told Clara that he was “going to delve into the history of the White House” to see if any boy matching The Thing’s description had lived—or died—there. But he never mentioned it in his letters to Clara again. It seems that he never did find out who the ghost might have been.

Modern White House historians are just as perplexed as he was. The only known youngster said to haunt the presidential residence is Willie Lincoln, who died during his father’s second year in office, possibly of typhoid fever. But Willie was 11 when he died, much younger than the description of The Thing. (Besides, Willie's ghost was already a known figure in Washington—the first reported sightings of his ghost in the White House date back to the 1870s.)

Whoever the paranormal figure might have represented, Taft was seemingly successful in squashing the rumors before they reached beyond the White House walls. “I didn’t really see the story in any papers of the time, so you could say that Archie Butt did a good job of keeping the story under wraps,” Phifer says. “This seems to be the only mention in the historical record of this ghost.”

Butt himself, though, was not long for this world. In April 1912, returning from Europe to the U.S. after a six-week leave of absence from the White House, he died in the sinking of the Titanic. And as for The Thing? Well, if Archie Butt ever did get to the bottom of the mystery, he took the story to his watery grave.

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