|15th White House Press Secretary|
January 20, 1981 - March 30, 1981*
|Larry Speakes (Acting)|
James Scott Brady|
August 29, 1940
Centralia, Illinois, U.S.
August 4, 2014 (aged 73)|
Alexandria, Virginia, U.S.
|Cause of death||Complications due to gunshot wounds|
Sue Beh (1960-1967)|
Sarah Kemp (1972-2014)
|Education||University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (BA)|
|^* Brady formally retained the title of Press Secretary until the end of the Reagan Administration on January 20, 1989, but he did not brief the press after he was shot in the 1981 assassination attempt.|
James Scott Brady (August 29, 1940 - August 4, 2014) was an assistant to the U.S. President and the fifteenth White House Press Secretary under President Ronald Reagan. In 1981, Brady became permanently disabled from a gunshot wound during the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. His death was ruled a homicide, caused by the gunshot wound he received 33 years earlier.
Brady began his career in public service as a staff member in the office of Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen (R-IL). In 1964, he was the campaign manager for Congressional candidate Wayne Jones in the race for Illinois' 23rd District. In 1970, Brady directed a campaign in the same district for Phyllis Schlafly.
Brady served various positions in the private sector and in government, including service as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, James Thomas Lynn; Special Assistant to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget; Assistant to the Secretary of Defense; and member of the staff of Senator William V. Roth, Jr. (R-DE). He also served as Press Secretary in 1979 to presidential candidate John Connally.
After Connally withdrew his candidacy from the race, Brady became Director of Public Affairs and Research for the Reagan-Bush Committee, then Spokesperson for the Office of the President-elect. After Reagan took office, Brady became White House Press Secretary.
On March 30, 1981, 69 days into his presidency, Ronald Reagan and his cabinet members, including Brady, were leaving the Washington Hilton Hotel when a gunman opened fire. The first of six bullets hit Brady. The gunman was 25 year old John Hinckley, Jr..
Secret Service and police officers forced the suspect to the ground and arrested him. Hinckley fired 6 shots from a .22 caliber Röhm RG-14 revolver. Brady was hit above his left eye. President Reagan, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and Washington police officer Thomas Delahanty were also injured from the shooting. Brady, Reagan and McCarthy were taken to George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C.
During the confusion that followed the shooting, all major media outlets erroneously reported that Brady had died. When ABC News anchorman Frank Reynolds, a friend of Brady, was later forced to retract the report, he angrily said on-air to his staff, "C'mon, let's get it nailed down!", as a result of the miscommunication.
During the hours-long operation on Brady at the George Washington University Hospital, surgeon Dr. Arthur Kobrine was informed of the media's announcement of Brady's death, to which he said, "No one has told me and the patient."
Although Brady survived, the wound left him with slurred speech and partial paralysis that required the full-time use of a wheelchair. Kobrine, his neurosurgeon, described him as having difficulty controlling his emotions while speaking after the shooting, saying "he would kind of cry-talk for a while", and suffering deficits in memory and thinking, such as failing to recognize people. He lived the rest of his life using a wheelchair and had his speech affected.
Brady was unable to work as the White House Press Secretary but remained in the position until the end of the Reagan Administration with Larry Speakes and Marlin Fitzwater performing the job on an "acting" or "deputy" basis.
With his wife Sarah Brady, who served as Chair of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Brady subsequently lobbied for stricter handgun control and assault weapon restrictions. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, also known as "the Brady Bill", was named in his honor.
Brady received the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from McKendree College, Lebanon, Illinois, in 1982. Sarah and James Brady were each awarded a doctorate degree (of Humane Letters) by Drexel University in 1993. In 1994, James and Sarah received the S. Roger Horchow Award for Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen, an award given out annually by the Jefferson Awards Foundation. In 1996, Brady received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton, the highest civilian award in the United States.
Brady married Sue Beh in 1960. The marriage ended in divorce in 1967. In 1972, Brady married Sarah Jane Kemp.
Brady died on August 4, 2014, in Alexandria, Virginia. Four days later, his death was ruled by the medical examiner as a homicide caused by the gunshot wound he received in 1981. Hinckley did not face charges in Brady's death because he was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Brady's recovery after the shooting was dramatized in the 1991 HBO film Without Warning: The James Brady Story, with Brady portrayed by Beau Bridges. Brady was also portrayed by John Connolly in the 2001 Showtime film The Day Reagan Was Shot. Michael H. Cole also portrayed him in the 2016 television film Killing Reagan. In the 2013 television series of The Americans, Season 1, Episode 4, a radio broadcast announces that "according to congressional reports, James Brady has not survived his wounds," just as a modern minivan passes by two KGB operatives meeting in a car parked on the street. Within minutes a television broadcast announces, "the rumors about Jim Brady dying are untrue."