Anniversaries of major life events tend to have a trigger effect on the memory. They stimulate memories surrounding the incident, bringing the person back to the day as if it was happening all over again. And all of the hype surrounding these types of anniversaries tend to drum up memories that may have been forgotten. If you were old enough to remember the attacks on September 11, 2001, then you most likely think about where you were or what you were doing when that particular anniversary rolls around every year. The same goes with presidential assassinations and shocking celebrity deaths.
There is one very interesting confession that was captured on a 1956 game show called, “I’ve Got a Secret,” when a contestant admitted to witnessing the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
The contestant on this particular show was 96-year-old Samuel J. Seymour and he hailed from Maryland. It’s evident that he wanted to share his secret, because the night prior to the filming, he fell and hit his head but still managed to make it to the show stating that he wouldn’t miss it for the world.
When the host of the game show asks Seymour to whisper his secret in his ear, Seymour has no problem admitting to what he saw back on April 14, 1865. If you are a history buff or have a stellar memory, then you may have guessed which event he was referring to. He admitted to witnessing John Wilkes Booth Shoot Abraham Lincoln.
As soon as Seymour whispers the secret in the host’s ear, it shows up on the big screen for the audience to see and they immediately break out into a roaring applaud. The purpose of the game is to let the audience know the secret by broadcasting it on the screen while keeping it hidden from the contestants. The contestants then have the opportunity to ask Seymour specific questions about his secret.
The first contestant asks if the secret has historical or political significance. Seymour answers yes, and then the contestant does the math in his head to figure out when Seymour was born. He concludes that Seymour was born in 1860, which would’ve made Seymour five years old at the time of the assassination. The contestant goes on to ask if the incident involved someone who was well-known and if the person held political office. Seymour answers yes to both questions.
When the first contestant’s time is up, the next contestant takes the stage. She happened to be an actress by the name of Jayne Meadows and the first question she asks is if the person was the President of the United States. Seymour slowly answers, “Yes, yes he was at one time.” When Meadows confirms that the person that Seymour is referring to is Abraham Lincoln, she goes on to ask if it was a pleasant thing that he witnessed.
“No, I wouldn’t say that. I was scared to death,” says Seymour nonchalantly. When Meadows figures out that Seymour witnessed Abraham being shot by John Wilkes Booth, the host goes on to tell us what was going through five-year-old Seymour’s mind on that day. Unaware that the president had been shot, Seymour was concerned for Booth when he saw him jump from the balcony and land on the stage breaking his leg.
At the time of this filming, Seymour was the last living person to have witnessed Lincoln’s death.