Reagan's "Honey, I forgot to duck" quote: Did he say it or not?

I’ll start this thread with the admission that I have not been glued to the TV, sucking down every electron of the Reagan memorial coverage. But I have watched a goodly number of reports and recaps from various stations.

Several segments have specifically addressed RR’s sense of humor, unreeling quip after quip of his – some old and familiar (“I will not exploit my opponents youth and inexperience”), others more obscure.

When they’ve talked about his assassination attempt they quote him telling the operating team, “I hope none of you are Democrats.” But here’s the thing, I have yet to hear anyone recount the story of RR telling Nancy, “Honey, I forgot to duck,” when she arrived to see him at the hospital. IIRC that was the big bellylaugh getter of the day, so you’d think everyone would dust it off for these tribute segments.

Did someone discredit the quote later on? Or have the segment producers just chosen not to include it in their pieces. (It really isn’t terribly funny, actually.) Or maybe I just missed it.

I’ve heard that quote at least a dozen times over the last two days.

I also heard one source who thoughtfully gave it the original attribution – to Gene Tunney after he lost the heavyweight title to Jack dempsey.

Wrong order. It’s by Dempsey after losing to Tunney.

If you google Reagan and “forgot to duck” (in quotes) you’ll find numerous references to the quote. Some of them are old, but some of them are recent (since his passing) so its not like the quote is being totally ignored now by the media. MSNBC has the quote on their web site. I’m not sure if they’ve mentioned it on air.

Reading through some of the google hits, apparently there was quite a bit of time he arrived and the time he was put under anethsesia, during which he was initially in somewhat of a state of shock, but then became quite a joker. He also said “all in all I’d rather be in philadelphia” (another stolen quote, though he didn’t get it word for word).

The quote doesn’t seem to be discredited. It just looks like there are a lot of quotes and the segments you’ve seen haven’t used that particular one.

When his wife, movie actress Estelle Taylor, asked Dempsey what happened in the Tunney fight, Dempsey said,“Honey, I forgot to duck.”

That quote by Reagan was in the newspapers within four days after the event.

And I forgot to answer the question. Yes, Reagan unquestionably said it. Several people heard it and reported it at the time. Like almost all of Reagan’s lines, it was originated by someone else. And like many actors, he had a mental stock of jokes and quotes ready to use when the occasion arose.

Here is a good timeline of what he said and didn’t say that day by a trusted (by me) source.

Reagan had been shot through the lung, and the bullet was close by the heart. He was on a respirator for a few days after the shooting, because of this trauma.

Because of this, he couldn’t speak. He communicated by legal pad and pen. An awful lot of these little quips were actually written.

After the shooting, Nancy Reagan saved the legal pads.

This was later recounted by Peggy Noonan in her book about Reagan. Nancy Reagan showed Noonan the pads.