Were these Ronald Reagan reaction videos staged?

Yesterday I came across a video I had never seen before:

Reagan reacting to a balloon popping two months after being shot. (30 sec. Youtube video)

It’s rather impressive on first viewing. He doesn’t even flinch and also tosses off a one-liner with perfect timing. Or so it seemed. I Googled around and came across another video:

Ronald Reagan “Missed Me” (12 sec. Youtube video)

Hmmm. Half the click bait Youtube videos floating around these days are staged. You expect them to be staged.

If Reagan and his team were pulling off a little razzle-dazzle back in the day, I have to say I’m kind of impressed. There are several anecdotal accounts around the web of this same thing happening at other events. If that first video really was two months after he was shot, it’s hard to believe he wouldn’t react physically at all. But who knows?

Real or bamboozle?

He was remarkably calm about it. When Nancy came to see him in the emergency room after he had been shot he said, “Honey, I forgot to duck!”.


The first one looked legit. But the second one–it’s like someone said, “Hey you got such a great reaction the first time, let’s see if we can reproduce that on purpose.” The reaction seemed more scripted. Just my $0.02.

In his earlier years he was apparently a sharp witted and funny guy who took things in stride. I don’t know if it was staged, or if he had just been waiting for years to say that line. I don’t think it had to be staged based on his personality and sense of humor. Even if the secret service had rushed up to the podium he might still have said it. He was just that kind of guy.

He had been in politics for almost 2 decades at that point. Balloons are common at political events and so he was used to them popping. He used to study jokes and joke writers so he knew a good joke and his timing was great.

Yes. The “honey I forgot to duck” was a line from a movie.

I guess that’s a sensible explanation, but I can’t remember watching a political speech and hearing similar noises.

What I’m really curious about is whether or not these balloon pops were intentional, part of the act, so to speak.

It originated with the real-life boxer Jack Dempsey, who said it to his wife Estelle Taylor when she first viewed his battered state after Gene Tunney defeated him for the title in 1926.