Monday, February 15, 2016


JFK+50:  Volume 6, No. 1860


Miami, West Palm Beach, Florida (JFK+50) 83 years ago today, February 15, 1933, President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt narrowly escaped an assassination attempt at Bayfront Park in Miami while 55 years ago this past December 15, President-elect John F. Kennedy was also fortunate to evade harm at the hands of a would-be assassin.

FDR, who would be sworn-in on March 4, 1933,  had just completed a speech and was seated on the back of his car when shots rang out.  Five shots were fired from a distance of 25 feet from Mr. Roosevelt.   While none of the shots hit FDR,  one seriously wounded Mayor Anton Cermak of Chicago.  Although the mayor's wound healed, he died on March 6, 1933 of ulcerative colitis.  

Four others in the crowd were hit by gunshots, but only one, a woman, died later from her wound.  The suspect, identified as 32 year old Giuseppe "Joe" Zangara*, fired while standing on a wobbly chair.  After the first shot, Lillian Cross reportedly hit Zangara's arm with her purse throwing off the would-be assassin's aim. 

On December 15, 1960,  Richard Paul Pavlick** was stopped in West Palm Beach by police officer Lester Free who saw him drive across the highway dividing line.  Upon a search of the vehicle, seven sticks of dynamite were discovered along with "spools of wire, and a homemade detonation device."

Pavlick, who was 73 years old at the time of his arrest, had come to Palm Beach with the intention of driving his dynamite-laden vehicle into President-elect John F. Kennedy's limo.

 On January 27, 1961, Pavlick was committed to the United States Public Health Service Mental Hospital in Springfield, Missouri.  The charges against him were dropped on December 2, 1963, just days after JFK's death in Dallas.
Pavlick, however, remained institutionalized until December 13, 1966.

*Giuseppe "Joe" Zangara (1900-1933) was born in Ferruzano, Italy and served in WWI.  He emigrated to the U.S. in 1923 and became a naturalized citizen in 1929.  GZ  was tried, found guilty of murder & sentenced to death.  He refused appeal and was electrocuted on March 20, 1933 at the Florida State Penitentiary.  

**Richard Paul Pavlick (1887-1975) was born in Belmont, NH.  He worked as a postmaster until his retirement.  In 1960, RPP mailed strange postcards to Thomas M. Murphy, the postmaster in Belmont.  Murphy became suspicious when the postmarks on these cards coincided with the places visited by JFK. Murphy alerted US Attorney Maurice P. Bois who contacted the Secret Service.  RPP died at the VA Hospital in Manchester, New Hampshire in 1975.


"Assassination Attempt on FDR," by Jennifer Rosenberg,

"JFK: the assassin who failed," by Philip Kerr, New Statesman, November 27, 2000

"Near Miss:  JFK Assassination Attempt in 1960," by Steve B. Davis, Writings and Wramblings,

"The Five Weeks of Giuseppe Zangara:  The Man Who Would Assassinate FDR," by Blaise Picchi, Chicago Review Press, 1998. 

"The Kennedy Assassin Who Failed," by Dan Lewis, December 6, 2012 SMITHSONIAN.COM