Death Brings About Memories of Assassination Attempt

During and after his presidency, Ronald Reagan faced several health crises -- but none as traumatic as the one that began on March 30th, 1981. It was just ten weeks into his presidency. Reagan was leaving a Washington hotel after a speech. A mentally troubled drifter, John Hinckley, fired six shots at him. One of the bullets lodged just an inch from Reagan's heart.

Reagan was rushed to a hospital, where he collapsed in the corridor. The bullet was removed during three hours of surgery, and Reagan spent the next 12 days in the hospital. He joked to his wife, "Honey, I forgot to duck."

He maintained a thumbs-up public demeanor during that episode and also during some later hospital stays. He had a polyp removed from his colon in 1985 -- tests revealed that the growth was cancerous, but hadn't spread. He also had surgery for skin cancer and for an enlarged prostate during his second term.

Associated Press