He was the death-wish killer who pleaded to be allowed to face a firing squad – and his final words before he was shot inspired one of the world’s best-known marketing slogans.
Gary Gilmore, who was sentenced for the October 1976 murder of a hotel clerk to death, was executed at Utah state prison that day.
Gilmore demanded his execution as fast as possible, which was something that is rare among death row inmates. His last words, just seconds before his death sentence was over, were “Let’s get it done”.
Advertising executive Dan Wieden stated that Gilmore’s words inspired him in 2015 to create Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan.
He remembered how in 1988, right before an important meeting with Nike’s marketing bosses, Gilmore suggested a modified version of Gilmore as his tag line for the company.
Just Do It remains Nike’s motto. It first appeared in Nike ads the same year. It has since been described by many as the most memorable taglines of 20th-century.
Gilmore’s death was notable also because of the controversial reinstatement in the US of the death penalty in 1976. The 36-year old Gilmore became the first execution under the new law.
His final words were also printed on T-shirts, whilst his corneas – which were donated within hours of his death – inspired the hit song ‘Gary Gilmore’s Eyes’.
Gary Gilmore, who was sentenced to death October 1976 for killing a hotel clerk in a motel room murder, was executed at Utah’s state prison this day in 1977.
After getting in trouble with the law after the death his father, Gilmore spent the majority of his childhood in prison.
He was convicted of assault and armed burglary in 1964.
The killer, Max Jensen (orem, Utah), robbed Max Jensen of gas station work in July 1976 after being sentenced in April 1976.
Bennie Bushnell was raped by him the next night. Bushnell was forced to lay down by him before he shot him in the head.
Gilmore’s heinous acts were committed even though the men had agreed to his demands.
Although the trial for the first murder did not proceed, Gilmore was executed in October 1976.
Gilmore’s fate is now part of an ongoing political tug of war, as the US four-year moratorium on death penalties had expired in that year.
It was his execution that marked the beginning of the US’s first executed in almost ten years.
Luis Jose Monge was the last American to die in execution before Gilmore. He died in Colorado’s gas chamber on June 27, 1967.
Gilmore demanded his execution as fast as possible, which was something that is rare among death row inmates. He said his last words just seconds before getting his wish. Above: A view of the room in which Gilmore was executed can be seen by world media.
Dan Wieden, an advertising executive, stated in 2015 that Gilmore’s words inspired his creation of Nike’s famed slogan, “Just Do It”.
Gilmore’s mother Bessie had asked the Utah Supreme Court, along with lawyers from American Civil Liberties Union, to delay her son’s execution.
The execution was ultimately delayed three more times until a final date of 17 January was established.
Gilmore attempted suicide twice in the midst of waiting for his sentence to be implemented.
On the first occasion, he and the woman he had wanted to marry, Nicole Barrett, took drugs overdoses at the same time – he in his prison cell and she in her flat.
Miss Barrett also called for her boyfriend’s wishes to die ‘like an ordinary man’, without blindfolding.
For executions, the norm was that the condemned be held in a wooden chair covered by a hood.
Gilmore attempted suicide again in December, after which he had set January 17 as his execution date.
A day before, he called Robert Bullock a “moral coward”, after he set the execution date and not had him murdered immediately.
Gilmore’s case is also noteworthy because in 1976, the death penalty was controversially reinstated in America. Gilmore became the first person to be executed in accordance with the new law. Above: Gilmore was seated in the chair
Gilmore was also on a hunger strike for 25 days to stop the execution.
“Man, you don’t have enough guts to follow your law. Your moral weakness is your strength.
Gilmore was executed on the final day after the US Supreme Court declined to stop it.
Lawyers from the ACLU worked tirelessly to secure a stay on his execution, even as he was close to being killed.
Five Winchester rifle-wielding volunteers formed the firing squad of five, which consisted of five members. Four were paid £60, whilst the captain who shouted ‘fire!’ was given an extra £15.
They stood behind five tiny holes in a curtain, which contained the executioners. Through these small holes they pointed their files.
Gilmore’s final words when asked about his death were words that have become iconic.
Hollywood executives had vied to tell Gilmore’s story on-screen and the rights to the production were bought from Gilmore for £75,000 by agent Lawrence Schiller.
Schiller was one witness to the execution that took place in the wee hours.
After that interview, Gilmore sold him a Playboy magazine interview for 20,000 words.
When it emerged that movie legends Steve McQueen or Paul Newman could portray him, he said he did not want them to take on the role because ‘the audience watch them – not eh character’.
Hollywood executives had vied to tell Gilmore’s story on-screen and the rights to the production were bought from Gilmore for £75,000 by agent Lawrence Schiller. Above: Schiller is being taken from the scene after his murder.
Gilmore initially requested six cans of beer for his final meal. However, he changed his mind and asked for prime rib and salad.
Gilmore, when asked whether he would have wanted his execution to be televised had he the option, had answered in an interview just before his death that: ‘No. Too morbid. Too dark. However, it’s not like I care. I suppose I feel more or less indifferent.
Gilmore offered not only his corneas but also his bone, nerves, and skin. His kidneys were donated for research.
Normal Mailer, an American author, wrote The Executioner’s Song. It was based upon Gilmore’s story. It won the Pulitzer Prize.
In 1982, a TV movie of the same title was made.
Advertising executive, Mr Wieden was the co-founder and CEO of Wieden+Kennedy. He spoke about his memories of Gilmore’s final words right before meeting with Nike executives.
Dezeen magazine interviewed him about his concerns that the upcoming TV series with five ads would lack cohesion because each had its own feel. They needed a tagline that would tie them together.
Nike parachuted him in from the United States to aid them against Reebok’s attack.
Advertising executive Mr Wieden (pictured), co-founder and CEO of Wieden+Kennedy in 2015, described how he had recollected Gilmore’s final words before his meeting at Nike.
Mr Wieden said: ‘We… came up with five different 30 second spots. That night was [a meeting with Nike] I got concerned because… there wasn’t an overlying sensibility to them all. Many were humorous, while others were serious. So I thought… we need a tagline to pull this stuff together.
I had about four to five ideas. It was finally reduced to one: “Just do it.”
He stated that the inspiration for the slogan came from Gilmore’s final words.
He said, “For some reason, I went: “Now damn. You ask for the ultimate challenge, which you probably will lose, and you accept it.
“So I thought that I did not like the phrase “Let’s try it”, so I changed it to “Just do it”.
He recalled that Nike was initially hostile to the idea at first. But he got them on board and the slogan was featured in an advert with Walt Stack (80), who ran 80 miles per hour.
Campaign magazine calls it “arguably the greatest tagline of all time” and has made it one of the world’s most iconic slogans.