GARY MARK GILMORE was born on December 4, 1940 in McCamey, Texas. He later lived in Utah and Oregon while growing up and was too often in trouble.
It is said while Gilmore was living in Oregon he started and operated a car theft ring at the age of fifteen. Gary spent the majority of his troubled life incarcerated from a teenager in detention to an adult in multiple prisons.
Harry Houdini, the famous escape artist, is said to be Gary Gilmore’s Grandfather. Apparently none of his skills were passed on.
Spring 1976 Gary’s uncle Vern Damico and cousin Brenda Damico helped arrange a parole / probation agreement bringing Gary to Utah providng him with a job and a place to live.
Gilmore met Nicole Baker Barrett while she was living in Spanish Fork, Utah and their unusual romance began.
July 19th, 1976 Gary robbed and murdered Max Jensen the attendant at a gas station in Orem, Utah.
The following day he robbed and killed Bennis Bushnell the manager of a motel in Provo, Utah.
The night of the second murder Gary was apprehended and arrested.
At first Gary denied his crimes but soon admitted his guilt. He refused all available appeals to prevent his execution. Later, when convicted he was given the choice of hanging or firing squad, “I prefer to be shot” he said.
Gilmore attempted suicide while an inmate at Utah State prison and influenced his girlfriend to do the same simultaneously by overdosing on drugs she smuggled into the prison, they both failed.
Gilmore’s famous last words are said to be “Let’s do it” but in fact he then said “Dominus vobiscum” Latin, translation: “The Lord be with you.” in which the priest replied,“Et cum spiritu tuo” translation: “and with your spirit.”
Most major publications such as Newsweek, Life, Criminal Minds, Rolling Stone, Playboy, People, National Enquirer and many more world wide ran stories of this bizarre case that brought back capital punishment.
The ten years prior to Gary Gilmore’s execution was the only time in American history capital punishment was halted nation wide. This case officially reinstated the death penalty.
In the Immortal Words of Gary Gilmore and NIKE, “[Just] Do It.”
“Just do it.” This is one of the world’s most famous trademarks, and any reader will know that products bearing the phrase are NIKE products. However, not many people know where this phrase comes from.
The phrase, “Just do it,” was thought up by the advertising agency, Wieden and Kennedy. Wieden and Kennedy is an independent ad agency, started in 1982. It is located in Portland, Oregon, and is famous for its work for NIKE. Dan Wieden, one of the founders of Wieden and Kennedy, credits an interesting source for the creation of the phrase, “Just do it.”
On a not so unrelated note, a man was executed in Utah last Friday morning. Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed by firing squad on Friday, June 18, 2010. When asked if he had any last words, he replied, “I do not. No.” Does anyone think that the last words of a condemned murderer are ripe grounds for trademark goodwill? In Ronnie Lee’s case, perhaps not. But Utah’s death row is the source of the NIKE trademarked phrase, “Just do it.”
In 1972, the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional. In 1976, the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in a case called Gregg v. Georgia, and Utah immediately wanted to put down one of its inmates who had very recently been convicted of armed robbery and murder. This man’s name was Gary Gilmore, and he would be the first to die under the reinstated death penalty.
Gilmore murdered a gas station employee and a hotel manager. The murders took place after car thefts, assault, and robbery. Growing up, he struggled. His mother and father told him that he was illegitimate, and that he was actually the son of Harry Houdini. His father earned a living selling advertising space in magazines, perhaps helping to secure Gilmore’s place as the source of a world famous trademark.
On January 17, 1977, Gilmore was executed by firing squad. He requested that, following his execution, his eyes be used in corneal transplants. It is rumored that Gilmore’s uncle smuggled some Jack Daniels whiskey into the prison for Gilmore to imbibe prior to execution.
After Gilmore was shot by the firing squad, his brother reported that five holes were left in the body, rather than four. Thus, the firing squad did not have the traditional “blank” loaded into one of the guns. In the memoirs of the brother, titled Shot in the Heart, “the state of Utah, apparently, had taken no chances on the morning that it put my brother to death.” When Gilmore was asked for his final words, he said, “Let’s do it.”
This phrase became famous in pop culture. Gilmore’s life (and death) became the basis for a movie, where Gilmore was played by Tommy Lee Jones. Gilmore inspired one of Jack Nicholson’s performances, in a movie called The Postman Always Rings Twice. An episode of Saturday Night Live featured a skit with a Christmas song satire called, “Let’s Kill Gary Gilmore for Christmas.” Gilmore inspired a UK top twenty hit, called “Gary Gilmore’s Eyes.” In a deleted scene of an episode of Seinfeld, Jerry says, “Well, in the immortal words of Gary Gilmore, ‘Let’s do it.’” In an episode of the television show Roseanne, Darlene is asked if she is ready to get married, and she says the same thing that Seinfeld said, quoting Gilmore.
While this list of references to Gilmore is not exhaustive, it is certainly highlighted by Wieden and Kennedy’s use of the phrase, “Let’s do it,” when crafting NIKE’s “Just do it.” Gary Gilmore, the convicted murderer and armed robber, who gave away his corneas, got drunk before getting shot, and was lucid enough immediately before being shot to use a very catchy phrase, would live on in the goodwill of NIKE.
When an article about Gilmore’s death caught the eye of Dan Wieden, he changed the contours of the phrase slightly, and it became, “Just do it.” Thus, a condemned man, who was drunk, who donated his eyes, and was in a rush to just do it (i.e., be shot by five bullets), inspired Dan Wieden to create NIKE’s famous trademarked phrase. One of the most popular phrases in the world has a dark pedigree that seems to have faded over time. The “goodwill” attached to the phrase is likely worth billions.
“Capital punishment is a very personal, difficult and emotional opinion. I dare say only those who have been involved can truly know where they stand.” D.R. Stilson