|Jessica McClure Morales|
March 26, 1986
Midland, Texas, U.S.
|Known for||Falling into a well at 18 months old|
Jessica McClure Morales (born March 26, 1986) became famous at the age of 18 months after falling into a well in the backyard of 3309 Tanner Drive, Midland, Texas, on October 14, 1987. Between that day and October 16, rescuers worked for 58 hours to free "Baby Jessica" from the eight-inch (20 cm) well casing 22 feet (6.7 m) below the ground. The story gained worldwide attention (leading to some criticism as a media circus), and later became the subject of a 1989 television movie Everybody's Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure on ABC. As presented in the movie, a vital part of the rescue was the use of the then relatively new technology of waterjet cutting.
CNN, then a fledgling cable news outlet, was on the scene with around-the-clock coverage of the rescue effort. This massive media saturation of the ordeal prompted then-President Ronald Reagan to state that "everybody in America became godmothers and godfathers of Jessica while this was going on."
From the beginning, and throughout the incident, the switchboard for a local media outlet, KMID-TV, was flooded with telephone calls from news organizations and private individuals around the world, seeking the latest information on rescue efforts—and in some cases, sharing their own insight into this and similar incidents.
In 1988, Jessica and her family appeared on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee to talk about the incident.
Ron Short, a muscular roofing contractor who was born without collar bones because of cleidocranial dysostosis and so could collapse his shoulders to work in cramped corners, arrived at the site and offered to go down the shaft; they accepted his offer, but did not use it.
ABC made a television movie of the story in 1989, Everybody's Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure, starring Patty Duke and Beau Bridges. The film featured, as extras, many participants in the actual rescue and its coverage.
In 2010, blues musician Charlie Musselwhite released an album titled "The Well". In the title song he credits McClure's ordeal for inspiring him to quit drinking, stating, "She was trapped in there with a broken arm in the dark, in a life-and-death situation she was singing nursery rhymes to herself and being brave,"..."It made my problems seem tiny. So as a prayer to her and myself, I decided I wasn't going to drink till she got out of that well. It was like I was tricking myself, telling myself that I wasn't going to quit for good, just until she got out. It took three days to get her out, and I haven't had a drink since."
After the incident
Following her rescue on October 16, 1987, surgeons had to amputate a toe due to gangrene from loss of circulation while in the well. She also has a scar on her forehead where her head rubbed against the well casing. She has had 15 surgeries over the years, and has no first-hand memory of the event. McClure graduated from Greenwood High School, in a small community near Midland, in May 2004.
On January 28, 2006, McClure married Daniel Morales at a Church of Christ in a small rural community outside of Midland. The couple met at a day-care center where his sister worked with McClure. The couple have two children: son Simon and daughter Sheyenne.
On March 26, 2011, when McClure turned 25, she received a trust fund of donations worth up to $800,000. Her father said she had discussed setting up a trust fund for the college education of her two children. It had earlier helped in the purchase of her present home, which is less than two miles (3.2 km) from the site of the 1987 incident.
In popular culture
- An episode of The Simpsons, "Radio Bart" parodied the media attention given to McClure.
- In 1990, director Bharathan made an Indian film in the Malayalam language titled Malootty about the rescue of Jessica McClure, starring Shamili, Jayaram and Urvashi.
- In one episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, during the game "Props", Wayne Brady and Colin Mochrie were given a funnel-shaped prop. During one turn, Wayne puts the prop on the floor and yells into it, "Baby Jessica!" The audience responded with loud gasps and some light boos, which caused Colin to jokingly take a big step away from Wayne to act like he had nothing to do with it.
- The Company Flow lyric "When I bomb it's the type of shit to make Baby Jessica jump in the well again" on the 1995 song "Bad Touch Example" is a reference to McClure.
- Eminem references McClure in the song "Oh No."
- An episode of Bob's Burgers, "Boyz 4 Now" referred to McClure's rescue when discussing imaginative table settings. "You have to look for your dinner for two days, as the nation watches..."
- An episode of American Dad, airing December 23, 2012, parodied McClure's ordeal using Fran as the grown up baby.
- An episode of It's Garry Shandling's Show, airing March 11, 1988 parodied the ordeal. In it, host Garry Shandling does not appear for the opening monologue and is missing for much of the show, until the cast discover he has fallen down a recently excavated 23 ft hole.
- An episode of Spin City, "How To Bury a Millionaire," also parodies the incident. When the mayor goes to visit the site, the child has already been pulled out. When absent-mindedly walking through the site, the mayor falls into the rescue tunnel and then needs to be rescued himself.
- Lucie Brock-Broido's long narrative poem "Jessica, from the Well" tells the story from the child's point of view, describing her as having a basic understanding of the physical and mythic elements of her situation. It has been reprinted numerous times.
- The Walker, Texas Ranger episode "Miracle at Middle Creek" is based on Baby Jessica. At one point a reporter remarks, "This is Baby Jessica all over again."
- Floyd Collins, an early case of "man trapped in cave" which received similar coverage in 1925.
- 2010 Copiapó mining accident, a similarly highly covered event
- Kathy Fiscus, a child who died after falling down a well in 1949
- Alfredo Rampi, a child who also died after falling down a well in 1981
- Tikki Tikki Tembo
- The Well (1951 film) A little girl falls down a well, and the town unites to save her by drilling a parallel well.
- Kennedy, J. Michael (October 17, 1987). "Jessica Makes It to Safety—After 58 1/2 Hours". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
- Scott, Ronald W. (November 1988). "Cleidocranial Dysplasia: An Enigma Among Anomalies" (PDF). The Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy 10 (5): 184–8. ISSN 0190-6011. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
- Staff. "1988 Winners and Finalists". The Pulitzer Prizes. Columbia University. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
- Koch, Wendy (May 29, 2007). "Lives of Indelible Impact". USA Today. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
- Kot, Greg (September 28, 2010). "How 'Baby Jessica' Saved Blues Great Charlie Musselwhite". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 4, 2013.
- Blaney, Betsy (March 25, 2011). "Baby Jessica turns 25, gains access to trust fund". Xfinity News. Associated Press. Archived from the original on March 26, 2011. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
- Celizic, Mike (November 6, 2007). "Baby Jessica 20 Years Later". MSNBC. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
- Brock-Broido, Lucie (1988). "Jessica, from the Well". A Hunger. New York: Knopf. ISBN 9780394563374.
- Jessica McClure at the Internet Movie Database
- Photo of Jessica McClure and her mother Cissy, by photographer Paul Chinn, April 11, 1989. From the Herald-Examiner Collection at the Los Angeles Public Library
- "Jessica, from the Well"