Who Were the Assassins: John Hinckley Jr and Samuel Byck

Another round of Would-be Assassins

We conclude our assassin profiles from Assassins with two more characters who didn’t seal the deal, and became well-known for their failures.

Samuel Byck

Attempted to assassinate President Richard Nixon

Samuel Byck was a US Army Veteran who attempted to kill Richard Nixon in 1974. After his discharge from the army, Byck failed in several business ventures and came to believe that the Nixon administration was conspiring against poor people. He sent threatening recording and messages to several figures he considered to be powerful, including Richard Nixon, Jonas Salk, and Leonard Bernstein. Though the Secret Service was aware of his ravings, they considered him to be a harmless eccentric (known for dressing in a Santa Claus suit) and did not intervene.

Byck carrying a picket sign

On February 22, 1974, Byck attempted to hijack a plane at the Baltimore/Washington International Airport. He intended to fly it into the White House to kill President Nixon. The pilots on the plane that he hijacked were able to temporarily distract him and call for help, and authorities quickly halted his attempt. In his desperation, Byck shot the pilots and another airline employee. Two of them died. When his attempt seemed destined to fail, he took his own life.

John Hinckley Jr.

Attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan

John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981. In his early life, Hinckley attempted to make a living as a songwriter, though he was unsuccessful. He wrote letters to his parents that contained pleas for money, and lies about a girlfriend that he never had.

After the release of the 1976 film Taxi Driver, Hinckley became obsessed with the actress Jodi Foster, and wrote letters to her professing his love. After stalking her and failing to meet her, he hatched a plan to impress her by assassinating President Ronald Reagan.

Reagan and his team, moments before the attempt on his life

On March 30th, 1981, Hinckley shot at Reagan with a revolver as he left the Washington DC Hilton Hotel. He wounded four people in total, including the President, who was struck in the chest by a bullet that ricocheted off of a car. None of the wounded men died, although Press Secretary James Brady was left partially paralyzed for the rest of his life.

John Hinckley Jr’s booking photo

At his 1982 trial, Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity, though he was ruled to be a danger to society. Instead of prison, Hinckley was placed in a psychiatric hospital for decades. In 2022, he was unconditionally released from psychiatric care. He plans to produce an album of songs.

More Resources:

Samuel Byck:

John Hinckley:

Meet our Byck – Corey Shaw

Corey returns to the stage at Landmark as Samuel Byck in Assassins. Corey was last seen at Landmark as a Gargoyle in Hunchback of Notre Dame, and has been an invaluable part of the behind-the-scenes production teams of RentWorking, and Little Shop of Horrors, among many others.

Meet our Hinckley – Mark Waters

Mark will be back on stage at Landmark as John Hinckley Jr in Assassins. Audiences will recognize Mark from his roles as Frederick Fleet in Titanic, St. Aphrodisius in Hunchback of Notre Dame, and various characters cursing onstage in Working: a Musical.

Who Were the Assassins: Giuseppe Zangara

Introducing Giuseppe Zangara
Giuseppe Zangara

FDR’s Would-Be Assassin

Today we highlight another assassin who didn’t get the job done – at least not as he intended.

Giuseppe Zangara

Attempted Assassin of President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Giuseppe Zangara was a would-be Presidential assassin who attempted to kill Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933. An Italian immigrant and veteran of World War I, Zangara was deeply resentful of rich capitalists, and suffered from painful physical ailments that further embittered him.

About two months before FDR’s first inauguration, the soon-to-be President was in Miami, giving a speech in the Bayfront Park area. Zangara, having recently purchased a revolver, was among the crowd. The tortured veteran stood only five feet tall, and worked desperately to see over the heads and hats of the lively crowd. When he got close enough to spy the future President, he pointed his gun over the shoulder of a woman named Lillian Cross, and fired.

Mugshot of Giuseppe Zangara

Zangara’s bullet missed the President-elect entirely, but injured several others, and mortally wounded the mayor of Chicago, Anton Cermak. Lillian Cross grabbed the would-be assassin’s arm, and soon the crowd was on him, pummeling him furiously. FDR himself prevented the crowd from killing Zangara, urging them to let the justice system decide his fate.

Zangara’s Arrest

Zangara was quickly tried and sentenced to death for killing the Chicago mayor. The Anarchist Assassin insisted that he wasn’t afraid of the chair, and reiterated his hatred for capitalists. He was executed by electric chair on March 20th. In his final statement, he bade goodbye to “Poor people everywhere”.

Front page of the Miami Herald after the attempt. Lillian Cross’s photo is outlined.

Doctors who performed Zangara’s autopsy concluded that the acute pain he experienced throughout his life was due to adhesions on his gallbladder. Throughout his life, Zangara’s intense pain had been misdiagnosed and mistreated as appendicitis.

More Reading:

Meet our Zangara – Charlie Carlos

Charlie Carlos

Charlie portrays Giuseppe Zangara in Landmark’s production of Assassins. Audiences will recognize Charlie most recently from his role in Working, and from past performances as Harold Bride in Titanic, Leaf Coneybear in the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and John Brooke in Little Women.

Who Were The Assassins: Charles Guiteau

Another Assassin from Assassins

The characters in Stephen Sondheim’s musical are drawn from American history. Many are memorable names and figures, but some may be surprisingly un-familiar. We continue our journey through the historical characters from Assassins as we are preparing our upcoming production.

Charles Guiteau

Assassinated President James A. Garfield

Charles Guiteau was a deeply troubled and strange man who killed President James A. Garfield in 1881.

Guiteau was a social outcast who failed out of jobs, schools, and even sex cults. He lived in the Utopian “Oneida Community” and was a deep admirer of its founder, John Humphrey Noyes, who espoused a belief in group marriages. But Guiteau wasn’t deemed fit for even the freest love, and was soon nicknamed “Charles Gitout” by community members put off by his ravings and upsetting demeanor.

Guiteau drifted through a pitiful career as a lawyer, a failed marriage, and a plagiarized attempt at starting his own cult in the ensuing years, alienating himself from the world while become more and more convinced of his own genius and righteousness.

In 1880, Guiteau wrote a political speech in support of James A. Garfield for president, which was distributed to members of the Republican National Committee, and delivered publicly only twice. He convinced himself that his contribution to the campaign was vital in securing Garfield’s victory, and demanded a consulship in return. His demands were ignored by members of Garfield’s administration, which filled Guiteau with rage.

An artist’s rendering of the attack on President Garfield by Charles Guiteau

On July 2nd, 1881, Guiteau lied in wait for President Garfield at a train station, and shot him twice in the back. Though the president’s wounds would have been considered quite treatable by today’s standards, sterilized medical operations would not become the norm in America until several years later. Garfield died 11 weeks after the attack.

Guiteau’s trial became a media curiosity as he argued with his defense, made strange outbursts, and defended himself with original poetry. Before he was executed by hanging, he recited an original poem titled “I Am Going To The Lordy”.

After Guiteau’s death, his body and brain became objects of fascination in the medical community. Abnormally thick dura matter in the brain seemed to indicate that he suffered from neurosyphilis, which some believed to explain Guiteau’s deteriorating relationship with reality in the later years of his life.

For further reading/listening:

Meet our Guiteau – Phineas Wilder

Phineas Wilder

Phineas portrays Charles Guiteau in his first show with Landmark. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, he also attended the British American Drama Academy in London. Past shows include The Drowsy Chaperone (Underling), Best and Only (Jud), and Preludes From Moonlight (Richard).

💡 Phineas also penned this hilarious article about Assassins for Broadway Beat: Oops: Local Man Typed “Assassins” Lyrics Into Google and Now He’s On an FBI Watchlist

Introducing ‘Dinner & A Show’

Dinner & A Show
Dinner & A Show

Landmark is proud to partner with some fantastic local downtown restaurants to bring you a new “Dinner & A Show” program. For a very limited time, a $50 donation to Landmark’s Dinner & A Show fundraiser will get you a $50 gift card for a nice pre-show dinner near the theater, along with a drink or popcorn in the Courtyard Cafe.

Support Landmark and enjoy a complete evening

Start your evening with a lovely dinner at one of our partner restaurants (reservations recommended) and get $50 off! Then join us starting one-hour before showtime in the beautiful Courtyard Cafe to enjoy a free drink or popcorn.

After the show, take a pleasant stroll back to the restaurant to enjoy and after-show drink and lively post-show discussion as your hearts and minds are overflowing with music and ideas from Sondheim’s Assassins.

Our Restaurant Partners

These restaurants are all within walking distance of Landmark at the First Congregational Church.

Our Partner Restaurants

💡 Availability of this program is limited and restaurants are subject to change. Make your plans now to take advantage of this great offer!


La Traviata (Fri/Sat Only) – https://latraviata301.com/

Across the street from the venue, La Traviata serves an award-winning Nuevo Italian menu and features live music.

King’s Fish Househttps://www.kingsfishhouse.com/

2 blocks away, King’s is a long beach destination for out-of-this-world seafood in an elegant atmosphere on Pine Ave.

The Ordinariehttps://www.theordinarie.com/

On the Promenade, an easy 7-minute walk to the venue, The Ordinarie is an american tavern with hearty comfort food an a fabulous cocktail program.


Choose your preferred restaurant partner and Landmark will mail you a $50 gift card, along with instructions for use and a voucher for your free drink or popcorn in the Courtyard Cafe.

Please note:

  • Gift Cards must be mailed, so if you do want to use your discount on the night of the show, you must purchase at least 5 days in advance. (use on show-night is not required).
  • Restaurant choices are subject to availability as Landmark has a limited quantity of gift cards for each restaurant. We will do our best to fulfill your choice, but will reach out if a substitution is necessary.

Who Were The Assassins: ‘Squeaky’ and Sara Jane

Who Were the Assassins: Lynette Fromme and Sara Jane Moore
Who Were the Assassins: Lynette Fromme and Sara Jane Moore

Introducing some Would-be Assassins

In addition to the handful of successful Presidential assassinations, American history has its fair share of un-successful attempts. Today we highlight two characters from history (and our show) who didn’t get the job done in remarkably similar fashion.

Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme & Sara Jane Moore

Attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford

Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme and Sara Jane Moore both attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford in September of 1975, just 17 days apart. They did not know each other, and neither of them succeeded.

Lynette Fromme was a devotee of famed murderer and cult leader Charles Manson. As a teenager, she ran away from home and met the charismatic, mysterious Manson, who had just been released from one of his many stays in prison. She felt an immediate connection with the doom-saying, drugged out mystic, and became the second ever member of the Manson Family. Though she was never charged for the Tate and LaBianca murders that made Manson a household name, she defended Manson publicly during and after his trial, and continued to live her life at the margins of society- narrowly avoiding charges for another California murder in 1972.

The arrest of Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme

In 1975, she donned a red robe and approached President Ford in a Sacramento Park, getting close to him in a crowd of people hoping to shake hands. She produced a gun from her robe, and, according to witnesses, attempted to fire it. The gun did not go off. In the years since, she has claimed that she purposefully did not chamber a round, though she did have other bullets in the magazine. During her trial she stated that she wanted to defend the natural world from the industrial forces that were destroying it, saying that she “came to get life. Not just my life but clean air, healthy water, and respect for creatures and creation.”

Newsweek cover featuring an image of Lynette Fromme being apprehended

Just seventeen days after Fromme’s attempt on the President’s life, Sara Jane Moore attempted to kill Ford in San Francisco- this time with a gun that did go off. Moore’s recently purchased handgun had an incorrectly calibrated sight, which caused her to miss the President by just six inches. Moore had been a political leftist, as well as an FBI informant spying on those same groups. At different times, she gave different reasons for her assassination attempt. Most recently, she claimed that her attempt on the President’s life was a gesture of protest against the Vietnam War and an attempt to inspire a political revolution against the conflict.

Both Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme and Sara Jane Moore were paroled after serving more than three decades in prison, and are still alive to this day.

For further reading/listening:

Meet our “Squeaky” – Maddie Levy

Maddie Levy

Maddie will make her Landmark debut as Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme in Assassins. Some of her favorite credits include 9-1-1 on FOX, ABC’s The Middle, How the Grinch Stole Christmas at the Pantages theatre, and Les Miśerables at the Hollywood Bowl with the world famous LA Phil Harmonic.

Meet our Sara Jane Moore – Emily Morgan

Emily Morgan

Emily returns to the Landmark stage as Sara Jane Moore in Assassins. Audiences will recognize Emily from her appearances in WorkingLittle Shop of HorrorsSpamalotHunchback of Notre Dame, and in one of her favorite roles as Shwartzy in the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

Tickets On Sale Now

Tickets On Sale Now

Landmark is proud to announce that tickets for our upcoming production of Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins are now on sale. The Spring of Sondheim continues with our production opening April 28.

Now through April 2, get 20% off opening weekend with the promo code “EarlyBird”

Get 20% off with code 'earlybird'

Opening April 28 for a 3-week run, Assassins is a darkly comedic musical by Stephen Sondheim that illuminates the stories of a number of historical figures who attempted (successfully or not) to assassinate American Presidents. Inside the frame of an all-American, yet sinister, carnival, Assassins is a scathing indictment of the “American Dream”, and the alienation that comes from its impossible pursuit. In a world where discontent simmers in the American psyche, we examine nine hauntingly complicated protagonists as they attempt to convince us that all you have to do is “shoot to win”.

As part of the Spring of Sondheim in Southern California, Assassins has been made extremely current by Sondheim’s recent passing and the timing of our production – as the political machinery of yet another American Presidential election is ramping up.

Who Were The Assassins: Leon Czolgosz

Introducing The Assassins (and Would-be Assassins)

The characters in Stephen Sondheim’s musical are drawn from American history. Many are memorable names and figures, but some may be surprisingly un-familiar. Over the next few weeks, we will be highlighting the historical characters from Assassins for our audience as we are preparing our upcoming production.

Leon Czolgosz

Assassinated President William McKinley

Leon F. Czolgosz was an American laborer and anarchist of Polish decent who assassinated President William McKinley on September 6, 1901. Raised in Cleveland, he held a succession of menial jobs, including grueling employment at a bottle factory, before committing himself to anarchism.

Czolgosz attended the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, where he waited in a receiving line and shot the President twice in the abdomen at point-blank range. A man standing behind Czolgosz struck him in the neck and knocked the gun out of his hand. The police struggled to keep the angry crowd off Czolgosz, but he was apprehended and taken to jail. He was subsequently tried, convicted, and executed seven weeks later.

Czolgosz believed there was great injustice in American society due to the structure of government. He was dismayed by the inequality he saw, which allowed the wealthy to enrich themselves by exploiting the poor. Czolgosz was impressed after hearing a speech by the anarchist Emma Goldman (also a Character in Assassins) in 1901. After the speech, Czolgosz approached Goldman and asked her for reading recommendations. Emma Goldman was later arrested on suspicion of being involved in the assassination, but was released due to insufficient evidence. She later published “The Tragedy at Buffalo” as a defense of Czolgosz.

Czolgosz’s last words were: “I shot the president because I thought it would help the working people and for the sake of the common people. I am not sorry for my crime.”

More Reading

Meet our Czolgosz – Owen Lovejoy

Owen Lovejoy portrays Leon Czolgosz in Landmark’s production of Assassins. Audiences will recognize Owen from his past performances as Quasimodo in Hunchback of Notre Dame and William Barfée in the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

The Spring of Sondheim

The Spring of Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim, one of the most important figures in 20th-century musical theater, passed away in November of 2021 – but his presence is looming large throughout Southern California this Spring.

Sondheim’s career began in the 1950’s as the lyricist for West Side Story and spanned nearly 7 decades of prolific and groundbreaking work in the musical theater.

This spring in the Los Angeles area, audiences can experience a broad range of Sondheim’s work, punctuated here in Long Beach by Landmark’s upcoming production of Assassins, opening at the end of April.

Productions in the LA area

There are a multitude of opportunities to experience Sondheim this Spring, including right now. Pasadena Playhouse is the anchor, with their 6-month “Sondheim Celebration”, that includes productions, concerts, and events.

Note: Pasadena Playhouse created a wonderful primer for audiences: An Audience’s Guide to Sondheim

Sunday in the Park with George

Sunday in the Park with George at Pasadena Playhouse

This production closes this weekend, so you’ll have to hurry… but it’s well worth it. This is a rare chance to see Sondheim’s gorgeous show about George Seurat and the “art of making art”. The Pasadena Playhouse production has received glowing reviews and is a perfect show for their stately and majestic theater.

Into the Woods

Into the Woods at The Ahmanson

This June, direct from Broadway, the critically acclaimed and much beloved production of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Tony-winning triumph is coming to the Ahmanson with its Broadway stars to boot. This revival has been getting raves since it started as a limited engagement a few years ago.

A Little Night Music

A Little Night Music at Pasadena Playhouse

Pasadena Playhouse continues its Sondheim Celebration with the Tony-winner for Best Musical –  A Little Night Music.This show, which includes the ever-famous “Send In The Clowns”, is a sumptuous, sexy, laugh-out-loud masterpiece. The Pasadena production will be running on a similar timeline as Landmark’s own…


Landmark will extend the SoCal focus on Sondheim by bringing this powerful Sondheim work to Long Beach, opening April 28. Inside the frame of an all-American, yet sinister, carnival, Assassins illuminates the stories of a number of historical figures who attempted (successfully or not) to assassinate American Presidents. After a major revival in New York last year, and with yet another American Presidential election cycle on the verge of ramping up, this production could not be more timely and the issues more current.

Tickets on sale next week! Stay tuned for updates…

And… Into the Woods!

Our Artistic Director Megan O’Toole is currently directing Into the Woods at Wilson High School. The show runs March 23-25th at 7pm and March 26th at 2pm at Wilson High School and tickets are available at the door.

Into the Woods at Wilson High School

Landmark performers to appear in ‘Oliver Button is a Sissy!’

Landmark is very proud to be partnering with The South Coast Chorale for ‘This is Me’ featuring ‘Oliver Button is a Sissy!’.  Landmark performers will be featured in a portion of the Concert.  Join us on Saturday March 11, as we share music and personal stories as they relate to love and acceptance. At the Beverly O’Neill Theater, Downtown Long Beach, 2:30 pm -OR- 7:30 pm.

Tickets sales through these links help to support Landmark’s mission to bring quality theater to heart of Long Beach:

Saturday March 11

The Beverly O’Neill Theater

The performance will feature Landmark performers Megan O’Toole, Lisa Bode-Heard, George Carson, and Richard Martinez.

Landmark Announces Open Call for Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins

Long Beach Landmark Theatre Company has announced an open call for Stephen Sondheim’s ASSASSINS, Directed by Megan O’Toole with Musical Direction by Curtis Heard.

Auditions will be held on February 25 & 26. All details can be found on the auditions page of the Landmark website.

This is a fully staged production, with professional live orchestra. 
This is a volunteer theatre performance. 
Reimbursement/Per Diem will be offered for all roles.

Anyone interested in receiving notification of auditions with Landmark can sign up here.