Did you know that Kathy Bates, the Oscar-, Golden Globe-, and Tony Award- winning actress has a connection to the Lincoln assassination?
Kathy was born in Memphis, TN, in 1948 to Langdon and Bertye Bates. Her great-great- grandfather was President Andrew Jackson'spersonal physician, but it was her paternal grandfather, Finis Langdon Bates, that links Kathy to John Wilkes Booth.
It seems that Finis met a man in 1873 named John St. Helen who claimed to be John Wilkes Booth. Bates cultivated a friendship with this man, who gave him seemingly valid proof that he indeed was the assassin, and that he had escaped before the Garrett barn burned down.
Bates lost contact with him and, sometime later, St. Helen reinvented himself as David E. George, a house painter with an appetite for drink and a knack for quoting Shakespeare. Unfortunately, David George committed suicide in Enid, OK, in 1903. He left instructions for Finis Bates to be summoned.
Bates identified the body as his old friend John St. Helen. Since no one claimed the body, Bates ended up with it and stored it in his garage. He then displayed the body as John Wilkes Booth at sideshows until after World War I. Bates even tried to interest automaker Henry Ford in purchasing the corpse, but Ford rejected the offer.
In 1907 Bates wrote The Escape and Suicide of John Wilkes Booth, an account of what John St. Helen had convinced him was fact. Finis died at his home in Memphis in 1923.