Jessica McClure Morales (born March 26, 1986) became famous at the age of 18 months after falling into a well in the backyard of 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.
The photograph of her being rescued fetched the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for spot news photography to Scott Shaw of the Odessa American.
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.
On May 30, 2007, USA Today ranked McClure number 22 on its list of "25 lives of indelible impact."
The footage of McClure being rescued is shown in Michael Jackson's music video "Man in the Mirror" and in the movie V for Vendetta.
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 Francine Smith 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.",
In an episode of Saturday Night Live that aired November 23rd, 2013, Jessica is shown as an employee at Best Buy. Two of the characters exchange jokingly, "Well now you work at Best Buy", "Yeah, you was better off in the well!"