sam byck

QuickTypes: Assassins (musical)

UNOFFICIAL TYPING BY: ancientseaofnightandstars 

**Note: these typings are for the characters as presented in the musical only, and are not intended to be a reflection on the real people**

**Also, SPOILERS, in a way. It’s history, and so pretty much foregone conclusions, but the ways of getting there could be considered unique to the show.**

John Wilkes Booth [ESTP]

Before his death, Booth’s expensive lifestyle was noted by the Balladeer– his “rings and fancy silks”. He got David Herold to help him take down his diary entry through intimidation, and was quick to take what chance he could to defend himself and his actions. After his death, in the plot of the show, he often pushes his fellow assassins to action, even just to make something happen, (encouraging Zangara to try to kill FDR, trying to provoke Czolgosz to break the bottle, pushing Lee to shoot Kennedy). He’s very aware of everything going on and the opportunities he has to apply said pressure, and can often be reckless with it (Se). When trying to convince people to do things, (the Balladeer, Lee, etc.), Booth’s first tact is usually to appeal to emotions, (in contrast to the Balladeer’s Te logic). He often displays a group mentality and has plenty of superficial charm to win people to his side (Fe). However, if that doesn’t work quickly, Booth’s charm breaks down, revealing a blunt and calculating mind, with highly personalized logic (Ti). During his flashback, we see him caught in the grip of inferior Ni, fearfully, mournfully, and incorrectly seeing only one possible outcome for the country in the wake of the Civil War. (Plenty of low Fe in this scene as well, out of control and mourning in the wake of the war, spurring him to reckless action.) In most of the rest of the show, his inferior Ni is better developed, giving him a vision into the future and the social impact all the assassins have in it.

Charles Guiteau [ENFJ]

Guiteau has an extremely cheery demeanor, and exudes warmth. He says how he feels, though sometimes the emotion is forced, such as in the flashback to his execution. He enjoys attention and is very focused on the people around him. He wants others to be impressed with him and often looks for their approval (Fe). Guiteau believes that God has a purpose for his life, and often hints that it’s his goal to become President. He tends to see a metaphorical vision of something before he sees the thing for itself, (the office of president is representative of the endless possibilities of life, execution is “going to the Lordy”, etc.) He has confidence in his own impressions of what the future will hold (Ni). Guiteau likes niceties, wine lists– the finer things. He’s also quick to jump on opportunities in his environment, (approaching Garfield, trying to steal a kiss from Sara Jane Moore), though they’re not his focus (Se). Guiteau’s inferior Ti isn’t well-developed in the show, as he often doesn’t see the logical flaws in his own attempts to move closer to his goals. However, he can occasionally sum things up in logical, rather than emotional, fashion. (“I think you should get another job.”)

Leon Czolgosz [INFP]

Czolgosz has a lot of emotion inside, but isn’t highly expressive of it. He loves Emma Goldman, but when pressed about it, it’s either a quiet, simple “I am in love with you” or a way for him to show his love through action, (protecting her, following her on her tour, walking her to the station and carrying her bag). His motivation to kill McKinley comes from identification with the plight of the poor (Fi). Czolgosz adopts Emma’s view of the world quickly, making it his own. In killing McKinley, he hopes to make a philosophical statement about the oppression of the poor (Ne). Overall, Czolgosz sees his life through his personal experience, but filtered through his adopted philosophy (Ne-Si). His act of killing McKinley at the Exposition is decisive and simple, with the aforementioned goal of making a nationwide statement (Ne-Te).

Giuseppe Zangara [ISTJ]

Over his life, Zangara has developed a personal mythology about the world based solely on his subjective experiences– the smart and the rich rode by him without a glance, and now he has this pain in his stomach, and so the pain must be caused by those who have wronged him (Si). He’s practical in his assassination attempt, (avoiding the cold, and so changing from Hoover to FDR, etc.), and is often very blunt and brash in communication (Te). Zangara is adamant about his American identity, refusing to be seen as something he’s not. In the end, he doesn’t care who he kills, so long as his victim is one of the “kings”– the oppressors (Fi). His fears come from irrational thoughts of conspiracies and connections, but at times he is capable of intensely poetic and metaphorical language, such as when speaking in Italian to convince Lee (inferior Ne). 

Samuel Byck [ESFJ]

Sam is constantly sharing his emotions, positive or negative. He’s quick to assure Leonard Bernstein of his great talent, his wonderful music. He loves the warmth of love songs, the joy they bring. He’s also quick to shout at “Lenny” for ignoring him, or yell at Nixon that he feels betrayed by him (Fe). Sam’s primary concern is the immediate reality around him, or his impression of it. He feels betrayed by Nixon because he voted for him. He talks often of the way things are compared to how they were (Si). Sam’s primary concern is concrete reality, but when he does venture into metaphors, they’re remarkably profound and apt, (likening warring political parties to warring parents, and the public to a scared child). He’s not afraid to delve into theory or consider the bigger picture (Ne). He has trouble extricating his strong emotions from his analysis of events, but does feel the need to explain his case for posterity (inferior Ti).

Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme [ESFP]

Lynette is quick to act, and stresses the need for tangible evidence of love and relationships, (dismissing John Hinckley Jr.’s love for Jodie Foster because he’s never kissed or had sex with her). Her ideas of how to prove her love to Charles Manson are all intensely physical (Se). All of Lynette’s decisions are based in her love for “Charlie”, and she doesn’t care what anyone else thinks of it (Fi). She doesn’t get angry easily, but if someone crosses her personal line in the sand, (insulting Charlie), her emotions come out in reckless action (Se-Fi). Her analysis of situations is usually very blunt and matter-of-fact, remarking on the logic or lack thereof (Se-Te). All of her displayed sense of metaphor and theory is taken nearly verbatim from Charles Manson, adopted by Lynette with no further speculation (inferior Ni).

Sara Jane Moore [ESTJ]

Sara Jane is very matter-of-fact and blunt, and doesn’t tend to look past what’s in front of her (Te). She often relates events and facts to her past, and is fairly grounded in the sensory world (Si). However, her memories can be scattered, and she’s prone to jumping topics frequently in conversation (Ne). Her inferior Fi isn’t well-developed, however it’s hinted at in “Another National Anthem”, when she mentions trying to kill Ford so that she’d “know where she was coming from”, or have a sense of identity and beliefs.

John Hinckley Jr. [ISFJ]

John focuses on tangible ways to win Jodie Foster’s affections, (visiting her dorm, calling her up, etc.), but when that fails, he builds up his own personal mythology of what’s going on, based on his subjective impressions. When planning to assassinate Reagan, he studies up on Lee Harvey Oswald (Si). John is shy, but still fairly open about his emotions, good or bad. He desperately wants validation from Jodie, (Fe). His logic is very subjective and personal, (if he kills the President, he’ll be of equal standing with Jodie, and she’ll pay attention to him), but isn’t very well-developed (Ti). John expresses his love creatively through music, and dabbles in metaphor in his songs (Ne).

Lee Harvey Oswald [ISTJ]

Lee is very grounded, expects what’s happened before to happen again, (assuming Booth was with the FBI), and doesn’t jump on the philosophy train with Booth very easily (Si). He’s very up-front about what he thinks, wants practical instruction, and is based in observable logic (Te). (“Up here on the sixth floor, what would I do? Throw schoolbooks at him?”) His inner feelings of identity are fractured, which is partly how the assassins get to him– giving him an identity within a grander mythos (Si-Fi). Lee is fairly literal-minded and shows fear of future possibilities (inferior Ne).

The Balladeer [ISTJ]

The Balladeer often stresses the grander scope of history in analyzing the crimes of the assassins, and uses his knowledge of this to deem the assassins unsuccessful. (“Listen to the stories, hear it in the songs– angry men don’t write the rules and guns don’t right the wrongs…”) He’s internalized the traditional beliefs of America, (that any person can succeed if they try hard enough), and expresses that firmly in his songs. He emphasizes this, his own view of history, over the viewpoints of the assassins, because it’s what he himself knows and deems right (Si). His criticism of the assassins is often unsympathetic and matter-of fact, not allowing for much justification and simply declaring them wrong or crazy, (Te-Fi). However, he does take the time to explain the perspective of each assassin, even if this doesn’t change his moral judgment (Ne).

Note: These are based on the original off-Broadway show, which is why the Balladeer and Lee Harvey Oswald are mentioned separately. Later shows may have changed certain things that render pieces of this invalid, and certain actors may add different touches. Also, pretty much all of these people are very unhealthy examples of the types, with perhaps the exception of the Balladeer.

Presidential Assassins and Would-Be Assassins as Astrological Signs
  • Aries: John Wilkes Booth
  • Taurus: Charles Guiteau
  • Gemini: Sara Jane Moore
  • Cancer: Leon Czolgosz
  • Leo: Lee Harvey Oswald
  • Virgo: Giuseppe Zangara
  • Libra: John Hinckley
  • Scorpio: Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme
  • Sagittarius: Samuel Byck
  • Capricorn: i ran out
  • Aquarius:
  • Pisces:

I read an interview with Stephen Sondheim where he said that Samuel Stasiuk, a Ukrainian immigrant who threw his boot at President Coolidge in 1925, was originally going to be included as comic relief in Assassins. His scenes were completely written, and an actor (Lee Wilkof) was cast for the part and all. However, on opening night, the prop department forgot to secure a boot for the show. With the curtain going up in 15 minutes, a desperate Wilkof ran across the road to a neighbouring theatre and swiped a prop gun from its production of West Side Story. That night on stage, he improvised the role of Sam Byck, who never actually existed.

 [’Assassins,’ Scene 9, Sondheim/Weidman]                                                    


“You know the world’s a vicious, stinking pit of emptiness and pain. But not for long. I’m gonna change things, Lenny. I’m gonna drop a 747 on the White House and incinerate Dick Nixon.”

                              NEW YORK TIMES February 24, 1974

Samuel J. Byck, who killed two persons, critically wounded a third and then committed suicide after an unsuccessful attempt yesterday to hijack a jetliner at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, was no stranger to the Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

He demonstrated in front of the White House three times last year, the third time the day before Christmas, dressed as Santa Clause with a sign requesting that the Government return his constitutional rights.

The first two times he was arrested for not having a permit. He was back again on December 24, he said at the time because he “wanted to see if they had the guts to arrest Santa Claus.” He was not arrested.

The 44-year-old former tire salesman described himself as a “manic depressive, one of the million others.” He said on Christmas Eve, “All I want for Christmas is my constitutional right to publicly petition my Government for a redress of grievances.”

His grievances were apparently many, including inflation. The inscriptions on the reverse side of the sign he carried dealt mainly with President Nixon and impeachment.

Commenting on his two arrests, he said, “I beat them in court twice. How can I, by myself, possibly be a public gathering?!” The Secret Service said today that an investigation of Mr. Byck began in October 1972, following information on an alleged threat against the President’s life.

Jack Warner, spokesman for the service, said that Mr. Byck was picked up on Jan. 22, 1972 and committed to Philadelphia General Hospital for “mental observation.” Mr. Warner said that he did not know how long Mr. Byck had been kept at the hospital. 

Christmas Eve was a Federal holiday last year. There were few people passing with whom Mr. Byck could take. When someone approached, he appeared to enjoy his role of Santa Claus more than that of a picket. As a youngster walked by with his parents, he would say “ho, ho, ho” and invite the usually apprehensive child to sit on his knee and recite his Christmas list. The parents, mostly tourists, would urge the child to do so while they photographed him talking to “Santa” in front of the White House.

Mr. Byck was asked at the time what gift he would like to give the country. He thought a moment, then replied, “If I had the power to give everyone something, I’d get them to give a damn.”

[’Assassins,’ Scene 8, Sondheim/Weidman]


“Love makes the world go round! (He takes a slurp of Yoo-Hoo.) Well, not exactly. Bullshit makes the world go round.”

                             NEW YORK TIMES February 24, 1974 [cont]

Mr. Byck had disclosed his plans in a tape recording mailed to Washington Post report Jack Anderson “a few hours before the attempted hijacking.” Quoting the tape, Mr. Anderson described Mr. Byck as saying: “I will try to get the plane aloft and fly it towards the target area, which will be Washington, D.C., the capital of the most powerful, wealthiest nation of the world. By guise, threats or trickery, I hope to force the pilot to buzz the White House – I mean, sort of dive towards the White House. When the plane is in this position, I will shoot the pilot and then in the last few minutes try to steer the plane into the target, which is the White House.”

Mr. Byck, 44-years-old, shot and killed an airport policeman and the copilot of a Delta Airlines DC-9 during the hijacking attempt Friday, and then killed himself.

President Nixon was in the White House Friday at the time the hijacking attempt occurred.

Assassins is over

Assassins by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman is the best musical I’ve ever been a part of. The chance to understudy the role of Samuel Josepsh Byck, the attempted assassin of Richard Nixon, was an experience I’ll never forget. 

I even got to keep a little piece of the set, since the actor I was understudying didn’t want it. 


Operation Pandora’s Box.