November 12, 2007, - 2:51 pm

Sad: Dig One Up for the Gipper’s Paternity Test

By Debbie Schlussel
Recently, I told you about how one distant relative of Notre Dame football great George Gipp okayed the exhumation of his body, 87 years after the man was buried. As you probably know, Gipp’s death of pneumonia in his senior year in 1920 was the inspiration for the phrase, “Win One for the Gipper.” His story was made even more famous when Ronald Reagan played him in “Knute Rockne, All American.”
Why, I asked, would they dig this guy up 87 years after his death? He’s nothing more than bones and any family quarrel over rights to his name and story would have been decided long ago.
Well, it turns out Gipp’s body was dug up for a paternity test to determine if Gipp had an out-of-wedlock daughter with his girlfriend. And this was done for profit and to promote a book. I understood why Gipp’s relatives were upset about this. Now, I understand it even more so. They should be furious. And they are. George Gipp should have been allowed to rest in peace.


George Gipp: Dug Up After 87 Years . . . For Nothing

More details:

[Gipp] had been exhumed for a genetic test to determine whether he had had an illegitimate daughter nearly a century ago, a family member said Friday.
The test’s results, which compared Gipp’s DNA with that of a recently deceased 87-year-old woman from Crown Point, Ind., were released Friday and found there was no connection.
While the exhumation was approved by a Gipp family member, other relatives, already irate over the disinterment, were doubly angry when they learned about the empty results.
“It’s just a disgusting thing,” said Ron Gipp, 62, a distant cousin who lives in Gipp’s hometown of Laurium.
Another cousin, Karl Gipp, 70, of nearby Skanee said the DNA test was done solely to promote an upcoming book about the football player’s life.
“It’s gruesome is what it is,” he said. “It’s a disgrace to the community, to Calumet (where Gipp attended high school) and it definitely disgraced the Gipp family.”
Even the Crown Point woman’s family, who unwittingly spurred the exhumation by telling the book’s author about their suspicions of Gipp’s paternity, was aghast over what followed.
Eva Bright’s two daughters have stopped talking to the author, Mike Bynum.
“I know one of them is pretty upset at me because the body got exhumed,” Bynum said.
The women, Ellen Easton and Paula Krebes, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Bynum, who helped set up the exhumation and DNA tests, said he was just trying to bring two families together, not promote his book. [DS: Riiiiight.]
“That’s the least of anyone’s interest,” he said about the tome, which will be published in the fall.
Rick Frueh, the Gipp relative who approved the exhumation, is working with Bynum on the book and will receive royalties from it, Bynum said.
Frueh, in a written statement that Bynum helped prepare, said he was trying to help a family that may have been related to him as it tried to solve a mystery.
“Helping family is the strongest act of love that we can offer each other,” Frueh wrote.

If the sisters–the daughters of this woman–were so upset, why did they provide their mother’s DNA to do the test?
The whole thing is sickening.
Brings new meaning to the phrase “shameless self-promotion.”

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3 Responses

Perhaps the sisters decided that they needed to call Bynum’s bluff – to get him off their backs once and for all. If they were related, there would be someone to conceivably have some control over the project, to ensure it was tastefully done and benefitted Gipp’s memory or was abandoned, or if they were not related, to put an end to the stress of the last 3 months. Just a wild guess…..

pkk on November 12, 2007 at 5:11 pm

Debbie, you asked on October 11th in:
Mystery: Dig one up for the Gipper?
what could be the reason.
I replied on October 12th:
“I’ll bet some guy or gal is alleging the Gipper fathered a child out of wedlock and is entitled to income that may generate from use of his name or likeness. Or, simply, the relatives have their panties in a bunch over the claim. Let’s protect the Gipper’s reputation by digging up his remains! Insane.”
If I had the details of the claim and any documentation, I could, with a 90% probability, tell you if the claim is true or not. Before they dug him up they could have narrowed the probability even further, they went for the easy route, repulsive – no one has a leg to stand on in this one.

code7 on November 13, 2007 at 4:07 pm

well, nearly 5 years later, I have had a chance to reflect on this god-awful period in my life. We did want to find out who my mother’s biological father was – and whether there were any financial issues related to that was irrelevant. My mother always wanted to know who her father was, and if she had found that it was someone who was not famous, not rich, not anyone in particular, she would have been thrilled just to know who it was. That was the kind of person she was. She really wanted a father in her life. Her step-father was very good to her and she really appreciated him, but there was still that longing for a real father. She happened to have had her leg amputated below the knee due to diabetes just a few weeks before she died, and it so happened that they keep some tissue whenever that happens. I authorized the comparison of that tissue with that of George Gipp, and as it turned out, there was no match. She would loved to have been the offspring of gipp, but it didn’t happen that way. The gipps that we have been in touch with over the past few years are wonderful people, and we feel like we are family just because they make us feel that way. We never asked Mike Bynum to exhume and test Gipps DNA. We didn’t even know it happened until it was over. We did want to put an end to the speculation, however. We are just regular people whose mother wanted to know who her parents were…..

pkk on May 13, 2012 at 5:40 pm

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