Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: John Denver once served as a U.S. Army sniper in Vietnam.
Origins: John Denver's father, Henry John Deutschendorf, was one of the first officers in the newly-formed United States Air Force after World
The John Denver "sniper" story is a typical example of the "he's not what he seems to be" legend type, tales of contradictory excess generally applied to celebrities who entertain children or otherwise have a cloying public image that show them to be the opposites of their public images. (Other examples include Uncle Don and singer Mariah Carey.) Thus John Denver, known to the world as a gentle, nature-loving pop singer, is transformed into his antithesis: a professional killer. (As was Fred Rogers of television's Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. He too was rumored to have been a sniper, with even his penchant for long-sleeved cardigans ascribed to his hiding tattoos from the eyes of curious little tykes. Like Denver, Rogers never served in any branch of the military. He was an ordained minister in the United Presbyterian Church.)
Consider the possible thought processes of whoever invented this rumor: "Hey, let's make up something outrageous about that wimp John Denver! I know, we'll
The fact that Denver was the son of a career military officer and was of the right age to have served in the Vietnam War most likely afforded this legend just the right touch of plausibility it needed to spread widely.
Last updated: 18 April 2007
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