Did a Survivor of the Bombing of Hiroshima Meet One of the Men Who Dropped the Bomb on a Reality TV Show?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: An episode of “This Is Your Life” introduced a survivor of the bombing of Hiroshima to the co-pilot of the plane that dropped the bomb.

Imagine that you survived the detonation of an atomic bomb dropped on to your city.

Now imagine that you dedicated your life to charity related to the victims of the bombing.

Now imagine you’re doing a talk show to discuss the charity when suddenly you discover you are on a reality show and you are going to meet the co-pilot of the plane that dropped the bomb on your city.

That would be a pretty twisted situation, wouldn’t it?

But that’s exactly what happened to Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto.

A Methodist minister, Tanimoto survived the destruction of Hiroshima and was later one of the six subjects featured by John Hersey in his world-famous article series (and later book), Hiroshima…

After the war, during the mid-1950s, Tanimoto became involved in various charities related to the atomic bombing, including the so-called “Hiroshima Maidens,” the young women who were physically deformed due to radiation from the atomic bomb.

Tanimoto took them to the United States to receive much-needed plastic surgery.

Here is Tanimoto as he arrived in the United States in 1955…

At the time, there was a popular reality TV series, created, produced and hosted by Ralph Edwards called This Is Your Life.

The concept of the show was that Edwards would get a person (often a celebrity but also frequently just a normal person) and surprise them with the fact that they were on the show. Then they would do an overview of the person’s life up until that point, complete with notable people from their past (who they were was part of the surprise).

For Tanimoto, things went along as they typically did…

although Tanimoto seemed a bit thrown by the whole thing (he was likely nervous).

However, things took a turn for the especially bizarre when one of the “mystery guests” was announced – it was Robert Lewis, co-pilot of the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima!!!

Look at the expression on Tanimoto’s face when he hears it…

Lewis goes on about how he wrote in his journal the day of the bombing, “Oh God, what have we done?”

And then – one of the most awkward handshakes imaginable…

The funniest thing about it is that the episode aired without commercials, because it was clearly a “very special” episode of This Is Your Life, and yet they didn’t seem to realize that what they were doing was pretty darn bizarre.

Lewis, himself, was a wreck over it, as well, and almost didn’t make the taping because he was drinking at a bar to calm his nerves.

The footage is part of a great documentary on the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki called White Light/Black Rain…

The legend is…


Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

One Response to “Did a Survivor of the Bombing of Hiroshima Meet One of the Men Who Dropped the Bomb on a Reality TV Show?”

  1. That is one of the most messed up things I have ever heard.

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