Gary Mark Gilmore (December 4, 1940 – January 17, 1977) was an American criminal, and murderer, who gained international notoriety for demanding that his death sentence be fulfilled following two murders he committed in Utah. He became the first person executed in the United States after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a new series of death penalty statutes in the 1976 decision Gregg v. Georgia (these new statutes avoiding the problems that had led earlier death penalty statutes to be deemed unconstitutional in Furman v. Georgia). Gilmore was executed by firing squad in 1977.
Gilmore was born in Waco, Texas, the second of four sons to Frank and Bessie Gilmore. The family relocated throughout the Western United States during his childhood, and his father supported the family by selling magazines. Gilmore had a troubled relationship with his father, whom his brother Mikal described as a "cruel and unreasonable man." Frank Gilmore's mother claimed that he was the illegitimate son of magician Harry Houdini. Mikal has said he believes the story is false, however stated that his father believed this.
The Gilmore family settled in Portland, Oregon in 1952. Gilmore began engaging in petty crime as an adolescent, with offenses ranging from shoplifting, car theft and assault and battery. Although Gilmore had an intelligence quotient of 133, had high scores on both scholastic and academic tests, and clear artistic skills, he dropped out of high school in the ninth grade. He ran away from home with a friend to Texas, returning to Portland after several months.