The Real Story Behind Forrest Gump

If you have ever seen Forrest Gump, you know Forrest is one seriously impressive guy. His simple-mindedness turns to his biggest strength and helps him achieve seemingly impossible tasks. Well, it seems real people can actually do things like that!

Forrest gump
Forrest in one of the most frustrating love stories ever. | © Paramount Pictures

Being one of the most well-known movies of all time, Forrest Gump tackles real topics like racism, war, love and takes place during real events, like the Vietnam War, the rise of Elvis Presley and the assassination of president John F. Kennedy. This begs the question, is Forrest Gump based on a real story?

I'm not trying to tell you that Forrest Gump was a real dude fighting in the Vietnam War, then winning the Ping-Pong world championship, investing in Apple and all that. What I mean is that behind the wondrous journey of Forrest Gump lie real events that inspired his story.


The Real Forrest Gump

Forrest's deployment in Vietnam plays a big role in how the plot progresses, moving forward. He meets important characters like Lieutenant Dan or Bubba, and receives the iconic injury to his butt while evacuating injured American soldiers. This story is actually based on Vietnam veteran, Sammy Lee Davis.

Davis, just like Forrest in the movie, received a gunshot to his butt after rescuing three soldiers and later was awarded the Medal of Honor. In the real story, though, Davis did so with a broken back and several gunshot wounds. Dude was hardcore!

Fun fact, they actually used footage of Davis' award ceremony, with Tom Hanks' head superimposed over his. In reality, sadly, he never showed the president his naked butt though...


The Stories Behind The Story

Another thing about the inspiration for Forrest Gump you might not know, is that it was actually an adaptation of a novel by Winston Groom. He dedicated his novel to two men, Jimbo Meador and George Radcliff.

Groom explained in an interview, that Forrest's and Ltd. Dan's Shrimp farming endeavors were inspired by these two men. Both men had a speech pattern similar to Forrest, and especially Radcliff's adventures served as a loose inspiration for the movie's jaunting through history.

You want an example? Well, okay. What would you say if I told you Radcliff recalled arm-wrestling a "little Englishman" in a pub, after visiting the movie's premiere, just for this man to turn out to be Paul McCartney? "I slammed him" were the exact words he used to describe their bout.

Sounds exactly like a story from the movie when Forrest accidentally stumbles into the Black Panther headquarters or just happens to end up in the world championship for Ping-Pong.

These guys really feel and sound like real-life Forrest Gumps, and it doesn't surprise me, that they inspired this awe-inspiring story that continues to entertain.