But the carousing didn't seem to detract from Gipp's football accomplishments. In his four years at Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish were 27-2-3. During the span, the speedy 6-foot, 180-pound Gipp is credited with 2,341 rushing yards, a school record that stood until Jerome Heavens broke it in 1978, according to the Notre Dame sports information department.
Gipp was born in Laurium on Feb. 18, 1895. He died at a South Bend, Ind. hospital early Dec. 14, 1920 of complications from strep throat and was buried Dec. 18 in Lake View Cemetery just west of Calumet with military rites. Stores in Laurium and Calumet closed for the funeral, according to newspaper accounts.
The Houghton Daily Mining Gazette speculated in a 1961 story that Gipp probably would have lived longer had he heeded the advice of the late Dr. A.C. Roche of Calumet, who wanted to remove Gipp's infected tonsils in the summer of 1920. According to the newspaper, Gipp never had them removed.
Gipp's last game was against Northwestern at Evanston, Ill. on Nov. 20, Notre Dame's next-to-last game of the season.
Gipp's famous deathbed scene is replayed in the 1940 Warner Bros. film classic "Knute Rockne: All-American." Reagan played Gipp and the late Pat O'Brien the title role.
One of the movie's premier showings was in October 1940 at the grand Calumet Theater, an old opera house.
Reagan, a young actor looking for a break, got one when he was chosen to play Gipp.
"Before he's seen, he is talked about. That gives him a buildup for an entrance. His introductory scene is amusing and he has some bright, snappy dialogue to make audiences laugh," Reagan is quoted as saying in the Oct. 10, 1940 Mining Gazette.
"He's a spectacular hero for a reel or two, performing thrilling feats on the football field.
"Then he dies, quietly but heroically. And after he's gone, he is talked about, is used as an example to spur Notre Dame's football men on to great heights. . . . What more could an actor want?"