William Lowndes ("Bill")  Yancey
and the attempted Rescue of little Kathy Fiscus - April 1949


"One Little Girl Who United the World for a Moment".

Kathryn Anne Fiscus (August 21, 1945 April 8, 1949) was a three-year-old girl who in 1949 fell into an abandoned water  well in San Marino, California. Authoties were soon called and frantic attempts were made around the clock for nearly two days  as workers attempted to dig her out. The attempted rescue, broadcast live on KTLA, was a landmark event in American television history. It was the first time the entire country united together - under the new media of television - as millions became glued to their televisions in the hope that a little girl woudl be saved.  People from around the country and world watched the live broadcast and were brought together in this tragedy.   She was brought to the surface by William "Bill" Yancey - one of many rescuers.  Unfortunately it was too late and she had expired before Yancey could get to her.  Kathy became known  as the little girl that united the television watching world.  Various songs were even made concerning the sad fate of little Kathy Fiscus. 

Country singer Jimmie Osborne wrote and recorded the 1949 song "The Death of Little Kathy Fiscus" (King 788) The single sold over one million copies and Osborne donated half the proceeds to the Fiscus family. Other artists recorded versions of the song, including Kitty Wells, and Howard Vokes.

The Kathy Fiscus Rescue Attempt

Click here to listen to the Jimmie Osborne Song

[ For more details of the story - click here ]





Goldie and Bill (left - 1955) and Bill (right - 1956)



Bill Yancey was the son of  Archelaus B & Alice Yancey of Illinois