Perhaps as a finger in the eye to all the “squares” who were too “uncool” to reelect him, former Florida governor Charlie Christ made seeing through a pardon of The Doors’ perfect singer Jim Morrison one of his last acts in office. The pardon, which came from a unanimous vote by the state’s parole board, was granted on December 9, 2010, a full 41 years after Morrison was arrested for indecent exposure at a Doors show in Miami.
In March 1969, a 25-year-old Jim Morrison showed up late — and “far drunker than usual,” according to Doors organist — to an overflowing show at the Dinner Key Auditorium, in the Miami neighborhood of Coconut Grove. Although he was pretty well used to performing drunk, apparently Morrison was overly toasted even by his own standards. After he began insulting the crowd and cursing at them, he, according to police and witnesses, exposed himself on stage.
The show came to an end, the Doors left for Jamaica and the state of Florida stewed on the idea that Jim Morrison had drunkenly shown his junk to more than 10,000 of their youth. The Miami Herald reports that within a couple weeks, a decency rally was organized and 30,000 people, including Anita Bryant and President Richard Nixon by phone, turned up to call for Morrison’s head. He was indicted by a Florida court on six counts of obscenity and turned himself in. He was ultimately found guilty of two misdemeanors, exposure and profanity, sentenced to six months in the pokey and $500. This being America and Morrison being a star, he of course didn’t do any time. He was released for $50,000 and died in a bathtub in his Paris apartment two years later.
The problem was, no one had any hard evidence that Jim Morrison exposed himself. There were plenty of photographs of the moment in question, but none showed his exposed genitals. Lots of witnesses said they’d seen it happen, but at least one later recanted that testimony as an adult.
Charlie Christ saw to him getting a pardon as an “acknowledgement of Morrison’s ‘body of work.’” His widow, Pamela Meg Ryan Morrison isn’t altogether happy with the pardon, though. She disputes the conviction as a whole and thinks the pardon does a poor job of erasing the “suffering and all that he went through during the trial.”
Strangely, Morrison wasn’t a stranger to Florida before the Miami show. Before transferring to UCLA, he first attended film school at Florida State University. In 2005, a film made for the FSU admissions office was discovered featuring a young Jim. Here’s a link to it.