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‘Heist Movies’ vs. Real-Life Crime ISSN 0047-9039


The First Legally Recognized and Protected Periodical Trademark in Our Nation’s History


Aguilera Sizzles in ‘Burlesque’

Sandra Bullock’s Roller-Coaster Life


The National Police Gazette: New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Orleans, St. Louis.


JUNE 2010


GEORGE WILKES, Editor and Publisher 1845-1853

ENOCH E. CAMP, Editor and Publisher 1845-1848

THERE IS NO OTHER! Established in 1845 by Enoch E. Camp and George Wilkes

GEORGE W. MATSELL, Editor and Proprietor 1857-1873

RICHARD K. FOX, Editor and Proprietor 1877-1922

CRIME! SPORTS! Celebrities! Scandal! ... and Girls in Pink Tights!

This is an example of the “racy” art that gave the Police Gazette its scandalous reputation back in the elegant 1880s, when publisher Richard K. Fox began printing each weekly edition on pink paper. Using today’s movie ratings, the Police Gazette would probably qualify as PG-13 at worst.

It takes a special kind of genius to start something that everyone ultimately takes for granted. So pardon us if this issue of The National Police Gazette taps heavily into the history of America’s premier sporting publication. The Police Gazette was an immediate sensation when it first hit the streets of New York in 1845. Founding publishers George Wilkes and Enoch Camp gave readers a weekly helping of crime news that offered more thrills per column inch than the stuffy competition. The paper was soon a fixture in saloons and barber shops across the nation. During America’s Gilded Age, reading the Police Gazette was as much a part of the male image as a derby hat. But the Police Gazette didn’t reach its greatest influence until it was purchased by Irishborn publisher Richard K. Fox in 1877. Fox had a flair for not only spotting trends but creating them. Above all, he sensed that a prosperous nation was about to go sports crazy.

Golden Age Hollywood created an image of newspapermen that usually included a fedora and a 10-cent stogie. In this shot taken around 1947, Mickey Walker — former middleweight champion turned Police Gazette sports editor — is pecking away at his Woodstock typewriter and generally doing his best to live up to the stereotype.

Not only did Fox give the Police Gazette the first dedicated sports section in an American newspaper, he also made news as a promoter of sporting events. Fox did more than his share to transform the sport of boxing from illegal brawls to the contests of strength and skill we know today. The epic 1889 contest between John L. Sullivan and Jake Kilrain was largely a Fox production, and has a secure place in history as the last bare-knuckle championship. Under Fox’s ownership, the Police Gazette also popularized sensational crime and celebrity journalism — although with what we believe was a great deal more style and sass than today’s reporting. If anything, the public’s appetite for this kind of news has only grown since Fox’s death in 1922. Since 1977, The National Police Gazette has been owned and published by a small group of professional newspapermen and history enthusiasts. We have also compiled a rich archive of historical sources related to this landmark periodical.

The Police Gazette helped originate the idea of a sports hall of fame, reserving part of its New York offices for a gallery of past boxing champions. Famed heavyweight “Jersey Joe” Walcott (second from left) visits the shrine with Police Gazette publisher Harold Roswell (third from left). At left is Walcott’s longtime manager, Felix Bocchicchio, with Police Gazette editor Nat Perlow on the right.

In this edition, we offer classic crime stories about elaborate high-stakes burglaries and a ragtime-era gangster who lived and died by the code of the street. On the sports front, we feature the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame, a labor of love being constructed in the original barns where John L. Sullivan trained for the Kilrain fight.

As for celebrities, we have the curvaceous Christina Aguilera on our cover. She will make her movie debut in “Burlesque,” due for a November release. We can’t guarantee that Aguilera will appear in pink tights, but we certainly thought “Burlesque” will at least be in the elegantly naughty — or naughtily elegant —spirit of the old Police Gazette. H

JUNE 2010

The National Police Gazette: New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Orleans, St. Louis.


Just Before Presstime

Counting Down to the ‘Year of Perfect Vision’ By ALEXANDER BARRERA Publisher If you’re anything like me, the more you learn about the history of The National Police Gazette, the more you’ll believe it’s a piece of publishing Americana that deserves to be restored to its past glory. The Police Gazette made sensational crime a staple of news coverage from its inception in 1845. A generation later, under irrepressible publisher Richard K. Fox, the paper was doing the exact same thing for sports news. Wherever a restless nation traveled in search of prosperity, there also went The National Police Gazette. My own interest was initially part of a family tradition. I acquired principal ownership in 2006, but family members had been involved in the Police Gazette since the early 1970s and owned it outright since 1977. During these years, they maintained publication for a limited readership of mostly newspaper history buffs. My own criminal justice background helped me see the possibilities in bringing the Police Gazette to a larger audience. Prior to pursuing a publishing career full time, I worked in the probation department of San Bernardino County, Calif. It was an education, that’s for sure. Among other assignments, I worked with the Proposition 36 program, which provides minor drug offenders the option of treatment instead of incarceration. Our section provided services to the county courts in San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, and Fontana. Another of my jobs was helping with background investigations of applicants for probation and corrections officer positions. On a typical day, I might be scheduling applicants for the psychological and polygraph tests required to qualify. I also acted as a Spanish translator. Although this edition is mainly focused on the forgotten underworld of 100 years ago, you can bet we will be doing more stories about contemporary crime in future editions. The Police Gazette will mark its 165th year in September, and we’re already planning a special anniversary edition. This June edition is dedicated to the memory of Nat K. Perlow, the last managing editor of the Police Gazette, who died in 1988. Members of my family recall Nat fondly as one of the last old-time newspapermen, who would bang out screaming headlines like “Hitler Is Alive!” while chomping on one of his ever-present White Owl cigars. Along with Nat, they also worked closely with such late-period Police Gazette luminaries as publishers Harold Roswell and Joe Azaria, and veteran editor Jack Barnes. The position of Police Gazette managing editor was retired at Nat’s passing, simply because nobody could fill his shoes. Or so we thought, until we were able to secure the extraordinary talents of Bob Fliss. Although we can’t write “Perlow Is Alive!” we think Nat would be happy to know his old title is now held by a hard-working newspaperman who, although only 52, could have walked straight out of “The Front Page.” Ultimately, this decade should be an auspicious one for the Police Gazette, ending in the “Year of Perfect Vision,” 2020, which will also mark the 175th anniversary of its founding. That’s “demisemiseptcentennial” or “quartoseptcentennial,” if you prefer. Stick with us and you’ll learn about a lot of stuff you never knew existed.

Star power yields before the might of the law Actress Jessica Alba tries to put up a cheerful front while getting ticketed in Santa Monica, Calif. in this April, 2009 photo. Alba had made a wrong turn down a oneway street. Her next two films are “Machete,” set for a September release, and “An Invisible Sign of My Own,” now in post-production.

A POLICEMAN’S LOT IS NOT A HAPPY ONE When a felon’s not engaged in his employment Or maturing his felonious little plans His capacity for innocent enjoyment Is just as great as any honest man’s Our feelings we with difficulty smother When constabulary duty’s to be done Ah, take one consideration with another A policeman’s lot is not a happy one. From “The Pirates of Penzance” (1879) W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan

By BOB WEIR Special Correspondent One of the toughest jobs for any police officer is the issuance of traffic tickets for minor violations. It’s one thing to stop someone traveling several miles per hour over the limit and remind him of the dangers of speeding as you cite him with a costly document that will reinforce the advice.

But the idea of stopping some guy on his way to or from work, to hit him with a summons for not using his turn signal or for an expired inspection tag, makes the officer appear petty toward someone who is not exactly a menace to society. Yes, even minor laws must be enforced, but it’s not the best public relations opportunity for cops. Firemen generally have a better image because whenever you see them, they’re carrying a child out of a burning building or posing with local kids on a fire truck and letting the little tykes wear some of the uniform equipment. Although both jobs are public service-oriented and exist for the safety of the people, most drivers recoil at the sight of a police cruiser, but experience no such (Continued on next page)


The National Police Gazette: New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Orleans, St. Louis.


JUNE 2010

ALEXANDER BARRERA, Publisher BOB FLISS, Managing Editor JOE HUFF, Photo Editor


NAT K. PERLOW (1915-1988) Managing Editor 1945-1988 PHONE: 909-644-2799 MAIL: 22159 Ladera Street, Grand Terrace, CA 92313 E-MAIL:

Petty Laws Drive Wedge Between Police and Public (Continued from preceding page)

trepidation when that red engine is spotted heading back to the firehouse. How often have you spied one of those marked units in your rearview mirror and not quickly glanced at your speed? If you notice that you’re a bit leadfooted, you’re reluctant to step on the brakes because the officer will notice the red warning lights in the rear. However, if you’re casually driving along and suddenly notice a unit coming your way or parked on the side of the road, you might have a sudden impulse to tap the brakes a little just in case you had been a bit heavy on the gas pedal. Then your eyes keep a close watch on the actions of the uniformed driver as you anticipate your possible fate. Will those roof lights go on, signaling for you to pull over? It’s a mental image that could ruin anyone’s day. Over the course of twenty years as a cop in New York City, I don’t remember ever making a driver happy about getting a ticket. In fact, sometimes the motorist felt motivated to tell me what he thought about a public servant who has nothing better to do than to annoy decent, hardworking taxpayers when he could be locking up drug dealers. Well, most cops would rather lock up felons than chase after drivers who might have an inoperable taillight, but if that’s all they did, then how long would it take before every car on the road looked like a reject from the demolition derby? How safe would you feel on the roadways if hot-footed speedsters had no fear of those public sentinels with their radar equipment?

The public doesn’t mind high-profile patrolling to keep serious troublemakers from plying their trade. But any law-abiding driver is liable to feel oppressed after being pulled over for a burned-out brake light.

It’s axiomatic in police work that nobody wants us around until they need us. And Heaven help us if we’re not around when they do. The guy whose home was burglarized while he was away on vacation is likely to wonder why the interlopers weren’t arrested. “I got five speeding tickets last year from you guys, but when my house was broken into, you cops were nowhere to be found,” he might say with biting sarcasm. Perhaps that’s because cops are kept busy with jerks that refuse to observe speed limits. I spent most of my police career doing detective work, but during those early days in uniform, I used a lot of time chasing the bad guys.

One hot day in Brooklyn, my partner and I were alerted to the sounds of a woman screaming about a block away. We pulled up to the scene of a bare-chested man holding a machete and moving stealthily toward the frightened young woman, who was lying on the sidewalk with her hands raised to ward off an imminent attack. While my partner got on the radio, I pointed my gun at the would-be butcher and gave him a warning. His attention turned toward me and he took a few steps in my direction. I cocked my weapon, warned him again, and told him that his future didn’t include a third warning. After acknowledging that my weapon was more formidable than his, he sneeringly put the

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long-bladed instrument on the ground. As was common in such close encounters with homicide, the guy had discovered that his girlfriend was less than faithful, so he had decided to dismember her. He was arrested. She was grateful to us for keeping her from going all to pieces over the guy. Later that same day, I stopped a driver for zooming past a red light. As I wrote out the ticket, he exclaimed, “Why don’t you guys do some real police work instead of always harassing people?” H Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department, and currently executive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. His work appears courtesy of

TRADEMARKS NOTICE: The trademarks, service marks, and trade names appearing in The National Police Gazette are the common law, pending, or registered trademarks owned by Edgar Alexander Barrera, including: The National Police Gazette, The Police Gazette, The National Police Gazette, The Leading Illustrated Sporting Journal in America, The National Police Gazette, The Leading Illustrated Sporting Journal in the World, and other word and design marks.

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JUNE 2010

The National Police Gazette: New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Orleans, St. Louis.


CHRISTINA’S RETRO-GLAM Pop Singer Aguilera Makes Movie Debut In ‘Burlesque’ Tribute By PAUL PROWLER Staff Writer Christina Aguilera, movie star. It worked for Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, and Madonna, to varying degrees — although, truth to tell, the singer-actor crossover always worked best for guys of a generation that’s no longer with us, that is Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin. Leaving aside the big question of why the entertainment industry no longer produces allaround entertainers of such stature, let’s acknowledge that Christina Aguilera is about as good as it gets among today’s female pop singers. And 2010 looks to a typically productive year, with her fourth studio album “Bionic” coming out in June, and her first movie “Burlesque” due for a Thanksgiving release. “Burlesque” wrapped up filming in early March and is now in post-production. Information and production photos are in short supply at this early date, but here’s what a Police Gazette prowl through various published sources has managed to turn up. Disappointingly for some fans, “Burlesque” will not be a period piece. Considering the way Aguilera has embraced 1940s retro-glamour — platinum tresses and all — it’s not hard to imagine her as a dangerous dame in some Raymond Chandler-inspired private eye story. Well, we can live and hope. A Modern Bump-and-Grinder Actually, “Burlesque” is supposed to be set in a contemporary Los Angeles nightspot that features neo-burlesque acts. Aguilera plays Ali Marilyn Rose, a small-town girl who seeks her fortune in the big

city — just like the story line in countless Golden Age Hollywood musicals. She lands a job as a cocktail waitress at The Burlesque Lounge, a majestic old theater that, like majestic old theaters everywhere, is just sputtering along one step ahead of the wrecking ball. All that’s keeping it going is a troupe of singers and dancers who haven’t heard that live theater is dead and the whole world is living in front of their computers. Aguilera’s co-star will be another singer who made the transition to screen acting without missing a beat. Cher is playing Tess, the club’s owner and headliner, who becomes a mentor to Ali. Versatile actor-director Stanley Tucci is the club’s quick-witted stage manager. Cam Gigandet, of televison’s “The O.C.” provides a love interest. The story chronicles Ali’s rise from the bar to the stage, although not without some interference from theatrical rivals — what kind of “I’m gonna be a star” story would it be without a rival? Aguilera and members of her creative team are contributing a good share of the music. “Burlesque” is being directed by Steve Antin, whose sister Robin Antin is a force in the neoburlesque movement. Among other ventures, Robin Antin founded The Pussycat Dolls, a modern burlesque song-anddance troupe in 1995. Aguilera actually worked in 2003 as a guest star with The Pussycat Dolls in a well-received Los Angeles nightclub revue. Traditional Naughtiness Probably some words are needed here to clarify what the heck is this “burlesque” thing anyway? We’re not talking about pole (Continued on next page)

Even when Christina Aguilera isn’t decked out in her favorite 1940s Hollywood Golden Age fashions, she still retains a distinct ability to turn heads. Here’s Christina in contemporary attire on the set of her new movie “Burlesque,” which recently wrapped up shooting.


The National Police Gazette: New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Orleans, St. Louis.


JUNE 2010

Spicy Comedy Headlined

Early Burlesque Theaters (Continued from preceding page)

dancers. Actually, the roots of burlesque in America go back to the 19th century. Burlesque was related to vaudeville but with major differences. Vaudeville was a variety show that ultimately included anything the theater manager wanted to put on the bill — singers, dancers, acrobats, magicians, animal acts, you name it. It was America’s family entertainment until the advent of motion pictures. On the other hand, the foundation of burlesque was a stock company performing comedy sketches — the famous “baggy pants comics” that included such future stars as Milton Berle, Phil Silvers, Bert Lahr, Jackie Gleason, and Red Skelton. These famous names shouldn’t be taken as the overall standard of talent. No less a comedic authority than Charlie Chaplin complained that, all too often, the performers were crude, the staging was crude, and the audience was crude. The usually risque comedy acts were intermixed with songand-dance numbers featuring chorus girls, the more minimally costumed the better. Striptease was a relatively late arrival to the burlesque stage. But by the 1930s, burlesque was dominated by glamorous solo performers like Gypsy Rose Lee and Sally Rand. But the ascendancy of the striptease also spelled doom for the knockabout comics and minimally costumed chorus girls. When Phil Silvers starred in “Top Banana,” his 1954 Broadway tribute to baggypants comedy, he declared that burlesque was already dead. Witty as she was beautiful, Gypsy Rose Lee explained the impasse: “You can’t sell sex and humor at the same time.”

Cam Gigandet (center), shown between takes on the streets of Los Angeles, plays the male lead in “Burlesque.” He previously scored as the antagonist in the 2008 mixed martial arts film “Never Back Down,” and as the leader of a group of nomadic vampires in “Twilight,” also a 2008 release.

Glamorous Rebirth Burlesque may have gone the way of vaudeville, but strip clubs remained, evolving into the letit-all-hang-out pole dancing style prevalent today. In the 1990s, a neo-burlesque revival began in a few nightclubs, along with some amateur shows. The emphasis was on the kind of glitzy costumes and staging that Gypsy Rose Lee would have insisted upon. After all, Gypsy’s celebrated act was always more tease than strip. Neo-burlesque performerDec. (Continued on next page)

Considering that “Burlesque” uses the familiar “small-town girl in the big city” story, it’s perhaps appropriate that a petite Christina Aguilera looks rather pensive and vulnerable in this photo taken during location shooting in downtown Los Angeles.

JUNE 2010

The National Police Gazette: New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Orleans, St. Louis.


Cam Gigandet, shown here with Agilera and a classic Triumph motorcyle, is revving up his film career after considerable success on television. He will play a friendly bartender-musician, who becomes Aguilera’s love interest. Christina on a busy Hollywood street, perusing the latest entertainment news. Perhaps if “Burlesque 2” ever gets made, she could be seen perusing the pink pages of The National Police Gazette.

New Studio Album ‘Bionic’ Ready for June 8 Release (Continued from preceding page)

Neo-burlesque performers embrace the same kind of 1940s Hollywood retro-glam that’s done so much for Christina Aguilera. A sexy attitude is vastly more important than explicit nudity. So, by a roundabout route, we see that Aguilera’s debut as a neo-burlesque performer seems like a credible fit.

Queen of Concept Albums Aguilera’s forthcoming “Bionic” album features a sciencefiction-influenced cover portrait of her as a beautiful android. The lead single “Not Myself Tonight” was released as a sneak preview on her Web site in late March. Like Frank Sinatra before her, Aguilera insists on a lot of creative control over her albums. She is credited as producer, although with the support of a large creative team. She also writes most of her own material, again with a rotating cast of collaborators. “Bionic” will be Aguilera’s first studio album since “Back to Basics” in 2006. “Back to Basics” was a big two-disc album packed with songs inspired by the music of the 1920s through 1940s. Probably the pick of the litter

Probably the pick of the litter was “Candyman,” Aguilera’s contemporary riff on the Andrews Sisters, the famous close-harmony vocal trio that helped define the sound of World War II-era swing jazz with hits like “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” “Candyman” got limited radio air time because of raunchy lyrics. But it was turned into a highly successful 2007 music video. Thanks to the magic of computer film editing, Aguilera was seen as all three members of a singing trio obviously patterned after the Andrews Sisters — blonde, brunette, and redhead. She was backed by a large troupe of enthusiastic guys costumed as World War II servicemen. Among many other accolades, Aguilera was the only under30 singer to be ranked among the 100 greatest singers of all time by Rolling Stone. She won’t celebrate her 30th birthday until Dec. 18. But considering that she got her start at age 10 on television’s “Star Search,” Aguilera is in her way as much an old trouper as all those minimally costumed chorus girls of a bygone era. H

Considering “Burlesque” is Aguilera’s first movie, it’s sort of appropriate that she’s playing alongside Cher, who followed the same route all the way to a Best Actress Oscar for 1987’s “Moonstruck.”


The National Police Gazette: New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Orleans, St. Louis.

JUNE 2010

No Fairy-Tale Finish for


It has to be tough on a macho man’s ego to be married to a superstar. But Jesse James wasn’t doing too badly with his motorcycle customizing business and reality television career. Now, the entertainment media is calling James “the most hated man in America.”

Long dismissed as mainly a bankable comedy actress, Sandra Bullock should be enjoying the last laugh after her Oscar win for “The Blind Side.” But within days, Bullock was overwhelmed by revelations of husband Jesse James’ infidelities.

For romances such as this were prenups created By PAUL PROWLER Staff Writer

Despite their protestations to the contrary, beautiful women like dangerous men. By high school, regular guys are usually on the road to regular guy-hood. And regular guyhood opens the door to all sort of humiliations — like being rejected by a really fine babe, who promptly hooks up with

some graduate of the local “juvie hall.” Well, here’s news, and it’s kind of depressing. Guys and babes play out the same scenarios into middle age.

You Can’t Make This Up

How else to explain the marital meltdown between Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock and her celebrity gearhead husband, Jesse James?

If it wasn’t real, it would read like a bad script: Bullock accepts an Oscar for Best Actress on the night of March 7 for her performance in the football drama “The Blind Side.” Within days, she’s cancelling a promotional tour for the film — which was doing as well at the box office as it was with critics — claiming “unforeseen personal reasons.”

Well, it quickly emerges that those unforeseen reasons were the affairs Jesse James was having with — well, the gossip mill isn’t providing an accurate count, although the number seven is being bandied about lately. In any case, it’s probably less than Tiger Woods’ score.

By March 18, James was issuing a public apology to Bullock, whom (Continued on next page)

JUNE 2010

The National Police Gazette: New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Orleans, St. Louis.



Divorce Drama Should Satisfy Even Jaded Celebrity Watchers (Continued from preceding page)

he married in July, 2005 after they had met on the set of his Discovery Channel show “Monster Garage.” By the end of the month, he was off for a month of celebrity rehab — that everpopular destination without which no Hollywood scandal would be complete. The month of April passed without any sign that Bullock wanted James back. The gossip columns were full of speculation about what might happen next. The only thing that seemed certain was that the lawyers for both sides wouldn’t be participating in the recession any time soon.

Pain and Publicity

As April was fading into May, Bullock was spotted in public without her wedding ring. Then James ditto. Bullock then did what everyone expected and sued James for divorce in the state of Texas. No surprise there. At the same time, Bullock revealed that just before all the trouble started, she and James had nearly completed plans to adopt a baby boy from Louisiana. Bullock then amended her application to state she planned to raise the infant as a single parent. The most immediate result of this revelation was that Bullock bumped Julia Roberts for the top spot on the cover of People magazine’s edition of May 10. Normally, Roberts would have gotten this distinction for taking top place in the magazine’s “Most Beautiful People” rankings. But the Bullock story was too compelling. So, People’s editors decided to show a radiant Bullock in profile holding little baby Louis, not quite four months old but already prepared for celebrity babyhood by making good eye contact with the camera, and wearing what could best be described as a quizzical expression. Roberts, looking equally quizzical, was relegated to a small photo in the upper right corner of the cover. Oh yes, and to top everything out, Bullock announced that she would be relocating from a mansion in California to a mansion outside New Orleans. Finally, as this June edition of the Police Gazette was going to press, James declared that he was selling his California home and that he would be giving his (Continued on next page)

Not only did Sandra Bullock show up to accept her Golden Raspberry award as Worst Actress for the tepid romantic comedy “All About Steve,” she even passed out DVDs to the crowd.

Bullock has the distinction of being the only performer to win a Best Actress Oscar and Worst Actress Razzie in the same year. For different films, naturally. Based on a true story, “The Blind Side” featured a blonde Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy, adoptive mother to football lineman Michael Oher, played by Quinton Aaron. A huge success with crowds and critics alike, “The Blind Side” has topped $200 million at the box office, making it the highest-grossing sports movie ever.


The National Police Gazette: New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Orleans, St. Louis.


JUNE 2010

Bullock Showed Her Cool Accepting Razzie in Person (Continued from preceding page)

first television interview after emerging from celebrity rehab. Going from professional triumph to personal torment in a matter of days is a little too melodramatic even for Tinseltown. But that’s how things seem to be playing out for Bullock, one of the most accomplished — and wealthiest — women in show business. Back in 2007, Forbes speculated she was worth about $85 million, making her the 14thrichest female celebrity. The success of “The Blind Side” certainly hasn’t made her any poorer. Her other current movie, the romantic comedy “The Proposal” is also turning a good profit. She’s done a fine job managing the business side of her career, and even has her own production company, Fortis Films. Fortis has enjoyed mixed success. Bullock tried without much luck to film the boxing story “Million-Dollar Baby,” only to see Clint Eastwood take on the same project and turn it into a 2004 Oscar-winner starring himself and Hilary Swank.

She’s a Real Sport

The last Fortis production was “All About Steve,” a 2009 comedy flop that was quickly forgotten after Bullock’s success in “The Blind Side.” This led to a show-business first as Bullock became the only performer to take a Best Actress Oscar and Worst Actress Golden Raspberry award in the same year. But you can’t say that Bullock isn’t a good sport. She joined a select group of thick-skinned celebrities who accepted their Razzie awards in person, even passing out DVD copies of “All About Steve” to the audience. By tradition, the Razzies are held the day before the Oscars. Considering the pre-Oscar buzz for “The Blind Side,” it’s not too hard to imagine Bullock walked into the Razzies with an idea that she would be having the last laugh within 24 hours. Actually, she had a double last laugh. By mid-April, the Razzie organizers were asking for their trophy back. Not because they thought “All About Steve” was any less of a stinker but because Bullock walked away with an original 30-year-old prototype worth thousands of dollars. Normally, Razzie winners who deign to accept their awards are presented with a plastic knock-off worth less than five bucks.

Razzie founder John Wilson admitted in published accounts that the mix-up was the fault of the organizers. In any event, by mid-April they were begging Bullock in the media to return their valuable piece of show biz memorabilia. They didn’t contact Bullock directly out of consideration for her personal problems.

Mechanisms of Attraction

After going on and on about the beauty, brains, and unbelievable babeosity of Sandra Bullock, we have to return to the question of — why did she marry a man whose most noteworthy accomplishment was the number of tattoos on his body? Whatever may be said about James’ judgement, he does seem to have some guts. His most recent television show was “Jesse James Is a Dead Man” on Spike TV, featuring him performing Evel Knievel-type daredevil stunts. Prior to the breakup with Bullock, both James’ Long Beach, Calif. motorcycle customizing business and various gearhead television ventures were prospering. But by mid-April, Spike TV announced that it would not renew

Jesse James and Sandra Bullock don’t exactly look like the picture of marital contentment in this picture taken before their much-publicized split.

“Bombshell” McGee, issued a public apology to Bullock. McGee, a model and stripper who herself sports an abundant crop of tattoos, was the first of four women to declare their dalliances with the celebrity mechanic. “I do feel guilty. I feel bad for Sandra,” McGee told the Australian television show “TodayTonight.” In her own defense, McGee maintains that James told her he was separated from Bullock before their affair kicked into gear.

Out of the Old West

Celebrity gearhead Jesse James has claimed that his great-greatgrandfather was cousin to the Old West outlaw. But he has never produced any documentation to prove it.

“Jesse James Is a Dead Man” for a second season. The entertainment press had already predicted that no television producer will now touch James, and this appears to be accurate so far. About the same time, one of James’ mistresses, Michelle

Incidentally, James has claimed that his great-great-grandfather was a cousin to the legendary Old West outlaw. But he has never produced any evidence to prove it. In any event, it’s good to have Jesse James back in The National Police Gazette, even if it’s Jesse Gregory James instead of Jesse Woodson James. Publisher Richard K. Fox never passed up an opportunity to promote his weekly journal of sports, scandal, and show business. So you can imagine his glee when a letter arrived in December, 1879, postmarked from the frontier hamlet of Sempronius, Texas: “Have been on the move so much lately that I have not received the Police Gazette regularly. Please send me a copy here and greatly oblige, Jesse James.” Well ... it may have all been a hoax. But you couldn’t get Fox

to admit it. The Police Gazette was wildly popular with male readers, and Fox knew that copies circulated in the cow towns and mining camps of the West until they literally fell apart. So, you couldn’t prove that it wasn’t Jesse James. Then in April, 1880, this missive arrived at the Police Gazette’s New York offices, postmarked from St. Louis: “I saw one of your papers while traveling in this city, and concluded to let you have my portrait and that of my brother Frank. We know that it is not exactly a safe thing for to do considering the way we stand in our community, but fear is something that does not trouble us much. Both portraits were taken a long time ago, and we considered them good at the time. When they are printed we will out of the way of anyone who will trouble us. Good-by.” For what it’s worth, outside observers are said to have authenticated the autographs on both portraits. But with Richard K. Fox running the Police Gazette like his own personal circus, it’s hard to say whether this was just another publicity stunt. Fox would have probably agreed with a famous line uttered by a frontier newsman in the 1962 movie classic “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” “This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” H

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The classic “heist movie” unfolds in a stylized three-act form. In the first act, cunning criminals gather to plot an elaborate, high-stakes theft, as in this still from director John Huston’s 1950 thriller “The Asphalt Jungle.” In 2008, “The Asphalt Jungle” was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress, a high honor extended to “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant films.”

The Theory and Practice of

THEFT By BOB FLISS Managing Editor

One of the occupational hazards of being a criminal mastermind is that it’s so hard to find good help. The cunning and charismatic plotter of elaborate thefts is one of the most enduring stock villains in fiction. Professor Moriarty of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series may be the most familiar, even though he’s center stage in only one story and mentioned in just six others. Considering the smash-andgrab nature of most stealing, criminal geniuses are more common in fiction than in real life. Their heyday may have been in the Gilded Age America of the 19th century, a time when

the frontier was filling in and vast fortunes being made in railroads, steel, and petroleum. The annals of 19th century crime include veritable masterpieces of burglary. The better class of thieves showed a high degree of technical skill, often taking months to case a bank, jewelry store, or art gallery before attempting a break-in. When computed in constant dollars, the greatest of these burglaries, that of the Manhattan Savings Institution on Oct. 27, 1878, remains the biggest theft in U.S. history. Nearly $3 million in cash and securities was taken from the vault of Manhattan Savings, which translates to about $50 million in 2010 dollars. For a quick comparison, consider what’s probably the

most famous theft of the late 20th century. Mastermind James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke and his crew got away with “only” $6 million in cash and jewels from the Lufthansa cargo terminal at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Dec. 11, 1978. Not surprisingly, most of the Gilded Age bank burglars operated out of New York. There, accomplished schemers like Adam Worth and George Leonidas Leslie defined the term “career criminal.”

The Hollywood Version

Despite their skill and daring, they all came to a bad end. But that’s getting ahead of our story. The criminal mastermind archetype really blossomed in

motion pictures. There’s a whole subgenre of “heist movies” or “caper films,” which typically unfold in a stylized three-act format. In Act I, conspirators gather and plots are laid. In Act II, they execute the elaborate theft of cash, jewels, or art objects. In Act III, they are overtaken by unforeseen events. Structured though it may be, the heist movie is also flexible. Great directors have conceived it as a grim tale of inexorable fate — for example John Huston’s “The Asphalt Jungle” (1950) and Stanley Kubrick’s “The Killing” (1956), both starring Sterling Hayden. The caper film can also be played for laughs, as in Jules Dassin’s “Topkapi” (1964). (Continued on next page)


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1978 Lufthansa Heist Was

Stranger Than Any Movie

Robert De Niro is famous for gangster roles, including Jimmy Conway in “Goodfellas,” a character closely modeled after “Jimmy the Gent” Burke, who plotted the 1978 robbery of the Lufthansa cargo terminal at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. (Continued from preceding page)

And Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack buddies played it cool in “Ocean’s 11” (1960) with an assist from veteran director Lewis Milestone.

Reality: Lufthansa, 1978

The 1978 Lufthansa robbery was only one chapter in director Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” (1990), which covered about 30 years in the lives of three New York gangsters. It was based on the real-life memoirs of Henry Hill, played by Ray Liotta (center). Joe Pesci (left) played violent Mafia wannabe Tommy DeVito, with Robert De Niro as Jimmy Conway (right).

In the real world, elaborate heists are much more rare than in the movies. But when they happen, their stories can be stranger than any fiction. Chief Lufthansa plotter “Jimmy the Gent” Burke was a longtime Mafia associate barred from full membership because of his Irish heritage. The aftermath of the Lufthansa heist was so bloody and confusing that any screenwriter who made up such a story would have had his script rejected as too over-the-top to be believed. The problem was that Burke and his crew succeeded too well. The $6 million in cash and jewels was the largest theft in American history at the time — although not, as we have seen, in constant dollars. This brought intense publicity and more heat from the law than might have been the case if, as ringleader Burke had originally forecast, the heist netted a mere $2 million or so. With so many accomplices involved, there was a strong prospect of someone breaking under police interrogation. And some of the accomplices themselves started pressuring Burke for a bigger share of the loot. So, “Jimmy the Gent” faced the question that sooner or later confronts all criminal masterminds — how to control henchmen who don’t have as much on the ball as you do? Burke’s answer was to kill

As gangster Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) said in his voice-over narration for “Goodfellas,” one of the main appeals of life in the mob was access to expensive restaurants and nightclubs. But the job security wasn’t so hot – as Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) proved by eliminating nearly all his accomplices following the Lufthansa robbery. This part of the movie closely followed the killing spree perpetrated by real-life Lufthansa mastermind “Jimmy the Gent” Burke.

Burke’s answer was to kill them.

Bloody Aftermath

First to go was Parnell “Stacks” Edwards, arguably the most inept of Burke’s crew. Edwards was not among the group that entered the Lufthansa terminal. Instead, he was given the simple task of driving a van used in the heist to a scrap yard in New Jersey, where it could be compacted and rendered useless as evidence. Edwards botched the job completely, getting high on drugs and passing out in his

girlfriend’s apartment while leaving the van in a “no parking” zone. Inevitably, the van was soon found by police. Just as inevitably, Edwards paid for his incompetence, Mafia-style, being shot to death just a week after the Lufthansa robbery At least nine other victims followed. Through the middle of 1979, bodies of people who either participated in the Lufthansa heist or had knowledge of it kept popping up in New York and New Jersey. It’s undetermined how many

It’s undetermined how many of these Burke killed himself and how many he ordered killed. Here we come to a sharp departure from the criminal mastermind archetype. In the typical caper film, the thieves are typically non-violent types who start out with the intent of grabbing the loot without doing physical harm to anybody. The injection of violence into the story is usually a signal that the conspiracy has failed and the plotters are about to meet variou (Continued on next page)

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The original 1960 version of “Ocean’s 11” is remembered as perhaps the best of Frank Sinatra’s “Rat Pack” movies, co-starring pals Dean Martin (right), Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford. Lighter than earlier caper classics like “The Asphalt Jungle,” it still featured an intricate story about a plan to rob five Las Vegas casinos in one daring sweep.

Hollywood’s Heaviest Heists (Continued from preceding page)

various edifying fates, generally as convicts or corpses. The caper film is nothing if not a morality play. Even before the Lufthansa job, Burke’s underworld reputation as an accomplished thief was exceeded only by the fear he inspired as a stone-cold killer. Over his long criminal career, Burke may have tallied as many as 50 victims. But Burke was convicted of only one murder, that of smalltime hood Richard Eaton in January, 1979. Eaton apparently had a peripheral involvement in the Lufthansa job, possibly in laundering some of the stolen money. However, according to court testimony, Burke killed Eaton only after they had a falling out over a cocaine deal. Either way, Eaton ended up spectacularly dead. His strangled body was discovered in a refrigeration trailer in Gravesend, Brooklyn by a group of children who thought the industrial site might make a good playground. They found a nightmare instead. It took the coroner two days to thaw out Eaton’s body enough to perform an autopsy.

Back to the Movies

Good as the Rat Pack movie was, the 2001 “Ocean’s Eleven” became practically a franchise, with two successful sequels. George Clooney (center) took the Sinatra role of master thief Danny Ocean, with Andy Garcia (left) as Terry Benedict, the casino owner Ocean plans to rob. Julia Roberts (right) supplies romantic tension as Ocean’s ex-wife and Benedict’s current girlfriend.

classic “Goodfellas” doesn’t follow the caper film structure but includes the Lufthansa heist as one episode in a much longer story. Robert De Niro played Jimmy Conway, a character closely modeled after Burke.

“Jimmy the Gent” Burke came to a bad end but probably better than he deserved, dying of lung cancer at age 64 in 1996, while under a life sentence for the Eaton killing.

A 2001 made-for-television movie “The Big Heist” dealt exclusively with the Lufthansa conspiracy. Donald Sutherland played Burke.

At least Burke lived long enough to know that he had been immortalized in the movies. Director Martin Scorsese’s 1990

For all his cunning, James Burke was ultimately a common thug. To find a true-life criminal mastermind, one has to go back

The Real Moriarty

about a hundred years before the Lufthansa job. Adam Worth ultimately wound up in the movies too. A fictionalized Worth appeared under his real name in the 1976 period comedy “Harry and Walter Go to New York.” As portrayed by Michael Caine, Worth is the prototype of the criminal mastermind – cultured, charming, and intelligent. He meets the inept small-time crooks played by James Caan and Elliott Gould in prison and enlists them as accomplices in his plan to rob the Lowell Bank

and Trust, reputed to have the tightest security in New York. All plans go awry and the movie ends with two opposing teams of crooks racing each other to see who can get into the bank first. “Harry and Walter Go to New York” has a small but treasured place in the annals of The National Police Gazette, as it includes a shot of Caan reading the old scandal sheet in a barber shop. Journalist and mystery writer Vincent Starrett was the first to speculate that Worth was Conan (Continued on next page)


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Gilded Age America Spawned Real-Life Professors of Crime (Continued from preceding page)

Doyle’s model for Professor Moriarty. Starrett first offered this theory in a 1943 newspaper story, which he based on conversations with a friend, a St. Louis physician who had known Conan Doyle and who claimed the great writer told him that Moriarty was based on Worth. Worth was born in Germany in 1844 but immigrated to Massachusetts with his parents as a small boy. He sought his fortune in New York as a young man. During the Civil War, Worth served in the Union army, honorably at first. But Worth eventually became one of the notorious “bounty jumpers” who collected enlistment bonuses, then promptly deserted. Following the war, Worth returned to New York and began a criminal career that escalated from pickpocketing to elaborate bank burglaries. His greatest exploit was probably the Nov. 20, 1869 burglary of the Boylston National Bank in Boston, which was accomplished by tunneling in from an adjacent building. Policing at the time was short on professionalism. But efficient and incorruptible law enforcement was available for businesses willing to pay for it from the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Pinkerton detectives were able to track cases that Worth was using to ship loot from Boylston National back to New York.

“Harry and Walter Go to New York” (1976) played the cinematic heist for laughs and period charm. Michael Caine (seated) portrayed a criminal mastermind named after the real-life Adam Worth. His professionalism was matched against three bumbling foils, played by (standing, left to right) Elliot Gould, Diane Keaton, and James Caan.

Plundering Europe

Feeling the heat, Worth decided to make a virtue of necessity and sail to Europe. Initially, he had to support himself with such downmarket crimes as robbing pawnshops. But Worth’s goal was to plunder the Old World’s aristocracy of its cash, jewels, and art objects. By the mid1870s, he had established himself in the swanky Mayfair district of London. There, in true criminal mastermind fashion, he ran a network of thieves, most of whom never knew his name. His greatest exploit may have been the theft of “The Duchess of Devonshire,” a painting by 18th century British master Thomas Gainsborough. Worth was so taken with the portrait that he never tried to sell it, instead taking it with him as he pursued criminal enterprises in various countries. His biggest score was probably $500,000 in uncut diamonds stolen in South Africa. Worth finally was caught in 1892 while attempting to hijack a money shipment in Liège,

In a typical heist movie, the intrusion of violence usually means the conspiracy has gone sour. Here, Sterling Hayden (right) gets out of a tough spot in “The Killing” (1956), director Stanley Kubrick’s first significant film. Hayden was a reluctant actor who said he only worked to support his hobby of sailing. But he had lead roles in both “The Asphalt Jungle” and “The Killing,” probably the two greatest American heist movies.

Belgium, thanks largely to the ineptitude of his two untried accomplices. Worth did his time like a man and was released for good behavior in 1897. In semiretirement, he discussed his exploits at length with operatives of the Pinkerton agency. He also ransomed “The Duchess of Devonshire” for $25,000, the exchange being completed in Chicago in March 1901. W o r t h

Worth returned to London but had only a few months to enjoy what little remained of his stolen fortune. He died in January, 1902 and was buried in a pauper’s grave.

Master of Masters

Still, by dying in bed a free man, Adam Worth met a better end than most of his contemporaries. Accomplished rogue though he was, Worth has no bragging

rights to the biggest theft in American history, the Manhattan Savings Institution. That distinction belongs to a figure even more shadowy than Worth. Born about 1838, George Leonidas Leslie grew up in a wealthy Cincinnati family and qualified as an architect. Handsome, charming, and wellmannered, Leslie could easily have made his fortune in the (Continued on next page)

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The heist movie crosses the Atlantic. Director Jules Dassin was blacklisted in Hollywood for left-wing political activity and wound up in France desperate for work. Out of Dassin’s troubles came “Rififi” (1955), one of the great classics of French cinema, starring Jean Servais (center, with cigarette). The film’s highlight is its 28-minute jewel robbery sequence, presented entirely without dialogue or music.

The Gentle Art of Safecracking (Continued from preceding page)

have made his fortune in the legitimate world. Author J. North Conway in his 2009 book King of Heists: The Sensational Bank Robbery of 1878 That Shocked America, suggests that Leslie may have fled Cincinnati because he avoided military service in the Civil War by buying his way out of the draft. This was legal at the time and it’s debatable how much social stigma attached to the practice. No less respected a figure than Grover Cleveland hired a substitute to serve in his place. For whatever reason, Leslie moved to New York in 1869 with the idea of getting a foot on the social ladder and climbing it as far as he could. But he had no intention of financing his ascent through an architectural practice. Still, Leslie’s architectural training proved invaluable in his new career of casing banks for eventual burglary. Leslie had an almost photographic memory for building details. And in any case, he gave himself ample time to memorize every angle of his targets. He also gave himself a legitimate reason to enter a bank during business hours by simply opening a savings account. Then, relying on his considerable social graces, Leslie would try to ingratiate himself with the bank’s officers. What he was really looking for was a confederate inside the bank. One option would be to corrupt a lower-level employee. But in some instances, Leslie had

Dassin scored again in 1964 with the lighthearted caper comedy “Topkapi.” Portly Peter Ustinov (left) prepares to confront his fear of heights, as part of a conspiracy to steal an emerald-encrusted dagger from Istanbul’s Topkapi Museum. The plot hinges on replacing the priceless artifact with an identical fake, held by Maximilian Schell (right). Ustinov took a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role.

so cultivated his relationship with management that he was able to get one of his accomplices hired in some humble capacity like messenger, janitor, or watchman. Another key to Leslie’s method was his almost inexhaustible patience. He would often take up to three years to thoroughly case a target.

The Safecracker’s Friend

Leslie also brought a secret weapon from Cincinnati — the “little joker,” a small contraption of wires fitted to a metal disc

that could be surreptitiously concealed behind the dial of a safe. When the safe was next opened, the dial would leave marks on the disk at whatever numbers were in the combination. Safecracking at the time was a haphazard process frequently involving the use of explosives, which if not calculated properly, could blow up much of the loot if not the safecrackers themselves. A really skilled cracksman could listen to a safe’s tumblers

through a stethoscope, and align them correctly with a great deal of manipulation and a little luck. This usually took a long time, so whenever possible, thieves tried to carry off the entire safe to some hideout where it could be opened at leisure. But as banks got larger and vaults more elaborate, safes became too big to carry away. The “little joker” was a technological breakthrough in theft. The only drawback was that it required at least two (Continued on next page)


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JUNE 2010

Master Bank Burglar Mixed Among New York Socialites

Adam Worth lived a strangerthan-fiction life as an international jewel and art thief. He was the likely model for Professor Moriarty, the criminal mastermind of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. (Continued from preceding page)

entries — one to slip it behind the dial of the safe, the second to recover it, interpret the notches on the disk, and carry off the loot. A minor problem was that the marks showed only what numbers were in the combination but not their order. Still, a competent safecracker could quickly work through the possible permutations.

Top of His Game

From 1869 through the Manhattan Savings job in 1878, Leslie was involved in nearly every major bank burglary in the United States. As he grew more accomplished, Leslie gradually changed his business practices. Initially, he participated directly in many bank burglaries as ringleader. But once the underworld acknowledged him as master of his craft, Leslie found it more profitable to act as technical advisor to other gangs, working for a flat fee. But just like Burke and Worth, Leslie was brought down through a combination of his own greed and the ineptitude of his criminal associates. Soon after moving to New York, Leslie became affiliated with Fredericka “Marm”Mandelbaum, one of the most remarkable female criminals in American history. Of GermanJewish extraction, “Marm” was New York’s preeminent receiver of stolen property, operating an innocent dry goods store as a front. Mandelbaum, short and stout, was also one of New York’s leading hostesses. Her dinner parties mixed “respectable” businessmen and politicians with such underworld figures as could be trusted to obey

New York’s Female Fagin Fredericka “Marm” Mandelbaum turned fencing stolen goods into big business. Typically, she charged her criminal clients 90 percent of an article’s value. “Marm” finally met her downfall in 1884 after buying bolts of cloth that had been secretly marked by Pinkerton detectives, as shown in this Police Gazette woodcut. She fled to Canada, evading extradition until her death in 1894. According to newspaper accounts of the time, “Marm” found Toronto to be a bore after so many years in Gotham.

“Marm”’s one rule for these events — don’t use the occasion as an opportunity to rob the other guests. “Marm” Mandelbaum had so many arrangements with politicians and police that she was able to operate with nearimpunity. By the time Leslie partnered with Mandelbaum, she had

moved up to acting as the banker of the New York underworld, financing a wide variety of criminal enterprises. Effective as Leslie’s methods were, he found himself turning to Mandelbaum from time to time for working capital. The problem was that part of the deal involved Leslie employing other Mandelbaum

associates, few of whom came up to his high standards.

The Inevitable Downfall

By the mid-1870s, Leslie had married and was effectively living a triple life. To his muchyounger wife, he was a civil servant employed by the tax authorities, although Conway suggests she may have had (Continued on next page)

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They Pulled Off 19th Century’s Biggest Heist

If a portrait of master bank burglar George Leonidas Leslie exists, it has eluded even his recent biographer, J. North Conway. But New York Police Department “Rogue’s Gallery” photos of several of Leslie’s criminal associates were turned into woodcuts for publication. From left to right: Johnny Hope, Billy Porter, Johnny Irving, “Banjo” Pete Emerson, and John “Red” Leary. All participated in the Oct. 27, 1878 burglary of the Manhattan Savings Institution, which at the time rated as the biggest theft in American history. But most of the nearly $3 million stolen was in non-negotiable securities.

Thieves Overlooked Bags of Cash, Stole Bonds They Couldn’t Fence (Continued from preceding page)

some idea her husband had illegal sources of income. Leslie also kept up his life as a New York socialite. The most disciplined of thieves, Leslie had no defense whatsoever against beautiful women, a trait his marriage did nothing to dampen. Even this might not have proven fatal, had Leslie observed the very sensible precaution of not pursuing the wives and girlfriends of his gang associates. His particular problem was Tom “Shang” Draper, one of the accomplices foisted on him by Mandelbaum. Draper had a surly disposition, but was blessed with an attractive wife whom Leslie evidently viewed as a challenge. While Leslie was indulging himself, signs emerged that his supposedly foolproof burglary methods didn’t work so well when he wasn’t around to supervise. Leslie acted as a well-paid consultant in planning the burglary of the Northampton Bank, of Northampton, Mass. But the actual heist on Jan. 26, 1876 was a complete failure. Although Leslie’s associates got away with $1.6 million in cash and bonds, most of the securities were nonnegotiable — basically so much wallpaper. Worse, for the first time, a Leslie-planned caper turned violent. Unable to corrupt the bank’s cashier, gang members invaded his house in the small hours of the morning, then beat him and terrorized his family until he gave up the combination of the safe. The police pressure that followed was driven more by public sympathy for the honest cashier than with the fact that the $1.6 million in cash and bonds was the largest theft in American history up to that time. Gang members had even taken the cashier’s gold watch,

Operating behind the front of a legitimate dry goods store, “Marm” Mandelbaum maintained a remarkable network of business associates, straight and crooked. Her frequent dinner parties mixed guests from both the upper crust and the underworld. One of her frequent guests was architect turned bank burglar George Leonidas Leslie, whose schemes she often bankrolled.

probably his most valuable possession. Leslie demanded his associates return the watch, which they did reluctantly. At this point, Leslie resolved never to perpetrate another heist without his personal supervision. He redoubled his efforts on what he expected would be his masterpiece — the Manhattan Savings Institution. Located at the corner of Broadway and Bleecker Street, Manhattan Savings had what was considered the tightest security of any American bank of the era. But that didn’t prove any obstacle to the gang that broke in on Oct. 27, 1878 and committed a burglary that, in constant dollars, still hasn’t been surpassed. For all of George Leslie’s meticulous planning, the burglary was botched. Much like the Northampton job, nearly all

the loot was in non-negotiable securities. Meanwhile, the thieves somehow managed to overlook bags of cash sitting on the floor of the vault. But by this time, Leslie wasn’t around to reprimand his associates. Around the end of May, 1878, “Shang” Draper got wind that Leslie was having an affair with his wife. Draper lured Leslie into an ambush by the simple device of having his wife send Leslie a note stating that Draper had found out about them and that they needed to get out of New York at once.

Assorted Endings

It’s not certain whether Draper carried out the hit on Leslie or had associates do it. Either way, Leslie’s body was discovered shot to death on June 4, 1878, about three miles outside Yonkers. “Shang” Draper was never charged with Leslie’s killing or

his role in the Manhattan Savings burglary. He did some jail time in Massachusetts while awaiting trial for the Northampton Bank job but ultimately was acquitted there too. Returning to New York, he ran a saloon for a time, then made a grab for respectability by opening a sporting goods store. But he fell into compulsive gambling, dying destitute in 1907. “Marm” Mandelbaum’s downfall came suddenly in 1884, after she bought bolts of stolen cloth that had been secretly marked by Pinkerton detectives. She escaped to Canada, living in comfort until her death in 1894, and never facing a serious threat of extradition. According to press accounts of the time, “Marm” never got over her exile from New York. George Leslie was never charged with a crime and never spent a day in jail. H


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Living Link to Vaudeville Lost Actress, Dancer June Havoc Had Remarkable Run By BOB FLISS Managing Editor It seems that every published obituary of June Havoc has mentioned, right at the beginning, the conventional wisdom that her show business career was overshadowed by that of her sister, burlesque queen Gypsy Rose Lee. Oops ... A better argument could be made that both sisters were overshadowed by their fictional counterparts in “Gypsy: A Musical Fable,” the 1959 stage hit that has, if anything, grown even more popular after many revivals. “Overshadowed” is ultimately a judgement call. Gypsy Rose Lee became burlesque’s biggest star with an act that would be considered mild by today’s standards. Still, she was a striptease artist and younger sister June Havoc never really approved. Havoc pursued a more conventional show business career in live theater, film, and television. Although she was rarely a top-of-the-marquee star, she had versatility and staying power. Her transition from vaudeville child star to her breakthrough role in the 1940 Broadway hit “Pal Joey” came after years of impoverished dues paying. For the next 50 years, Havoc rarely slowed down, making her final television performance in 1990 on the soap opera “General Hospital.” She died March 28 at her home in Stamford, Conn., at the age of 97. Before discussing some of Havoc’s accomplishments, it’s probably best to dispose of “Gypsy,” certainly one of Broadway’s greatest musicals, and just as certainly not a documentary about the lives of the Hovick vaudeville family. Writer Arthur Laurents adapted Gypsy Rose Lee’s 1957 memoirs into a script that basically defines what Broadway buffs call a “book musical” — a production where music, dance, and dialogue are integrated seamlessly into a story that has some depth. Composer Jule Styne crafted one of the greatest of all Broadway scores to lyrics by the young Stephen Sondheim, with “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” probably the most familiar tune. Jerome Robbins handled both direction and choreography.

A versatile performer of stage, screen, and television, June Havoc was less scandalous than her burlesque queen sister, Gypsy Rose Lee, but hardly less glamorous, as in this publicity shot from the 1943 movie “Hi Diddle Diddle.”

The depth came from the way Laurents handled the performing sisters’ relationship with their domineering mother. The real Rose Thompson Hovick died of cancer in 1954, so both sisters had only each other to second-guess their respective memoirs. Gypsy Rose Lee fired first, Broadway director David Merrick optioned the stage rights, and the rest is theatrical history. Laurents’ script depicts Rose as a driven, unscrupulous stage mother determined to make her daughters into stars even if she destroys their lives in the process. It’s a testament to Laurents’ skill that he makes Rose into one of the most fully rounded characters in American musical theater. The monstrously comical Rose is considered one of the great roles for a singing actress, with Ethel Merman creating the part in 1959, followed closely

by Rosalind Russell in the 1962 movie. More recently, such major talents as Bernadette Peters and Patti LuPone have played the part. June Havoc ultimately had her say, publishing two books of show business reminiscences in 1960 and 1980. Havoc tended to be more protective of family secrets than her sister, although in a 2003 New York Times interview she noted that both her mother and sister shared a streak of ruthlessness. Considering that her character in “Gypsy” is portrayed as a bit spoiled and whiny, Havoc had reason to complain about the script. It’s known that she ultimately withdrew her objections, possibly with some financial persuasion. But the incident drove a wedge between the sisters that lasted until they reconciled shortly before Gypsy Rose Lee’s death in 1970.

Havoc’s stage, screen, and television credits were so extensive that a few highlights may be more revealing than a complete catalogue. June Havoc was born Ellen Evangeline Hovick on Nov. 8, 1912, in Vancouver, British Columbia. The future Gypsy Rose Lee was not quite two years older, being born on Jan. 8, 1911 as Rose Louise Hovick. There has been some confusion about the ages of both sisters. Havoc later recounted that her mother kept five birth certificates in her name, in order to stay one step ahead of the child labor laws wherever they happened to be playing. As “Baby June” she was on stage at age two, and even making brief appearances in silent comedies. Although vaudeville was already under intense pres(Continued on next page)

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Havoc Shone in 1947 Drama ‘Gentleman’s Agreement’ (Continued from preceding page)

sure from motion pictures, the Hovick family made a good living for a few years, earning as much as $1,500 a week on the Pantages and Orpheum theater circuits. Of course, the good times didn’t last. Much as her character did in “Gypsy,” June eloped with another member of the troupe, Bobby Reed, in 1928. For a time, they eked out a precarious living as partners in marathon dances where they were required to be on their feet for 24 hours or longer. Havoc later recounted they were so poor that they entered the grueling contests just for the free meals provided. Havoc’s marriage to Reed didn’t last either. A second match to one Donald S. Gibbs in 1935 also ended in divorce. Finally, in 1947, she married William Spier, a successful radio and television producer, director, and writer, staying together until Spier’s death in 1973. Havoc’s experience in the strange world of marathon dancing produced other consequences. She had a brief affair with an older married man, believed to be a marathon dance promoter. This led to the birth of Havoc’s only child, who later pursued a brief movie career of her own under the name April Kent. She died of a heart ailment in 1998. After years as an established performer, Havoc used her marathon dancing experiences as a vehicle to show off her talents as writer and director. Her play “Marathon ’33” earned her a best director Tony nomination in 1964. Although Havoc was able to escape the poverty of her marathon dancing days by the mid1930s, her career breakthrough didn’t come until 1940 when she landed a major part in another show that was, in its way, as much a Broadway milestone as “Gypsy.” She played Gladys Bumps, a blackmailing showgirl who takes a dislike to the title character in “Pal Joey.” There are several parallels between “Gypsy” and “Pal Joey.” The original productions of both shows involved the top talent of their day — “Pal Joey” featured Gene Kelly in the title role, with direction by George Abbott, music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Lorenz Hart, and book by John O’Hara after his novel of the same title. Both musicals have been revived frequently. But “Pal Joey” was ahead of its time with its amoral characters and cynical storyline. Title character Joey Evans is a mediocre dancer and emcee who dreams of owning his own nightclub and will use anyone to get ahead. In

Gypsy Rose Lee’s act was always more tease than strip and typically featured extravagant costumes and sets. Here she is singing “The Girl on the Police Gazette,” an Irving Berlin song featured in the 1942 Broadway musical “Star and Garter.” This show was one of several collaborations between Lee and producer Mike Todd, with whom she was also romantically involved. “Star and Garter” was a typical effort for the prolific Todd, who declared that “I believe in giving the customers a meat-and-potatoes show. Dames and comedy.” short, not much like the upbeat characters that made Gene Kelly one of America’s most beloved stars. Joey’s confrontation with Gladys Bumps is basically one of bad boy meets bad girl, with the bad girl winding up in police custody. By the time “Gypsy” premiered in 1959, Broadway musicals had advanced to the point where audiences expected more than colorful production numbers mixed with a few solos and comedy bits. But “Pal Joey” was rough stuff by 1940 standards, prompting critic Brooks Atkinson to ask “can you draw sweet water from a foul well?” After “Pal Joey,” the careers of both sisters each blossomed in their own way. By 1942, Havoc was starting to get good

film roles, including supporting Rosalind Russell in that year’s hit comedy “My Sister Eileen.” Meanwhile, Gypsy Rose Lee was breaking into publishing with a mystery novel, The G-String Murders, and an unsuccessful attempt to buy The National Police Gazette, which could have been an interesting match in light of the fact that the newspaper often featured tastefully draped pinups of burlesque dancers. June Havoc’s finest moment in the movies may have been in the 1947 Elia Kazan drama “Gentleman’s Agreement,” a thoughtful exploration of anti-Semitism in post-World War II America. Havoc played opposite Gregory Peck, who starred as a magazine journalist who assumes a Jewish persona to investigate the then-common practice of us-

ing deed restrictions to exclude ethnic minorities from affluent suburbs. Havoc played Peck’s secretary at the magazine, Elaine Wales, real name Estelle Wilovsky. We learn that Elaine’s original application, under her real name, was rejected by the magazine. When she resubmitted under a non-ethnic name, management obviously thought better of her qualifications. But the damage has been done. Elaine has become so defensive about her heritage that she actually objects when Peck’s character persuades management to be more open to recruiting Jewish employees. Her concern is that the “wrong” type of Jews will be hired, making life harder for the relative few already on staff. H


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JUNE 2010

Although the Great Eastern has been derided as a seagoing white elephant, it would be more accurate to say she was just ahead of her time. After failing as a luxury liner, she finally got some respect as a converted cable layer, completing the first transatlantic telegraph cable in 1865. She ended her life in the 1880s as a sort of floating billboard for a Liverpool department store.


High-Living Publisher Brought Mighty Steamship to New York By BOB FLISS Managing Editor George Wilkes was above all a promoter, a quality he shared with his illustrious successor as publisher of The National Police Gazette, Richard K. Fox. The main difference was that Fox steered the Police Gazette for nearly a half-century, ending only with his death in 1922. For Wilkes, co-founding the weekly Police Gazette in 1845 was only one stop on a remarkable career that included field reporting during the Civil War and lobbying for the first transcontinental railroad. Wilkes was the confidante of most of the leading Republican politicians of his day, including Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. Being known as an adept dealmaker, Wilkes in 1857 was paid $5,000 by New York City Board of Aldermen to negotiate with the builders of the mammoth passenger ship Great Eastern. The British-built liner was going to be the largest ship ever to sail the ocean, and New York — already on its way to being the commercial hub of the world — wanted to be her home port in the United States. It wasn’t until 1860 that Wilkes finally got to cross the Atlantic in the Great Eastern. Contemporary accounts of the voyage suggest it may not have

been entirely a pleasure. The Great Eastern was technologically ahead of her time, and her operations were also plagued by large measures of incompetence and bad luck. Still, Wilkes never lost faith in the Great Eastern. In 1867, he wrote: “She is the finest passenger ship ever built, and there never will be such another.” But by this time, the Great Eastern’s career as a luxury liner was effectively over, and she had (Continued on next page)

The Great Eastern was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel (left), a brilliant British civil engineer turned naval architect. George Wilkes (right) was paid $5,000 to persuade the Great Eastern’s owners to send the huge liner to the Manhattan docks.

The world’s first great international sporting event was largely a George Wilkes production. America’s John C. Heenan (left) and Britain’s Tom Sayers (right) squared off in a field outside Farnborough, Hampshire on April 17, 1860, one step ahead of the authorities.

JUNE 2010

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Liner Furnished with Every Luxury Except Enough Paying Passengers (Continued from preceding page)

been refitted as an underwater cable layer. The Great Eastern did well in a role she had never been designed for, with the highlight of her new career being the 1866 completion of the first 2,600-mile trans-Atlantic telegraph cable.

Sporting Journalist

For all his political connections, Wilkes’ strongest influence may have been as a pioneering sports editor. He sold out his interest in the Police Gazette as early as 1851, for the simple reason that he needed to get out of New York to escape a libel judgement. Never one to pass up a good time, Wilkes toured Europe for many months, then spent time in California. In 1856, Wilkes bought The Spirit of the Times, a sports weekly, from publisher William T. Porter. After a few years of legal squabbling with a rival who also published a sporting paper under the same name, Wilkes emerged victorious in 1861. He continued to publish The Spirit of the Times with considerable success until his death in 1885. During the 1850s, sports meant basically hunting, fishing, baseball, and, above all, horse racing. Wilkes added boxing to the mix, a daring move since the brutal bare-knuckle contests of the era were widely popular but also widely illegal. Still, promoters were usually able to stay one step ahead of the police, setting up matches in remote rural spots that the fight fans had little trouble locating.

Fight for the Ages

In 1860, Wilkes was among the promoters of one of the last great bare-knuckle prizefights — and first great international sporting events. Wilkes sponsored John C. Heenan, a native of Troy, N.Y., nicknamed “The Benicia Boy” after a town in California where he lived for a time. Heenan was matched against English champion Tom Sayers, in front of a typically raucous crowd of fight fans at Farnborough, Hampshire, on April 16, 1860. Just as in the United States, prize fighting was illegal in England, but drew a devoted following from all social classes. After 37 rounds — two hours and 20 minutes of grueling action — both fighters were exhausted and Sayers had broken his right arm. But Sayers mustered his last reserves of strength and landed several heavy blows on Heenan. Accounts of what happened next vary. Some British observ-

Considering the Great Eastern’s lack of success as an ocean liner, relatively few passengers got to enjoy the fresh sea air from her deck. Marine artist Robert Dudley captured one such scene on the Great Eastern’s first, failed attempt to lay an Atlantic telegraph cable in 1865. Success the following year made instantaneous communication between North America and Europe possible for the first time. Dudley’s painting is in Britain’s National Maritime Museum.

ers maintained that the fight was then concluded when American supporters of Heenan stormed the ring, causing the referee to declare a draw. The police then intervened to break up a nearriot. Other accounts assign more of the initiative to the police, stating that constables had been trying to push through the crowd for some time. In any case, the fight was ruled a draw, with both Heenan and Sayers getting championship belts. Heenan claimed the title of “World Boxing Champion” in spite of the draw, and fought for several more years. Sayers retired from the ring thanks to financial help from rich patrons.

Ocean Leviathan

Wilkes returned to the U.S. in style that June, as one of only 35 paying passengers on the first New York voyage of the innovative Great Eastern. At nearly 700 feet long and 19,000 gross registered tons, Great Eastern was at the time by far the largest ship ever built, not to be surpassed until 1899. Although Great Eastern was designed with modern safety features like a double hull, she was so far ahead of her time that mariners really didn’t know how to cope with her sheer bulk. On her maiden voyage in the English Channel on September, 1859, a steam explosion blew off the first of Great Eastern’s

One of the most influential journalists of his day, George Wilkes added to his renown as one of the Civil War’s first field correspondents. This won him the ear of both Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant, whom he served as an informal advisor and confidante. five funnels, killing six crew members and injuring several others. The ship’s strong construction contained the explosion and kept it from causing even greater damage. Soon after this debacle, the Great Eastern’s visionary designer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, died of a stroke probably caused by overwork. Whatever jinx followed the Great Eastern went dormant long enough for Wilkes and the other paying passengers to enjoy a relatively untroubled voyage. However things got off to a bad start when Captain John Vine Hall had to delay depar-

ture from Southampton a day to give unruly crew members time to sober up from a pre-sailing bender. The passengers were far outnumbered by 418 crew, along with eight members of Great Eastern’s management team who were sailing for free. The ship was built to carry as many as 4,000 passengers, so Wilkes and the rest had plenty of personal space amid Great Eastern’s elegantly furnished public rooms.

No Press Passes

The voyage was a significant media event by the standards (Continued on next page)


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JUNE 2010

Manhattan Hailed Floating Marvel

Years before drawing the famed political cartoons that helped bring down New York’s corrupt “Tweed Ring,” Thomas Nast was among the press pack that covered the Heenan-Sayers championship. (Continued from preceding page)

of the time. Wilkes made the trip as correspondent for Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune, along with Alexander L. Holley of the New York Times and three other journalists. Management didn’t make any concessions for the New York press, so all the correspondents paid first-class fare of $125. Despite the delayed sailing, the actual voyage went well, with plenty of food, wine, music, and spectacular ocean sunsets. But Wilkes, ever alert for scandal from his days on The National Police Gazette, tartly noted that the crew didn’t appear to be properly trained. The feisty Wilkes had acquired the handle “the gamecock of the press” from his reporting of crime and scandal on the streets of New York. Oddly, his cabin mate for the Great Eastern voyage was a cockfight promoter, who was carrying a prize rooster and three hens on the first leg of a journey to California. Great Eastern’s management optimistically forecast a nineday crossing, but the actual voyage took 10 days, 19 hours. New York anxiously awaited the arrival of the ocean behemoth, with the almost inevitable result that the telegraph station at Sandy Hook sent a false alarm on June 27. “The city leaped up from breakfast and made for the Battery. The telegrapher had the wrong ship. The populace swore a bit and went back to work,” recounted James Dugan in his 1953 maritime classic The Great Iron Ship. “On the hot following morning, the Sandy Hook telegrapher saw six high masts rising from the sea and, lazily, a mastodonic black hull climbed

In 1860, newspapers were still nearly 40 years away from printing photographs. Woodcuts added the visual dimension so demanded by readers, and publishers took them seriously. Thomas Nast, sketched the bruising action until the fight ended in a draw after 42 rounds. In just seven hours Nast completed two doublepage illustrations and a cover drawing for the New-York Illustrated News. The artwork was then put on the first steamer for New York. Interest in the fight was so high that the plates had to be finished at sea, so that they would be ready for the press as soon as the ship docked. Fight promoter and sporting journalist George Wilkes attested to the authenticity of the drawings in a statement just below the newspaper’s nameplate.

into the broad sunlight. His signal was too late for the morning papers but the word flew from block to block. The city again rushed to the Battery.” Great Eastern carried a New York pilot, Michael Murphy, who had the challenging job of navigating her across the bar at Sandy Hook. Drawing 26 feet

of water in a 28-foot channel, Great Eastern was observed to kick up a good deal of mud as she cleared Sandy Hook. But she avoided grounding and — followed by a flotilla of boats carrying local dignitaries, press, and sightseers — sailed majestically to the Manhattan waterfront.

Dugan quoted Wilkes’ reaction to the Great Eastern’s arrival: “The boy who saw the Bay of New York yesterday, witnessed a spectacle that he would not be likely to forget, if he should outlive Methuselah.” One of Great Eastern’s problems was that she was too large (Continued on next page)

JUNE 2010

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Hungry Passengers Nearly Rioted on ‘Pleasure’ Cruise to Hampton Roads (Continued from preceding page)

for the docking facilities of the time. New York authorities converted a lumber pier between West 11th and 12th streets as a makeshift berth. This was somewhat less than successful because the Great Eastern reportedly trimmed about five feet off the edge of the wharf while coming alongside, suffering no damage to herself. New York didn’t forget Wilkes’ role in bringing the Great Eastern to the city. On July 3, local political and business leaders honored Wilkes with a raucous testimonial dinner at the Astor House hotel.

Floating Chaos

Over the following days, Great Eastern became a sensation in New York, with thousands coming to view her from dockside, creating an instant bonanza for street vendors of everything from lemonade to stronger refreshments. But relatively few were willing to pay a dollar to tour the ship — after all, New York’s other great tourist attraction, P.T. Barnum’s museum, charged only a quarter. Those who did come aboard were often drunk enough to think that the stiff admission price gave then license to help themselves to whatever souvenirs they wanted. A ship’s of-

Tom Sayers (center, wearing hat) was one of Britain’s most popular champions, as much from his genial disposition as his exploits in the ring. Thomas Nast (second from left) drew this picture of his introduction to Sayers, as publisher George Wilkes (seated right) looks on. Sayers also became fast friends with John C. Heenan, his American opponent in the grueling but indecisive championship of April 17, 1860. For a time, they toured together giving exhibition matches.

mighty liner didn’t quite make it more sedate element just tried as a tourist attraction. to keep out of the way. But things really got out of About 2,000 tickets for the hand when a water pipe broke two-night cruise were sold in adin the food storeroom. A stock vance. Some of the passengers were drunk and disorderly soon of reserve provisions — bareWilkes and his friend Hol- after they boarded the ship. ly fit for human consumption ley were back on board Great There was drinking and gam- — was all that was available to Eastern for a late July cruise bling on deck, along with im- feed what had become an unto Hampton Roads. Again, the promptu boxing matches. The ruly mob. To make matters worse, sleeping arrangements were completely fouled up, with only 300 berths available for 2,000 passengers. Most wound up sleeping on deck. Many of the crew tried to use these shortages as an opportunity to shake down the passengers for use of what few comforts were available, like thin mattresses at a nightly rental of 50 cents. Holley commented: “I cannot now bethink me of a single means for annoying man, woman, or child on a voyage of pleasure that these imperious gentlemen left untried.” Dugan noted that the newspapermen organized an “indignation meeting of passengers,” which didn’t seem to produce much immediate relief. Although the ship was restocked at Hampton Roads, many passengers simply decided they had had enough and caught trains back to New York. This episode was all too typical of the life of the Great EastThe Great Eastern was built at the dockyard of J. Scott Russell & Co. in Millwall, a gritty London neighbor- ern, which aside from that cable hood along the Thames River. The largest ship ever built at the time of her launch on Jan. 31, 1858, the laying gig, could never catch a Great Eastern was 692 feet long with a beam of 82 feet. She was propelled by four steam engines driving break. The ship Jules Verne depaddle wheels, with a fifth running a propeller. She also carried auxiliary sails. At nearly 19,000 gross reg- scribed as “a floating city” was istered tons, the Great Eastern was so big that she had to be launched into the Thames sideways. finally scrapped in 1889-90. H ficer attempted to arrest two looters trying to carry off an oil painting from one of the passenger lounges. They knocked him senseless with the painting and made good their escape.


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JUNE 2010


Photography was still primitive enough in 1889 that it was hard to show action in a picture. Still, this shot from the epic bare-knuckle championship fight between John L. Sullivan (left) and Jake Kilrain (right) captures the intensity of the battle, which lasted 75 rounds.

To Stand with the Champions of Old Bare-Knuckle Era Boxers Finally Get Their Hall of Fame By BOB FLISS Managing Editor Boxing gyms are supposed to look, sound, and smell alike. Scuffed wood floors. The rhythmic beat of fists on a speed bag. The odors of sweat and smoke, leather and liniment. Well, that’s certainly the Hollywood version, which in turn was modeled after real workout spotslike New York’s Stillman’s Gym, dubbed “The University of Eighth Avenue,” by journalist A.J. Liebling. Stillman’s Gym is no more. But the place where America’s first superstar athlete trained for the biggest fight of his career is being lovingly restored for a new life as the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame. (Continued on next page)

It’s nothing like the gritty urban image you would expect

Early sports photography was largely research material for woodcut artists, since newspapers didn’t start printing photographs until 1896. Here’s one of the more dramatic images from the Police Gazette’s coverage of the Sullivan-Kilrain heavyweight championship.

JUNE 2010

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Western New York Village Holds Lode of Boxing Lore (Continued from preceding page)

....It’s nothing like the gritty urban image you would expect from an old John Garfield movie. Rather, John L. Sullivan was virtually dragged to the little town of Belfast in Allegany County, N.Y. by athletic trainer William Muldoon. Out of shape, 50 pounds overweight, and a borderline alcoholic, Sullivan was kept in virtual seclusion on Muldoon’s farm through the first months of 1889. Muldoon, also a noted wrestler of the day, knew what he was doing. Sullivan was in the best shape of his life when he fought history’s last bare-knuckle heavyweight championship on July 8, 1889 in Richburg, Miss., before a crowd of about 3,000. Tough opponent Jake Kilrain gave the “Boston Strong Boy” the fight of his life. After 75 brutal rounds, Kilrain wanted to go on, but handler Mike Donovan threw in the sponge, fearing Kilrain would endanger his life if he continued.

Sullivan’s Training Camp

Unbelievably, the two barns where Muldoon set up Sullivan’s training camp have survived all these years. Scott Burt, founder and coordinator of the new hall, is a lifelong Allegany County resident and public school teacher. He recounted that the barns were donated by Muldoon to a local church in the early 1900s. Belfast has a population of only about 1,800, with the Genesee River skirting the northeast corner of town. All of Allegany County has barely 50,000 residents. Burt recounted that he first got to tour the barns as a boy back in the 1960s. It has taken him four decades to drum up support for their preservation as a memorial to the mostly forgotten athletes of a long-lost sport — boxers without whom there would have been no Rocky Marciano, no Joe Louis, no Muhammad Ali. “The current church members had gotten too old to continue care of them and asked me to take over ownership, which is a great honor and responsibility,” Burt said. Thanks to a lot of volunteer work, the hall is functioning, has elected its first two classes of immortals, and hosted several events. So far, the project has cost about $100,000, and there’s still

Sullivan’s Training Barns Still Stand

The two barns where John L. Sullivan trained for his heavyweight championship match against Jake Kilrain in 1889 have endured all these years on farmland outside the village of Belfast, N.Y. They were moved to a new location on Main Street in Belfast just in time for the October, 2009 induction of the first class of immortals into the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame.

about $15,000 worth of work remaining, Burt said. The new site in Belfast needs signage, landscaping, a traditional picket fence, and a pedestal for a marble statue of Sullivan. The barns themselves still need a coat of paint, along with replacement

of some decayed timbers, and other restoration chores. The biggest chore involved bringing in heavy cranes to literally hoist the old training barns off their foundations and move them to a new site on Main Street in Belfast. Burt said this

was accomplished just two days before induction ceremonies for the first class of boxing immortals last October. The second class of nine boxers and two fight contributors will be honored Aug. 20-21. Supporters contributed (Continued have on next page)


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JUNE 2010

John L. Sullivan Trained Hard for Last Bare-Knuckle Championship (Continued from preceding page)

....Supporters have contributed furniture known to have been owned by the Muldoon family and almost certainly used during Sullivan’s stay. Pieces of athletic equipment have also turned up, for example an antique dumbbell that for some reason was stashed in a secret compartment in a bookcase. One of the more intriguing finds was a jug marked “Erie Distillery Co., Buffalo, N.Y.” A piece of newspaper wrapped around the cork dates the bottle right at the time of Sullivan’s sojourn. Perhaps the champ managed to break training at least once?

Champ on a Diet

It was a tough rehabilitation for Sullivan, who liked the high life. Muldoon was a demanding taskmaster. Sullivan complained to New York World reporter “Nellie Bly” — the pen name of pioneer female journalist Elizabeth Jane Cochran — that life in rural western New York wasn’t so bad during the daytime, but the quiet nights practically drove him crazy. Sullivan also described Muldoon’s training table for the young newswoman: Oatmeal for breakfast. Meat and bread for lunch. Cold meat and stale bread for dinner. No sweets, no potatoes. An occasional glass of ale to break the monotony but none of Sullivan’s beloved cigars. “It’s the worst thing going. A fellow would rather fight twelve dozen times than train once, but it’s got to be done,” Bly quoted Sullivan.

Leon Spinks shocked the boxing world on Feb. 15 1978 in Las Vegas when he won the heavyweight championship in a split decision against a listless Muhammad Ali. Although Ali took the title back in September, Spinks went on to compile a 26-17 professional record — plus a gold medal in the light heavyweight division in the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Spinks was presented with a championship belt by Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame organizer Scott Burt in October, 2009 to replace one stolen from him 10 years ago. Spinks was so delighted he wore his trophy for the Hall’s entire inaugural awards weekend.

The very concept of a world championship was kind of nebulous in 1889, as today’s sanctioning bodies didn’t exist. Sullivan was generally hailed as the American champion after an 1882 bare-knuckle bout with Paddy Ryan in Gulport, Miss.

John L. Sullivan and Police Gazette publisher Richard K. Fox were probably not the first to realize that a made-up feud can reap loads of publicity. They certainly weren’t the last. Here, legendary radio comedians Jack Benny (left) and Fred Allen prepare for fisticuffs. Great friends in real life, Benny and Allen even carried their “feud” onto the silver screen.

Ryan’s backer was Richard K. Fox, a top sports promoter and publisher of The National Police Gazette, the leading boxing journal of the day. By 1887, Fox had awarded a championship belt to Kilrain, with the evident intent of goading Sullivan into a bare-knuckle title defense. At least for public consumption, Fox also was nursing a grudge against Sullivan, supposedly because the champ snubbed him one day in a saloon. Considering that Fox had a genius for publicity stunts, this may have been as much a sham as the famed feud between radio comedians Jack Benny and Fred Allen. Sullivan and Fox were certainly on good terms in later years. In any event, the 19th century sporting world was a small place — Muldoon had staked Fox to $500 toward his purchase of the Police Gazette in 1877. Indeed, the sport of boxing was not only a small world, it was illegal in most states. Although boxing was widely popular, it was often hard to find fight locations away from the prying eyes of the police.

Fox and other promoters campaigned tirelessly to make the sport respectable. One result was that boxing’s natural headquarters, New York, had to be shifted to New Orleans for a time. Even here, the authorities weren’t cooperative, which is why Sullivan’s two greatest fights had to be staged in rural Mississippi.

Boxing in Transition

Although Sullivan is remembered today as the last bareknuckle champion, he fought only three of his sanctioned bouts under the bare-knuckle London Prize Ring Rules. Sullivan came on the scene as the sport was changing to the gloved Marquess of Queensberry Rules, which Sullivan actually preferred. But one also has to consider that nobody really knows how many fights Sullivan had, since boxing in that era included any number of impromptu matches staged mainly in saloons. Sullivan was famous for entering a bar proclaiming “I can lick any sonofabitch in this room.” (Continued on next page)

JUNE 2010

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Bouts Became Epics of Endurance Prior to the Kilrain match, Sullivan staged a national tour, offering all comers $1,000 if they could go four rounds with him. There’s no record that anyone ever collected.

knowing when to drop to one knee after an exchange of blows. Although quick knockouts sometimes happened, championship fights were usually epics of endurance and a boxer had to know how to pace himself.

The London Prize Ring Rules were in certain respects like today’s mixed martial arts. Some wrestling holds and throws were permitted. But the rules also banned biting, kicking, gouging, and established the “no hitting below the belt” standard that’s familiar even to people who’ve never seen a boxing match. Another big difference was the time-keeping system. Unlike the usual three-minute rounds of modern boxing, a round would continue until one boxer went down. After this, there would be a 30-second break. Then both boxers would have eight seconds to face off on opposite sides of a “scratch line” in the middle of the 24-foot ring. Fights under the London Prize Ring Rules often went on for many rounds, but the rounds themselves were usually shorter than three minutes. A boxer would be disqualified if he went down without being hit. But ring strategy included

Along with the immortals of the past, the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame has established a class of honorary inductees — boxers and fight contributors whose careers have embodied the grit of the bare-knuckle era. The first of these was “Baby” Joe Mesi, the Buffalo native who was the World Boxing Council’s top heavyweight contender before his career was interrupted by a head injury in 2004. He subsequently staged a comeback in 2006 and 2007. Burt noted that Mesi’s words on this occasion captured the spirit of what he and the other volunteers are trying to achieve in little Belfast: “I have stood where Ali stood. I have stood where Foreman has stood. I have fought in Madison Square Garden. The unique experience of standing where the great John L. Sullivan stood — the man who started it all — is in a class by itself.”

(Continued from previous page)

Bare-Knuckle Throwbacks

Hometown Hero

Top heavyweight contender “Baby” Joe Mesi became the first honorary member of the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame in a May 16, 2009 ceremony that was also the Hall’s first public event. Mesi, from Tonawanda, N.Y., near Buffalo, for a time rivaled the Bills and Sabres as a Western New York sports “franchise.” Although a 2004 head injury derailed his ascent to a championship bout, Mesi still compiled a sparkling 36-0 record, 29 by knockout.

Hall Gets Ready to Honor 2010 Class By BOB FLISS

Managing Editor The Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame will honor nine fighters and two contributors to the sport as its second group of inductees. Ceremonies are scheduled for Aug. 20-21 at the museum on Main Street in the little town of Belfast, in Allegany County, N.Y. Scheduled guests include two great fighters from the 1970s, welterweight champion Billy Backus, and heavyweight contender Gerry Cooney. Bare-knuckle boxing truly was a different world from boxing today, populated by a constellation of larger-than-life characters who sports history buffs should enjoy rediscovering. The 2010 inductees include fighters whose achievements easily could have placed them in the inaugural class of 2009 that was headed by America’s first athletic superstar, John L. Sullivan, along with his two most noteworthy opponents, Jake Kilrain and Paddy Ryan. = Jem Mace (1831-1910) although older than Sullivan, was in a some ways his counterpart as one of Great Britain’s last bare-knuckle champions and an early proponent of gloved

boxing under the Marquess of Queensberry Rules. = James Figg (1684-1734) was England’s first boxing champion, and also an accomplished fencer and pioneer athletic instructor. = Tom Sayers (1826-1865) and John C. Heenan (1833-1873) deserve to enter the hall together, as they are forever linked by a thunderous 1860 contest that was recognized as the first great transatlantic sporting event. After more than two hours of action, the fight broke up in a near-riot, with the result that both Briton Sayers and American Heenan were hailed as champions in their respective countries. = Tom Molineaux (1784-1818) was born a slave in Virginia. After winning his freedom, Molineaux sought his fortune in the British prize ring, proving a tough challenger for champion Tom Cribb in two matches. = Tom Spring (1795-1851) was heavyweight champion of England from 1821 until his retirement in 1824. He invested his prize ring winnings in a London pub, and became an influential fight promoter. = Jem Smith (1863-1931), a Briton, started boxing professionally only at the tail end of

the bare-knuckle era. An 1889 victory in Belgium was the last internationally recognized bareknuckle prizefight. = Jack McAuliffe (1866-1937) excelled as world’s lightweight champion from 1886 to 1896, retiring undefeated. Like Sullivan, McAuliffe — known to fans as “The Napoleon of the Ring” — was a transitional fighter whose career straddled the bare-knuckle and Marquess of Queensberry eras. = Jack “Nonpareil” Dempsey (1862-1895) reigned as world welterweight and middleweight champion before being felled by tuberculosis. Like his more famous namesake of the 1920s, Dempsey was an a great “poundfor-pound” battler who often took on larger opponents. = Billy Madden (1852-1918) was a scrappy welterweight who attained much greater success as manager to Sullivan, McAuliffe, “Nonpareil” Dempsey, and other greats. = Harry Hill (1827-1896) was a saloon owner and “sportsman” back in the day when the word was practically interchangeable with “gambler.” His barroom became headquarters for New York’s fight promoters, and there was hardly a match during the era that Hill didn’t

have some hand in organizing. Among other roles, Hill served a stakeholder for the $25,000 purse in the 1882 John L. Sullivan-Paddy Ryan fight. The original class of 2009 included 10 immortals. Honored as a contributor to the sport was Richard K. Fox, publisher of The National Police Gazette and promoter of both the SullivanRyan match in 1882 and the epic Sullivan-Kilrain fight in 1889, the last boxing championship fought under the bare-knuckle London Prize Ring Rules. Other first-year honorees included Jack Broughton, an early English champion and author of the first set of boxing rules in 1743. Also honored was another English master, Tom Cribb, who was awarded the first boxing championship belt by none other than King George III. The other American inductees included Tom Hyer, recognized as the nation’s first heavyweight champion following a match in 1841. Two pioneer black American fighters, Bill Richmond and George Godfrey, were also honored. Recognized as a contributor was William Muldoon, the veteran athletic trainer whose many accomplishments included preparing an out-of-shape Sullivan to face Kilrain. H


The National Police Gazette: New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Orleans, St. Louis.

JUNE 2010

BARTENDER’S GUIDE A Sip of Boxing History

Stalwart ‘John L.’ Gets a Memorial People Can Pour  

By BOB FLISS Managing Editor During the “Elegant Eighties” of the 19th century, champion boxer John L. Sullivan had the most famous face in America. Today, a Washington D.C.-based importer is teaming with Ireland’s top distiller to introduce a premium whiskey bearing the name and steely-eyed portrait of America’s first superstar athlete. John L. Sullivan Irish Whiskey first reached these shores in November last year and is now available in 12 states, with more in the pipeline. The last of the great bare-knuckle fighters, Sullivan was also the first athlete to earn $1 million out of a varied career that also included turns on the vaudeville stage. All too typically, he lost his fortune through high living but recovered sufficiently to live out his days in modest comfort. In an era before movies or television, only a relative handful of fight fans got to see “John L.” in action. But they eagerly digested press accounts of his exploits, especially in The National Police Gazette, the leading boxing journal of the day. There was scarcely a saloon, barber shop, or billiard parlor that didn’t have the champ’s portrait on the wall. Sullivan was the role model for a generation of young American males — and a tremendous source of pride for Americans of Irish extraction, who were still a often-despised minority. John L. Sullivan Irish Whiskey is the first brand created by Undisputed International LLC, a new business based in the nation’s capital. Amir Peay, 33, the firm’s president, said that the concept grew out of a lifelong interest in boxing, along with his own half-Irish heritage. The U.S. is the biggest market for Irish whiskey. But it’s a relatively small product category in the U.S. liquor market, the perennial popularity of spiked, cream-topped Irish coffee notwithstanding. So, when launching his project, Peay realized that he would have to appeal to a discriminating drinker who probably already had experience with the few mass-market Irish brands like Jameson and Old Bushmills. Peay took his concept to the Cooley Distillery, located in the Cooley Mountains of County Louth, on the east coast of Ireland. Cooley is the last major Irish

whiskey distillery that’s independently owned. Both of the big players in the Irish whiskey market are owned by international conglomerates. The Old Bushmills Distillery is in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, and is owned by London-based Diageo, a huge international beverage conglomerate, which produces Guinness stout and Smirnoff vodka among many, many other brands. The New Midleton Distillery in County Cork is owned by France’s Pernod-Ricard. Its leading brands include Jameson, Paddy, Powers, Tullamore Dew, and Redbreast. There are three basic types of Irish whiskey. Malt whiskeys are produced in small batches from malted barley, water, and yeast. They tend to have a rich, complex flavor. Grain whiskey is made primarily from corn, with perhaps a little barley thrown in. It has a relatively light flavor and is mainly used for blending. Although Irish malt whiskeys have a following among serious connoisseurs of spirits, the market is dominated by easysipping blends of malt and grain. The leading brands Jameson and Old Bushmills are blends, as is the new John L. Sullivan. The Cooley Distillery may be small compared to Bushmills or New Midleton but its bragging rights are second to none. In February, Cooley was honored as “Distillery of the Year” at the Malt Advocate Whiskey Awards. Sponsored by Malt Advocate, a magazine covering the whiskey in-

dustry, these awards are now in their 16th year. Cooley’s house brands include the malt whiskeys Tyrconnell, Connemara, and Inishowen, and a single grain whiskey, Greenore. Peay said that Cooley’s management welcomed the idea of creating a private label blend for the U.S. market. They would distill and age the whiskey, Peay’s firm would come up with the packaging and marketing strategy. “As a small, independent entrepreneur, we do not have tremendous resources to promote this brand in comparison with the brands owned by the international spirits conglomerates,” Peay said. “What we do have though is something unique and special to offer consumers, and when you do that, word tends to spread.” The taste secret in John L. Sullivan Irish Whiskey may be all in the barrels. American bourbon gets much of its flavor from being aged in charred oak barrels. Peay explained there’s a substantial secondary market in exporting used bourbon barrels to Ireland and Scotland. These recycled barrels have often been used for several batches of bourbon before reaching their new homes. While these older barrels work reasonably well, Peay noted that the Cooley distillers insisted on using American barrels that had held only one batch of bourbon. These “single use” barrels seem to maximize the flavor and smoothness that charred oak imparts to the spirits. “I describe it as a classically smooth Irish whiskey with the rich finish of America’s bourbon,” Peay said. “Truly fitting for Irish-Americans and John L. Sullivan.” With all the brands crowding the shelves at package stores, an eye-catching label is essential. For the front label, Peay selected a formal portrait of the champion, decked out in a top hat and double-breasted tailcoat, sporting a handlebar mustache in the style of the time. The back label has a rare photo of Sullivan in action, squaring off against Jake Kilrain in the epic championship in Richburg, Miss. on July 8, 1889 that rang down the curtain on the era of bare-knuckle boxing. Interestingly, both boxers shaved off their mustaches for the fight, which went 75 rounds in brutal heat. Peay noted that Sullivan is said to have sustained himself between rounds with sips of sweet tea spiked with Irish whiskey. The action photo is also featured on the brand’s cardboard cases. “I honestly believe the package is a work of art, suitable to display proudly in your home like any other,” Peay said.

JUNE 2010

The National Police Gazette: New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Orleans, St. Louis.


What the nation lost from the 18th Amendment The old-time saloon was the social center of blue-collar America during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Likewise the mustached, sleeve-gartered barkeep was a once-familiar American type never to be met again — pourer of suds and shots, keeper of confidences, holder of bets.

High Hopes for Hopped Heritage By BOB FLISS Managing Editor

about how to recreate a pre-Prohibition beer.

The year 1919 began badly for American beer drinkers, with the Jan. 16 ratification of the 18th Amendment prohibiting the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages. The rest of the year got progressively worse. On Oct. 28, Congress passed the Volstead Act, which provided the enforcement mechanisms for Prohibition. On Jan. 16, 1920, Prohibition became the law of the land, as millions of Americans cleaned liquor stores out of their remaining stocks and prepared for the long thirst ahead. Meanwhile, President Woodrow Wilson bungled the prospects for a lasting peace following World War I by inflicting the punitive Treaty of Versailles on Germany. The Spanish influenza epidemic had already wreaked its worst devastation in the United States, but wouldn’t end until mid-1920. So, 1919 was not exactly a great year for America or anywhere else. At least the fighting doughboys of Château-Thierry and the Argonne Forest were able to sail home, although the domestic economy wasn’t ready to provide them jobs.

The obstacles were formidable, basically because the ingredients didn’t exist any more. “We didn’t have the same yeast, or the same hops, or the same malt,” Villa told the Tribune. When beer returned to legal commerce in the 1930s, the brewing industry began shifting toward lighter malts spiced with smaller amounts of the hops that give beer its characteristic bitterness. The result was that American lager acquired a much lighter character that made it good for washing down hamburgers and pizza. Assertive flavors were out, appealing to the “average” drinker was in. The recession has been rough on the brewing industry, with 2009 shipments down by about 2.2 percent, or about 5 million barrels. Annual sales were nearly 206 million barrels of beer, valued at $101 billion, according to a March report by the Brewers Association, a Boulder, Colo.-based trade association representing independent craft brewers. A barrel equals 31 U.S. gallons. MillerCoors remains solidly profitable but some of its

A Tough Project

That’s probably more historical background than necessary to introduce this discussion of Batch 19, a full-flavored lager beer being recreated by MillerCoors from a pre-Prohibition recipe.

Test Marketing Begins

Don’t look for Batch 19 in bottles any time soon — or for that matter even at your local tavern, unless you’re lucky enough to live in one of five test-market cities where the brand was introduced during May. Batch 19 is currently being served on draft at a select group of bars in Milwaukee, San Francisco, San Jose, Washington D.C., and MillerCoors’ headquarters city, Chicago. Test marketing will run several months. MillerCoors was launched in mid-2008 as a joint venture between SABMiller and Molson Coors Brewing Co., formed to market various Miller, Coors, and Molson brands in the United States.

About six years ago, brewmaster Keith Villa managed to salvage the recipe from a flooded basement in the Golden, Colo. headquarters of the venerable Coors Brewing Co., whose Colorado roots go back to 1873. At least that’s the story that was initially given out by MillerCoors’ publicity machine. The reality — as reality usually is — is more complicated and more mundane. In a recent interview with the Chicago Tribune, Villa said that he and fellow brewmasters actually discovered the old logbook high and dry during the late 1990s. They knew they had something special and talked about someday recreating one or more of the old recipes. There really was a flood in 2004 but it was a small one that left the old brewery logbooks undamaged, Villa added. Still, it served as a useful warning. The company records were moved to a safer place and the brewmasters started thinking again

(Continued on next page)


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JUNE 2010

Quality Beer Beats Slow Economy MillerCoors tries Pre-Prohibition Recipe Revival (Continued from preceding page)

brands are under pressure. For example, sales of Miller Lite — its flagship brand since light beers began to dominate the U.S. market in the 1990s — took a 6.5-percent hit last year. Under these market conditions, there’s a strong incentive for the industry’s big players to try something new. Batch 19 is being marketed as a more fullbodied alternative to the traditionally mild — some would say watery — beers produced for mass consumption. Batch 19 is “a true, authentic, original beer,” said Peter Swinburn, Molson Coors chief executive, in a statement. Swinburn also stated that MillerCoors will be looking at repackaging its flagging Miller Lite brand in a new bottle that will better highlight the beer’s flavor and aroma. Actually, one MillerCoors brand dates back before Prohibition, the famous Miller High Life, introduced in 1903. Marketed as “The Champagne of Beers,” it’s noted for its high level of carbonation and distinctive clear glass bottle. Even while Miller Lite has been in decline, Miller High Life is enjoying a modest resurgence thanks to a humorous “Take Back the High Life” ad campaign. At about 5.5 percent alcohol, Batch 19 is more potent than other MillerCoors brews. For example, Miller Genuine Draft is 4.7 percent alcohol, Miller Lite is 4.2 percent.

The Key to Beer Flavor

But the real flavor secret is in the hops, a small but essential part of nearly all recipes for beer and ale. Hops are the female seed cones of a climbing vine that’s cultivated mainly in southern Germany, the U.S. Pacific Northwest, and the Czech Republic. The Batch 19 recipe includes two varieties of hops no longer widely used in mass market beers — Strisselspalt and Hersbrucker. Both varieties maintain a niche with home brewers and the nation’s ever-growing ranks of craft breweries. Hersbrucker comes from Germany and gives the beer a slightly herbal or grassy aroma. Strisselspalt is grown in France and also imparts a herbal character, with slight overtones of black currants. The end result, Villa said, is a beer that’s “very malty, me-

This burly trio of Prohibition enforcers look like they might have once enjoyed the very product they’re dumping into a New York City sewer. When legal beer returned starting in 1933, it wasn’t quite the same as the pre-Volstead Act product. Consumer tastes changed toward lighter lagers, and manufacturers began to cut corners. But the damage has largely been repaired by today’s craft brewing renaissance, which has put hundreds of fine American lagers and ales on the market.

dium-bodied, full-flavored with a really nice assertive hop character to it.” During the Middle Ages, hops were only one of many herbs and flowers used to give beer a bitter, tangy flavor. Ultimately, hops became the flavoring of choice because they not only made the beer taste good, they also protected it from spoilage. The recession notwithstanding, there’s evidence that American beer drinkers are demanding more flavorful beers and are willing to pay for them. The introduction of Batch 19 is more evidence that the big corporate brewers are seeing this shift and taking steps to defend their dominant market share against a craft brewing industry that seems to be growing feistier each year.

Craft Brewing Prospers

A “craft brew” is a beer produced using traditional methods, often in small batches, using ingredients that maximize flavor. Conversely, the popularity of light beers has caused mass market brewers to concentrate on reducing caloric content, often at the expense of flavor.

Even with the recession, America’s craft brewers reported that production increased 7.2 percent in 2009, according to the Brewers Association. The dollar value of these beer sales was up 10.3 percent. The excellent growth compared well with 2008 production growth of and dollar sales growth of 10.1 percent. Overall, craft brewers shipped 9.1 million barrels in 2009, up from 8.5 million in 2008. So, dynamic though it may be, the craft brewing industry still represents less than 5 percent of U.S. beer production. At year’s end, the nation had about 1,500 independent breweries, the highest total since before Prohibition. Nearly 1,000 of these were brewpubs – local taverns that brew their own beer, often served it right out of the storage tanks. These small operations accounted for about 707,000 barrels. But the foundation of the craft brewing industry is roughly 70 regional independent breweries, which together produced slightly more than 7 million barrels in 2009.

Another interesting trend is the growth of microbreweries, which the Brewers Association defines as establishments producing less than 15,000 barrels a year, with at least 75 percent of production sold off site. As in any small business, there is a considerable amount of turnover in microbreweries, but recent trends look strong. The Brewers Association reported 56 microbrewery opening in 2009, against 12 closings. The story was much the same in 2008, with 58 openings and just 15 closings. In the late 1970s, the United States was down to about 100 breweries. Today, the craft brewing renaissance has produced a bewildering variety of local and regional beers. The nation boasts more than 1,500 breweries, large and small — roughly what it had when the 18th Amendment put an edge on everyone’s thirst. So, whether Batch 19 ever becomes part of MillerCoors’ regular product line or ends up as merely an interesting novelty, consumer demand for beer with real character is likely to remain strong. H

JUNE 2010

The National Police Gazette: New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Orleans, St. Louis.


The First Thinking Man’s Gangster Jack Zelig Became Lower East Side’s Unlikely Guardian By BOB FLISS Managing Editor

“Big Jack” Zelig inherited leadership of Monk Eastman’s predominantly Jewish street gang in 1910. By chasing out rival Irish and Italian mobsters, he won a surprising amount of good will among many Lower East Side Jews. When you paid protection to Zelig, you only had to deal with him.

When New York mobster “Big Jack” Zelig sold you protection, you really got protected. Zelig grew up on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the early years of the 20th century, when it was the first American home for thousands of Jewish immigrants fleeing from persecution in Czarist Russia. After Zelig made the jump from teenage street thief to gang boss, he came up with a novel way of giving something back to the community. He mobilized his crew of sluggers to clear the neighborhood of Irish and Italian hoodlums. They would even set up streetcar sting operations, hiring bearded Orthodox Jewish men as bait. If any no-goodniks tried to pull on an old man’s beard, Zelig’s boys would be waiting to administer rough justice. Truly, Jack Zelig was a Yiddisher Shtarker — or simply

“starker” in American English — a slang expression among the Lower East Side Jews meaning variously a strong man, a tough man, or a gangster. Now, it could be argued that Zelig was just defending his turf. If any Jewish residents of the Lower East Side were going to be harassed, it was going to be by other Jews. But contemporary witnesses recounted that Zelig’s gang managed to do more to clean up the neighborhood than the New York Police Department.

‘A Man of Principle’ One observer who developed a wary respect for Zelig was private investigator Abe Shoenfeld, who was hired by a group of Jewish business leaders to report on crime and vice in the Lower East Side slums. “At all times he has had the reputation among his friends and associates as being a good scrapper and above all a man of principle which readily understood is a quality seldom found among thieves. You may find honor but never principle,” Shoenfeld wrote in an August, 1912 report to his clients. Years later, Shoenfeld related to writer Arthur Goren how Zelig and his men would target pimps who prowled the neighborhood looking for Jewish girls to lure into a life of prostitution. They got the same treatment as the streetcar bullies. “He prevented more holdups and other things of a similar nature during his career than one thousand policemen,” Shoenfeld said.

Lawless New York

Most urban outlaws of America’s ragtime era are known today only by crime history buffs. It took the start of Prohibition in 1920 to turn unsophisticated street thugs into celebrated caterers to the public thirst. Big Jack Zelig didn’t live long enough to enjoy the flood of cash produced by what was arguably the most foolish act of public policy in American history. As biographer Rose Keefe notes in her 2008 book The Starker there’s no way of telling how his undeniable street smarts would have translated into running a major criminal enterprise.

Jack Zelig’s Lower East Side IN 1907 One of New York’s oldest neighborhoods, the Lower East Side has been home to a long succession of ethnic groups. But it occupies a special place in Jewish-American culture as the first American refuge for thousands of Jews fleeing poverty and pogroms in Europe.

“He was a blend of the brutal, brass-knuckled Old Guard and the slowly emerging Thinking Man’s Gangster,” Keefe wrote. “Or, to put it more vividly; if verbal persuasion failed, he didn’t mind getting blood on his elegant suits because he could easily afford to replace them afterward.” (Continued on next page)


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JUNE 2010

NYPD Lieut. Charles Becker is transported to Sing Sing prison, trailed by officials, newspapermen, and gawkers. The Becker-Rosenthal case was the most sensational story of its time and the biggest police scandal in New York history.

New York City’s 1912

‘Trial of the Century’ Zelig’s Testimony Could Have Cleared Cop of Murder Charge

(Continued from preceding page)

Jack Zelig was born Zelig Zvi Lefkowitz in 1888 to a RussianJewish family. Father Ephraim Lefkowitz had come through New York’s Castle Garden — predecessor to Ellis Island — in 1884 and by the following year had saved enough to bring over wife Sarah and their two sons. Although the Lower East Side was dirty and overcrowded, the Lefkowitz family managed to live better than most. Ephraim, who took the American name Frank, prospered as a tailor. Sarah had no less than seven more children, four boys and three girls. Zelig was the fourth child, and the second son to be born in America.

Family Black Sheep

The Lefkowitz children grew up healthy and managed to live respectable, uneventful, middleclass lives. All except for Zelig, who prior to becoming “Big Jack” was known by the American name Harry. The future “Big Jack” was an accomplished pickpocket by his early teens. Although not violent by nature, he soon found himself running with the Eastmans, the predominantly Jewish mob that dominated the Lower East

Side. The gang took its name from leader Edward “Monk” Eastman, a scar-faced lug who embodied the “brass-knuckled Old Guard.” Eastman was for a time one of New York’s most powerful mobsters, with a gang mustering nearly 1,000. But Eastman’s fists were more active than his brain. He wound up going to prison in 1904 on an assault charge stemming from a clumsy attempt to roll a rich drunk — a drunk who happened to have two Pinkerton detectives shadowing him for protection. With Eastman in Sing Sing, gang leadership devolved on Max “Kid Twist” Zweifach — younger, smarter, more presentable, but no less deadly. Zelig, still basically a street thief, became one of Zweifach’s proteges. “Kid Twist” met his fate in 1908, shot following an argument over a woman by a lowlevel thug evocatively named Louis “Louie the Lump” Pioggi. The former Eastman gang shattered into factions. By 1910, the largest of these was under the control of Big Jack Zelig, who under other circumstances probably would have preferred a life of peaceful larceny.

Corrupt NYPD Lieut. Charles Becker ran a “strong arm squad” tasked with vice crackdowns. He was in a position to decide who got raided and who would be allowed to buy off the law. Despite his greed, Becker was probably innocent of the murder conspiracy that landed him in Sing Sing’s electric chair.

To understand Jack Zelig’s gangster world, it’s important to recall that pre-Prohibition New York was divided into ethnic enclaves. Gangs of street toughs were almost invariably ethnically exclusive, with the Irish, Italians, and Jews dominating.

Only during Prohibition were old hatreds put aside in the interest of chasing more illicit wealth than Jack Zelig and his gangland contemporaries could have imagined. (Continued on next page)

JUNE 2010

The National Police Gazette: New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Orleans, St. Louis.


In life, Herman “Beansie” Rosenthal enjoyed little respect in New York’s underworld. But his assassination by rival gamblers made him a celebrity corpse. Thousands of curiosity-seekers witnessed his funeral procession.

Pre-Prohibition Mob Busted Heads For Labor and Management Alike (Continued from preceding page)

Actually, the pre-Prohibition underworld wasn’t exactly a growth industry. The most dependable source of income was providing hired muscle to both employers and labor unions. Keefe notes that the going rate for one of Zelig’s labor sluggers was about $7.50 a day, good money compared to the $3 or so earned by garment workers but hardly a fortune. But Zelig managed to do even better by shaking down business owners for protection money. “Over time, however, any resentment abated ... especially after Zelig delivered on his promise to keep marauders away. One madam told the police that the $100 she paid his representative on a monthly basis was the best security investment she’d ever made,” author Keefe recounted in The Starker. Keefe’s Zelig biography was based not only on documentary sources but interviews with Lefkowitz family descendants and other New Yorkers who, if they were not there themselves, had parents or grandparents who remembered the Lower East Side.

No Use for Gamblers

Zelig hated to do business with gamblers, despite many inducements. At most, he would hire out a few sluggers to pull

security duty outside a dice or card game. The gamblers of Zelig’s Lower East Side bore little resemblance to Nathan Detroit, the amiable crap game operator in the Broadway musical “Guys and Dolls.” Not content to peacefully take bets, they waged a dog-eat-dog struggle for each other’s customers. Almost all gamblers paid off the police — and often ratted on each other. But the NYPD itself was broken into factions, all after graft but often operating at cross purposes. So it was possible to buy protection from the local precinct house but still be raided by one of the “strong arm squads” assigned out of police headquarters specifically to conduct citywide vice raids.

Plots and Counterplots

If tipping the police on their competitors’ doings failed, the gamblers weren’t above street warfare. But here Jack Zelig drew the line. Zelig also drew the line at paying off the police, trusting instead in his own brains and muscle, along with his support base among grateful Lower East Side protection “clients.” In April, 1912, Zelig was visited by one Jacob “Bald Jack Rose” Rosenzweig, a noted card player who had a stake in many

Slippery gambler Jacob “Bald Jack Rose” Rosenzweig most likely masterminded the assassination of rival Herman “Beansie” Rosenthal after Rosenthal began talking too much to the New York World.

Charles Whitman was the ambitious New York district attorney who prosecuted Charles Becker. He reaped enough political capital from the sensational trial to be elected New York’s 41st governor.

illegal betting enterprises. Rose attempted to enlist Zelig’s help in assassinating a gambling rival, Herman “Beansie” Rosenthal. Zelig told Rose he wanted no part of any war among gambling factions and to find himself another boy. Zelig probably never regretted the decision. But the gamblers didn’t like to be denied — and they had alliances with the po-

lice. In May, Zelig was arrested on a trumped-up concealed weapons charge. Actually, it wasn’t Rose who tipped the police but another rival gambler, “Dollar John” Langer. Langer evidently heard about Rose’s abortive meeting with Zelig, then assumed — incorrectly — that Rose was plotting his death, rather than Rosenthal’s. (Continued on next page)

34 The National Police Gazette: New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Orleans, St. Louis.


JUNE 2010

Gambling Rivalry Turns Deadly (Continued from preceding page)

Now, both Rose and Langer had ample reason to fear payback from Zelig. But in early June, their problem was at least temporarily solved when Zelig and some of his associates got into a brawl with a rival gang. Zelig was shot in the head, but his strong constitution and competent medical attention at Bellevue Hospital saved him. By the start of July, Zelig was well enough to get out of Bellevue but still facing a long convalescence — and a long list of charges. Relieved just to be rid of him for a while, “Bald Jack” Rose and some of his cronies chipped in for Zelig’s bail and a ticket to Hot Springs, Ark., already a “cooling off” resort for the underworld.

Gangland Vengeance

With Jack Zelig out of the way temporarily, it’s time to introduce the other major player in what would soon become the biggest police scandal in New York history. Born in 1870, Charles Becker was a lieutenant in charge of one of the NYPD’s strong arm squads. Tall and muscular, Becker would have been a marked man just for his physique. He was a German on a mostly Irish force, and better educated than the average cop of the era. He was also one of the NYPD’s biggest grafters. Although not at the top level of the police chain of command, Becker’s position gave him a good deal of authority over who got raided and who was allowed to pursue various illegal enterprises

Gullible gunmen: Zelig associates “Lefty” Louis Rosenberg (front left) and Harry “Gyp the Blood” Horowitz (front right), shown with police officials, were recruited into participating in the hit on Herman “Beansie” Rosenthal while their boss was away in Hot Springs, Ark. It’s unlikely the level-headed Zelig would have approved. Both gangsters ended up in the electric chair at Sing Sing.

On April 15, 1912, Becker’s squad raided a new gambling house on West 45th Street owned by “Bald Jack” Rose’s enemy, Herman “Beansie” Rosenthal. Rosenthal determined to get even. Soon he was talking to ace reporter Herbert Bayard Swope of the New York World. The weekend editions of July 13 and 14 contained the texts of two sworn affidavits by Rosenthal alleging that Becker has been a partner in his illegal gambling business. Payback came almost at once. Rosenthal was gunned down about 2 a.m. July 16 as he walked out of the Hotel Metropole on 43rd Street near Broadway.

Cops on the Take

A jaunty Jack Zelig as he appeared at an August, 1912 court appearance. By the end of the month, four of his criminal associates had been indicted for the murder of gambler Herman “Beansie” Rosenthal. Zelig was killed before he was able to give testimony that could have exonerated Becker and at least some of his gang members.

Suspicion immediately fell on Becker, who had the most to gain from Rosenthal being silenced by death. Becker was soon relieved of his police command and by Aug. 20 was indicted for first-degree murder. Also indicted were four of Jack Zelig’s gang associates: Francesco “Dago Frank” Cirofici, Harry “Gyp the Blood” Horowitz, Jacob “Whitey Lewis” Seidenshner, and “Lefty” Louis Rosenberg. The Becker-Rosenthal affair became bigger news than the sinking of the Titanic in April that year. It was effectively the O.J. Simpson trial of its era, noted crime writer Patrick Downey, author of Gangster City.

The trial also exposed the depth of public distrust for the police — a distrust largely justified, since professional standards were low and corruption rampant. In defense of the officers, their pay scale was so stingy they virtually had to take graft to have any hope of supporting a family decently. But graft on what scale? There was hardly a patrolman on the force who wouldn’t take gratuities from merchants on his beat. But the real money came from overlooking bordellos and gambling dens. Charles Becker had mastered the art of looking the other way and being paid well for doing so. New York prosecutor Charles Whitman — a rising Republican star with gubernatorial aspirations — faced an uphill struggle to prove that Becker had ordered Rosenthal’s death. Especially when his witnesses included slippery characters like “Bald Jack” Rose. An even tougher question was how did four loyal — but evidently not too bright — henchmen of Jack Zelig get involved in the Rosenthal assassination without the consent of their formidable boss? Innocent Men Executed? Although it has taken nearly a century to pry loose the facts, there’s mounting evidence that the hit on Rosenthal was or-

dered by “Bald Jack” Rose, with help from several other gambling associates, notably Louis “Bridgey” Webber, and Harry Vallon. In his 2007 book Satan’s Circus, British author Mike Dash examines the case from Becker’s perspective. He concludes that although Charles Becker may have been a crooked cop, he almost certainly did not arrange Rosenthal’s murder. Dash leaves a question mark over the roles of Jack Zelig and his four henchmen. The theory advanced by the prosecution was that Zelig cooperated with the gamblers and ordered his gangsters to shoot Rosenthal. Dash concludes there’s no proof this happened or that there was even any connection between Becker and Zelig. Indeed, Zelig may have been preparing to testify for Becker’s defense when he was silenced with a shot to the head while riding on a Second Avenue streetcar on Oct. 5, 1912. The killer, a small-time Jewish thief named “Red Phil” Davidson, claimed he was getting even over $400 Zelig had stolen from him. In The Starker, Keefe goes a step further than Dash’s book and approaches the BeckerRosenthal case from the angle of what Jack Zelig might have known that required he be silenced. (Continued on next page)

JUNE 2010

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Jack Zelig’s gang associates, convicted of the shooting death of gambler Herman “Beansie” Rosenthal, arrive at the final destination of their lives, New York’s infamous Sing Sing prison. They would die in the electric chair on April 13, 1914.

Stooges Died in Electric Chair, Organizers of Killing Went Free (Continued from preceding page)

Jack Zelig was only days away from giving testimony that would have helped exonerate Charles Becker and possibly his own associates, Keefe concludes. More than likely, “Red Phil” Davidson was nothing but a tool of Rose and his allies. Indeed, it was the gamblers’ plot from start to finish, but with help from three of Zelig’s gullible gunmen, Keefe notes. “Bald Jack” Rose and his associates asked Horowitz, Seidenshner, and Rosenberg to help them rough up Rosenthal a little in retribution for the newspaper stories. If Zelig hadn’t been recovering in Hot Springs, Rose probably wouldn’t have even tried to enlist the three gangsters. But “Lefty” Louis Rosenberg had worked for Webber before and there was evidently some trust between them. Besides, “rough up a little” wasn’t murder. Zelig’s sluggers probably thought the gamblers were offering a low-risk way to make a little money. Indeed, that may have been all that both the gamblers and Zelig’s gunmen intended when they drove up to the Hotel Metropole in a gray 1909 Packard. But things got out of hand as soon as Rosenthal emerged from the hotel. Keefe’s sources indicate that it was gambler Harry Vallon who first pulled a gun and shot Rosenthal. The three Zelig gunmen then began firing in turn. “Dago Frank” Cirofici was nowhere near the Hotel Metropole but had participated in at least some of the meetings with Rose and his gamblers. He was indicted for first-degree murder like the others.

Ultimately, five men paid for the Rosenthal killing in the electric chair at Sing Sing — all of Zelig’s men on April 13, 1914 and Becker on July 30, 1915. Dash and Keefe both agree that, whatever his failings as a peace officer, Becker died innocent of Rosenthal’s murder. And of the four Zelig associates, Cirofici wasn’t even at the murder scene, while Seidenshner’s gun may have misfired. Within a few days of Rosenthal’s murder, “Bald Jack” Rose was confessing that he had indeed hired Zelig’s men — but only on Becker’s orders. Rose and his gambling associates spent just a few weeks in jail prior to receiving immunity for testifying against Becker. Prosecutor Whitman was eager to believe Rose’s story. Newspaperman Swope was just as eager to print it. After all, a murder conspiracy involving a top cop made better headlines than a routine gangland rubout.

Craggy-faced gambler Harry Vallon most likely fired the first shot at “Beansie” Rosenthal. He turned state’s evidence along with the likely leader of the murder conspiracy, “Bald Jack” Rose, suffering nothing worse than a few weeks in jail. Unlike Rose and others who went straight after the trial, Vallon’s ultimate fate is unknown.

The Becker-Rosenthal case paved Charles Whitman’s way to Albany. Taking office in 1915, one of his first major actions as governor was to sign Charles Becker’s death warrant. Whitman served until 1918, but accomplished little other than cultivating a drinking problem. His national political aspirations deflated, Whitman died at age 78 in 1947. Herbert Bayard Swope became one of the most successful newspapermen of his time, winning a 1917 Pulitzer Prize for reporting on World War I. He became editor of the New York World in 1920 and died at age 76 in 1958. “Bald Jack” Rose literally got away with murder. He achieved

modest success in catering and other legitimate businesses before dying at 72 in 1947. “Bridgey” Webber also went straight, dying at 59 in 1936 as a successful paper box manufacturer in Passaic, N.J. The shooter Harry Vallon disappears from the historical record soon after the Becker trial. Few believed “Red Phil” Davidson’s story about shooting Zelig over a $400 grudge, simply because few believed Davidson had $400 to steal. Zelig being a popular gang boss, Davidson quickly became a target for jailhouse justice. Davidson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years in Sing Sing.

Winners and Losers

Zelig Zvi Lefkowitz, a.k.a. Jack Zelig, is buried in Washington Cemetery, Brooklyn. His gravestone has inscriptions in both English and Hebrew. Detective Abe Shoenfeld offered this eulogy: “Jack Zelig is as dead as a doornail. Men before him — like Kid Twist, Monk Eastman, and others — were as pygmies to a giant. With the passing of Zelig, one of the ‘nerviest,’ strongest, and best men of his kind left us.” H Thanks to Rose Keefe, author of the 2008 Jack Zelig biography The Starker for providing the Zelig portrait on page 34. Her next book will cover New York labor racketeer and sometime Zelig associate “Dopey” Benny Fein.


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JUNE 2010


Any story about a ship named Tuscarora should be taken with a grain of the stuff that makes the briny blue so briny. Richard K. Fox — Irish-born publisher and promotional genius of The National Police Gazette — made his fortune selling sensational news to mostly male readers in the saloons and barbershops of Gilded Age America. Fox was never one to let dull facts stand in the way of a good story. This evidently included even seemingly minor details of his personal history — like the name of the ship that took him in 1874 from Belfast to a new life in the United States. Several contemporary biographical sketches of Fox state that he arrived at Castle Garden — New York’s immigrant depot from 1855 until 1890, predating the more famous Ellis Island — on July 12, 1874, aboard the Tuscarora.

True to his colorful reputation as publisher of America’s premier “scandal sheet,” Richard K. Fox liked to embellish accounts of leaving Ireland to seek his fortune in America.

The problem here is that digitized records of roughly 12 million Castle Garden passenger arrivals — preserved at www. — list immigrant ships named Tuscarora only during the period 18481851. The suggestion that Fox might have been indulging in a bit of inside humor becomes more credible when one considers that ships named Tuscarora figure in a host of tall stories told by and about 19th century American seafarers.

Launched in 1861, the U.S.S. Tuscarora was a sloop-of-war, the Civil War era’s equivalent of a light cruiser. She could operate under sail or steam power. Tuscarora had a long and eventful career, hunting Confederate blockade runners during the war, then sailing on exploration missions around the globe. She was retired in 1880.

Most notoriously, Tuscarora was the gigantic clipper ship skippered by Captain Stormalong, who filled roughly the same role for mariners as Paul Bunyan did for lumberjacks and Pecos Bill for cowboys. Complicating matters further is the fact that many scholars now believe these tales were often embellished by journalists, if not made up from whole cloth. In short, it’s hard to separate what’s legend and what’s literary hack work. Whatever the provenance of the Stormalong story, his ship Tuscarora was said to have been so large that the tops of her masts touched the moon. Considering the captain himself was supposed to have grown to a Paul Bunyan-esque 30 feet tall, the Tuscarora was in scale. There really was a Tuscarora in the U.S. Navy, named for a Native American tribe that formed part of the Iroquois confederation. The 1,500-ton steamer had a remarkably active career during and after the War Between the States, not being retired until 1880. A later Tuscarora did yeoman work as a large harbor tug during World War II. These two vessels are well-documented in the classic Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. But the name Tuscarora also became part of Navy folklore as a fictitious ship in any number of sailors’ tall tales. As in: “I remember it was back in 1910, when I was gunner’s mate on the old U.S.S. Tuscarora ...”

The fact that the name Tuscarora endured in stories, jokes, and lies swapped by old salts may have had something to do with the fact that the real Tuscarora had a long career showing the American flag in the Caribbean and Pacific. The U. S. Navy was neglected for nearly 20 years following the end of the Civil War. Only a a handful of obsolescent ships like the Tuscarora were kept in commision to protect American interests around the globe.

Among other missions, the real Tuscarora delivered relief supplies to earthquake victims in Chile (1868), and took soundings for an underwater telegraph cable between the U.S. and Asia (1873-74). A landing party of Tuscarora sailors quelled rioting in Honolulu — not yet U.S. territory — in 1874. She then sailed on a long survey cruise to Samoa, Fiji, and other exotic harbors in the South Pacific. Not bad for an aging ship of an underfunded fleet. H

Fox Printed What He Promised Business Lessons From an Honest Rogue Publisher By IKE SWIFT Staff Writer

Richard K. Fox cultivated a swashbuckling image during nearly a half-century as editor and publisher of The National Police Gazette, and laughed all the way to the bank over the way his newspaper was scorned by polite society. Yet shortly after Fox’s death in 1922, two leading journalists of a younger generation eulogized him as “the most enterprising, the most audacious and the most thoroughly honest of the American editors of his day.” H.L. Mencken is still read today for his acerbic commentar(Continued on next page)

The Rev. Henry Ward Beecher was the 19th century’s prototype of the socially conscious clergyman. But his reputation was damaged in a hugely publicized 1875 adultery lawsuit involving a woman in his congregation.

JUNE 2010

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Economist Argues Profit Promotes Honesty

(Continued from preceding page)

ies on American popular culture. His colleague George Jean Nathan is remembered as a fine drama critic. Both had nothing but praise for the way Fox introduced a host of innovations that had already become taken for granted in American publishing, even in periodicals far more respectable than the “racy” Police Gazette. “Fox gained the admiration of everyone who knew him intimately for his clear statement of editorial policy,” they wrote in the February, 1923 edition of The Smart Set. “That policy had but two clauses, and they were as follows: 1. Be interesting. 2. And be damn quick about it.” Mencken and Nathan also found some rough integrity in the way Fox handled the business side of the Police Gazette. Fox was “the only publisher in America who was not a hypocrite in this department. He appreciated that the object of printing advertisements was, finally and simply, to make money — and he conducted himself accordingly. ‘Pay me what I charge and I’ll print any dingblasted ad you give me’,” they wrote. Puncturing Windbags Fox loved to deflate what passed for “political correctness” during America’s Gilded Age. Hypocritical clergymen were his favorite target. The Police Gazette often featured an entire column, innocently titled “Clergy Notes,” chronicling misdeeds that earned preachers a defrocking or worse. An early Fox target was the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, the histrionic but hugely influential pastor of the Plymouth Church in Brooklyn. Beecher was a leader of the abolitionist movement in the years preceding the Civil War, even raising money to buy arms for anti-slavery forces fighting in Kansas and Nebraska. Rifles bought through his efforts became known as “Beecher’s Bibles.” By the time Fox took over the Police Gazette, Beecher had become embroiled in one of the great scandals of the 1870s. Elizabeth Tilton, a married woman in the Plymouth congregation, alleged she had had an affair with the charismatic clergyman. After a series of lawsuits and church boards of inquiry, Tilton was expelled from the Plymouth congregation. Beecher was exonerated — some would say whitewashed. Still, Beecher’s reputation with the general public suffered lasting damage. Fox and the Police Gazette did their part to ensure this result.

Old curmudgeons actually start out young. H.L. Mencken is shown here as city editor of The Baltimore Sun, which he joined in 1906 and wrote for at least part time until bad health forced his retirement in 1948. The acerbic Mencken lauded Police Gazette editor-publisher Richard K. Fox for a host of journalistic innovations, especially his emphasis on brief, bright copy.

During Fox’s heyday, America was too busy growing economically to care much about many issues of equality and social justice that torment public discourse in the 21st century. And the word “lifestyle” hadn’t been coined yet. Fox himself would have probably recoiled at the idea that journalists would someday regard themselves as intellectuals instead of working newsmen out to get a story and make a buck. A recent essay by Dwight R. Lee, a business professor at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, suggests that even a born promoter like Fox may do more for the public than members of more prestigious occupations.

Markets Police Themselves Lee’s essay “Why Businessmen Are More Honest than Preachers, Politicians, and Professors” appeared in the Winter 2010 edition of The Independent Review, a publication of The Independent Institute, an Oakland, Calif.-based libertarian think tank. Lee’s ultimate argument is one often repeated among neoclassical economists — markets are replete with self-correcting mechanisms that keep players honest, if not out of the goodness of their hearts than at least to remain competitive. “A reputation for honest dealing is one of the most valuable assets a businessman can have, and the only way to acquire it is by establishing a consistent

record of honesty. Having acquired a reputation for honesty, a businessman has a strong incentive to avoid misrepresentations that might quickly destroy even the best reputation,” Lee wrote. During Fox’s long career, he delivered to his overwhelmingly male readership exactly what he promised — a weekly helping of sports, crime, show business gossip, and pictures of pretty girls. He also delivered circulation numbers that justified some of the highest advertising rates of the era.

No Test Drives The problem with claims made by preachers, politicians, and professors isn’t that they’re deliberately lying. It’s that their claims are inherently difficult or impossible to verify. “No one can ‘test drive’ a preacher’s most important promise and come back from the afterlife and report on the experience,” Lee wrote. Consumers generally don’t have much trouble verifying claims made by businessmen, Lee wrote. Either a product works as advertised or it doesn’t. Since consumers are spending their own money, they have a strong incentive to get the most from every dollar. Politicians benefit mightily from the fact that citizens still tend to see taxes as “other people’s money.” This makes it easier to sway voters with emotional campaign rhetoric.

Today, as in Fox’s era, voters complain about the low quality of representation they get from their elected officials. Yet politicians get returned to office with remarkable frequency. “People often choose particular types of clothing, cars, and houses for the emotional satisfaction they receive by making a statement about their economic status, just as they often choose to vote for a candidate or a policy for the emotional satisfaction they receive by making a statement about their elevated morality. The difference is that the cost of giving one’s self-esteem a boost through market purchases is much greater than the cost of doing so in the voting booth,” Lee wrote. Lee reserves some of his drollest comments for his own profession: “... most students in undergraduate courses do not care whether their professors’ teachings make sense. Whether the arguments presented are lucid or ludicrous, the foremost question on the minds of most students is, Will this thing be on the exam? Considering that universities were less prominent in Fox’s America, it’s hard to imagine what he would think of today’s professors in their roles as media talking heads and self-appointed guardians of political correctness. Hazarding a guess, he probably would start printing “College Notes” right next to “Clergy Notes.” H


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JUNE 2010

Unheralded Martin Garcia thunders into the lead aboard Lookin At Lucky at the 135th running of the Preakness Stakes May 15. Lookin At Lucky prevailed over First Dude by three-quarters of a length.

STILL WAITING FOR SUPERHORSE Preakness Guarantees Triple Crown Drought Will Last 32 Seasons By IKE SWIFT Staff Writer This year’s early derailment of any Triple Crown run has cast a pall over financial prospects for the 142nd Belmont Stakes. Belmont Park is operated by the not-for-profit New York Racing Association Inc., which also operates the Aqueduct and Saratoga tracks. The Belmont will be run as scheduled June 5 — but beyond that there will be no guarantees, unless the state comes up with some money. At least that’s the story Charlie Hayward, NYRA president and chief executive, told reporters soon after the 135th Preakness Stakes was run May 15. That means Belmont Park might close right after the Stakes and not complete its full race meeting. Hayward also said he couldn’t guarantee the Saratoga meet would start as scheduled June 23. Worse, this year’s Belmont Stakes is going to suffer from a lack of equine star power at a time when the racing community needs the public relations bonanza of a Triple Crown winner. It also doesn’t help that the Belmont historically draws the smallest crowd of the Triple Crown races — just 53,000 last year. The trainers of both Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver and Preakness winner Lookin At

Lucky won’t be entering their horses in this third and toughest leg of the Triple Crown. Basically, both say their horses need a break after two challenging races — and the Belmont isn’t just challenging, it’s a beast. Since Affirmed’s 1978 Triple Crown, no less than 11 horses have toyed with the affections of racing fans by winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness only to be defeated by the Belmont’s mile-and-a-half track, the longest of U.S. stakes races. Now, the field for the 2010 Belmont will be dominated by the supporting cast of the earlier races. Kentucky-based trainer Dale Romans will have First Dude, who placed in the Preakness and Paddy O’Prado, who showed in the Derby. The hometown favorite may be Ice Box, who finished second in the Derby and is trained by Brooklyn native Nick Zito. Track Bureaucracy Failing? Only two years ago, the NYRA emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy with a $105 million bailout courtesy of the New York legislature. The NYRA had to give up title to the land under the Belmont, Aqueduct, and Saratoga tracks but received an agreement to operate them through 2033. But problems continue. The NYRA was counting on being able to install video lottery ter-

Jockey Calvin Borel coped masterfully with a sloppy track in the 136th Kentucky Derby May 1 to bring Super Saver home for a two-and-a-half length win.

minals as an additional source of revenue, Hayward stated. These were supposed to have been installed a year ago. Hayward now maintains that the state owes NYRA a subsidy in lieu of the terminals. Another source of hurt is the financial troubles of New York City Off-Track Betting, which went bankrupt while owing NYRA about $17 million, Hay-

ward stated. But OTB, which is actually owned by the state, has insisted it needs to cut payments to the tracks, despite the fact that it takes in more than $1 billion in bets annually. Yes, believe it or not, a bookmaker is losing money. None other than radio commentator Rush Limbaugh remarked that only a government bureaucracy (Continued on next page)

JUNE 2010

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Young Jockey Proves Himself (Continued from preceding page)

could go broke running a gambling operation. Dreams Dashed Quickly Horse racing has had to fight to retain its audience in the age of reality television and computer games. One of the reasons racing fans dream of a Triple Crown is that a truly dominant colt will garner publicity like the sport hasn’t seen since the 1970s, with its Triple Crown winners Secretariat (1974), Seattle Slew (1977), and Affirmed (1978). Lookin At Lucky’s win in the Preakness put a quick stop to any hopes of a Triple Crown this year. A favorite in the Kentucky Derby, Lookin At Lucky was upset by Super Saver, ridden by Calvin Borel, noted for his incredible 2009 Derby win on 501 longshot Mine That Bird. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert celebrated his fifth trip to the Preakness winner’s circle. The race confirmed Baffert’s faith in Lookin At Lucky, a toprated colt who has suffered more than his share of old-fashioned bad luck — for example, getting pinned to the rail during the Derby, ultimately finishing sixth in a field of 20. This was a virtual repeat of what happened in the April 3 Santa Anita Derby, although Lookin At Lucky salvaged a third-place finish. This year’s Preakness also made an instant star of relatively unknown jockey Martin Garcia. A native of Mexico, Garcia, 25, is an immigrant success story. Garcia worked in a delicatessen in Pleasanton, Calif., in the Bay area, after coming to the U.S. in 2003. He made some useful contacts while making sandwiches, which eventually got him work as a stable hand and exercise rider. Garcia finally got his break as a jockey at Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley, Calif., winning for the first time in 2005. In mid-2006 he relocated to Southern California, working at Hollywood Park Racetrack and building a local reputation as a promising apprentice jockey. Do Something Different The Preakness gave Baffert a chance to show his flair at the kind of gut decisions trainers make to get the best out of their horses.

Only 25, jockey Martin Garcia showed his cool under pressure by bringing Lookin At Lucky in for the win at the 135th Preakness. By the way, those really aren’t Black-eyed Susans draped over Lookin At Lucky -- it’s a little-known bit of Preakness lore that Maryland’s state flower doesn’t actually bloom until June. Instead, daisies with their centers carefully tinted are usually substituted.

After Lookin At Lucky’s disappointing Kentucky Derby, Baffert decided to replace regular jockey Garrett Gomez with the unknown Garcia. Garcia had ridden Conveyance, also trained by Baffert, to only a 12th place finish at the Derby. Still, Lookin At Lucky wasn’t performing up to his potential, and something needed to be changed. Gomez has 3,000 wins to his credit and a long working relationship with Baffert. But for all his skill, Gomez still couldn’t keep Lookin At Lucky out of trouble in two straight races. So, Garcia got the call. What followed might be described as a mysterious chemistry between horse and rider — although Baffert in post-race interviews focused more on Garcia’s ability to follow instructions to the letter. Either way, it worked. Borel’s Big Boast Super Saver dropped to eighth place out of twelve horses running for the Black-eyed Susans. Only one Derby winner has ever had a bigger letdown at the Preakness. Not good news for either jockey Borel, who’s getting overdue recognition in his mid-40s, or trainer Todd Pletcher who just two weeks earlier had been cel-

ebrating his first Derby win in 25 starts. And this after Borel — who generally tends to let his riding speak for itself — let his exuberant Cajun personality get the better of him and made an uncharacteristic prediction that Super Saver had the stuff for a Triple Crown run. Borel has the unique distinction of winning three Kentucky Derbys in four years, starting with Street Sense in 2007. He’s regarded as the master of the Churchill Downs track, being especially noted for his rail-shaving stretch runs. Promoting the Product Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course is also having its share of problems. Operator Magna Entertainment Corp. entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009. But one way or another, the historic track will continue — soon after the bankruptcy, the Maryland legislature passed a bill authorizing the state to buy Pimlico if Magna can’t complete its reorganization. Whoever ultimately owns the track will have to confront a long list of needed repairs and renovations. Traditionally, the Kentucky Derby draws the biggest crowd of any U.S. horse race, with the

Preakness second. But last year, attendance at the Preakness dropped to a miserable 78,000, after eight consecutive years of topping 100,000. Even while the racing community awaits another Triple Crown winner, there’s still plenty of work involved in marketing the sport to a public that’s hurting from the recession. Race organizers responded by a “Get Your Preak On” marketing campaign, along with a new set of rules for spectators in the track’s infield. For years, “bring your own bottle” turned the infield into Maryland’s biggest blowout. That came to an end in 2009 — and attendance plummeted by 30 percent. This year, the ban on outside liquor continued, but there were also some carrots offered. Infield ticket prices were cut to $40, while spectators who bought the $20 commemorative mug were entitled to unlimited draft beer refills. This year’s Preakness gate of 96,000 didn’t regain all the lost ground but at least provided evidence that Americans still treasure their oldest spectator sport. Especially when there’s the prospect of unlimited beer involved. H

The National Police Gazette incorporates Spirit of the Times, founded Dec. 10, 1831 by William Trotter Porter; Porter’s Spirit of the Times, founded Sept. 6, 1856 by William T. Porter and George Wilkes; Wllkes’ Spirit of the Times, founded Sept. 10, 1859 by George Wilkes; The American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine, founded September 1829 by John Stuart Skinner; and The Illustrated Police News, Law Courts and Weekly Record, founded February 20, 1864. Additional trademarks, service marks, and trade names appearing in The National Police Gazette are the common law, pending, or registered trademarks owned by Edgar Alexander Barrera, including: Spirit of the Times, Porter’s Spirit of the Times, Wilkes’ Spirit of the Times, The American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine, The Illustrated Police News, The Police News, The Illustrated Police News, Law Courts and Weekly Record, and other word and design marks. June 2010, Volume 165 No. 6. The National Police Gazette (ISSN 0047-9039) is published by Edgar Alexander Barrera, 22159 Ladera Street, Grand Terrace, CA 92313. Alexander Barrera, Publisher; Bob Fliss, Managing Editor; Joe Huff, Photo Editor. Contents cannot be reprinted without written permission. © 2010 The National Police Gazette. All rights reserved.


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JUNE 2010

THERE IS NO OTHER! Discriminating Readers Choose the Police Gazette

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Publisher Richard K. Fox offered this word of caution in the edition of Feb. 3., 1883:

“There is only one Police Gazette

... Our immense and steadily increasing success has inspired imitation on the part of numerous feeble and unscrupulous publishing houses, and the public will do well to see that they are not imposed on by any of these parasites who hope to live upon our reputation.


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