Showing posts with label Broadway. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Broadway. Show all posts

24 May 2017

On This Day in 1933: Lepke & Lucky Linked to Broadway Shootout



The well-dressed patrons of Broadway's evening thoroughfare likely expected to be wowed and dazzled by any number of eateries, cabarets or simply the neon lit spectacle.  Slugs from automatic shotguns? The unmistakable scent of gunpowder? A wildly out of control car chase?  No, these were not what visitors  foresaw, but a loud outdoor show they most certainly did get, and it ended with bloody collateral damage.

Irene Savage
On May 25th, 1933, As people were filtering in and out of various establishments around Manhattan's 80th and 81st street, two sedans raced by (one report claimed three vehicles were involved), with one vehicle's occupants visibly the aggressor, firing high-powered shotguns and/or machine guns at the other.  The gun battling pursuit, though short-lived, ended when the presumed dominant car sped off east on 81st while the bullet-ridden loser vehicle crashed into a fence on 84th.  All of the firefight participants escaped - including two bloodied, limping mobsters who fled the wrecked vehicle.  The shooting, however, put three of four civilian victims in the hospital:  Irene Savage, 24, took a bullet in the shoulder, Walter O' Donald, a visiting shopper from Hornell New York, suffered a presumed minor scalp grazing via shotgun slug, Sadie Fontine, 45, suffered the worst injuries, hit directly with a bullet in the back and shrapnel in her hips. Edward Safern, whose car was struck by stray bullets, suffered no physical injuries.

Waxey Gordon
Despite plenty of witnesses  the only physical evidence retrieved from the scene - blood throughout the crashed car, two pearl colored fedoras with New Jersey haberdashery labels, car registration to an 'Edward Rosen' of the Bronx, and the inch think glass of the vehicle windshield.  The thick car windows were obviously intentional 'bullet proofing' (though proved a failure against the high powered rounds), the hats helped in the police theory that a bootlegging war involving Irving Wexler, aka Waxey Gordon could be the motive, but upon following up the registration lead... it appeared Edward Rosen was a manufactured name, and the vehicle didn't belong to anyone at the given address in the Bronx.

"As police locked the trio up, they announced they had definite information that a beer war between Gordon and two men whom they named as Louis "Lefty" Buckhalter and Charles Luciano, has been ended by a truce." - Associated Press, September 1, 1933.


Lepke Buchalter 1933
It took a few months for all the puzzle pieces to fall into place, climaxing when police pinned charges on Charles 'Chink' Sherman, his brother Henry, and Jack Weinstein.  The trio had already been in custody for other weapons and narcotics charges, and were noted as being "the few remaining members of the Waxey Gordon Gang."  Although the three men denied any participation in the May 25th shootings, information led police to identify two other involved individuals, both of whom carrying reputations  known to certain law enforcement entities, yet not very familiar to the larger public.  Louis 'Lepke' Buchalter and Charles Luciano.  Indeed, in 1933 neither man was a household name, but within the underworld they possessed quite a resume and status.
Lucky Luciano 1931

Waxey Gordon, once allied with Luciano, Lepke, Meyer Lansky, and so on, had been losing favor with the group and feuds erupted between the factions, which included Dutch Schultz who, at the time, was in good graces with the likes of Luciano.  Some theorize it was Meyer Lansky who filtered tips to police that eventually put Gordon away on narcotics charges.  In any case, Gordon was in jail, several allies had been murdered both in New York and Los Angeles, and 'Chink' Sherman's fate would be far worse than that of the innocent bystanders caught in his gang's fusillade. 


Sherman, who had bad blood with Dutch Schultz dating back to knife and gunfights in 1931, met the grim reaper in 1935. His body... discovered in a shallow lime pit within a barn in Monticello New York.  Sherman had been shot in the arm, his skull showed a bullet wound and that of a blow from a fire axe, presumably.  The property where the body was found belonged to the Drucker family.  It took another five years before the connection was made that Sherman's grave was one of several in the region, and that  one of the property owners -  Jack Drucker - served as an icepick wielding member of Murder Inc. The greater gangland irony - Schultz, who also eventually fell out good graces with the fellas, was gunned down by Murder Inc. henchmen barely two weeks before Chink Sherman got whacked. Further, 1935 was also the year that Charles Luciano's name escalated into public recognition,  having made much larger headlines in regard to theories of who may have ordered the Dutch Schultz murder.





Sources:
AP. "Gang Gunners Hit Two Women On Broadway." Geneva Daily Times. 25 May 1933. P.3.
"Auto Gun Duel Injuring Three Laid to Beer Feud." Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 25 May 1933. P. 8.
Cipollini, Christian. "Lucky Luciano: Mysterious Tales of a Gangland Legend." Strategic Media Books. 2014.
AP. "Sherman, One of Few Left Of Gordon's Gang, Nabbed." Buffalo Courier Express. 1 September 1933. P. 3.









28 November 2016

Blonde Ambition - The Tale of Galina Orloff: Broadway Starlet, Gangster's Girlfriend - Part Three


Gay Olova, 1940.
This is the 3rd & final chapter...

Back to Part 2

As 1934 faded, the new year began with Gay Orlova completely enamored by Charles "Lucky" Luciano. She promptly dropped the stockbroker boy toy who funded her wardrobe and spending allowance, and as for the husband back home in New York - Edward Finn - well, he wasn't even an afterthought. The cigar-smoking showgirl/scarred-face gangster duo quickly became close, and Orlova basically moved into Lucky's luxurious Waldorf Astoria pad. Everything was looking good for both, but the party was about to end through a series of legal entanglements that would consume each of their lives.
"Carroll, a judge of female flesh
without equal, stated unequivocally Gay was the most beautiful
bimbo who ever worked for him.." -Lee Mortimer, 1959.

New York City had a new District Attorney, Thomas E. Dewey. He was a crusader (be it for righteous reasons or political gain - that's debatable) set on taking out the 'big fish' of Gotham's underworld.  Arthur 'Dutch Schultz' Flegenheimer was number one on that list. The Dutchman got whacked though (and many believe Luciano was very much behind the assassination) and therefore Dewey had to pick a new target.  Lucky Luciano fit the bill.  Charlie Lucky earned the Public Enemy No. 1 spot immediately after Schultz's death.  Investigators were very anxious to 'speak with' Lucky and Johnny Torrio (Al Capone's former mentor), but the two were conveniently 'resting' in Florida when the Dutchman got nixed.  Dewey went to work, and with the help of his staff, found a way to put a case together against Luciano - Prostitution.
 "The most dangerous and important racketeer in New York City if not in the country" - Thomas E. Dewey, characterizing Lucky Luciano, 1936
Upon hearing of Dewey's intention, Lucky fled to gangster-friendly Hot Springs Arkansas.  Gay Orlova spent a great deal of time with him there as well.  Still, Dewey diligently continued putting together a case against Luciano because sooner or later... he'd get the gang boss back to New York.   That moment of truth arrived in spring of 1936 when - after much legal back and forth battles - Luciano's luck ran out. Unlike how the government generally went after top mobsters, the DA's angle wasn't the tried and true Tax Evasion charge. Dewey had him extradited and charged with Compulsory Prostitution. He proclaimed Lucky the head of nationwide vice ring, and knew that of all vices... the sex trade would likely gain him no sympathy in court and the court of public opinion.

Orlova became the target of both prosecution and defense teams.  "I don't want her mixed up in this case," Lucky told his lawyers. When she was called into Dewey's office, the staff were both shocked and awed. Gay Orlova was adorned in diamonds, a fur coat, but most of all - spoke to the prosecution team as if they were the the shocking ones.  To Orlova, the expensive accoutrements were the norm, and she was not one to filter her thoughts. As for helping the DA, that wasn't going to happen. She continually spoke of Lucky with admiration, albeit a bit unorthodox in using the word 'sinister' as a compliment!

Lucky Luciano, 1936.
Luciano went to trial and was made an example of.  The judge sentenced him to a 30-50 year term! Meanwhile, Orlova began feeling paranoid.  Word spread that 'people' had been following her ever since Lucky was extradited to New York.  Plus, she still had to deal with her husband, whom she hoped would just divorce her. Simply put, a divorce wouldn't effect her citizenship.  Edward Finn had, by the time Lucky Luciano had become a household name from the sensational vice ring trial, become aware of his bride's love affair.  He was going to do something, but not divorce.
“Oh, I’m infatuated with Lucky. He’s so sinister.” - Gay Orlova, 1935.
1937 should have been a welcomed change, considering how tumultuous her life had been the previous year.  However, Orlova's worst was yet to come.  First, she outright told husband Finn to "get a divorce" as she boarded a ship to France. Her plan was to get some dancing gigs and photo shoots in Paris, a city she felt comfortable and safe in.  Finn, on the other hand, took a trip straight to the courthouse and requested an annulment.  Upon pleading his case, Judge Cohalan remarked, "Have we reached a point where we should dissolve marriages because a woman won't support a man?" The court's discontent took a backseat to further convincing testimony, and Edward Finn got the judgement.

Gay Orlova denied entrance to United States, 1937.
Back in Paris, the now-brunette Gay Orlova had no idea of what husband Edward had been up to. On August 11, she boarded the liner Normandie and sailed for New York (ironically, the Normandie was seized by the United States during WWII, and while being converted into a troop ship - caught fire. Suspicions of Nazi sabotage led to the government enlisting the help of the mob to protect New York's harbor, the imprisoned Lucky Luciano being a pivotal figure in the mix).  Upon arrival, authorities denied her entrance. Contrary to many news reports of the time, Orlova was not deported, but she did have to remain on the ship and sail back to France. Had Finn filed divorce, Orlova would have retained citizenship; annulment did exactly what it was designed to to - made it like she'd never been married, and no citizenship.
"He was lovely to me. I even gave up my broker friend just for him. Then I was with Lucky a lot in New York." - Gay Orlova, 1936.
Back in Paris she continued to model and dance.  Then, opted for wedding bells once more, this time with a French Count whom she'd allegedly met some years prior. Three weeks after the marriage Gay divorced the Count, yet the pair remained quite close, that is until WWII interfered. Late September 1939, the French nobleman was called to duty near the Maginot Line. Orlova, always persistent when she wanted something, journeyed the northern border of France. The two reunited, but military police were extremely suspect of the flamboyantly dressed woman hiding out in a deserted village. Both the Count and Orlova were taken into custody and interrogated for hours. The word 'spy' had been muttered, and Gay knew what happens to spies - firing squad.  Finally the truth of their former marriage (and of course who they both were) reached the officers; both were set free. Orlova told to return to Paris immediately, which she did.
Gay Orlova, 1940. Photo courtesy of Christopher Jones

“All those headlines about the reunion Gay Orlova planned with Lucky Luciano came as a complete surprise – not to say shock – to him. He hasn’t heard from her in many years.” - Dorothy Kilgallen, 1946.


Over the course of several more years, the American press would periodically 'check in' on Gay Orlova, or perhaps better stated - would publish brief and unflattering grapevine gossip. Lucky's sentence got commuted and he was exiled to Italy 1946. Upon such news, whispers a purported 'reunion' soon emerged. True or merely conjecture, such a meeting never transpired.  Sadly, the most disheartening rumors were often quite true. After the apparent dissolution of any further relations with the French Count, Orlova spent time in Spain, where she met and began an affair with Pedro Eyzaguirre, the Chilean Secretary of Legation. He wasn't the only man in her life, but certainly the one she envisioned a future with. Wishful thinking again, plans were not going to materialize as she'd hoped. Gay Orlova wanted marriage. Eyzaguirre, a married man, was unable, or unwilling to get a divorce. Some reports circulated that she was destitute, others that she was depressed.  The latter was unfortunately true. 

Walter Winchell's 'On Broadway' column, 1948.

In 1948, Galina Orloff, aka Gay Orlova, turned on the gas inside her Paris apartment.  Her death went largely unnoticed, save for a single brief, inconclusive and cold mention in Walter Winchell's syndicated column on February 28th. According to Patrick Modiano (novelist and 2014 Nobel winner in literature), in his memoir Pedigree (published in 2015) Orlova (who he stated had an affair with his father) carried out her suicide on February 12th, and was interred in Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois (the Russian Orthodox section of Cimetière de Liers).


That same year, Charles "Lucky" Luciano, found the love of his life while living in exile. Her name was Igea Lissoni, a former ballerina with whom he spent the better part of a decade with until her death (breast cancer) in 1958.  Lucky granted interviews to a number of American reporters who visited Naples. He was usually quite cryptic in responses to the questions regarding actual crimes and the subject of Gay Orlova. To the former, a jaded tongue lashed out at corrupt politics. To the latter, he never spoke in any detail, only addressing the time frame of their affair, and generally only mentioning how he spent a lot of money on material things and women.


www.ganglandlegends.com



Sources:
Cipollini, Christian, Lucky Luciano: Mysterious Tales of a Gangland Legend, Strategic Media Books, 2014, p. 57-69.
Donati, William, Lucky Luciano: The Rise and Fall of a Mob Boss, 
Modiano, Patrick, (translated by Mark Polizzotti), Pedigree: A Memoir, Yale University Press, 2015, p. 13.
Raines, Robert K, Hot Springs: From Capone to Costello, Arcadia Publishing, 2013, p. 56-57.
"Luciano's Ex-Sweetheart Escapes Death as a Spy," The Philadelphia Enquirer, October 24,1939, p. 2
"Another Lucky Escape for Unlucky Lucky's Girl," Albuquerque Journal, December 24, 1939, p. 15.
"Lucky's Dear Friend," The Morning Herald, April 24, 1936, p. 1.
Sell, Robert. “Another Lucky Escape for Unlucky Lucky’s Girl.”
Norman, Charles, "Prosecutor of New York Rackets Strings Bow for "Big Shots" Only," The Florence Times, August 10, 1936, p. 5.


Lait, Jack. “Broadway and Elsewhere: Opium, Politics, Love.” St. Joseph Gazette, 1949 2-September: 4.

Winchell, Walter, "Broadway," Albany Times Union, September 23, 1940, p. 4.
Winchell, Walter, "Broadway," St. Petersburg Times,  February 24, 1948, p. 32

22 November 2016

Blonde Ambition - The Tale of Galina Orloff: Broadway Starlet, Gangster's Girlfriend - Part Two

Part Two in a Three-Part Series on the true story of Gay Orlova - Read Part One


Gay Orlova, from Vanities Photo book, Ninth Edition
The immigrant Russian girl with big dreams of Broadway fame had achieved success within the first five years of entering the United States. Now calling herself Gay Orlova she earned a coveted spot in Earl Carroll's Vanities show, and received regular hype from the press. By 1932, Carroll even gave her a few speaking roles in sketches opposite Andre Randall (Ironically, Orlova was never a top billed cast member in any of Carroll's productions).  Even her mother Antolina adopted the 'Orlova' surname. On the surface, life was grand.
"Earl Carroll, famed nudie tycoon of the-girl-in-the-bathtub episode." - The Philadelphia Inquirer, 1935.
Despite the high times of life in the fast lane, a lingering concern had apparently been haunting her.  Though barely out of her teens, Orlova was worldly, savvy and street smart. In order to avert any immigration problems that could arise, the dancer determined a quick marriage would automatically make her a U.S. citizen.  Edward Finn, the nineteen year old, second balcony usher of the Majestic Theater was her mark.  To the dismay of his friends and mother (who warned the situation was a 'gold brick'), Finn accepted Orlova's proposal and the two were married on March 1, 1934.  There was to be no honeymoon bliss though, as Orlova insisted Finn immediately go inform his mother of the marriage. "You must go home and spend the night with her and square yourself," she commanded.  Finn agreed but suggested they spend a few hours together before her show that evening, to which his bride quickly dismissed -"I'm going shopping with a girlfriend."  Orlova explained they'd have little time to meet up at the show, handed him a ticket so he could at least attend, and closed the conversation with - "Call me up tomorrow."


"If you had to marry an usher, why from the second balcony?" - Earl Carroll, in a memo pinned to backstage bulletin board, 1934.


The following day, Mrs Finn sailed for England, telling hubby she'd see him in a few months. Odd as the entire situation seemed, Finn reminded himself how thoroughly incredible, unbelievable really, that someone of his status - $10 a week salary earner - could be wed to this stunning superstar. She had indeed assured him the arrangement would be worthwhile.  Then he recalled Gay's comforting promise, "That doesn't matter," she cooed. "You move right In here with me. I have Influential friends who will get you a Job with big money."  It was a statement young Finn would not forget, and one that would come back to haunt Orlova. Oh, and as for those 'friends?'  Yes, she already had one on her arm, stockbroker J. Theus Munds.  Like the men before him, Munds would not last.  Orlova's breathtaking allure could only be matched by someone with a truly sinister charm.  She was about to meet him... in Miami of all places!

Gay Orlova had returned from several months of performances at the Dorchester Hotel in London, summer of 1934 had morphed into fall and still Edward Finn's marriage to her was, as the press mocked, "Kiss-less." Earl Carroll had been planning to take his Murder at the Vanities show on the road, and promised to be all the flash and grandeur one would expect from his troupe of chorus girls.  Orlova was on the roster, and headed south to perform a 'fan dance' for the grand opening of Carroll's Palm Island Revue, scheduled to open on New Year's Eve. Tagging along... the stockbroker boyfriend.

"3/7/1930. Operating a gambling device. Ten deputy sheriffs conduct a raid within a resort hotel in Miami. Upon entering the top floorof the hotel, they discover tables filled with gamblers and cash. A total of $73,575.05 was collected. Sheriffs took $60, 090 from one gambler and a pittance of twelve cents from another. Deputies identified two of the gamblers as Joe “The Boss” Masseria and Charles Lucania. Lucky was allegedly the ‘banker’ and the only person armed. He had a revolver. All were charged with vagrancy and gambling. Lucky was fined $1000 and released." - Christian Cipollini, Lucky Luciano: Mysterious Tales of a Gangland Legend.

Palm Island... also the location of Al Capone's grandiose estate.  The significance of this real estate factoid?  Al's house was a frequent winter getaway spot for several of the nation's top gangsters. Call it fate, but on December 28th, Charles "Lucky" Luciano arrived in Miami to hang out with Al's brother Ralph 'Bottles' Capone.  Because Charlie had been arrested in Miami in 1930 (he was in possession of a revolver, but charged only for gambling), he was required to register with police, which he promptly did.  He and Ralph decided they would attend the Earl Carroll show to ring in the New Year. 
Al Capone's Palm Island Estate, circa 1930.
Continue on to read Part Three


http://www.ganglandlegends.com/


Sources:
Cipollini, Christian, Lucky Luciano: Mysterious Tales of a Gangland Legend, Strategic Media Books, 2014, p. 57-69.
Donati, William, Lucky Luciano: The Rise and Fall of a Mob Boss, 
Modiano, Patrick, (translated by Mark Polizzotti), Pedigree: A Memoir, Yale University Press, 2015, p. 13.
Raines, Robert K, Hot Springs: From Capone to Costello, Arcadia Publishing, 2013, p. 56-57.
"Luciano's Ex-Sweetheart Escapes Death as a Spy," The Philadelphia Enquirer, October 24,1939, p. 2
"Another Lucky Escape for Unlucky Lucky's Girl," Albuquerque Journal, December 24, 1939, p. 15.
"Lucky's Dear Friend," The Morning Herald, April 24, 1936, p. 1.
Sell, Robert. “Another Lucky Escape for Unlucky Lucky’s Girl.”
"Arabian Nights Adventure of the Poor Theater Usher." The American Weekly, June 13, 1937, p. 3.
Henderson, W. J., "In Vanities," New York Sun, 1932, p. 26.

20 November 2016

Blonde Ambition - The Tale of Galina Orloff: Broadway Starlet, Gangster's Girlfriend - Part One

Galina Orloff
Galina Orloff, aka Gay Orlova
aka 'Gay Orlova'
Born Petrograd Russia, 29 January 1915
Died Paris France, 12 February 1948

The stunning Broadway dancer, best known by stage name 'Gay Orlova,' lived a life filled with 'tragic comedy.' Propelled into infamy for her scandalous affair with New York's 'Public Enemy Number 1' during the spring of 1936, Orlova's fairy tale life was only just beginning to unravel. A newsmaker long before the Lucky Luciano affair, and sadly - fodder for gossip columns for some years after, the shapely and sharp-tongued beauty never secured 'true love' and cycled through a series of jobs, lovers, failed marriages that ultimately ended in tragedy.

"Until her meeting in the south with Luciano the shapely Russian was one of
the most popular of the Vanities line and, although Ziegfeld's (Follies) is the more illustrious name, Broadway connoisseurs' rate Carroll as his peer in picking beauties." - Robert Sell, 1939.

Sinai Ship Manifest, 1929.
Galina's life began in an era of turmoil, marked by a world war and a revolution within her homeland.  Her father Sergei died in 1927 and within two years she and her mother Antolina would pack up and move about Europe.  France is where the teenage Orloff developed a love of dance, but mother and daughter were still in transition. America was their chosen destination.  Antonina and Galina (on a student visa) boarded the Sinai in Constantinople on March 17, 1929, and arrived in Rhode Island on April 6. The pair soon settled in Brooklyn, but Galina had no intention of pursing a traditional education in the United States.  Her heart was set on Broadway.



The dream came true. By 1931 Galina Orloff, barely sixteen years old, had adopted a pseudonym, began showing up at casting calls, and caught the attention of producer Earl Carroll. Gay Orlova  landed a role in  Carroll's Vanities, and subsequently drew the attention of entertainment writers who were equally captivated by the catchy name and striking looks. The papers would fawn over her, but with a tinge of snarky mocking. Then again, there's no such thing as 'bad' publicity, or is there? And then there were the would-be suitors that salivated over the lot of seductive starlets. Orlova - a cigar smoking femme fatale - equipped with a larger-than-life personality and charm  - cast a spell upon men of all makes and models, from lowly ushers to highfalutin businessmen. 

"So they delve into the classics and the name books, encyclopedias and probably even dictionaries, to find such nom de theater... The prize winner in this category is Gay Orlova."  - Paul Harrison, 1934.

Charles "Lucky" Luciano, 1936
Orlova had also continued jaunting across the pond from time to time, which presented a potential problem.  She was still in the United States on a student visa, which doesn't last forever.  Desperately trying to avert the possibility of deportation, Orlova hatched a diabolical plan while performing at the Majestic Theater in New York, and it focused with laser accuracy upon one very young, naive theater worker named Edward W. F. Finn.  She had noticed how the nineteen year old usher couldn't keep his eyes off her, and so it began... the showgirl extraordinaire made her move.  Gay Orlova flirted briefly before going in for the kill, ultimately requesting Finn's hand in marriage.  Oh yes, he did indeed say, 'Yes!'

"Lucky's a perfect gentleman and I don't know why they say such mean things about him." - Gay Orlova, 1936. 




Little did young Finn know that his bride-to-be was already the mistress of the man District Attorney Thomas E. Dewey would label, "America's Greatest Gangster."

Continue on to read Part Two -


http://www.ganglandlegends.com/


Sources:
Cipollini, Christian, Lucky Luciano: Mysterious Tales of a Gangland Legend, Strategic Media Books, 2014, p. 57-69.
Donati, William, Lucky Luciano: The Rise and Fall of a Mob Boss, 
Modiano, Patrick, (translated by Mark Polizzotti), Pedigree: A Memoir, Yale University Press, 2015, p. 13.
Raines, Robert K, Hot Springs: From Capone to Costello, Arcadia Publishing, 2013, p. 56-57.
"Luciano's Ex-Sweetheart Escapes Death as a Spy," The Philadelphia Enquirer, October 24,1939, p. 2
"Another Lucky Escape for Unlucky Lucky's Girl," Albuquerque Journal, December 24, 1939, p. 15.
"Lucky's Dear Friend," The Morning Herald, April 24, 1936, p. 1.
Sell, Robert. “Another Lucky Escape for Unlucky Lucky’s Girl.”
Albuquerque Journal, 1939 24-December: 15.