Showing posts with label JFK. Show all posts
Showing posts with label JFK. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Legitimate Wiseguy Movie to be Directed by Roland Joffe' Featuring the Story of Chicago Outfit Mobster Tony Spilotro and The Kid He Mentored

He was one of the most ruthless, feared and notorious criminals ever to come out of the Chicago Outfit: Anthony ‘Tony the Ant’ Spilotro. Now, Roland Joffé and Chicagoan Nicholas Celozzi, who is the grand nephew of the late mob boss Sam Giancana and thought of Spilotro as his second father, are bringing Celozzi’s personal story with the mobster to the big screen. The film, The Legitimate Wiseguy, will be directed by Joffé, who was nominated for two Oscars for his brilliant work in the 1980s with The Mission and The Killing Fields.

The film is being described as a contemporary Bronx Tale and was scripted by Celozzi and James McGrath.

Monaco Films, founded by Celozzi and partner Michael Sportelli, will co-produce with financier/developer John Vojtech. The producers will start casting for the film’s three main lead roles — Spilotro, Celozzi and Celozzi, Sr.

Once casting is complete and the film is fully financed, locations will be in Los Angeles. and Las Vegas (where Spilotro’s rise and fall unfolded in the 1970s and 1980s, first as a team of burglars known as the Hole in the Wall gang that operated out of the Gold Rush and later as Chicago’s man in Vegas).

Most audiences will remember Spilotro as portrayed by Joe Pesci in Martin Scorsese’s Casino which was based on the Mafioso’s life and work in Vegas during that time. Celozzi’s mentor and a father figure was an enforcer for the Chicago Outfit and oversaw illegal gaming profits, known as “the skim” on behalf of the Chicago mob at a Las Vegas hotel.

Tony Spilotro and his brother Michael Spilotro would eventually both end up dead, buried in a pre-dug grave in a cornfield in the Willow Slough preserve (which is close to the Indiana-Illinois state line) after they left from their homes in Oak Park, IL for a meeting and ended up in the basement of a house in Bensonville, IL only to be mercilessly beaten/murdered.

Celozzi has been in the film business for long while. His film producing and writing credits include the documentary Momo: The Sam Giancana Story, which provides a more personal glimpse into the life of Celozzi’s infamous grand uncle. He also served as executive producer on the 2018 installment of the Kickboxer film franchise, Kickboxer: Retaliation and produced the 2016 Kickboxer: Vengeance, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dave Bautista. Celozzi also wrote and produced, among numerous other films, the psycho-thriller The Lost Angel, Nightmare Boulevard and Shattered.

The Legitimate Wiseguy, based on the true coming-of-age story of veteran Hollywood writer/producer Celozzi, showcases his complex relationship with Spilotro while the Las Vegas gangster quarterbacked the young Celozzi’s acting career in Hollywood.

He credits Spilotro with getting him cast as an actor in The A-Team, Hunter, Magnum P.I. and Pretty Smart. The story of how will be told in the upcoming film.

The Legitimate Wiseguy is described as “a story about family loyalty, an influential but deadly uncle, an oppressed father and an impressionable young man who’s background clashes with his desire to succeed in Hollywood at any cost.”

“I didn’t have the best relationship with my father and he and I argued, and Tony filled that void for me. It was like a Bermuda triangle. The more my father and I argued, the closer I relied on Tony. My father cut me off, I didn’t have a dime, where was I supposed to go? He is the one who went to Tony to ask him to help me. He didn’t like me going to Vegas all the time, but what was I going to do? Though Tony and I had a father-son relationship, I was playing checkers while he was playing chess,” Celozzi told Deadline. “He was always many moves ahead of me. At some point, he brought me further in.”

Celozzi added, “People say he was a sociopath and I understand that and I do believe it and I’m not pretending that he wasn’t, but I also saw a different side to him so when he died, it was very rough for me.”

Monaco Films is currently overseeing development and production of several feature-length films, including 2 Days/1963 which explores the underbelly of the Chicago Mob and their role in the JFK assassination.

A saying during that time in the upper echelon of organized crime circles was: “Kill a man he dies once, kill his son, he dies 10,000 deaths” referring, of course, to the Nov. 22, 1963 assassination of the then 46 year-old President John F. Kennedy. Prior to the election, patriarch Joe Kennedy had asked for a favor from the Chicago Outfit via Frank Sinatra who, in turn, went to mob boss Sam Giancana. Chicago delivered by messing with voting process and destroying ballot boxes to ensure a win. The project is being developed with Mark Wolper at Warner Bros. as a six-hour, limited series.

Afterwards, Bobby Kennedy was appointed Attorney General by his brother (the President) with one of his main missions to expose and erase organized crime and dragged a number of people to testify against the mob in the Senate’s Rackets Committee. It was under Kennedy’s reign that the national organized crime syndicate came under attack and resulted in a number of convictions including Anthony ‘Tony Ducks’ Carello, John Ormento, Frankie Carbo, Carmine Galante, Frank ‘Blinky’ Palermo and Alfred Sica and a slew of other men were exposed for having connections. It was seen by the syndicate as the ultimate betrayal by Joe Kennedy, who was a former bootlegger during prohibition.

For 2 Days/1963, Celozzi will relay the story told to him by his Uncle Pepe, Sam Giancana’s brother. The project is being sold by The Exchange and executive produced by Bonnie Giancana (Sam’s daughter). Also, Monaco Films has a crime thriller Revelation (formerly known as 6ix) in pre-production.

David Gersh of The Gersh Agency and Craig Baumgarten of Zero Gravity Management brokered the deal between Joffé and Monaco Films for The Legitimate Wiseguy.

Thanks to Anita Busch.

Friday, January 11, 2019

THE OUTFIT'S GREATEST HITS

The Chicago Outfit's Greatest Hits from 1920 to 2001.

1920: Big Jim Colosimo is slain in his popular Wabash Avenue restaurant, making way for the rise of Al Capone. Largely credited with taking the steps to create what would become known as the "Chicago Outfit"

1924: Dion O'Banion is shot dead in his flower shop across from Holy Name Cathedral. Chief suspects are his beer war enemies, the Genna brothers. Started hijacking whiskey right before the start of prohibition kicked in.

1929: Seven members of the Bugs Moran gang are gunned down, allegedly on orders of Capone, at 2122 N. Clark in the infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Moran himself, lucky man, is late for the meeting at the S.M.C. Carting Co.


38 Detective Special1930: Jake Lingle, a Chicago Tribune reporter in the mob's pocket, is slain in the Illinois Central train station. He had crossed many mobsters, including Capone. Shot behind the ear with a 38 caliber detective's special on the way to the racetrack, Lingle was given a hero's funeral. It was only later that it was learned that he was really a legman for the mob.


1936: Capone gunman and bodyguard "Machine Gun" Jack McGurn is gunned down at a Milwaukee Avenue bowling alley, the day before Valentine's Day. Given the timing, the Moran gang was suspected. In addition to his skill with a machine gun, McGurn was also considered a scratch golfer who considered going pro and boxed as a welterweight where he was known as Battling Jack McGurn. He is credited with over 25 mob kills and McGurn was also suspected of being the principal gunner and planner of the St. Valentines Day Massacre.


1975: Mob boss Sam Giancana is killed, while cooking sausage, in the basement of his Oak Park home after he becomes a liability to the Outfit. "The Don" calls Giancana the Godfather of Godfathers - The Most Powerful Mafioso in America. Started as a hitman for Capone. Rose to boss of the Chicago crime family. Friend of celebrities such as Frank Sinatra & Marilyn Monroe. Rigged the Chicago vote for John F. Kennedy in 1960.


Joe Batters1978: Six burglars who struck at mob boss Anthony Accardo's (AKA Joe Batters by the FBI and THE Big Tuna by the Chicago media) house are found slain across the city.


1983: Worried he will sing to the feds, mobsters gun down crooked Chicago businessman Allen Dorfman outside the Hyatt Hotel in Lincolnwood. Dorfman had already been convicted under operation Pendorf: Pentration of Dorfman, along with Teamsters President Roy Williams and Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, when he was hit by the Outfit afraid he would look to reduce his sentence.


1983: Mob gambling lieutenant Ken Eto is shot three times in the head. Miraculously, he survives and testifies against old pals.


1986: The mob's man in Vegas, Anthony Spilotro, and his brother Michael Spilotro are beaten and buried alive in an Indiana cornfield. Glamorized in the movie Casino in which Joe Pesci played "Tony the Ant". Opened up a gift shop at the Circus-Cirus Hotel and Casino where he based his operations. The Family Secrets Trial revealed that the two were originally murdered by a crew led by James Marcello in a house in Bensonville. 


2001: Anthony "the Hatch" Chiaramonti, a vicious juice loan debt collector, is shot to death outside a restaurant in suburban Lyons by a man in a hooded sweat shirt. Chiaramonti had been caught on a tape played at the trial of Sam Carlisi, grabbing a trucking company owner, Anthony LaBarbera, by the throat, lifting him in the air and warning him not to be late in paying juice loan money. LaBarbera was wearing an FBI body recorder at the time. Interesting enough, the restaurant where he was shot was a Brown's Chicken and Pasta, where I have had lunch a handful of times.

Thanks to the Chicago SunTimes and additional various sources.

Monday, December 31, 2018

As Long as They Do It Early & Often, Why Not Let Suburbanites Vote for Chicago Mayor

Life in Chicago wasn’t so good as many baby boomers who lived in the city might recall. Aldermen didn’t need computers to figure out which voters on which blocks were not supporting them at election time. They would have their minions raid alleys and purloin garbage can lids.

The next day, the alderman would knock on the victim’s door and offer a new garbage can lid in exchange for their vote. Or, face a certain fine under the “No Garbage Can Lid” ordinance, an expensive misdemeanor.

Starting in the late 1940s and through the 1960s, Chicago residents discovered they could escape the oppression of the old Chicago Machine for brighter, freer manure-covered pastures. So began the new “Sub-Urban” life.

Many of the new suburban homes, built in part with veteran’s benefits, were located on old abandoned pig farms. The suburbanites didn’t mind trading the odor of old Machine bully to pig stench.

Of course, the word “suburban” didn’t come from he suburbanites. It came from he angry Chicago Machine. Legend has it that the origins of “Sub-Urban” began after a beer-drinking brawl in a smoke-filled room on the seventh floor of Chicago’s City Hall in the summer of 1960, when the Chicago Outfit stumped hard for JFK for president. (“Mafia” is a New York Term, Outfit is exclusive to Chicago.)

As the mob leaders departed, the aldermen discussed how to get money to pay legal fees for eight Chicago Police officers, who were also precinct workers, who were indicted in the Summerdale scandal for operating a large-scale burglary ring. They were stealing more than garbage can lids, apparently.

One of the aldermen suggested Chicago absorb the pig farms outside of the city’s confines when an another named Louie “The Lip” blurted out his disgust with the fleeing voters from his precinct.

As quoted in the Chicago Herald-American, Louie “The Lip” declared, “De, de, de, dey is movin’ to da, da, da, da ‘sub-oyeban’ pi, pi, pi, pig farms.” The ward bosses looked at him like he was Einstein, declaring, “Dat’s poyfect! Dat’s da name. We’ll call doz areas the Suburbs”cuz they is sub-par to our urban environs.”

(You need to read that paragraph a few times to understand Chicago-ese.)

Thus became the word “Sub-Urban” or “below City Life,” the “Suburbs!”

Although many aldermen were happy to see disgruntled voters flee their precinct voting obligations to the Machine, it became painfully clear most leaving the bungalow neighborhoods were people of good financial means. They had jobs, money, but the money was fleeing to the “suburbs,” which boasted innovative things like curb-less streets, garbage cans lined up in front of the house, not in the back, and stinking, egg-smelling well-water.

The loss of money hurt the Machine, and ever since, the Machine has been conspiring in ways to force those disgruntled former “Urban” dwellers to help keep their pensions afloat.

“Who gonna pay fer da pensions?” was a common refrain at Machine Precinct meetings in 1966. Machine captains couldn’t pronounce their words, but one they knew well was “pension” which rolled off their lips and out of taxpayer pockets like honey from a beehive.

Since then, of course, the city’s despots and autocrats have conspired in many ways to grab cash from the wallets of the ancestors of those early Sub-Urban Pioneers, including back in the 1980s forcing Chicago, with the help of columnist Mike Royko, when the city demanded suburban taxpayers to pay to save the CTA.

Money collected from the suburbs goes into the state pot and is divvied up in favor of Chicago’s cash-strapped schools. In fact, every time Chicago comes up cash-short, they dip into the pocketbooks of hardworking suburbanites. Chicago has been in need of money forever, and it’s mayors eyeball suburban taxpayers like the Big Bad Wolf licking his chops after Little Red Riding Hood.

The suburbs might as well give up. Turn Cook County into “Chicago County” and erase the concept of the “suburbs.” We’re paying for Chicago. We might as well be a part of Chicago, and have a voice in whomever is going to be the next mayor.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Thanks to Ray Hanania. Ray is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist. Hanania can be reached on his personal website at www.Hanania.com.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Chicago Brothers Discover their Father's Friends were #Mobsters. So, They Wrote a Book #MobAdjacent

Childhood is, or should be, a time of innocence, and for a while that is the way it was for brothers Michael Jr. and Jeffrey Gentile. And then a pistol fell out of a coat.

“We were taking the coats from people who had come over to visit our parents and this gun just dropped on the floor,” says Michael. “For us it wasn’t a matter of, ‘Oh my God, look, a gun!’ but, ‘Hey, we better figure out which coat this fell from and put it back.’”

The brothers were born 14 months apart in the mid-1950s, and grew up in the western suburbs and everything was just fine for a time, or as Jeffrey puts it, “just like episodes of ‘The Wonder Years’ until they started to get interrupted by episodes of ‘The Sopranos.’ ”

As they write in their book, “Mob Adjacent: A Family Memoir”: “Once Michael and I started paying attention, the veneer that wrapped around our family fiction cracked, and there was no putting it back together. One day you’re a kid learning to read; the next you’re reading the newspaper, and there’s an article about the man who came to dinner last week. Pictures, too. Yup, that’s him. The newspaper said he’d been indicted for running a suburban gambling ring and was looking at five years in prison.”

The man who came to dinner remains nameless but the names of many of the others who pepper the book’s pages and frequented the brothers’ lives read almost like an old most-wanted list.

“Through geography and happenstance, our father grew up and knew well the post-Capone generation of Chicago criminals and crime bosses,” says Michael Jr. “They were his friends.”

The names of those people, some with well-known nicknames, pop from the pages: Manny Skar, Richard Cain, Joey “The Clown” Lombardo, Frank “Skip” Cerone and his brother James “Tar Baby” Cerone and their cousin “Jackie the Lackey” Cerone.

The brothers’ grandfather came here as a 2-year-old from Italy in 1896, settling with his parents and siblings in the then heavily Italian neighborhood around Grand Avenue and Aberdeen Street. After he helped a neighbor fight off two men who were attacking him, that man, a crime figure named Vincent Benevento, conferred on him the sort of respect and supplied the connections that can go a long way in Chicago.

He had a son named Michael (in 1929), the father of Michael Jr. and Jeffrey, and together they worked in the produce business. Then the son went to war (Korea) and afterward, with the help of some by-then nefarious childhood friends, opened a bar. He married (a woman named Mary Ann) and started a family. The Gentile brothers have a sister named Lisa.

“My dad was kind of the go-to guy for his friends,” says Jeffrey. “He was always clean as a whistle and good at what he did and so when a place was in trouble, my dad was called in.”

And so it was that in the early 1960s, he was running a place called Orlando’s Hideaway, part of a notorious strip of entertainments along Mannheim Road in the near western suburbs. Those of a certain age are likely to remember the fancy hotels, nightclubs and restaurants of that strip, and perhaps some of the illegal gambling and prostitution activities too, that comprised what was known as “Glitter Gulch,” a sort of mini Las Vegas.

It was at Orlando’s where the brothers met “a small, quiet, balding man, always perfectly tailored.” The boys were told to address him as “Mr. Sam.” He was Sam Giancana, the head of the Chicago outfit from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s.

Giancana, often known as “Momo,” used Orlando’s as a meeting place. The brothers were there when Frank Sinatra came to call and, they write, “We heard an unforgettable explosion as Mr. Sam raged at Sinatra” — about a Nevada casino deal that supposedly involved Joseph Kennedy, father of JFK, a Sinatra pal. “We have never seen anyone so angry before or since. Snarling, really. Spitting mad. Literally. Red face. Eyes bulging. Insane. Terrifying.”

That is but one of the lively anecdotes in “Mob Adjacent,” a book that came to life after Michael Jr., who has had a long career in the produce business, produced and hosted a 10-part series of short YouTube videos about his family.

These premiered in November 2016. “I thought that the videos were good but that they were only a half effort,” says Jeffrey. “I always wanted to write a book about our family and so Michael and I began to collaborate, to share memories and stories.”

The foundation for the book was letters and journal entries that Jeffrey had been keeping for decades. To flesh those out the brothers talked, often for more than 14 hours at a stretch, at Michael’s home here and Jeffrey’s in Pasadena, Calif.

“Mob Adjacent” is a fine and lively book, one that gives a solid and not overwhelming history of organized crime in these parts, and offers a very detailed narrative of their family and their own lives. It is frank and honest and surprisingly amusing.

“Our lives are the result of geography and happenstance,” says Jeffrey. Or, as he writes in the book, “Being mob adjacent meant we got the best seats in the house. It also meant we got to go home after the show.”

Their father died in 1995. At his wake, Jimmy Cerone approached the open casket, patted the corpse’s cheek and whispered into the coffin, “You were a good boy.”

His sons do justice to their father’s life and this project has made them appreciate one another. “Writing this book gave us a greater understanding of who we are and where we came from,” says Michael.

It has also given them something of a cottage industry. At their website mobadjacent.com, you will find a way to order the self-published book, see the video segments and purchase all manner of items, from an array of T-shirts to shot glasses, pens and mugs. The brothers have written a pilot episode for a television series that they are shopping around to agents and producers.

“It is a sitcom based on our lives,” says Michael. “But it could also be a drama.”

Thanks to Rick Kogan.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit is a Revealing Portrait of #RFK from @HardballChris

Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit, is a revealing new portrait of Robert F. Kennedy that gets closer to the man than any book before, by bestselling author Chris Matthews, an esteemed Kennedy expert and anchor of MSNBC’s Hardball.

With his bestselling biography Jack Kennedy, Chris Matthews shared a new look of one of America’s most beloved Presidents and the patriotic spirit that defined him. Now, with Bobby Kennedy, Matthews returns with a gripping, in-depth, behind-the-scenes portrait of one of the great figures of the American twentieth century.

Overlooked by his father, and overshadowed by his war-hero brother, Bobby Kennedy was the perpetual underdog. When he had the chance to become a naval officer like Jack, Bobby turned it down, choosing instead to join the Navy as a common sailor. It was a life changing experience that led him to connect with voters from all walks of life: young or old, black or white, rich or poor. They were the people who turned out for him in his 1968 campaign. RFK would prove himself to be the rarest of politicians—both a pragmatist who knew how to get the job done and an unwavering idealist who could inspire millions.

Drawing on extensive research and interviews, Matthews pulls back the curtain on the public and private worlds of Robert Francis Kennedy. He shines a light on all the important moments of his life, from his early years and his start in politics to his crucial role as attorney general in his brother’s administration and his tragic run for president. This definitive book brings Bobby Kennedy to life like never before and is destined to become a political classic.

Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

John F. Kennedy Assassination a Mafia Conspiracy

Deputy Sheriff Harry Weatherford, the best shot in the department, was assigned to the top of the County Records Building by Sheriff Decker to protect the president. When Oswald's first shot struck Kennedy, Officer Weatherford saw the pigeons fly from the School Book Depository Building. But he had no target.

When Oswald fired his second shot, Weatherford saw the muzzle flash from the sixth floor window. Jacquelyn was scrambling from the limousine to escape the hail of bullets as Oswald's finger tightened on the trigger for his third shot, which was intended for her.

Just a micro-second before Oswald fired, Weatherford's bullet passed in front of Oswald causing his third shot to go high over Jacquelyn and hitting the curb on the south side of Elm Street.

John F. Kennedy Assassination a Mafia Conspiracy.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Author of "John F. Kennedy Assassination: A Mafia Conspiracy" Discusses His Theory

Jim Gatewood, author of "John F. Kennedy Assassination a Mafia Conspiracy," as well as several other books, was the guest speaker for the Kilgore Rotary Club on Wednesday.

Gatewood spoke about the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas, and discussed Mafia history and other facts which cement his theory that the Mafia was behind the assassination, in conjunction with Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

The Dallas historian gave historical facts about Mafia activity in Dallas, including details on the life of Benny Binion, now famous for opening the Horseshoe Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas and a noted Dallas businessman around the time of the Depression.

Gatewood wove a tale which started back around the time of the Depression, and the path involved noted mobsters from New York, Dallas, Chicago and several other eastern U.S. cities, along with Texas historical figures such as Lone Wolf Gonzales and Frank Hamer, the Texas Ranger who helped gun down Bonnie and Clyde in Louisiana.

He tied all of that history together with a story about Oswald and his involvement in the Mafia and his association with Cuban Freedom Fighters who were mad because JFK had supposedly issued an order to have Fidel Castro killed.

According to Gatewood, Oswald waited on the sixth floor of the Texas Book Depository with a look-alike, a Cuban Freedom Fighter who would take the shot if Oswald would not. There were also Cuban Freedom Fighters along the motorcade route to signal the pair when it was time to be ready to fire.

Gatewood said law enforcement in Dallas County knew about an assassination attempt and had their own shooter on the top of the County Records Building to look for snipers. That shooter fired on Oswald's gun after two shots had been fired at Kennedy, causing Oswald's third shot to hit the curb and ricochet into the guard rail.

Oswald hit the president and Texas Gov. John Connally with his first two shots and, according to Gatewood, was firing at Jackie Kennedy with the third shot to make an impact on the shooting that would earn him kudos with the mob.

Oswald missed his ride in a car to the Highland Park Airport, but his look-alike was able to get on the plane.

Jack Ruby, a noted mob figure in Dallas, told Oswald if he missed his plane he should meet him at his apartment, which was near the rooming house where Oswald lived. But, before he could get there, he met Dallas police officer J.D. Tippett and shot him. Then, Oswald was captured at the Texas Theater and Ruby was sent by mobsters to gun him down on Sunday morning, which was seen by millions on national television.

Ruby remained quiet, pleaded guilty to murder of Oswald and died of cancer in prison.

Gatewood offered to discuss his theory with anyone who wanted, and he said he has all of the documentation anyone would want to back up his theory.

Thanks to Greg Collins in 2009.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Touhy vs. Capone: The Chicago Outfit’s Biggest Frame Job

Touhy vs. Capone: The Chicago Outfit's Biggest Frame Job.

When beat cop Don Herion and his partner responded to shots fired on December 16, 1959, they didn’t know that they had heard the final, fatal salvo in one of the most contorted conflicts in the history of organized crime. A canny bootlegger, Roger Touhy had survived a gang war with Al Capone, false imprisonment for a faked kidnapping, a prison break and recapture. His story dragged in all the notorious men of his day: Frank Nitti, John “Jake the Barber” Factor, Mayor Cermak, Melvin Purvis, J. Edgar Hoover, Baby Face Nelson, Dan “Tubbo” Gilbert, FDR and JFK. As Touhy’s life was ending on his sister’s front porch, Herion’s quest to unravel the tangle of events that led to his assassination had just begun.

A native of the Windy City, Don Herion joined the Chicago Police Department in 1955. On a cold winter night in 1959, he was called to the scene of Roger Touhy’s murder. Herion retired after forty-eight years on the job, including two years of undercover work for the Chicago Crime Commission. He is the author of Pay, Quit, or Die: Chicago Mob Ultimatum, and The Chicago Way.

Touhy vs. Capone: The Chicago Outfit's Biggest Frame Job.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Original 1960 John F. Kennedy Presidential Poster

Original 1960 Kennedy Presidential Campaign Office Poster

This gorgeous red, white and blue John F. Kennedy poster is from one of the most important presidential elections in history. It was meant to be hung in a campaign office for the candidates (generally considered by experts to be used in Massachusetts or New York offices). It is in pristine, flawless condition and has been linen backed by one of the leaders in that field of expertise. It is also professionally double-matted and framed in cherry wood.



Known as a "jugate" because of the side-by-side cameo images of the candidates, it has the all-important union seal at bottom as well as the statement, "Issued by the Democratic National Committee, Washington" in lower right, so attesting to its originality and authenticity. This Kennedy poster (with Lyndon B. Johnson) is not typically found, especially in this top grade condition. It's simply extraordinary in every sense, in particular the blazing, rich colors. These colors tend to fade out over time, but these are as strong as the day the poster was printed. Obviously someone had the foresight to "squirrel" this one away. It will look great in an office or conference room. Accompanied by a Letter of Authenticity.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

"Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires"

Face it--there seemingly will always be a market for certain books. Just choose to chronicle some facet of the Kennedys, the Nazis or, as Selwyn Raab has opted, the Mafia, and a certain sales threshold is guaranteed. Quality seldom seems an issue. Just serve it up and the buyers will come.

Happily, "Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires" is worth every cent, and for those who haven't gotten into Mafia reading on either the fictional -- as in Mario Puzo-- level or other documentary accounts, this may well be the only book you need to read.

So well written and encompassing is Raab's effort that even at 763 pages, many readers will pine for more. And of course there could be more at some point. As the title suggests, a Mafia resurgence is more than quite possible after the John Gotti era unraveling of the more traditional operations in the 1980s and '90s. The next time, it just might not be so Italian based.

Raab serves up a history of the underworld that is long on coherency and understanding and short on the kind of mind-numbing detail other Mafia historians wander into. He gets right into the notoriously efficient work of Charles (Lucky) Luciano, whose rules of engagement ended a lot of shoot-'em-ups and kept the Mafia pointed at one goal -- ever increasing the amount of money pouring into the organization and individual coffers by corrupting American government and business, not necessarily in that order.

It was Luciano who advocated the organization adopt secretive, low-profile standards for thievery, extortion and other crimes as opposed to the over-the-top "I'm just giving the people what they want" personna that Chicago boss Al Capone advocated. And Raab pulls the thread by luring the reader to all that came after. With a reporter's love of fact and disdain for much of the fictional crap about these dark knights, we follow the organization's operations through its real birth during Prohibition, its World War II profiteering, its '50s heyday as a union corrupter and Las Vegas force and its '80s and '90s stumbling largely attributed to a name now very familiar -- Rudy Giuliani. It was Giuliani's use of RICO (the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act) that did great damage to the Mafia's traditional legal defenses in the 1980s.

While he devotes a few pages to the oft-told stories like the Louis (Lepke) Buchalter case from the '30s and '40s, Raab scores big points for telling modern Mafia tales that are less often told but are just as magnetic as the '30s-era classics. And Raab is a constant critic of the law enforcement and justice system weaknesses for not prosecuting crimes that seemed all too obvious. And back in the beginning of this review, did we mention the Kennedys?

That would propel the reader to the book's Chapter 15, titled "The Ring of Truth." The title comes from the mouth of G. Robert Blakey, an expert on both the John F. Kennedy assassination and the underworld, about utterances from Frank Ragano, a lawyer who had the opportunity to defend Mafia operators Santos Trafficante, Carlos Marcello and Detroit's own labor racketeer, the still missing Jimmy Hoffa.

Trafficante, Ragano said, confirmed that the Mafia had a hand in the drama of Nov. 22, 1963. The simple theory: Robert Kennedy's vigorous prosecution of racketeering had to be stopped and the best way to do that was by icing the man who appointed him to his job. Yes, there was plenty of bad feeling toward JFK himself, but Raab concludes, "Whether or not they had a part in it, the Mafia had triumphed as a big winner after the assassination."

One other reason to admire Raab's work: He does quite a bit of damage to the fictional image of the Mafia that is the result of Puzo's fiction and movies like "Good Fellas," "Casino" and the most current manifestation, "The Sopranos." Raab quotes organized crime boss Howard Abadinsky as saying, "They are displayed having a twisted sense of honor, 'taking no crap from anyone,' with easy access to women and money. Such displays romanticize organized crime and, as an unintended consequence, serve to perpetuate the phenomenon and create alluring myths about the Mafia."

That's something Raab could never be convicted of.

Reviewed by JOHN SMYNTEK

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Kennedy Half-Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy died almost half a century ago--yet because of his extraordinary promise and untimely death, his star still resonates strongly. On the anniversary of his assassination, celebrated political scientist and analyst Larry J. Sabato--himself a teenager in the early 1960s and inspired by JFK and his presidency--explores the fascinating and powerful influence he has had over five decades on the media, the general public, and especially on each of his nine presidential successors.

A recent Gallup poll gave JFK the highest job approval rating of any of those successors, and millions remain captivated by his one thousand days in the White House. For all of them, and for those who feel he would not be judged so highly if he hadn't died tragically in office, The Kennedy Half-Century will be particularly revealing. Sabato reexamines JFK's assassination using heretofore unseen information to which he has had unique access, then documents the extraordinary effect the assassination has had on Americans of every modern generation through the most extensive survey ever undertaken on the public's view of a historical figure. The full and fascinating results, gathered by the accomplished pollsters Peter Hart and Geoff Garin, paint a compelling portrait of the country a half-century after the epochal killing. Just as significantly, Sabato shows how JFK's presidency has strongly influenced the policies and decisions--often in surprising ways--of every president since.

Among the hundreds of books devoted to JFK, The Kennedy Half-Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy, stands apart for its rich insight and original perspective. Anyone who reads it will appreciate in new ways the profound impact JFK's short presidency has had on our national psyche.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

New Report on CIA Cover-Up Involving JFK's Assassination

Just after noon on November 22, 1963, the US lost its 35th president to a bullet in Dallas.

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy spurred numerous conspiracy theories, many of which doubted whether sniper Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and asserting that the CIA was involved. And now, a declassified 2013 report by CIA historian David Robarge details how, at the very least, the CIA knew much more than it has let on.

The report states that John McCone, then the director of the CIA, withheld important information from President Lyndon B. Johnson's "Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy" — also referred to as the "Warren Commission" — and that top agency officials were part of a "benign cover-up."

The spy agency acknowledges that McCone and other high-ranking CIA officials kept "incendiary and diversionary issues" from the investigation, much of which may have shed light on how Oswald spent his time in the years before the assassination.

"For a complete nobody, Oswald certainly did seem to hang out with well-connected people," University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato, author of "The Kennedy Half-Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy," told Business Insider in 2013.

According to the declassified report, the CIA decided to tell the Warren Commission only the "best truth" about Oswald. Having taken that decision, the CIA kept information from the inquiry that would almost certainly have led the inquiry down a different path.

Among the most important information McCone and other officials failed to divulge was that the CIA had spent years plotting the assassination of Fidel Castro. Not being aware of these plots, the Warren Commission could not know that was something to investigate — but the new information suggests it would have been valuable.

While living in New Orleans in 1963, for example, Oswald shared office space with a CIA-backed anti-Castro group.

Oswald had handed out pro-Castro literature with the address 544 Camp Street on it. FBI agent Guy Banister and a CIA-backed Cuban Revolutionary Council also rented space at the same location.

"One thing that I've always wondered about is [Oswald's] time in New Orleans because he was apparently associated with Guy Banister, who clearly had FBI and CIA ties, and yet he's also scuffling on the street with [the local representative of] an anti-Castro group," Sabato told Business Insider in 2013. And Sabato's book notes that "it could be that Oswald was just a Forrest Gump-like character who popped up at interesting moments wherever he happened to live." "But just as conceivably, whether related to the Kennedy assassination or not, Oswald actually had secretive contacts with the CIA or the FBI, or both," he said.

The report also reveals that in 1978, McCone lied about failing to divulge the Castro plots.

When a House committee asked him whether the spy agency had withheld information from the commission about the plots to kill Castro, McCone said he couldn't answer because he had not been told about the plots.

The report says McCone's answer "was neither frank nor accurate." According to one of the lawyers of the Warren Commission cited in the report, McCone had discussed Robert Kennedy's uneasiness about the CIA withholding that information in 1975.

The US attorney general at the time of his brother's assassination, Robert Kennedy had been overseeing the spy agency's anti-Castro actions, which included some of the assassination plots.

According to the report, McCone thought "Robert Kennedy had personal feelings of guilt because he was directly or indirectly involved with the anti-Castro planning."

The report hints at the kind of questions the president's brother might have been asking himself, namely: "Had the administration's obsession with Cuba inadvertently inspired a politicized sociopath to murder John Kennedy?"

Though the report sheds some light on the extent of a CIA cover-up, it still leaves many questions unanswered. Numerous names and mentions throughout the report have also been redacted, suggesting that some information might never be publicly disclosed. And as to whether Oswald acted alone or with accomplices, those who doubt the Warren Commission's findings might never find a satisfying answer.

"For all attempts to close the case as 'just Oswald,' fair-minded observers continue to be troubled by many aspects of eyewitness testimony and paper trails," Sabato writes.

The report concludes that McCone could be accused of being a "co-conspirator" in a cover-up surrounding Kennedy's assassination only insofar as he kept the plot to kill Castro secret after November 22, 1963.

"As far as the CIA goes … it is clear beyond question that the CIA lied repeatedly to the Warren Commission and continued lying to the House Select Committee on Assassinations," Sabato said in 2013.

"Revealing nothing about the assassination attempts on Fidel Castro. Revealing very little about the fact they kept close tabs on Oswald: They knew what he was doing — they were evaluating him. I think they had something in mind. I don't subscribe to the hidden coup within the CIA, although I don't rule it out."

The CIA recently told Politico that the agency decided to declassify the report "to highlight misconceptions about the CIA's connection to JFK's assassination," including the infamous "Grassy Knoll" theory that asserts the CIA was behind the assassination.

New details could come out when thousands of CIA documents are scheduled to be released in October 2017.

Sabato said: "The president at that time will get to rule whether anything can remain secret and redacted."

Thanks to Barbara Tasch and Michael B Kelley.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Once Upon a Secret - My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath

In the summer of 1962, nineteen-year-old Mimi Beardsley arrived in Washington, D.C., to begin an internship in the White House press office. After just three days on the job, the privileged but sheltered young woman was presented to the President himself. Almost immediately, the two began an affair that would continue for the next eighteen months. Emotionally unprepared to counter the President’s charisma and power, Mimi was also ill-equipped to handle the feelings of isolation that would follow as she fell into the double life of a college student who was also the secret lover of the most powerful man in the world. After the President’s assassination in Dallas, she grieved alone, locked her secret away, and tried to start a new life, only to be blindsided by her past.

Now, no longer defined by silence or shame, Mimi Alford finally unburdens herself with this unflinchingly honest account of her life and her extremely private moments with a very public man. This paperback edition includes a special Q&A, in which the author reflects on the intense media attention surrounding the book’s initial release. Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath is a moving story of a woman emerging from the shadows to reclaim the truth.

“With the benefit of hindsight and good old-fashioned maturity, [Mimi Alford] writes not just about the secret, but the corrosive effect of keeping that secret. . . . You can’t help liking her, or her elegant and thoroughly good-natured book.”—The Spectator

“What [Alford] sacrificed in lucre she has more than recovered in credibility and dignity.”—The Washington Times

“Compelling . . . a polished voice telling a credible story you can take to the bank.”—Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“Explosive . . . searingly candid.”—New York Post


Monday, August 03, 2015

To Kill A President: Finally---An Ex-FBI Agent Rips Aside the Veil of Secrecy that Killed JFK

To Kill A President: Finally---An Ex-FBI Agent rips aside the veil of secrecy that killed JFK. The book by M. Wesley Swearingen uncovers new information about the murder of President John F. Kennedy and identifies groups who conspired to kill him, offering evidence and arguments documenting a conspiracy.

According to Swearingen, Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone in assassinating Kennedy as was claimed by the FBI and the Warren Commission. Instead, he argues that rogue CIA agents acting in concert with the mafia, certain Cuban exiles and FBI informants killed Kennedy. Swearingen contends that the conspiracy was covered up by the FBI, an effort that continues to this day through the bureau's unwillingness to disclose key details about the events surrounding Kennedy's death. Since Swearingen's book was released a second FBI agent has come forward now claiming Oswald did not kill Kennedy.

A 25-year veteran of FBI field work, Swearingen was told in 1962 by a Cuban exile that the CIA and the mafia were planning to kill JFK, but the FBI did nothing to stop them. He argues that the statements and actions of FBI and CIA personnel prove a cover-up, one that he knows included CIA-trained Cuban exiles and American mobsters.

"Names are named, associations are made, reasonable conjectures are served and Swearingen comes across as the real deal," explains a Kirkus Discoveries review. "He virtually dares readers to prove him wrong."

M. Wesley Swearingen is a former FBI agent and the author of FBI Secrets: An Agents Expose. A U.S. Navy veteran of World War II, Swearingen later graduated from Ohio State University and joined the FBI while it was directed by J. Edgar Hoover. Following his retirement from the FBI in 1977, Swearingen was involved in several successful lawsuits against the FBI related to wrongful imprisonment and civil rights violations. A California licensed private investigator, Swearingen has appeared in several documentary films about the FBI. He earned the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ) President's Award in 1997.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

President Kennedy Book Links Mob to Assassination

A book claims that three mob bosses were behind President John F. Kennedy's assassination. Authors Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann also say that law enforcement agencies protected the three Mafiosi because they had infiltrated a plan to invade Cuba, the St. Petersburg Times reported. The book says the government could not fully investigate without exposing the invasion plot.

Tampa mob boss Santo Trafficante Jr., according to the book "Ultimate Sacrifice: John and Robert Kennedy, the Plan for a Coup in Cuba, and the Murder of JFK," planned to have Kennedy killed in Tampa. But the attempt misfired and Trafficante instead arranged with New Orleans boss Carlos Marcello for the assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.

While conspiracy theorists have been pitching the mob connection for years, linking it to Cuba is new. Waldron and Hartmann say that the mobsters not only hated Kennedy because of his brother's investigations but wanted to get Castro out of Cuba to return to their profitable businesses there.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Sam Giancana Ordered JFK Whacked!!

"Mafia Princess" Antoinette Giancana, daughter of the late Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana, claims in her book that her father ordered the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. If true, this would make Sam Giancana guilty of one of history's worst crimes. But that doesn't trouble Antoinette Giancana. "The Kennedys were not kind to my father," she said. "They were just as evil and corrupt as any mafioso."

Giancana teamed up with two University of Illinois at Chicago doctors to write JFK and Sam: The Connection Between the Giancana and Kennedy Assassinations. The 217-page book was published by Cumberland House Publishing. Giancana's co-authors are Dr. John Hughes, a neurologist, and Dr. Thomas Jobe, a psychiatrist.

Jobe earlier wrote Lyndon Baines Johnson: The Tragic Self, a Psychohistorical Portrayal. He and Hughes then teamed up on a book about the JFK assassination, and enlisted Giancana's help. Hughes said he did the bulk of the research and writing. But he said Giancana is getting top billing in the list of authors because she's better known.

Giancana's best-selling 1984 memoir, Mafia Princess, was made into a TV movie starring Tony Curtis as Sam and soap opera star Susan Lucci as Antoinette. Now 70, Giancana lives in Elmwood Park. She's a sales associate for a retail chain and markets Giancana Marinara Sauce ("Just Like Dad's, Maybe Better").

Hughes said he read more than 40 books on the JFK assassination and spent almost every weekend for 13 years writing and rewriting the book. He wrote that he used his expertise in neurology to analyze how Kennedy's body moved after he was shot. This led Hughes to conclude that there must have been a shooter on the infamous grassy knoll to Kennedy's right.

The mafia, Hughes wrote, helped Kennedy carry Illinois in the close 1960 election, assuring his victory. In return, JFK was supposed to go easy on the mob. Reneging on the deal, Kennedy unleashed his brother Bobby, the attorney general, on organized crime, the authors claim.

In 1975, Sam Giancana was gunned down while cooking sausage in the basement kitchen of his Oak Park home. The book says the CIA killed Sam Giancana to prevent him from telling a congressional committee about his role in CIA plots to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

These theories, scoffs Sam Giancana biographer Bill Brashler, "are as old as the Easter bunny. It's just silliness." Brashler said Kennedy owed his election to the first Mayor Daley, not to the mob. And even if Sam Giancana felt betrayed, it wasn't the mob's style to murder politicians, much less the president. Finally, it was a trusted bodyguard who killed Sam Giancana, not the CIA. "It was a classic mob hit," Brashler said. Brashler said he interviewed Antoinette Giancana for his book, The Don: The Life and Death of Sam Giancana. He concluded she knew next to nothing about her dad's business.

Antoinette Giancana said that for her book she was able to recall long-buried memories during extensive interviews conducted by Jobe.

Conspiracy buffs have proposed 250 theories to explain what "really" happened Nov. 22, 1963, said Ruth Ann Rugg of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, a JFK assassination museum in Dallas. But Rugg said the only credible explanation is that Lee Harvey Oswald alone shot Kennedy. Conspiracy theorists simply can't accept that such an insignificant drifter changed history by himself. "We want to believe that there was more to it, that there were huge forces involved," Rugg said.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

The JFK-Marilyn Monroe Blackmail Hoax

IT WAS AN INVESTIGATIVE reporter's dream come true: a trove of documents apparently marked up with John F. Kennedy's distinctive scrawl, showing that Marilyn Monroe had blackmailed the late president. According to a series of signed agreements between March 1960 and January 1962, the Kennedys paid the actress more than $1 million for her silence--not just about a long-rumored sexual affair between Kennedy and Monroe, but about JFK's purported relationship with mobster Sam Giancana and, in the document's phrase, other ""underworld figures.'' The papers even hint, says a source who has read them, that Kennedy asked J. Edgar Hoover to arrange Monroe's murder (the actress committed suicide in 1962). For months the documents, obtained by legendary reporter Seymour (Sy) Hersh, have been a subject of gossip in media circles. The papers helped Hersh snare a $2 million TV package. If true, they would not only further tarnish the Kennedy myth but, as Hersh has claimed, ""change some elements of the history of my time.''

If true. Last week ABC News, which had bought the rights to Hersh's upcoming Little, Brown book, "The Dark Side of Camelot," admitted that the documents were fakes. ABC's ""20/20'' played the story as an expose; Peter Jennings confronted the man who had given Hersh the documents--Lawrence (Lex) Cusack Jr.--with an accusation of forgery. Visibly shaken, a trickle of sweat rolling down his face, Cusack denied the charge--and did so again to NEWSWEEK. But the documents were clearly forged by someone.

""Big deal,'' Hersh told NEWSWEEK. Plenty of good reporters chase promising leads that fail to pan out; Hersh says he has cut the phony story from his book and from a TV documentary scheduled to appear in November. Maybe so, but Hersh made an awful lot of money before he began entertaining serious doubts, and how he parlayed the documents into a multimillion-dollar media package reveals a great deal about the continuing fascination with the Kennedy legend and the unrelenting pressure for the big score in the worlds of both publishing and TV. The tale of Hersh's failed scoop has enough intrigue to fill a made-for-TV movie--and will be the source of big-name recriminations for years to come.

Sy Hersh, 60, is, aside from The Washington Post's Bob Woodward, the most famous name in investigative journalism. Beginning with his Pulitzer Prize-winning revelations about the massacre of Vietnamese civilians by U.S. troops at My Lai in 1970, Hersh has broken a number of big stories about spying and international intrigue, including the full account of how the Soviets shot down KAL 007 in 1983. Like many investigative reporters, he has an interest in conspiracy theories, but he is extremely persistent--so much so that his sources sometimes complain he browbeats them. In August 1993 Hersh signed a million-dollar contract with Little, Brown to do a book on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The focus of the book shifted, however, when he found Lex Cusack, a New York paralegal who had a cache of truly explosive papers--and, as Hersh would later discover, a severe credibility problem.

The son of a lawyer who represented the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, Cusack told Hersh that he had found a store of 300 documents in his father's files. According to Cusack Jr., his dad did some work for Joseph Kennedy, the patriarch of the clan. The elder Cusack's most interesting duty: cover up JFK's trysts with Marilyn Monroe, as well as family ties to the mob. In March 1960 the actress agreed to keep quiet about Kennedy's relationship with ""any political or underworld personalities.'' Over time, according to the papers, the deal was amended and enlarged. Frequently mentioned is Sam Giancana, the Chicago mob boss who was being used by the CIA in a failed attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro. On Jan. 7, 1962, for instance, Monroe and JFK purportedly signed an agreement requiring Monroe to surrender to a ""designated representative'' (supposedly Robert Kennedy) ""any and all notes and letters'' about any meetings she may have observed between Kennedy and Giancana. Other notes--apparently in Kennedy's handwriting--refer to ""Chicago friends'' and ""meeting with Sam G.'' And in one document, Hoover threatens to blackmail Kennedy after discovering that father Joe had deducted $600,000 of the Monroe payments from his income tax.

Historians have long speculated about ties between Kennedy and the mob. FBI wiretaps indicate that JFK, while president, was having an affair with Judith Campbell Exner, who was a Giancana girlfriend. From his bootlegging days in the 1920s, Joseph Kennedy was said to have kept connections to the Chicago mob, which supposedly helped Jack Kennedy steal both the West Virginia primary in April 1960 and, in the general election, the state of Illinois. But Cusack's documents would have been the first tangible proof that Kennedy and Giancana had actually met. By the same token, though Kennedy clearly flirted with Monroe, who seductively sang ""Happy Birthday, Mr. President'' to 20,000 people in Madison Square Garden in 1962 while wearing a sequined dress--and little else--no one has ever been able to say for sure whether the relationship was consummated. Probably the most responsible account, by Monroe biographer Donald Spoto, indicates that JFK and Marilyn met four times between October 1961 and August 1962; Monroe later told her closest confidant that she and the president had had one sexual encounter in that period. Despite years of rumors, Spoto says there is no evidence that Robert Kennedy and Marilyn ever had a tryst.

Throwback to October, 1997, courtesy of Evan Thomas, Mark Hoseball and Michael Isikoff.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

These Who Killed JFK? Conspiracy Theories Will Not Die

He defected to the Soviet Union, returned to the United States with a Russian-born wife, and tried to get Soviet and Cuban visas before assassinating President John F. Kennedy. Fifty-plus years later, only a quarter of Americans are convinced that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Instead, nearly 60 percent say there was a conspiracy to kill the president, according to a poll by The Associated Press-GfK.

Other theories cropped up almost immediately and have endured: the Soviets murdered Kennedy or the CIA, Cuban exiles, Fidel Castro, the country's military-industrial complex, even President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Warren Commission Report found in its 879-page report on the assassination that Oswald acted alone -- but it is still being criticized from all sides. The House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in 1979 that it was likely Kennedy was killed as a result of a conspiracy.

What did happen in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963? Who killed Kennedy? Here are a few of those theories.

ONE BULLET OR TWO?

The Warren Commission Report concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald fired three bullets, all from the Texas School Book Depository. But disagreements persisted over whether Texas Governor John Connally was wounded by one of the bullets that had already hit Kennedy in the neck. Skeptics pounced on the single-bullet theory and got a boost from Connally himself who testified before the commission that he had been hit separately. Tapes released by the National Archives in 1994 show that President Lyndon B. Johnson thought so too. And if the men were hit at about the same time by different bullets, there had to have been a second gunman.

This year a father-and-son team Luke and Michael Haag took another look at the controversy using the most up-to-date technology and concluded on a PBS "Nova" documentary that the one bullet could have hit both men.

A SNIPER ON THE GRASSY KNOLL?

Witnesses reported hearing shots from the now famous grassy knoll ahead of the president's limousine in Dealey Plaza. In his book, University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato reports that some Dallas policemen who ran up the knoll encountered people with Secret Service credentials. Who were they? The policemen let them go, and only later discovered that there were no Secret Service agents still in Dealey Plaza, said Sabato, the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia and author of "The Kennedy Half-Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy." Conspiracy theorists, meanwhile, poured over the amateur film made by Abraham Zapruder, frame by frame, and insisted that it showed the president being shot from the front.

In 1979, the House Select Committee on Assassinations challenged the Warren Commission's conclusions and decided that an audio recording -- from a motorcycle policeman whose microphone was stuck in the "on" position -- caught the sound of four gunshots being fired, one possibly from the grassy knoll. The finding was discounted three years later by the National Academy of Sciences which said that the noises were made after the assassination. Sabato had the recording re-examined and says the sounds are not gunshots at all, but an idling motorcycle and the rattling of a microphone.

THE MAFIA

The Mafia is a favorite culprit because the mob disliked Kennedy's brother, Robert. The aggressive attorney general had gone after James Hoffa, the president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters with his own connections to the Mafia. Plus the crime bosses were angry over Kennedy's failed attempts to overthrow Fidel Castro, who had closed their casinos in Havana. Some accounts have crime bosses bringing over hit men from Italy or France for the job; others accuse the CIA of hiring mobsters to kill the president.

Then there was Jack Ruby, the Dallas nightclub owner who shot Oswald in the basement of the Dallas police station two days after the assassination. Ruby was connected to the Chicago mob and allegedly smuggled guns first to Castro and then to anti-Castro groups. The Associated Press reported the morning of the shooting that police were looking into the possibility that Oswald had been killed to prevent him from talking.

Oswald had mob connections too. In New Orleans before the assassination, he stayed at the home of an uncle who was a bookmaker with ties to the Mafia.

The House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that organized crime as a group did not assassinate the president, but left open the possibility that individual members might have been involved. It singled out Carlos Marcello and Santo Trafficante as two men with "the motive, means and opportunity," though it was unable to establish direct evidence of their complicity.

FIDEL CASTRO

The Cuban dictator had no lack of motive to want the American president dead: the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, the CIA's attempts to kill him -- with Mob help. Only two months before the assassination, Castro said: "United States leaders should think that if they are aiding terrorist plans to eliminate Cuban leaders, they themselves will not be safe."

In Philip Shenon's book, "A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination," Shenon reports that a Warren Commission staff member, William Coleman, was sent to meet with Castro and was told that the Cuban regime had nothing to do with the assassination.

A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy AssassinationNot in Your Lifetime: The Defining Book on the J.F.K. Assassination


A former BBC journalist and author of "Not in Your Lifetime: The Defining Book on the J.F.K. Assassination," Anthony Summers, writes on his blog that he first heard the story from Coleman in 1994, though Coleman would not describe the assignment, saying it was confidential. Summers later recounted it and Coleman's denial in a 2006 article in the Times of London. Summers says Coleman brought back documents, which he said were in the National Archives.

THE SOVIETS

The country was deep in the Cold War and Oswald had myriad connections to the Soviet Union. After a stint in U.S. Marines, he had defected there in 1959, and had married Marina Prusakova, whose uncle worked for Soviet domestic intelligence. Later while in Mexico, Oswald tried to get visas for Cuba and the Soviet Union.

Plus Nikita Khrushchev's gamble to place missiles in Cuba had failed. But KGB officer Vacheslav Nikonov told "Frontline" in 1993 that Oswald seemed suspicious to the KGB because he was not interested in Marxism.

THE MILITARY-INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY

Various versions have the CIA, the FBI, the Pentagon or the Secret Service turning on Kennedy as a traitor and plotting his death. James W. Douglass in his 2008 book "JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters," argues that Kennedy was killed because he had moved away from a Cold War view of the world and was seeking peace.

JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters


Oliver Stone's movie, "JFK," centers on New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who conducted his own investigation of the assassination. Garrison told Playboy magazine in 1967 that Kennedy was killed not by Oswald but by a guerrilla team of anti-Castro adventurers and the paramilitary right. The CIA had plotted the assassination together with the military-industrial complex because both wanted to continue the Cold War and the escalation of the conflict in Vietnam, he said.

The Warren Commission staff members who are still living say that to this day no facts have emerged undercutting their conclusions: Oswald was the assassin and neither he nor Ruby were part of a larger conspiracy. But the conspiracy theories are likely to linger.

Thanks to Noreen O'Donnell.

Did the Mob Assassinate Kennedy? The Hidden History of the JFK Assassination

It's been 50+ years since bullets were fired at the presidential motorcade as it wended its way through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, killing U.S. President John F. Kennedy and spawning decades of speculation on whether Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone or was part of -- or victim of -- a conspiracy with tentacles in Havana, Washington and perhaps Moscow.

Did the CIA do it? Was it the mob? The Kremlin? How about a consortium of businessmen?

What if Oswald thought he was a double agent working for the CIA who planned to infiltrate Cuba and work for the overthrow of Fidel Castro?

Lamar Waldron makes the case Oswald was tangled up in CIA-Mafia machinations against the Castro regime in "The Hidden History of the JFK Assassination."

Waldron said it actually was New Orleans mob godfather Carlos Marcello who masterminded the Kennedy assassination -- something Robert Kennedy believed -- but much of the evidence was either destroyed or is still classified because of the CIA's anti-Castro activities.

The first investigation into the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination by the Warren Commission, headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren, concluded 10 months later in its 889-page report Oswald acted alone, firing three shots at Kennedy from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. The House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978 concluded Kennedy was killed as the result of a conspiracy but ruled out the Soviet Union, Cuba, anti-Castro Cubans and organized crime -- but not individual mobsters -- as complicit.

Waldron said Marcello, in a fit of rage during a rant about Kennedy and his brother, Robert, blurted out in the prison yard at the Federal Correctional Institution in Texarkana, Texas, that he had Kennedy killed and wished he could have done it himself. The remark was made in front of two other inmates, one of them Jack Van Laningham, who became his cellmate and eventually wore a wire for the FBI, getting Marcello's alleged confession on tape.

Waldron said Marcello, who was incarcerated at Texarkana for his role in the BriLab insurance bribery scheme, hated the Kennedy brothers because of their war on organized crime and their efforts to have him expelled from the United States for good. He was particularly incensed about his deportation to Guatemala -- based on fake documents saying that's where he was born -- and his struggle to slip back into the United States, which took him on a trek through the jungle.

Waldron, who reviewed declassified FBI and CIA files and interviewed many of the parties involved, said Marcello's alleged confession is backed by corroborating evidence not available to Laningham or his FBI handlers at the time.

Similar confessions came late in life from Marcello's alleged co-conspirators Johnny Rosselli, an underboss for Chicago mobster Sam Giancana, and Santo Trafficante, who controlled the Tampa, Fla., mob and had run casinos in Havana during the heyday of the Batista regime.

What makes Waldron so sure Marcello's statements weren't just boasting?

"Most mobsters ... haven't ruled unchallenged an empire the size of General Motors for three decades. ... Carlos Marcello ruled Louisiana, Texas and parts of Mississippi. One way Marcello kept that empire so long was by avoiding the limelight, publicity. ... It's a totally different kind of godfather than John Gotti [the New York mobster who headed the Gambino crime family and was known as the 'Dapper Don']," Waldron said, adding because the New Orleans mob was the oldest Mafia organization in the United States, Marcello did not have to go to the national commission to clear hits on government officials.

Marcello, he said, actually planned two other attempts on Kennedy in the days preceding Dallas -- one in Chicago and one in Tampa. Like Dallas, two men -- one an ex-Marine and the other a Fair Play for Cuba member -- were positioned to be blamed for the shootings once Kennedy was dead.

Waldron said both the Warren Commission and the House select committee investigations were hampered by CIA reluctance to turn over files concerning U.S. efforts to overthrow Castro. Hundreds of thousands of pages related to those plots remain secret despite legislation requiring all files related to the Kennedy assassination be released and Waldron has started a petition on whitehouse.gov (http://wh.gov/lZurV) seeking their declassification.

Waldron said it is unlikely Marcello would have left the assassination to Oswald because the former Marine was not an experienced killer. Waldron said Marcello imported two hit men from Europe to handle the shooting.

"He [Marcello] liked to use war orphans for hits," Waldron said, "because if you killed them afterward, there was no one to ask questions."

As for evidence the fatal bullets came from the Texas School Book Depository, "the angle is in huge dispute. It varies by 20 degrees," Waldron said.

The Warren Commission said the bullet that injured Connolly, the so-called magic bullet, went in the back of Kennedy's neck and exited just below his Adam's apple. But Waldron said that's false. The bullet actually went in 6 inches below the top of Kennedy's collar -- something Waldron said the late Sen. Arlen Specter, then an investigator for the Warren Commission, changed to make the trajectory line up. Additionally, an exit wound generally is larger than an entrance wound and the hole beneath Kennedy's Adam's apple was smaller than the back wound.

Waldron said Kennedy aides riding in the chase car were convinced at least one shot came from the grassy knoll but were pressured to change their stories for national security reasons.

History Professor Randy Roberts of Purdue University, who has written about the assassination's effect on American culture, argues conspiracy theories "always sound good" but they don't hold up.

"It sounds really persuasive but then when you read the documents, they don't really say what you think they say," Roberts said.

Roberts, who will appear on the History channel's "Lee Harvey Oswald: 48 Hours to Live" Friday, said the ballistics evidence "is pretty convincing" and he doesn't think Oswald's calling himself "a patsy" means much, considering he was seen carrying a package that investigators said was likely the Mannlicher Carcano rifle (Waldron said the package was too small to be the rifle and never made it to the book depository in any event) used to shoot the president and injure Connolly.

"If Oswald was a patsy, why did he shoot a policeman and try to shoot more policemen [as he was cornered at a movie theater]?" Roberts asked. "Why did he leave his ring with his wife ... on his way out? ... There's so much logical evidence."

Waldron said the evidence implicating Oswald in officer J.D. Tippit's killing is questionable and there are indications Oswald already was inside the movie theater at the time. As for resisting arrest, Waldron said at that point Oswald probably had figured out things weren't going down the way he had been led to believe they would.

Best-selling author Robert Tanenbaum, a former New York City prosecutor who served as chief assistant counsel to the House select committee, said he doesn't think the assassination has yet been adequately investigated. He quit the panel when he became convinced members weren't that interested in what really happened.

"I don't believe Oswald could have been convicted based on the shoddy evidence they had, particularly with all the other evidence," he said, citing, for example, the statements of Dr. Charles Crenshaw, a young doctor who treated Kennedy when he was brought to Parkland Hospital.

Crenshaw said one of the bullets entered Kennedy's throat from the front right while a second bullet entered his head from the side "consistent with [a shot fired from the] grassy knoll," Tanenbaum said. But Crenshaw was never even questioned by the Warren Commission and his testimony was ignored by the House committee.

"I believe without question there were shots that came from the side, the grassy knoll," he said.

Roberts doesn't buy it though, especially since there are so many conspiracy theories.

"If there was a conspiracy, only one of [the theories] can be right. They can't all be," he said.

Misconceptions about the assassination still affect U.S. foreign policy. Waldron said the reason the United States never normalized relations with Cuba is because high-ranking officials still are convinced Castro was behind the assassination based on trumped up evidence periodically trotted out by the CIA.

"[Secretary of State] John Kerry is only the latest government official to say there was a conspiracy, but he pointed a finger at Fidel Castro," he said. "The mob planted a lot of phony evidence pointing to Castro. [Former President Lyndon] Johnson elieved Castro killed Kennedy. [Former CIA Director John] McCone believed Castro killed Kennedy. People like [former Secretary of State Alexander] Haig -- they didn't know all of the evidence implicating Fidel was debunked in 1963 and 1964. ... It can all be traced back to the mob."

Camelot's Court: Inside the Kennedy White House

Some fifty years after John F. Kennedy’s assassination, presidential historian Robert Dallek, whom The New York Times calls “Kennedy’s leading biographer,” delivers a riveting new portrait of this president and his inner circle of advisors—their rivalries, personality clashes, and political battles. Camelot's Court: Inside the Kennedy White House, Dallek analyzes the brain trust whose contributions to the successes and failures of Kennedy’s administration—including the Bay of Pigs, civil rights, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Vietnam—were indelible.

Kennedy purposefully put together a dynamic team of advisors noted for their brilliance and acumen, including Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy, and trusted aides Ted Sorensen and Arthur Schlesinger. Yet the very traits these men shared also created sharp divisions. Far from being unified, this was an uneasy band of rivals whose ambitions and clashing beliefs ignited fiery internal debates.

Robert Dallek illuminates a president deeply determined to surround himself with the best and the brightest, who often found himself disappointed with their recommendations. The result, Camelot's Court: Inside the Kennedy White House, is a striking portrait of a leader whose wise resistance to pressure and adherence to principle offers a cautionary tale for our own time.


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