Impressions and Imitations at the House of Wax

The art of wax sculpture has existed longer than we care to know. With roots in European royal funeral practices in the Middle Ages, people have been trying to capture the likenesses of any famous person in a waxwork and place it in a wax museum for the public to see. I know this is an odd tradition but it’s been around since the 1700s from Dr. Philip Curtius’s ‘Moving Wax Works of the Royal Court of England’ that featured 140 life sized wax figures of court notables to Madame Tussaud’s which you can find almost anywhere in the world. Of course, most of these would be life sized, wear real clothes, and sometimes have real hair. Still, there are many normal museums that do use wax figures such as the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh and others. And some wax museums have a chamber of horrors where some of the most gruesome stuff are displayed such as wax medical models or a surgery conducted during the American Civil War or earlier. Not to mention, there was even a movie called House of Wax in which Vincent Price owns a wax museum before going completely crazy after it burns to the ground. Nevertheless, I can go on and on about the great wax works in these museums but I know you probably wouldn’t want to see that. So instead I’ll show you some of the less impressive wax works that fail to capture the true spirit of the person they’re based on. Thus, for your pleasure here are some wax figures to laugh at to your heart’s content.

1. Harry Potter

He may belong in Griffyndor but he seems more appropriate for Slytherin to me. Seriously, Daniel Radcliffe didn't seem to have a personality disorder when I saw him in the first Harry Potter movie. And I was 11 years old at the time.

He may belong in Griffyndor but he seems more appropriate for Slytherin to me. Seriously, Daniel Radcliffe didn’t seem to have a personality disorder when I saw him in the first Harry Potter movie. And I was 11 years old at the time.

2. Pope Benedict XVI

Well, the former Pope was creepy enough in real life. Seems less like a "Repent and Accept Jesus Christ as Your Savior" than "I've come here to eat your brains." Seriously, I've never seen a pontiff that looked so terrifying.

Well, the former Pope was creepy enough in real life. Seems less like a “Repent and Accept Jesus Christ as Your Savior” than “I’ve come here to eat your brains.” Yes, that’s Benedict XVI as a zombie. Seriously, I’ve never seen a pontiff that looked so terrifying.

3. John Wayne from True Grit

Now I have a passion hatred for John Wayne who's one of my least favorite actors and think he should've never won an Oscar for any of his movies. However, unlike his movie portrayals, this John Wayne actually looks quite intimidating as Rooster Cogburn striking fear in the hearts of fugitives as a spirit back from the dead.

Now I have a passionate hatred for John Wayne who’s one of my least favorite actors and think he should’ve never won an Oscar for any of his movies. However, unlike his movie portrayals, this John Wayne actually looks quite intimidating as Rooster Cogburn striking fear in the hearts of fugitives as a spirit back from the dead.

4. Ronald Reagan

Sure as a liberal I'm not a big fan of Reagan at all. However, even so, I don't think this wax work seems to capture his warm personality that got a lot of idiots to vote for him. Seriously, he seems like he's had a few face lifts and a spray tan.

Sure as a liberal I’m not a big fan of Reagan at all. However, even so, I don’t think this wax work seems to capture his warm personality that got a lot of idiots to vote for him. Seriously, he seems like he’s had a few face lifts and a spray tan.

5. Ray Charles

Well, I sure hope Georgia is not on his mind. I mean that does so not look like Ray Charles and I hope he just hit the road and don't he go back no more, no more, no more, no more. Seriously, he scares me.

Well, I sure hope Georgia is not on his mind. I mean that does so not look like Ray Charles and I hope he just hit the road and don’t he go back no more, no more, no more, no more. Seriously, he scares me.

6. Cameron Diaz

If Cameron Diaz looked like that in real life I'd be very concerned by how she's aging so rapidly or whether she's had some plastic surgery disaster. Seriously, she looks so soulless in this wax incarnation.

If Cameron Diaz looked like that in real life I’d be very concerned by how she’s aging so rapidly or whether she’s had some plastic surgery disaster. Seriously, she looks so soulless in this wax incarnation.

7. Napoleon Bonaparte

I don't know about you but I think he doesn't seem very comfortable sitting in his chair. Seems like he has hemorrhoids. Oh, wait a minute he actually did at Waterloo, really. That's why he couldn't get on his horse and see the battle. Of course, this leads to surrender and exile on Saint Helena.

I don’t know about you but I think he doesn’t seem very comfortable sitting in his chair. Seems like he has hemorrhoids. Oh, wait a minute he actually did at Waterloo, really. That’s why he couldn’t get on his horse and see the battle. Of course, this leads to surrender and exile on Saint Helena.

8. Tom Hanks

This is supposed to be him from Castaway. Looks more like a young Russell Crowe after a drunken bar fight. Seriously, how in the hell can it be Tom Hanks?

This is supposed to be him from Castaway. Looks more like a young Russell Crowe after a drunken bar fight. Seriously, how in the hell can it be Tom Hanks?

9. Don Knotts

Seems like Barney Fife didn't age too well after serving as Sheriff Andy Taylor's deputy. Also, what's with that horrendous outfit?

Seems like Barney Fife didn’t age too well after serving as Sheriff Andy Taylor’s deputy. Also, what’s with that horrendous outfit?

10. Charlie’s Angels

Of course, I had no idea that Cameron Diaz was suffering from demon possession until I see her soulless and terrifying face. Guess she could afford the best exorcist money can buy.

Of course, I had no idea that Cameron Diaz was suffering from demon possession until I see her soulless and terrifying face. Guess she could afford the best exorcist money can buy.

11. Leonardo DiCaprio

Okay, I remember how he managed to capture women's hearts in Titanic. Yet, looking at this waxwork I have no idea what so many teenage girls from the 1990s saw in him. However, he seems like he'd make a great villain in a horror movie.

Okay, I remember how he managed to capture women’s hearts in Titanic. Yet, looking at this waxwork I have no idea what so many teenage girls from the 1990s saw in him. However, he seems like he’d make a great villain in a horror movie.

12. Robert Pattinson

More like Edward Norton after botox injections than anything else. Seriously, if Robert Pattinson looks like that in 10 years then I question his lifestyle choices.

More like Edward Norton after botox injections than anything else. Seriously, if Robert Pattinson looks like that in 10 years then I question his lifestyle choices.

13. John F. Kennedy

As not what your country can do for you--ask this wax museum why the 35th president of the United States looks like he's spent too much time in a tanning salon and why his hair looks so unnatural.

And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you–ask this wax museum why the 35th president of the United States looks like he’s spent too much time in a tanning salon and why his hair looks so unnatural.

14. John Lennon and Yoko Ono

Despite the bed in protest honeymoon, looks like John and Yoko are already experiencing problems in their relationship. Doesn't seem like they're giving peace a chance here.

Despite the bed in protest honeymoon, looks like John and Yoko are already experiencing problems in their relationship. Doesn’t seem like they’re giving peace a chance here. Yoko seems especially angry and giving John the silent treatment.

15. John Lennon

Let's see unnatural hair color and tan. No wonder John is wearing sunglasses here. Hate to see what his eyes look like under there.

Let’s see unnatural hair color and tan. No wonder John is wearing sunglasses here. Hate to see what his eyes look like under there.

16. Princess Diana of Wales

I don't know about you but I think this wax statue makes it seem that Princess Diana was a real stuck up bitch during her lifetime. I mean she has such an ugly scowl on her face as if her secretary won't take her coat off and put it on the mud puddle so she can walk over it without damaging her Prada shoes.

I don’t know about you but I think this wax statue makes it seem that Princess Diana was a real stuck up bitch during her lifetime. I mean she has such an ugly scowl on her face as if her secretary won’t take her coat off and put it on the mud puddle so she can walk over it without damaging her Prada shoes.

17. Pope John Paul II

Seems like the Roman sunshine doesn't do any wonders for the already leathery skin on this Polish pontiff. Also, he kind of seems pretty terrifying to me.

Seems like the Roman sunshine doesn’t do any wonders for the already leathery skin on this Polish pontiff. Also, he kind of seems pretty terrifying to me.

18. Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards

Or as I call it, "a really bad rendition of Walter White from Breaking Bad or as if Martin Mull had played him in the 1980s." I don't know who the hell this guy is but whoever he is, he sure seems creepy.

Or as I call it, “a really bad rendition of Walter White from Breaking Bad or as if Martin Mull had played him in the 1980s.” I don’t know who the hell this guy is but whoever he is, he sure seems creepy.

19. Ian Botham

Man, David Bowie looks very atrocious in that ascot and V-neck sweater with a shirt collar sticking out. Also seems to be aging really badly and I really think he should lose the mustache. Seriously, his years after Labyrinth haven't been very good for him.

Man, David Bowie looks very atrocious in that ascot and V-neck sweater with a shirt collar sticking out. Also seems to be aging really badly and I really think he should lose the mustache. Seriously, his years after Labyrinth haven’t been very good for him.

20. Noel Edmonds

Guess this is an idea of what Mark Ruffalo will soon look like give or take 20 or 30 years. Yeah, doesn't seem to have any prospects of aging gracefully according to this wax work.

Guess this is an idea of what Mark Ruffalo will soon look like give or take 20 or 30 years. Yeah, doesn’t seem to have any prospects of aging gracefully according to this wax work.

21. Elvis Presley

Perhaps this is what happens to you after you've spent too much time taking drugs, lounging in the Las Vegas sunshine, and eating too many peanut butter and banana sandwiches. No wonder this guy was found dead in his bathroom.

Perhaps this is what happens to you after you’ve spent too much time taking drugs, lounging in the Las Vegas sunshine, and eating too many peanut butter and banana sandwiches. No wonder this guy was found dead in his bathroom.

22. Jedward

Or as I call it, Whoville's version of One Direction. Yeah, I wouldn't mind the Grinch robbing them of their presents around Christmastime for these guys are just plain creepy and probably a real pain in the ass.

Or as I call it, Whoville’s version of One Direction. Yeah, I wouldn’t mind the Grinch robbing them of their presents around Christmastime for these guys are just plain creepy and probably a real pain in the ass.

23. Benito Mussolini

Hey, I didn't know that US Speaker of the House John Boehner was a huge fan of Il Duce. Sure doesn't look too happy as usual but perhaps he might need to explain the Italian Fascist uniform.

Hey, I didn’t know that US Speaker of the House John Boehner was a huge fan of Il Duce. Sure doesn’t look too happy as usual but perhaps he might need to explain the Italian Fascist uniform.

24. David Hasselhoff

Man, he must've spent way too much time being a lifeguard on Baywatch. Seriously, he bears a closer resemblance to Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy than anyone else in this due to skin color alone.

Man, he must’ve spent way too much time being a lifeguard on Baywatch. Seriously, he bears a closer resemblance to Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy than anyone else in this due to skin color alone.

25. Donald Trump

Now this seems to resemble comedian Louis Anderson after losing a lot of weight than Donald Trump. Nevertheless, this does retain Trump's iconically bad hairstyle which seems quite tame in this.

Now this seems to resemble comedian Louis Anderson after losing a lot of weight than Donald Trump. Nevertheless, this does retain Trump’s iconically bad hairstyle which seems quite tame in this. Still, I really hate Donald Trump just for being an obnoxious jerk and having an enormous ego. You can see why he’s been through 3 wives who only wanted him for his money.

26. Jimmy Carter

And I thought the Reagan and Kennedy wax figures were bad. This one seems to bear no resemblance to the former president who is now in his 90s and looks a hell of a lot better than this idiot who seems to have a few brain cells missing.

And I thought the Reagan and Kennedy wax figures were bad. This one seems to bear no resemblance to the former president who is now in his 90s and looks a hell of a lot better than this idiot who seems to have a few brain cells missing.

27. Tom Cruise

I can imagine a little kid look up at this in its museum and say, "Mommy, why is Steve Jobs flying and not holding an Ipod and why is he so small?"

I can imagine a little kid looking up at this in its museum and say, “Mommy, why is Steve Jobs flying and not holding an Ipod? And why is he short?”

28. Daley Thompson

Probably an obscure Sacha Baron Cohen character who offended the people of India so much that he couldn't do a movie around him or use him on Da Ali G Show.

Probably an obscure Sacha Baron Cohen character who offended the people of India so much that he couldn’t do a movie around him or use him on Da Ali G Show.

29. Michael Barrymore

For God's sake, what's the hell with this guy's humongous head? Seriously, I've never seen anyone with a forehead that high. Not to mention, that smile is terrifying.

For God’s sake, what’s the hell with this guy’s humongous head? Seriously, I’ve never seen anyone with a forehead that high. Not to mention, that smile is terrifying.

30. Gazza

Hey, I didn't know they had a wax rendition of Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner from Keeping Up with the Kardashians. They even nailed his plastic surgery disaster, well, somewhat.

Hey, I didn’t know they had a wax rendition of Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner from Keeping Up with the Kardashians. They even nailed his plastic surgery disaster, well, somewhat.

31. Seinfeld

By looking at these terrifying waxworks of Elaine, Jerry, and Kramer, I dread seeing the one depicting George Costanza. That one must be the most horrifying of them all.

By looking at these terrifying waxworks of Elaine, Jerry, and Kramer, I dread seeing the one depicting George Costanza. That one must be the most horrifying of them all.

32. Sean Connery

Seems like Miami and LA don't really help Sean Connery's skin too much do they? Of course, he'd claim, "That's not what your mother said."

Seems like Miami and LA don’t really help Sean Connery’s skin too much do they? Of course, he’d claim, “That’s not what your mother said.” Also that tuxedo is hideous.

33. Cliff Richard

Looks like Bill Clinton's Attorney General Janet Reno on a bad hair day to me. Seriously, there's no way that's a man for what I see.

Looks like Bill Clinton’s Attorney General Janet Reno on a bad hair day to me. Seriously, there’s no way that’s a man for what I see.

34. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge

Seems like it's Prince William as if he's a lame but very aristocratic vampire who wants to say "Cherrio, old chum," before he proceeds to suck the life out of you.

Seems like it’s Prince William as if he’s a lame but very aristocratic vampire who wants to say “Cherrio, old chum,” before he proceeds to suck the life out of you.

35. Adolf Hitler

Seems like Der Furher doesn't really like spending his weekends on the beach doesn't he. Guess he kept forgetting to put on his sunblock and kept getting his face burned.

Seems like Der Furher doesn’t really like spending his weekends on the beach doesn’t he. Guess he kept forgetting to put on his sunblock and kept getting his face burned.

36. Titanic

This waxwork makes the movie's iconic scene less romantic and much more terrifying. Seriously, Leonardo DiCaprio seems to resemble a psychokiller about to push Kate Winslet off the ship.

This waxwork makes the movie’s iconic scene less romantic and much more terrifying. Seriously, Leonardo DiCaprio seems to resemble a psychokiller about to push Kate Winslet off the ship.

37. Lucille Ball

Whatever is in that bottle, I really don't want to drink it. I suspect this might be poison according the terrifying look on Lucy's face. Seriously, she looks so creepy in this waxwork.

Whatever is in that bottle, I really don’t want to drink it. I suspect this might be poison according the terrifying look on Lucy’s face. Seriously, she looks so creepy in this waxwork.

38. The Beatles

Now I like the Beatles. Yet, these guys bear almost no resemblance to the real thing. In fact, I think these guys basically resemble lifeless zombies after your brains while singing. "All you need is brains,/All you need is brains,/All you need is brains, brains, brains are all you need."

Now I like the Beatles. Yet, these guys bear almost no resemblance to the real thing. In fact, I think these guys basically resemble lifeless zombies after your brains while singing. “All you need is brains,/All you need is brains,/All you need is brains, brains, brains are all you need.”

39. Jennifer Lopez

I don't know about the butt but her face kind of reminds me of Jennifer Lawrence from The Hunger Games. Yet, smaller and with a really bad makeup job.

I don’t know about the butt but her face kind of reminds me of Jennifer Lawrence from The Hunger Games. Yet, smaller and with a really bad makeup job.

40. Justin Bieber

Somehow I can't help looking at this and see how it resembles my cousin at Penn State, which is really insulting to my cousin who really doesn't like Justin Bieber, doesn't have light brown hair, and doesn't even dress like that.

Somehow I can’t help looking at this and see how it resembles my cousin at Penn State, which is really insulting to my cousin who really doesn’t like Justin Bieber, doesn’t have light brown hair, and doesn’t even dress like that.

41. Austin Powers

Looks as if he's a pervy guy on some kind of 1960s hallucinogenic drugs. Surely not groovy in the least, baby.

Looks as if he’s a pervy guy on some kind of 1960s hallucinogenic drugs. Surely not groovy in the least, baby. Makes the fembots seem tame by comparison.

42. Eddie Murphy

Seems less like the comedian who appeared in family films and more like the guy appearing on SNL who wrote a poem on killing his landlord.

Seems less like the comedian who appeared in family films and more like the guy appearing on SNL who wrote a poem on killing his landlord.

43. Meryl Streep

Man, I didn't know she was nominated for an Oscar for Death Becomes her. I didn't know that kind of film would even get Academy Award nominations. Not to mention, the hair straightener doesn't do any favors for her.

Man, I didn’t know she was nominated for an Oscar for Death Becomes her. I didn’t know that kind of film would even get Academy Award nominations. Not to mention, the hair straightener doesn’t do any favors for her.

44. Lady Gaga

I don't know if Lady Gaga was Born This Way, but this wax figure doesn't depict her as aging gracefully, especially since she's actually only a few years older than I am. Seriously, she doesn't look 28.

I don’t know if Lady Gaga was Born This Way, but this wax figure doesn’t depict her as aging gracefully, especially since she’s actually only a few years older than I am. Seriously, she doesn’t look 28.

45. Mel Gibson

Okay, now this one makes Mel seem like a really crazed psychokiller on the run to satisfy a hunger for human flesh. Seriously, this one seems to scare me for some reason. And it's not because he directed Braveheart or The Passion of the Christ.

Okay, now this one makes Mel seem like a really crazed psychokiller on the run to satisfy a hunger for human flesh. Seriously, this one seems to scare me for some reason. And it’s not because he directed Braveheart or The Passion of the Christ.

46. Michelle Obama

Now if the First Lady of the United States looks like this in her wax rendition, either the designer doesn't like her or she's really not aging gracefully. Seriously, this incarnation seems rather terrifying to me.

Now if the First Lady of the United States looks like this in her wax rendition, either the designer doesn’t like her or she’s really not aging gracefully. Seriously, this incarnation seems rather terrifying to me.

47. Fred Rogers

I know this is from the John Heinz III Historical Center during its American History display. Nevertheless, looking at his waxy soulless face, I'd sure wouldn't want to be his neighbor.

I know this is from the John Heinz III Historical Center during its American History display. Nevertheless, looking at his waxy soulless face, I’d sure wouldn’t want to be his neighbor.

48. Ronald Reagan

Yes, old President Ronnie seems to have two really creepy waxworks in his image. This seems like it comes straight out of shining. Now please, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall or else Mr. Reagan will come over to your house and murder you and your family in a bloodbath only comparable to a slasher horror movie.

Yes, old President Ronnie seems to have two really creepy waxworks in his image. This seems like it comes straight out of shining. Now please, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall or else Mr. Reagan will come over to your house and murder you and your family in a bloodbath only comparable to a slasher horror movie.

49. Fatal Attraction

Michael Douglas should be utterly terrified in this scene. Instead, he just seems a little perturbed as if she flushed the toilet while he was taking a shower. Not the kind of face you'd have if a woman you had a fling with killed your daughter's pet bunny.

Michael Douglas should be utterly terrified in this scene. Instead, he just seems a little perturbed as if she flushed the toilet while he was taking a shower. Not the kind of face you’d have if a woman you had a fling with killed your daughter’s pet bunny.

50. Rihanna

Seems like Rihanna is in her German barmaid outfit to celebrate Oktoberfest. Nevertheless, I just hope Chris Brown doesn't turn out at this location if she has a restraining order against him (like she should.)

Seems like Rihanna is in her German barmaid outfit to celebrate Oktoberfest. Nevertheless, I just hope Chris Brown doesn’t turn out at this location if she has a restraining order against him (like she should.)

51. Queen Elizabeth II

Seems that Her Royal Majesty has had some trouble with her hair stylist lately. Not to mention her make up artist doesn't seem to do her job too well either. Must be going through a Barbara Striesand phase.

Seems that Her Royal Majesty has had some trouble with her hair stylist lately. Not to mention her make up artist doesn’t seem to do her job too well either. Must be going through a Barbara Striesand phase.

52. Luciano Pavarotti

Seems less in the mood for singing opera and more in the mood of eating something crunchy like bones. Still, this is actually kind of terrifying if you ask me.

Seems less in the mood for singing opera and more in the mood of eating something crunchy like bones. Still, this is actually kind of terrifying if you ask me.

53. Anne Frank

Of course, I'm sure being subjected to hiding in your dad's office building during the Holocaust could age you a few years. However, Anne Frank died at 15 and certainly didn't have the skin composition of someone who's over 30.

Of course, I’m sure being subjected to hiding in your dad’s office building during the Holocaust could age you a few years. However, Anne Frank died at 15 and certainly didn’t have the skin composition of someone who’s over 30.

54. Liza Minnelli

From looking at this wax rendition of Liza Minnelli, those unfamiliar with Cabaret may think that she was a character from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Seriously, she seems like she wants to kill you after she's completed her dance routine.

From looking at this wax rendition of Liza Minnelli, those unfamiliar with Cabaret may think that she was a character from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Seriously, she seems like she wants to kill you after she’s completed her dance routine.

55. Leonardo DaVinci’s Last Supper

Looks like all the apostles seem to peering at some weird mole on either Jesus's neck or hands while the Roman soldiers are in the back waiting for them to leave. That one on the far left seems as if he wants to go to the bathroom to wash his hands for some reason.

Looks like all the apostles seem to peering at some weird mole on either Jesus’s neck or hands while the Roman soldiers are in the back waiting for them to leave. That one on the far left seems as if he wants to go to the bathroom to wash his hands for some reason.

56. Audrey Hepburn

By the look at those sullen big brown eyes, you'd think Holly Golightly might have murder on the mind for George Peppard. Seriously, this wax figure seems to make Audrey Hepburn seem miscast for Breakfast at Tiffany's on account of being too sinister.

By the look at those sullen big brown eyes, you’d think Holly Golightly might have murder on the mind for George Peppard. Seriously, this wax figure seems to make Audrey Hepburn seem miscast for Breakfast at Tiffany’s on account of being too sinister.

57. Mr. Bean

I wonder if those unfamiliar with Mr. Bean would look at this wax figure and assume he was in the same league with Jason Voorhees or Freddy Krueger. Perhaps they'd be relieved he's actually a Rowan Atkinson character who acts like a complete idiot.

I wonder if those unfamiliar with Mr. Bean would look at this wax figure and assume he was in the same league with Jason Voorhees or Freddy Krueger. Perhaps they’d be relieved he’s actually a Rowan Atkinson character who acts like a complete idiot.

58. Tiger Woods

Seems like Tiger's debacles with his extramarital peccadilloes and divorce proceedings have really aged him as well has hurt his golf game. Seriously, Tiger's not an old decrepit man yet, folks.

Seems like Tiger’s debacles with his extramarital peccadilloes and divorce proceedings have really aged him as well has hurt his golf game. Seriously, Tiger’s not an old decrepit man yet, folks.

59. Margaret Thatcher

I don't know about you but it seems that the Iron Lady has developed some sort of terrible skin problem on her face. Also, it's probably fair to say that she's had some disastrous plastic surgery as well.

I don’t know about you but it seems that the Iron Lady has developed some sort of terrible skin problem on her face. Also, it’s probably fair to say that she’s had some disastrous plastic surgery as well.

60. Ellen Degeneres

Now I know that Ellen is a comedian and talk show host who's not supposed to scare me. However, this rendition makes me want to look the hell away from her soulless eyes and her evil smile.

Now I know that Ellen is a comedian and talk show host who’s not supposed to scare me. However, this rendition makes me want to look the hell away from her soulless eyes and her evil smile.

61. The Wizard of Oz

Well, to be fair, The Wizard of Oz has managed to traumatize a lot of kids even without the dark lighting. Nevertheless, I don't suspect that Dorothy just wants to go home. And I wouldn't want to be around the Scarecrow or Tinman either.

Well, to be fair, The Wizard of Oz has managed to traumatize a lot of kids even without the dark lighting. Nevertheless, I don’t suspect that Dorothy just wants to go home. And I wouldn’t want to be around the Scarecrow or Tinman either.

62. Hugh Jackman

Now you'd think any wax museum could have an impression of Hugh Jackman would be wise to depict him as Wolverine from X-Men. However, this one seems like it depicts an evil Dr. Who in BDSM attire.

Now you’d think any wax museum could have an impression of Hugh Jackman would be wise to depict him as Wolverine from X-Men. However, this one seems like it depicts an evil Dr. Who in BDSM attire.

63. Michael Jackson

Yes, his majesty the King of Pop during the 1980s does carry a rather sinister demeanor. Of course, I wonder how many people my age could ever imagine that he's supposed to be Michael Jackson.

Yes, his majesty the King of Pop during the 1980s does carry a rather sinister demeanor. Of course, I wonder how many people my age could ever imagine that he’s supposed to be Michael Jackson. I’d rather hang out with the zombies from the “Thriller” video than this guy.

64. Rowan Atkinson

Okay, this wax figures in now way, shape, or form resembles Mr. Bean. Seriously, it's as if this artist had no idea who this guy is or even saw his picture. I mean, we all know that Rowan Atkinson doesn't at all look like that in real life. Never has.

Okay, this wax figures in now way, shape, or form resembles Mr. Bean. Seriously, it’s as if this artist had no idea who this guy is or even saw his picture. I mean, we all know that Rowan Atkinson doesn’t at all look like that in real life. Never has.

65. Joan Collins

I know she's a famous prime time soap star from the 1970s and 1980s Dynasty. However, that make up job makes her seem like she's either Spock's sister or related to Tim Curry from Rocky Horror Picture Show.

I know she’s a famous prime time soap star from the 1970s and 1980s Dynasty. However, that make up job makes her seem like she’s either Spock’s sister or related to Tim Curry from Rocky Horror Picture Show.

66. Michael Jordan

How in the hell does this look like Michael Jordan? Seriously, he looked about the same in 1990s as he does now, facial wise. That, my friend, is a basketball playing zombie who just has the same complexion.

How in the hell does this look like Michael Jordan? Seriously, he looked about the same in 1990s as he does now, facial wise. That, my friend, is a basketball playing zombie who just has the same complexion.

67. Richard Nixon

Man, this waxwork of Richard M. Nixon makes him seem like he's a ventriloquist dummy or some creepy character from The Muppet Show. Seriously, that jowl and those eyes are utterly creepy.

Man, this waxwork of Tricky Dick makes him seem like he’s a ventriloquist dummy or some creepy character from The Muppet Show. Seriously, that jowl and those eyes are utterly creepy.

68. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Seems they got the chiseled chest proportions right. However, this basically bears practically no resemblance to Ahnold from Conan the Barbarian. Not to mention, he seems to spend too much time in the sun which is taking a toll on his delicate skin.

Seems they got the chiseled chest proportions right. However, this basically bears practically no resemblance to Ahnold from Conan the Barbarian. Not to mention, he seems to spend too much time in the sun which is taking a toll on his delicate skin.

69. Jimmy Carter

Good News: Actually looks better than the last Jimmy Carter waxwork I posted on here. Bad News: Seems to have a real great need for an exorcism. Seriously, he really looks evil.

Good News: Actually looks better than the last Jimmy Carter waxwork I posted on here.
Bad News: Seems to have a real great need for an exorcism. Seriously, he really looks evil.

70. Star Trek

While Spock seems okayish, the once of Kirk and McCoy just seem to be among the men you'd see on Cracked.com's "Guys That Look Like Old Lesbians" article. Seriously, Kirk's hair is just too long while McCoy seems like he's been using way too much of "the Botox."

While Spock seems okayish, the once of Kirk and McCoy just seem to be among the men you’d see on Cracked.com’s “Guys That Look Like Old Lesbians” article. Seriously, Kirk’s hair is just too long while McCoy seems like he’s been using way too much of “the Botox.”

71. Jay Leno

Since his retirement (for good) from The Tonight Show, it seems like Jay Leno has had a face lift that has basically stretched his face in a way many people find so unrecognizable. Seriously, his wax figure looks so atrocious.

Since his retirement (for good) from The Tonight Show, it seems like Jay Leno has had a face lift that has basically stretched his face in a way many people find so unrecognizable. Seriously, his wax figure looks so atrocious.

72. Snoop Dogg

You'd think Snoop would be taking better care of himself now that he has millions of dollars. Yet, this waxwork makes him seem like he's emaciated for some tasty human flesh. I mean, that face sure don't look right at all.

You’d think Snoop would be taking better care of himself now that he has millions of dollars. Yet, this waxwork makes him seem like he’s emaciated for some tasty human flesh. I mean, that face sure don’t look right at all.

73. Will Smith

Okay, this waxwork looks less like a big box office star, the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and happily married man and father of 3. And more like the kind of guy who's either a bouncer at some crime syndicate owned bar or the kind of man a lot of white people wouldn't entrust with their car keys or wallets.

Okay, this waxwork looks less like a big box office star, the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and happily married man and father of 3. And more like the kind of guy who’s either a bouncer at some crime syndicate owned bar from The Wire or the kind of man a lot of white people wouldn’t entrust with their car keys or wallets.

74. Clint Eastwood

Now I'm sure he's certainly angry. Still, though this is supposed to be Clint from Unforgiven, I don't think this waxwork resembles him. Yet, the "Get Off My Lawn" message is clear.

Now I’m sure he’s certainly angry. Still, though this is supposed to be Clint from Unforgiven, I don’t think this waxwork resembles him. Yet, the “Get Off My Lawn” message is clear.

75. Johnny Cash

Jesus Christ, I thought Johnny was supposed to turn his life around in the1960s. Seriously, an orange spray tan and unkempt hair seem to suggest otherwise.

Jesus Christ, I thought Johnny was supposed to turn his life around in the1960s. Seriously, an orange spray tan and unkempt hair seem to suggest otherwise.

76. Marilyn Monroe

No, kids, Marilyn Monroe wasn't a famous actress whose claim to fame was playing sexy vampires. That would be Robert Pattinson. Totally different person.

No, kids, Marilyn Monroe wasn’t a famous actress whose claim to fame was playing sexy blood sucking vampires. That would be Robert Pattinson. Totally different person.

77. Humphrey Bogart

Okay seems like Bogart needs to get off the booze and cigarettes looking like this. Also, I'd stay away from the tanning salons just for good measure. Still, here's not looking at you, kid.

Okay seems like Bogart needs to get off the booze and cigarettes looking like this. Also, I’d stay away from the tanning salons just for good measure. Still, here’s not looking at you, kid.

78. Abraham Lincoln

With his orange spray tan and his sinister gray eyes, it seems that the Great Emancipator has a score to settle. Seriously, this is basically the most evil Lincoln I've ever seen and his waxworks are usually not that bad.

With his orange spray tan and his sinister gray eyes, it seems that the Great Emancipator has a score to settle. Seriously, this is basically the most evil Lincoln I’ve ever seen and his waxworks are usually not that bad.

79. Sir Elton John

I know he's supposed to be singing something and I really don't want to know. Not to mention, the closed eyes and the coke bottle glasses make him seem even more terrifying with his mouth hanging out.

I know he’s supposed to be singing something and I really don’t want to know. Not to mention, the closed eyes and the coke bottle glasses make him seem even more terrifying with his mouth hanging out.

80. Hank Williams Sr.

Looks like the late country music legend Hank Williams is back from the dead as a Satanic puppet that sings his country ballads and has people sell him their souls. Seriously, this wax rendition is just creepy as hell.

Looks like the late country music legend Hank Williams is back from the dead as a Satanic puppet that sings his country ballads and has people sell him their souls. Seriously, this wax rendition is just creepy as hell.

More Underrated, Overlooked, Forgotten, and Ignored Historical Heroes Who Need More Love

While some people have their names enshrined on a plaque, a statue on a public square, a biopic, and are remembered for generations in the history books, others get barely a footnote in some long history academic encyclopedia. Whether they’re ignored for their race, gender, or other feature that doesn’t fit in the historic narrative or are overlooked in other ways, we have these people who the history books just don’t do justice to. Last October, I compiled a list of forgotten and not so forgotten figures and this time I have an assortment for your pleasure. I’ll only list people who are now dead.

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1. William Parker, 13th Baron Morely, 4th Baron Monteagle

His Feats: English noble and member of the House of Lords. He’s best known for the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot in which a group of 13 Catholics conspired to blow up the Houses of Parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder in the cellar directly below it during the 1605 opening. Before the fateful 5th of November, he received a mysterious letter, presumably from a fellow Catholic (most likely his brother-in-law Francis Tresham) who wanted to spare his life from the upcoming scheduled terrorist attack. After deciphering the letter, he rushed to Whitehall, showed it to the 1st Earl of Salisbury Robert Cecil. He then joined Thomas Howard where they found a stash of Gunpowder and explosives which resulted in Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators arrested, tortured into confession, and executed through being hung, drawn, and quartered. He was rewarded with £500 and 200 acres of land

Why He’s Ignored: Parker was a lifelong recusant Catholic who was in favor with court despite having a checkered past of being linked to Catholic terrorist plots as well as a stint in prison as well as a £8,000 fine. Of course, given the status of English Catholics as a persecuted minority since Elizabethan times (as well as the fact that acts of Catholic terror caused Protestant pressure to crack down on them), putting him in the history books wouldn’t fit with the historical narrative most 17th century English Protestants wouldn’t be happy with. Also, despite the Stuart monarchy being too Catholic friendly for their own good, things wouldn’t get better for the English Catholics in Great Britain after the Gunpowder Plot as priests continued to be expelled, fines were taxed, and the recusant Catholics worshiped in secret. So in spite of Parker basically saving Parliament and the Stuart royal family, his actions didn’t help the persecuted English Catholics in the PR department (then again, Catholic terrorists blowing up Parliament might’ve made things worse). Not only that, now since we have the film V for Vendetta, Guy Fawkes now has his own fanbase (and souvenir mask) despite only functioning in the group as the explosives expert as well as being the first guy caught who ratted out all his fellow collaborators while under torture. Nevertheless, whether Parker wrote the Monteagle Letter or not, he certainly knew about the Gunpowder Plot and acted accordingly. Yet, when it comes to Fawkes and Monteagle, it’s very clear which one should be seen as the hero in the story of the Gunpowder Plot.

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2. Philo T. Farnsworth

His Feats: A self-taught American physicist and child prodigy who built a motor and produced the first electric washing machine his family ever owned when he was 12 years old. At 14, he figured out a way to transmit images electronically. In 1921, he diagrammed and described television in a school science paper. 5 years later he built his first television camera and receiving apparatus. He would build the electronic transmission of television, using a carbon arc projector to send a single line to a receiver in the next room of his apartment.

Why He’s Ignored: Unfortunately for him, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) owned a patent for television by another inventor. He would spend years embroiled in lawsuits, defending himself from infringement claims, and seeking to guard his own patent rights. In 1939, RCA would finally license Farnsworth’s patents and paid him $1 million. Nevertheless, despite that TV has basically has had a major impact on the lives of billions of people who tune in every day, most people don’t really know the man who invented it. In many ways, just being the inventor of TV alone, Farnsworth should be a household name.

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3. Frank Wills

His Feats: Nighttime security guard at the Watergate Hotel and Office Complex who while on his rounds in the summer of 1972, found a strip of duct tape preventing a door latch from closing all the way. He removed it and continued on his way. 30 minutes later, he returned to the spot and saw that someone reaffixed the tape to the latch. Feeling something suspicious was going on, he promptly called the cops. What he discovered would become front page news as the late night burglary of the Democratic National Convention Headquarters which would lead to a major coverup as well as a series of scandals that led to the resignation of a US president.

Why He’s Ignored: Well, despite being held a hero with a few talk show appearances immediately after the Watergate break-in, he died broke and in obscurity. Once his 15 minutes of fame were up, he had constant trouble finding employment and was unsuccessful. Even Howard University wouldn’t hire him because they didn’t want the government to withhold their funds in retribution. In 1983, he’d be arrested for shoplifting a pair of $12 shoes which led to a year in prison. Still, if he’s ignored for anything, it’s because he was just an ordinary guy doing his job and a reluctant whistleblower, which doesn’t go well with the Watergate narrative. Yet, there are plenty of people who’ve made history every day and Wills is one of them.

4. Aryabhata

His Feats: Indian astrologer and mathematician. Said by many to have invented zero and narrow down the value of pie to the correct four decimal places. Studied both lunar and solar eclipses as well as the Earth’s rotation on its axis as well as measured the Earth’s circumference to 99.8% accuracy.

Why He’s Ignored: Well, since history is basically told in the our euro-centric point of view in most western countries, his Indian nationality is certainly an obvious factor. That and imperialism has basically promoted the notion of European supremacy bias. The fact that this Indian mathematician and astronomer existed at all doesn’t suit that narrative.

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5. Subhas Chandra Bose

His Feats: Leader of the Indian National Congress who sought full, immediate independence for India from Great Britain in contrast to Mohandas K. Gandhi’s “passive resistance” methods (though he was a great admirer and called him, “father of our nation” while Gandhi plotted against him). As a statesman and rebel leader, he was jailed as well as wore various disguises while traveling to India and beyond to bolster support for the cause. Was known in India for his decorum and respect as well has had mysterious death in 1945 with rumored sightings of Elvis-like proportions.

Why He’s Ignored: While he’s certainly revered in India, he’s seldom known anywhere else mostly because he courted the Axis Powers during World War II and the fact that Gandhi’s means of peace makes a far more better story in the PR department. Yet, like it or not, Bose’s more aggressive techniques (as those of other freedom fighters) did a far more to bring India’s independence than Gandhi ever did.

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6. Rosalind Franklin

Her Feats: British Jewish scientist who unraveled the structure of DNA with the double helix as well as was part of her team that won the Nobel Prize of 1962. Also helped unravel the structure of the Tobacco Mosaic Virus and RNA.

Why She’s Ignored: Well, three reasons. First, as a female scientist, she wasn’t acknowledged for her work by her male colleagues until 1968 and even since, she’s just a footnote in a high school biology textbook. Second, working in x-ray crystallography that helped her that famous discovery, also lead to her early death from ovarian cancer in 1958 at the age of 37. Third, the Nobel Prize isn’t awarded posthumously, though you’d think they’d make an exception with her. Still, with her work in unraveling DNA, Franklin is possibly the most important female scientist in history.

7. Elijah McCoy

His Feats: Canadian-American inventor notable for 57 U. S. patents most to do with lubrication of steam engines. Born to runaway slaves in Canada and moved to Michigan at the age of 5, he studied as a mechanical engineer in Edinburgh, Scotland. Though he only could find work as a fireman and oiler at the Michigan Central Railroad, he invented an automatic lubricator for oiling steam engines, locomotives, and ships. Also invented the folding ironing board and a lawn sprinkler. Produced more patents than any other African American inventor up to the 20th century.

Why He’s Ignored: To make a short story short, despite having all those patents and debate on how much he revolutionized the railroad and machine industries with his devices, he’s not well known outside of industry and the African American community. This is mostly because he was black as well as the fact he didn’t have the money to manufacture his lubricators in large numbers until close to the end of his life and usually assigned patent rights to his employers investors. Not only that, but racial prejudice in the day was the main reason why he could only find work as a fireman and oiler in the first place, which is why he’s barely mentioned at all in any early 20th century literature at all relating to lubricators.

8. Norbert Rilleaux

His Feats: 19th century Creole African American inventor and engineer. Born in Louisiana and cousin of Edgar Degas, was the youngest teacher at the Ecole Centrale (an engineering school in Paris) at the age of 24 instructing in applied mechanics as well as a competent blacksmith and expert machinist. Best known for inventing the multiple-effect evaporator which was an energy efficient means of evaporating water as well as an important development in the sugar industry. When a yellow fever outbreak plagued New Orleans in the 1850s, he proposed a plan to the city that would eliminate the moist breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that carried the disease by addressing problems in the city’s sewer system and drying swamplands in the area. Though rejected, it was addressed several years later.

Why He’s Ignored: Well, despite helping to revolutionize the sugar industry with his refining contraption, the fact he was black and a Creole of color certainly doesn’t give him much recognition in the history books as well as those of other African American engineers, scientists, and inventors. Also, for many white Southerners of the day, giving credit to a black guy for making a device that helped the growth of the sugar industry is kind of an embarrassment.

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9. Oscar Micheaux

His Feats: Born to a former slave father in Illinois and to a family of 13 children. Moved to Chicago at 17 in which he had several different jobs from working in stockyards and steel mills to setting up his own shoeshine stand and working as a Pullman porter. He then became a homesteader in South Dakota with all white neighbors who wouldn’t let him eat at their tables and started writing articles for the press. Wrote 7 novels based on his experiences and the failure of his first marriage as well as had his stories revolve around the theme of African Americans realizing their potential and succeeding in areas from which they were previously excluded. When his 1918 book The Homesteader was being planned for a feature film, negotiations between him and producer, he decided to form his own book and film company in Chicago and made the adaptation himself. He would go to collaborate in over 40 films focusing on contemporary African American life, black and white racial relationships, and blacks trying to achieve the American Dream in a larger and segregated society. He’d also use his films to counter white portrayals of African Americans and inferior black stereotypes. He was perhaps the most successful black filmmaker in the early 20th century and gave a lot of opportunities to African Americans in the film business. Once said, “My results…might have been narrow at times, due perhaps to certain limited situations, which I endeavored to portray, but in those limited situations, the truth was the predominate characteristic. It is only by presenting those portions of the race portrayed in my pictures, in the light and background of their true state, that we can raise our people to greater heights. I am too imbued with the spirit of Booker T. Washington to engraft false virtues upon ourselves, to make ourselves that which we are not.”

Why He’s Ignored: Outside of film buffs and the African American community, most people don’t really know who he was. Of course, the fact that Hollywood and mainstream US History tends to downplay the achievements of African Americans so we shouldn’t be surprised. Not to mention, the fact that Hollywood tends to take movies made by blacks less seriously than whites is also a factor as well as the fact that some of Micheaux’s films are now lost. Yet, as his tombstone reads, this pioneer in African American cinema was certainly, “A man ahead of his time.” Still, when it comes to the history of film and Hollywood, you can’t really ignore this man who’s certainly a historical hero indeed.

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10. Mary Anning

Her Feats: 19th century British fossil collector, dealer, and paleontologist known for the important finds she made in the Jurassic marine beds in the cliffs along the English Channel at Lyme Regis. Discoveries included the first correctly identified ichthyosaur skeleton she found at the age of 12, the first two plesiosaur skeletons, and the first pterosaur skeleton located outside Germany, and important fish fossils. Her observations played a key role in the discovery that coprolites were fossilized feces and that belemnite fossils contained fossilised ink sacs like those of modern cephalopods. All this despite having almost no formal education and barely enough money for journal subscriptions as well as collected fossils during landslide season which was very dangerous and killed her dog.

Why She’s Ignored: As a woman from a poor family of religious dissenters who lost her cabinetmaker dad at eleven, she was screwed by the British scientific establishment from the get-go. Also, she was only published once in the scientific press in which she wrote a letter to the Magazine of Natural History disputing the “discovery” of a new genus prehistoric shark based on her own findings. Still, this didn’t stop other British scientists from wanting to talk shop with her.

11. Rabban Sauma

His Feats: 1200s Turkic/Mongol Nestorian monk turned diplomat who traveled in places such as Mongol controlled China, Baghdad, and Europe where he met with many of the monarchs and the Pope. He then chronicled his lifetime of travel which is of unique interest to modern historians giving a picture of medieval Europe at the end of the Crusading period painted by a keenly intelligent, broadminded, and statesmanlike observer as well as provides a viewpoint of East looking West.

Why He’s Ignored: Let’s just say that people may find it hard to believe that a Turkic/Mongol managed to write anything about the Crusades and medieval Europe. Yes, Western Eurocentric history, indeed.

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12. Nicholas Steno

His Feats: Danish Catholic Bishop and major figure in the Catholic Counter-Reformation (enough to make him headed for sainthood) as well as tutor to the de Medici family and scientific pioneer in both anatomy and geology (that a device is named after him). In 1659, he resolved not to accept anything simply written in a book and decided to do the research himself. This self-study led him to become the father of geology and stratigraphy. Responsible for the recognition of geological strata and the theory that successive layers of geologic transformations (strata) contained a fossil record of life in chronological order.

Why He’s Ignored: Despite his many great achievements, he’s largely unknown which may be due to his religious zeal and the fact that the Catholic Church in the 17th century is best known for the Galileo Affair. Yet, even when his theological studies and religious duties caused him to put his natural science studies in the back seat, he never totally abandoned them and no one in the Catholic Church saw anything wrong with it. Still, his story doesn’t go well with some people’s point of view with the science vs. religion debate because Steno didn’t see such a conflict at least when it came to the his relationship with the Catholic Church in his later years. Was said to be a decent bishop though.

The Real People of Boardwalk Empire: Part 5 – Mae Coughlin Capone to Owney Madden

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As I may have said before, before states in the Mid Atlantic started to legalize gambling and build casinos of their own in recent times, Atlantic City was renown as the Las Vegas of the Eastern Seaboard before Las Vegas with its share of casinos and gambling establishments. It was also the city that served as a model for the Parker Brothers’ game of Monopoly but that will come out during the Great Depression but it’s no coincidence why some of the areas in that city seem to remind you of it. Nevertheless, Atlantic City also began the Miss America beauty pageant which started as a way to get more tourists to their resort boom town, but has become a national beauty contest owned by Donald Trump (and whatever he has on his hair). Still, during Prohibition, it was famous for ignoring Prohibition thanks to the efforts of one Nucky Johnson who’s the inspiration for the Steve Buscemi character on Boardwalk Empire. Yet, we’ve come to the final installment but we still have more people to go over. In this final selection, we’ll look at some historical wives to famous figures like Mae Capone, First Lady Florence Harding, and Katherine Bader. We’ll also meet Al Capone’s mother Theresina and Warren G. Harding’s alleged daughter Elizabeth Ann Blaesing. Yet, we’ll also see investigators William Frank and Eliot Ness as well as Nucky Johnson’s servant Louis Kessel. And then we have famous horse trainer Max Hirsch, boxing manager Jack “Doc” Kearns, and possible Billie Kent inspiration Dorothy “Dot” King. Finally, we’ll meet gangsters Salvatore Maranzano and Owney Madden. So without further adieu, enjoy this final installment of the real people seen from Boardwalk Empire.

53. Mae Coughlin Capone (1897-1986)

Mae Capone was Al Capone's beautiful wife and mother to his son. Yet, since she was a private person, there's very little else that's known about her. Still, Al knew how to pick em' didn't he?

Mae Capone was Al Capone’s beautiful wife and mother to his son. Yet, since she was a private person, there’s very little else that’s known about her. Still, Al knew how to pick em’ didn’t he?

Known in Life as: Al Capone’s wife.
Character or Inspiration? She’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Well, she was Irish.
Differences: Born in New York and married to Al since she was 21 three weeks after their son was born. Had syphilis. Was an ardent churchgoer. Stuck with Al until the end and was reputed to be beautiful. Still, despite her husband’s infamy as perhaps the most famous American gangster who ever lived, there’s surprisingly little about her.
Ultimate Fate: Died in Miami in 1986 at 89.

54. Max Hirsch (1880-1969)
Known in Life as: American Hall of Fame Thoroughbred horse trainer. One of the most successful in history. His horses gave him 3 wins in the Kentucky Derby, 2 wins in the Preakness Stakes, and 4 wins in the Belmont Stakes. Also, trained the 1946 Triple Crown winner Bold Venture.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Well, he did condition horses for various clients but I’m not sure if Rothstein was one of them.
Differences: Born in Texas and spent his early years as a groom and jockey at the Morris Ranch. Married with at least one son named Buddy who also followed in his footsteps.
Ultimate Fate: Died in Long Island, New York in 1969 at 88.

55. Florence Harding (1860-1924)

Though we're not sure whether she was called

Though we’re not sure whether she was called “Flossie” we’re pretty sure that if Florence Harding ever had anything to do with her husband’s death it had more to do with trusting the wrong doctor than anything. I mean you shouldn’t trust homeopaths for their pseudoscientific quacks.

Known in Life as: Wife of President Warren G. Harding and First Lady of the United States from 1921-1923. Known as the brains behind her husband’s newspaper business, called “The Duchess,” and was said to give notably elegant parties.
Character or Inspiration? She’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Well, she had gray hair and glasses. Also actually consulted a fortune teller who said that her husband would become President but die in office.
Differences: Was married twice and had a son with her first husband who she divorced on grounds for gross neglect. May or may not have been called “Flossie.” Once studied to be a concert pianist and worked as a piano teacher. Helped Warren run his newspaper business where she organized circulation, improved distribution, trained newsboys, purchased equipment at keen prices, and installed the first local wire service. She also managed her husband’s finances, social life, and public image. Said to have a strong influence in Warren’s administration and held outspoken political views. Her great cause was championing the welfare of war veterans and served alcohol to guests. Though alleged by Gaston Means that she killed her husband, it’s highly unlikely though she did destroy many of his papers.
Ultimate Fate: Died of renal failure after her last public appearance on Veteran’s Day in 1924. She was 64.

56. Teresina Raiola Capone (1867-1952)

Theresina Capone with her grandson Albert Francis. I guess while she didn't seem to like her son's gangster interests, she didn't seem to disown him.

Theresina Capone with her grandson Albert Francis. I guess while she didn’t seem to like her son’s gangster interests, she didn’t seem to disown him.

Known in Life as: Al Capone’s mother.
Character or Inspiration? She’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Well, she’s Italian though I’m not sure if she went to Chicago.
Differences: Born in Naples and was a seamstress before marrying barber Gabriel Capone. Had 10 children. Came to the US in 1893.
Ultimate Fate: Died in 1952 at 85.

57. Katherine Holvick Bader (1878-1969)
Known in Life as: Edward L. Bader’s wife.
Character or Inspiration? She’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Well, she did attend dinners with her husband.
Differences: Married with 4 kids. Still, there’s really not much about her.
Ultimate Fate: Died in Atlantic City in 1969 at 91.

58. Jack “Doc” Kearns (1882-1963)

Jack

Jack “Doc” Kearns was a world renown boxing manager most famous for overseeing the career of Jack Dempsey. Still, there may be details in his autobiography that might be rather sketchy.

Known in Life as: World renowned boxing trainer and manager for Jack Dempsey during the 1920s. Also trained Mickey Walker, Joe Maxim, and Archie Moore.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Trained Jack Dempsey around the time of his upcoming fight against Georges Carpentier. May have been corrupt.
Differences: Hailed from the state of Washington and wrote his autobiography called The Million Dollar Gate that was published posthumously in 1966. Quit school at 14 and stowed away on a freighter to Alaska to stake a claim in the Klondike Gold Rush. Said he worked as a dognapper and helped smuggle Chinese laborers. Was a boxer himself in 1900 and said to take part in 60 bouts. Operated a boxing club and bar in Spokane for a time. Remained an active fight manager until his death.
Ultimate Fate: Died in 1963 at 81.

59. Salvatore Maranzano (1886-1931)

Salvatore Maranzano may look rather sharp but this is perhaps the only picture I could find him alive. Other photos depict him as brutally shot up and they're not pretty. Still, let's just say he'd start a gang war and be killed by Luciano.

Salvatore Maranzano may look rather sharp but this is perhaps the only picture I could find him alive. Other photos depict him as brutally shot up and they’re not pretty. Still, let’s just say he’d start a gang war and be killed by Luciano.

Known in Life as: Early Costa Nostra boss in the US who instigated the Castellammarese War to seize control of American Mafia operations and briefly became the Mafia’s “Bosses of Bosses.”
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Was in direct competition with Masseria.
Differences: Born in Italy and once studied to be a priest yet immigrated to Brooklyn in 1919 on a Sicilian mob boss’ orders. Had a commanding presence as well as greatly respected his underworld peers. Was fascinated with Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire as well as loved discussing these subjects with his less-educated American counterparts. Though he was a legitimate real estate broker, he also had businesses in bootlegging, prostitution, and illegal narcotics smuggling. Divided his organization into squads with each soldier pledging loyalty to his squad leader.
Ultimate Fate: Shot and stabbed by 4 hitmen posing as accountants in New York on Luciano’s orders in 1931. Still, he already hired someone to kill Luciano. After his murder, Luciano abolished the “Boss of Bosses” title and his organization would become the Bonnano Crime Family since it was given to Joseph Bonnano.

60. William Frank
Known in Life as: A lawyer who led a joint IRS and FBI task force to take down Nucky Johnson.
Character or Inspiration? Inspiration for Nelson Van Alden which is rather loosely based.
Similarities: Well, they did lead an operation to take down a corrupt political boss making money on illegal activities.
Differences: His operation to take Nucky Johnson down wasn’t until 1936, which was 3 years after Prohibition. Also, he probably wasn’t a religious fanatic (if so, then he perhaps wasn’t as batshit crazy as Van Alden) and was rather successful at getting his man.
Ultimate Fate: Don’t really know what happened to him.

61. Eliot Ness (1903-1957)

I think Eliot Ness is one of the more overrated people in history mainly because his actions during Prohibition make a rather good story despite that he didn't take down Al Capone. Also, he was a womanizer and a drunk.

I think Eliot Ness is one of the more overrated people in history mainly because his actions during Prohibition make a rather good story despite that he didn’t take down Al Capone. Also, he was a womanizer and a drunk.

Known in Life as: American Prohibition agent famous for his efforts to enforce the 18th Amendment in Chicago as well as leader of a legendary team of law enforcement agents known as the Untouchables (and no, they didn’t take down Al Capone. IRS agent Frank J. Wilson did).
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Well, he did publicly declare he’d take down Al Capone while still a Chicago Treasury agent (he didn’t in real life).
Differences: Born to Norwegian immigrants and attended the University of Chicago where he served as a member in Sigma Alpha Epsilon and graduated with an economics degree in 1925. Career as investigator began for the Retail Credit Company of Atlanta. Returned to college to earn a master’s degree in criminology. With his Untouchables, he staged raids against illegal stills and breweries and was said to have seized such facilities worth as much as a million bucks. Also used wiretapping. Had a close friend killed and survived assassination attempts. Was a womanizing drunk. Had one adopted son and was married 3 times (divorced twice).
Ultimate Fate: After Prohibition, his later years as a law enforcer would come to an end in the 1930s and his latter life consisted of two divorces, business failures, and alcoholism. Died of a heart attack in Coudersport, Pennsylvania at 54. ATF building is named after him.

62. Louis Kessel (1888-1944)

Louis Kessel was the inspiration for Boardwalk Empire's Eddie Kessler. A former cab driver, he worked as Nucky Johnson's valet, driver, and bodyguard and was called by his boss,

Louis Kessel was the inspiration for Boardwalk Empire’s Eddie Kessler. A former cab driver, he worked as Nucky Johnson’s valet, driver, and bodyguard and was called by his boss, “the most loyal man I ever knew.” If there was one thing, Nucky Johnson regretted in his life, it was not attending Kessel’s funeral (due to being incarcerated for tax evasion).

Known in Life as: Former cab driver and personal servant to Nucky Johnson at his Ritz-Carlton residence in Atlantic City. Johnson called him, “the most loyal man I ever knew.”
Character or Inspiration? Inspiration for Eddie Kessler.
Similarities: Well, he was German (despite being born in Russia). Also served as chauffer and bodyguard, too.
Differences: Born in Russia and was 42 in 1920. Was of stockier build than Anthony Laicura but had a similar appearance otherwise. Smoked a pipe. Stood 5’5” and weighed 260 lbs. Before he became a cab driver he was a wrestler and bartender. Could easily break down a door. Woke his boss every day at 3:00 pm and gave him a vigorous massage with wintergreen oil, answered his calls, and prepared him of the day. Was arrested in a prostitution sting. Had a wife and kids though (his granddaughter is still alive). Visited his boss in prison a few times a week with Johnson’s second wife Florence.
Ultimate Fate: Died in a broadsided limo accident during a drive to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania to see his incarcerated boss. He was 56. Nucky Johnson was upset that he couldn’t go to the funeral, and not being there haunted him for decades. Still, his boss would write a moving tribute for him.

63. Elizabeth Ann Blaesing (1919-2005)

Young Elizabeth Blaesing with her mother Nan Britton. Though alleged to be Warren G. Harding's daughter, I don't think she bears any resemblance to the President. Still, Harding was known to be philanderer but might've been sterile.

Young Elizabeth Blaesing with her mother Nan Britton. Though alleged to be Warren G. Harding’s daughter, I don’t think she bears any resemblance to the President. Still, Harding was known to be philanderer but might’ve been sterile.

Known in Life as: Alleged daughter of Warren Harding by alleged mistress Nan Britton. Her claims were never conclusively proven.
Character or Inspiration? She’s a character on the show though she won’t be known by her surname Blaesing until after she was married. Yet, since we don’t know who her father is and went by different surnames prior to her marriage, we’ll just use her maiden name.
Similarities: Well, she was definitely Nan Britton’s daughter. And Warren G. Harding’s according to DNA tests.
Differences: Born in New Jersey and lived in multiple states. Married and had at least one son. Said that Warren G. Harding was her father but has refused interviews or a DNA test (not anymore).
Ultimate Fate: Died in Oregon in 2005. She was 86.

64. Dorothy “Dot” King (1896-1923)

Dorothy

Dorothy “Dot” King was a former showgirl, model, and actress who was famously found murdered in her New York apartment in a building owned by Arnold Rothstein. Still, compared to Billie Kent, she was no saint.

Known in Life as: Ziegfield Follies chorus showgirl who lived in an apartment owned by Arnold Rothstein found famously murdered in 1923.
Character or Inspiration? Likely inspiration for Billie Kent though rather loosely.
Similarities: Well, they do have a similar taste in certain infamous men like sugar daddies, playboys, top-hatted stage-door Johnnies, and Just Plain Gigolo. Both were said to have diamonds, furs, and a bachelor girl apartment in New York.
Differences: Daughter of Irish immigrants. She wasn’t the loyal mistress Billie was to Nucky on the show (who had a sugar daddy but also a Puerto Rican con man lover) and was actually in her late 20s. Also wasn’t blown up in a nightclub. Was married once to a chauffeur but he divorced her after catching her cheating on him. Appeared in only one Broadway production for 105 performances in 1920 and worked in modeling. Yet, left both to make a living as an honest to goodness vamp who had affairs with string of wealthy and powerful men.
Ultimate Fate: Murdered in her yellow silk pajamas in her New York City apartment in 1923. She was 27. Some of her jewelry was missing from the scene as well. Killing remains unsolved and no one was tried.

65. Owney Madden (1891-1965)

Owney Madden may not look like much and may have spoken in a Yorkshire accent like you hear on Downton Abbey. Yet, he was a notorious gangster who had future movie star George Raft as his personal driver (yes, that George Raft if you know who he was. Well, if you don't, he's the head gangster in Some Like It Hot, which you should watch).

Owney Madden may not look like much and may have spoken in a Yorkshire accent like you hear on Downton Abbey. Yet, he was a notorious gangster who had future movie star George Raft as his personal driver (yes, that George Raft if you know who he was. Well, if you don’t, he’s the head gangster in Some Like It Hot, which you should watch).

Known in Life as: Leading underworld figure during Prohibition in New York, most notable for his involvement in organized crime, running the famous Cotton Club, and being a leading boxing promoter in the 1930s.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Spoke in a Northern English accent.
Differences: Born in England to Irish parents. Came to US in early 1900s and was a member of New York’s Gopher Gang where he got a notorious reputation as a fighter and killer. Lead pipe and gun were his signature weapons. Enjoyed an opulent lifestyle and was often accompanied by several women. Yet was known for his violent jealousy and shot a store clerk who asked one of his girls out while boarding a trolley. Despite several witnesses, the case was dismissed. Yet, was eventually sent to Sing Sing for 20 years for his violent behavior but only served 9. Found the Gopher Gang broke up at his 1923 release so went to be a muscle for a friend’s cab business and started running Canadian whiskey to New York. Onetime personal driver would be future movie star George Raft (I’m not making this up).
Ultimate Fate: After being responsible for the killing of Vincent “Mad Dog” Coll and being arrested for a parole violation in 1932, he would soon leave New York in 1935. Settled in Hot Springs, Arkansas where he opened the Southern Club where Luciano was arrested as well as became involved with other criminal activities like illegal gambling. Became a US citizen in 1943 and married the city postmaster’s daughter. Gave up his British passport when threatened with deportation in the 1950s. Died of emphysema in 1965 at 73.

The Real People of Boardwalk Empire: Part 4 – Nan Britton to Richard “Peg Leg” Lonergan

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Vaudeville was one of the dominant forms of variety show entertainment from the 1880s to the early 1930s, which was very popular in the United States and Canada during the 1920s. A typical performance was made up of a series of unrelated acts groups together on a common bill. Acts could consist of popular and classical musicians, singers, dancers, comedians, trained animals, magicians, male and female drag shows, acrobats, illustrated songs, jugglers, one-act scenes from plays, athletes, lecturing celebrities, minstrels (hopefully not to a black audience), and even movies. This kind of entertainment developed from many sources including the concert saloon, minstrelsy (unfortunately), freak shows, dime museums, and literary American burlesque. It’s no wonder it’s called “the heart of American show business,” since it brought us people like Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges, Eddie Cantor, Buster Keaton, Mae West, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Abbot and Costello, Bob Hope, Judy Garland, Sammy Davis Jr., Jack Benny, and George Burns. Still, it’s a dominant form of entertainment in Boardwalk Empire filled with many showgirls that all the gangsters can screw. Nevertheless, in this selection, we’ll meet political figures like President Warren G. Harding, Irish revolutionary and politician Eamon De Valera, New Jersey Governor Edward I. Edwards, and Atlantic City Mayor Harry Bacharach. We’ll also be introduced to Al Capone’s son Albert Francis, alleged Harding mistress Nan Britton, Arnold Rothstein’s wife Carolyn, ragtime composer James Scott, and famous criminal defense lawyer William J. Fallon. And of course, Boardwalk Empire won’t be without the gangsters in which we have in this selection Big Jim Colosimo (the mustachioned guy who was killed in the pilot), Chicago Outfit adviser and Capone Associate Jake Guzik, as well as White Hand leaders “Wild Bill” Lovett and “Peg Leg” Lonergan. So without further adieu, here are some more real life historical figures from the world of the Emmy-winning Boardwalk Empire.

40. Nan Britton (1896-1991)

Nan Britton may or may not have been Warren Harding's babymama but she did cause a sensation with her 1927 book alleging that. Still, I wonder how she got the fur stole.

Nan Britton may or may not have been Warren Harding’s babymama but she did cause a sensation with her 1927 book alleging that. Still, I wonder how she got the fur stole.

Known in Life as: Associated with the Warren G. Harding Presidency because she publicly claimed in a tell-all book in 1928 that Harding had fathered her illegitimate daughter shortly before his election as president in 1920.
Character or Inspiration? She’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Was infatuated with Harding since she was a teenager and before he started his political career (who was a friend of her dad). Also, had his love child according to DNA evidence.
Differences: Was about 24 in 1920 and worked as a secretary in New York City. Had her daughter in 1919. Also, despite that she claimed that Harding fathered her daughter, Elizabeth Ann, there’s little concrete evidence that an affair between them ever took place and might’ve just existed in her head (save maybe an occasional hook up prior to his presidency). If so, then we’re sure that Harding wasn’t her baby daddy because he was said to be sterile (though DNA evidence has rebuked this). Also wasn’t hidden away until the 1920 election to avoid political scandal because that honor went to a woman who was Harding’s mistress but for very different reasons.
Ultimate Fate: Died in Oregon of natural causes in 1991 at 94.

41. Eamon De Valera (1882-1975)

John McGarrigle may not be a surrogate for Eamon De Valera but he did share a lot of his personality and wore glasses. Nevertheless, Valera would be a dominant figure in Ireland during the 20th century until his death in 1975.

John McGarrigle may not be a surrogate for Eamon De Valera but he did share a lot of his personality and wore glasses. Nevertheless, Valera would be a dominant figure in Ireland during the 20th century until his death in 1975.

Known in Life as: One of the dominant figures of early 20th century Ireland whose political career spanned from 1917-1973 with roles from revolutionary to several terms as head of state and government. Led the introduction of the Constitution of Ireland. Was in Sinn Fein and founded Fianna Fail. Political creed evolved from militant republicanism to cultural conservatism.
Character or Inspiration? Inspiration for John McGarrigle (though not necessarily a stand-in but close).
Similarities: Well, they had similar appearances and personality. Both fund-raised for the IRA in the US.
Differences: Born in New York to a Cuban father. Was a devout Catholic man who once considered becoming a priest yet might’ve prevented doing so because of his possible illegitimate birth (out of wedlock children couldn’t enter into the secular or diocesan priesthood at the time, though he could’ve been a priest of a religious order {like Erasmus}. Still, his half-brother was a priest though). Happily married for 65 years and fathered 7 kids. Was a math professor before getting involved in Irish politics. Was never assassinated unlike McGarrigle.
Ultimate Fate: Died in Dublin of natural causes in 1975 at 92. Body lay in Dublin Castle and was given a full funeral at St. Mary Pro-Cathedral, which was broadcast on national television.

42. Warren G. Harding (1865-1923)

Warren G. Harding did make a dandy looking president in the early 1920s. Too bad that he was a horrible judge of character that Teapot Dome happened.

Warren G. Harding did make a dandy looking president in the early 1920s. Too bad that he was a horrible judge of character that Teapot Dome happened.

Known in Life as: 29th President of the United States from 1921-1923. Republican from Ohio who served in the state and US Senate but was nominated on the ballot for being an inoffensive compromise candidate and used advertising experts to publicize his presidential appearance and conservative promises like “a return to normalcy,” an end to violence and radicalism, a strong economy, and independence from European intrigues. Though appointed great minds in his cabinet like Andrew Mellon for Treasury, Herbert Hoover for Commerce, and Charles Evans Hughes for State, he also rewarded friends and contributors with powerful positions who were known as the Ohio Gang. Presidency was famous for multiple cases of corruption exposed both during and after his death, including the notorious Teapot Dome scandal which was “greatest and most sensational scandal in the history of American politics” before Watergate. Seen as one of the worst US Presidents, despite setting up what would eventually become the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Well, he was a womanizer and frequently cheated on his wife. Had to have a mistress hidden away during his 1920 presidential campaign. And had a love child out of wedlock to Nan Britton according to DNA evidence. But both these things didn’t apply to the same woman.
Differences: Born and spent most of his life in Ohio as well as owned a newspaper. Actual mistress who was to be hidden away wasn’t Nan Britton, but his mistress of 15 years Carrie Fulton Phillips (who he certainly did have an affair with since there are 1,000 pages of intimate letters between them which may be available online), a wife of a department store owner and a close friend. Yet, she was hidden away due to her vocal support for Germany during WWI and was deliberately blackmailed by the Republican Party with an all-expense paid vacation to East Asia. Also said to be linked to two of his wife’s friends named Susan Hodder and Grace Cross. Heavy drinker and gambler. Still, wasn’t as much a crook and more like a bad judge of character.
Ultimate Fate: Died in office under mysterious circumstances in San Francisco in 1923 at 58 (Mrs. Harding refused an autopsy. Still, even if Flossie didn’t poison her husband {and it’s highly unlikely she did}, we’re not sure what killed him. He was officially said to succumb to apoplexy and recently had a heart attack as well as food poisoning {from seafood} that led to pneumonia in Alaska but it may have been stroke, congestive heart failure, food poisoning, or heart attack. It’s also widely believed that Harding might’ve been a victim of medical malpractice since the doctor treating him when he died was a homeopath {a field of medicine that’s now considered a pseudoscience}.)

43. James “Big Jim” Colosimo (1878-1920)

Big Jim Colosimo with his lawyer. Notice that he used to wear that white suit to lure women into his prostitution cathouses. Still, you probably remember him for getting killed in the Boardwalk Empire pilot.

Big Jim Colosimo with his lawyer. Notice that he used to wear that white suit to lure women into his prostitution cathouses. Still, you probably remember him for getting killed in the Boardwalk Empire pilot.

Known in Life as: Italian American Mafia crime boss who built a criminal empire in Chicago based on prostitution, gambling, and racketeering. From 1902-1920 would lead a gang that would be known after his death as the Chicago Outfit.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Was actually a big guy with a mustache. Refused to invest in the alcohol business when Prohibition came around. Had a restaurant and night club called Colosimo’s Café (where Al Capone would work as a bouncer). Was killed in 1920 (but in May not January as in the pilot).
Differences: Born in Italy and immigrated to Chicago in 1895. Recruited Johnny Torrio from Brooklyn and made him his second in command (this would prove to be a very big mistake). Married twice and divorced once (to Torrio’s aunt whom he deserted). Frequently dressed in a white suit as well as wore diamond pins, rings, and other jewelry.
Ultimate Fate: Shot and killed in his café in Chicago in 1920 at 42. Though Torrio is the most likely suspect responsible (who may have hired Frankie Yale to do the deed), no one was ever arrested for it.

44. Albert Francis “Sonny “Capone (1918-2004)

Sonny Capone on one of his wedding days, I think. Still, basically rebelled against his dad by going to college, getting a legitimate job, and not breaking the law.

Sonny Capone on one of his wedding days, I think. Still, basically rebelled against his dad by going to college, getting a legitimate job, and not breaking the law.

Known in Life as: Al Capone’s son.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Well, he was a kid at the time (well, he was 2 in 1920). And he did have hearing problems.
Differences: Wasn’t born deaf and only went partially deaf at age 7 (due to being born with congenital syphilis and experiencing a serious mastoid infection that required brain surgery). Went to high school with Desi Arnaz Sr. from I Love Lucy and attended the University of Miami. Married 3 times and fathered at least 4 daughters. Changed his name to Albert Francis Brown in 1966 in order to distance himself from his notorious dad.
Ultimate Fate: Died in Florida of natural causes at 85 in 2004, after a lifetime as an upstanding citizen with no mob ties (except in genetics). At least a few of his daughters are still alive.

45. Jake Guzik (1886-1956)

Yes, this is a picture of Guzik from 1946 but it was one the few good ones I could find. Still, you didn't want to beat him up or his buddy Al Capone would show his famous violent tendencies in your direction.

Yes, this is a picture of Guzik from 1946 but it was one the few good ones I could find. Still, you didn’t want to beat him up or his buddy Al Capone would show his famous violent tendencies in your direction.

Known in Life as: Jewish American financial and legal advisor as well as political “greaser” for the Chicago Outfit. Had a great relationship with Al Capone.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Was involved in prostitution and protected by Al Capone (hurting him was a quick way to get Al to practically murder you).
Differences: Born in Krakow, Poland and came to the US in the early 20th century. Was incapable of using a gun or killing anyone. Served as principal bagman in payoffs to Chicago police and politicians. Capone actually came to trust and rely on his advice as well as told him to make sure his wife and kid were provided for when his health failed.
Ultimate Fate: He would also go on to work for Paul “the Waiter” Ricca and Tony Accardo. Spent a few years in prison for tax evasion. Died of a myocardial infraction in 1956 at 69. Funeral was said to put more Italians in a synagogue than ever before in history.

46. Carolyn Greene Rothstein (1888-?)

Carolyn Rothstein wasn't too happy with her husband Arnold's life choices but she stuck with him until his 1928 murder. I mean she had to put up with his gambling, stealing, marital infidelities, and having people killed.

Carolyn Rothstein wasn’t too happy with her husband Arnold’s life choices but she stuck with him until his 1928 murder. I mean she had to put up with his gambling, stealing, marital infidelities, and having people killed. Ladies, if you want to know what it’s like being a gangster’s wife, you might want to read her book if available.

Known in Life as: Arnold Rothstein’s wife.
Character or Inspiration? She’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Well, she was blond.
Differences: Was a New York showgirl before meeting her husband who interrogated her coworkers and friends after four dates. Was Irish Catholic (as well as half-Jewish) and married Arnold at 21 though he pawned all her jewelry for cash (he got it back after winning $12,000). Though remained married to Arnold until his murder, she didn’t like him being a New York gang boss and gambler. Also put up with his cheating, stealing, and killing.
Ultimate Fate: Wrote a book about her life with her husband after his murder called Now I’ll Tell You that was published in 1934. Well, she didn’t died rich if she survived Arnold by more than 10 years.

47. William J. Fallon (1886-1927)

William J. Fallon was a noted criminal defense attorney who has become the archetype of all sleazy lawyers everywhere. Still, you have to give him credit for him never losing a case pertaining to murder.

William J. Fallon was a noted criminal defense attorney who has become the archetype of all sleazy lawyers everywhere. Still, you have to give him credit for him never losing a case pertaining to murder.

Known in Life as: Criminal defense attorney in New York City who represented the city’s leading pimps, illegal narcotics dealers, embezzlers, and operators. Inspiration for Billy Flynn of Chicago as well as the archetype for the amoral criminal defense lawyer.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Well, he was known to defend a lot of famous morally dubious people. Also represented Arnold Rothstein.
Differences: Son of Irish immigrants. Graduated at the top of his class at Fordham University. Was in the New York State Assembly and was charged in 1924 for bribing a juror but acquitted. Called, “The Great Mouthpiece.” Said to be talented, vain, and flamboyant as well as drank a lot. Was very smart and eloquent but also immoral, dishonest, and self-indulgent. His 120 homicide defendants were never convicted. Married with two daughters. Wore exquisitely tailored suites, had the finest silk ties, and donned no shirt more than once. Yet, left his cobbler made shoes unshined.
Ultimate Fate: Died of heart disease at the Hotel Oxford in 1927 at 40.

48. William “Wild Bill” Lovett (1894-1923)

Yes, he may have an unremarkable appearance, but he's the famous White Hand leader known as Wild Bill Lovett who made money through dockside extortion as well had alcoholic rages that were the stuff of legend. Was shot up dead on Halloween night.

Yes, he may have an unremarkable appearance, but he’s the famous White Hand leader known as Wild Bill Lovett who made money through dockside extortion as well had alcoholic rages that were the stuff of legend. Was shot up dead on Halloween night.

Known in Life as: Irish American gangster in early 20th century New York.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Leader of the White Hand Gang and worked with “Peg Leg” Lonergan.
Differences: Spent his childhood as a juvenile delinquent in various gangs. Served in WWI and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery. Though well-educated and articulate, was a temperamental alcoholic who made even his own men nervous. Took control of the waterfront rackets after the death of White Hand Gang leader Dinny Meehan (and was believed to have killed him). Income came from dockside extortion, burglary and other crimes. Survived a few assassination attempts such as a stabbing and 3 shots to the chest.
Ultimate Fate: Upon his 1923 marriage to Lonergan’s sister, he swore to give up criminal rackets and drinking. Turned power to his brother-in-law and was safe for 3 months, but was up to his old ways and his wife refused to take him back. Beaten and shot up near a store on Halloween night (most likely by Irish gangsters) after leaving a bar drunk. He was 29.

49. Edward I. Edwards (1863-1931)

Edward I. Edwards was governor of New Jersey during the early 1920s and US Senator from 1923-1929. Didn't have it so good after politics since he went broke and later killed himself. Nevertheless, he seems to be a rather distinguished man.

Edward I. Edwards was governor of New Jersey during the early 1920s and US Senator from 1923-1929. Didn’t have it so good after politics since he went broke and later killed himself. Nevertheless, he seems to be a rather distinguished man.

Known in Life as: Governor of New Jersey from 1920-1923 and US Senator from 1923-1929.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Frank Hague was one of his allies (they’d soon have a falling out).
Differences: Had dark hair even in the 1920s. Married with 2 kids. Studied law in his brother’s office and engaged in the banking and construction businesses. Went broke with the Wall Street crash of 1929 and was implicated in an election fraud scandal.
Ultimate Fate: Was diagnosed with skin cancer and shot himself in 1931. He was 67.

50. James Scott (1885-1938)

James Scott was one of the premiere African American ragtime composers in the early 20th century. A lot of his compositions were used as accompaniment in silent movies and his fortunes went in decline when talkies came around. Still, he has a rather nice hat and suit.

James Scott was one of the premiere African American ragtime composers in the early 20th century. A lot of his compositions were used as accompaniment in silent movies and his fortunes went in decline when talkies came around. Still, he has a rather nice hat and suit.

Known in Life as: African American ragtime composer. Regarded as one of the three most important composers of ragtime music along with Scott Joplin and Joseph Lamb.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Wearing a hat was a trademark of his.
Differences: Born in Missouri and son of former slaves. Worked in a music store in 1902 and wrote his first composition compilation in 1903. A lot of his pieces were used to accompany silent movies.
Ultimate Fate: After his wife died and the coming of sound in movies, his fortunes and health deteriorated. Published nothing after 1902. Died in Kansas City, Missouri in 1938 at 53.

51. Harry Bacharach (1873-1947)
Known in Life as: Mayor of Atlantic City for 6 months in 1912, from 1916-1920, and 1930-1935. Also served as city commissioner.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Well, he was mayor in 1920 but there’s not much on him.
Differences: Tried for election fraud in 1914 for the 1910 mayoral election. Had a Negro League Baseball team named after him called the Bacharach Giants. Him and brother Isaac founded the Betty Bacharach Home for Afflicted Children in honor of their mom in 1924 which cared for kids with polio.
Ultimate Fate: Died in Atlantic City in 1947 at 74.

52. Richard “Peg Leg” Lonegran (1900-1925)

Peg Leg Lonergan may have lost a leg in a trolley accident. Yet, he achieve distinction as the last boss of the White Hand Gang in New York as well as known to be a vicious street brawler and hater of Italians. Killed on Christmas 1925.

Peg Leg Lonergan may have lost a leg in a trolley accident. Yet, he achieve distinction as the last boss of the White Hand Gang in New York as well as known to be a vicious street brawler and hater of Italians. Killed on Christmas 1925.

Known in Life as: Irish American gangster, labor racketeer, and final leader of the White Hand Gang. Led a 2 year campaign against Frankie Yale over the New York waterfront.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Associated with the White Hand Gang and friend of Bill Lovett.
Differences: Was one 15 kids and son of a prizefighter and bare knuckle boxer named John Lonergan. Lost his right leg in a trolley car incident. Childhood friend of Bill Lovett. Believed to have been involved in at least a dozen murders during his career as well as had a reputation as a vicious street brawler. Said to hate Italians
Ultimate Fate: He and his 5 lieutenants were killed in South Brooklyn during a Christmas Day celebration at the Adonis Social Club in 1925. He was 25. Murder has been attributed to Capone but remains unsolved. White Hand Gang disappeared from the New York waterfront which allowed Frankie Yale and eventually the Five Families to take control.

The Real People of Boardwalk Empire: Part 3 – Henry Earl J. “Hymie” Weiss to Santo Trafficante Sr.

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Though once seen as the Las Vegas of the East Coast before Vegas, Atlantic City, New Jersey was also known for its beaches as well as King Neptune which is a cultural icon of the area. Of course, as someone well versed in Greek mythology, I just known him by Poseidon. Still, he was featured in an episode of Boardwalk Empire when the whiskey swept ashore but he ended up having to cut his speech short and heading to the waters to get some. Still, if Atlantic City is hurting because of other states legalizing gambling, it can sure benefit from its beaches. Nevertheless, in this selection, we’ll look at famous gangsters like Hymie Weiss, Mickey Duffy, the Lanzetta brothers, and Santo Trafficante Sr. We’ll also get to know public officials like New Jersey politician Walter E. Edge, Harding era aide who killed himself Jesse Smith, and Jersey City Mayor and Democratic political boss Frank Hague. We’ll get to boxer and heavyweight champion  sensation Jack Dempsey and renown rum runner Bill McCoy. Finally, we’ll meet some entertainers who may have a minor role but were major figures like actress and singer Edith Day, African American blues and jazz singer the Queen of Blues Mamie Smith, the musical comedic Sophie Tucker, and the magician and escape artist Theodore Hardeen best known as Harry Houdini’s younger brother. So without further adieu, let me introduce to you some real historical figures from Emmy winning HBO series Boardwalk Empire.

27. Henry Earl J. “Hymie” Weiss (1898-1926)

Not a bad looking guy here despite having the nickname of "Hymie." Still, was said to be no guy to mess with since he shot his own brother, threatened photographers, and chased after US marshals as well as sued the police over stolen shirts. Won't be North Side Gang leader for long though.

Not a bad looking guy here despite having the nickname of “Hymie.” Still, was said to be no guy to mess with since he shot his own brother, threatened photographers, and chased after US marshals as well as sued the police over stolen shirts. Won’t be North Side Gang leader for long though.

Known in Life as: American mob boss who became leader of the North Side Gang and a bitter rival of Al Capone.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Well, he’s an associate and close friend to Dean O’Banion (they knew each other as kids). Also, would take over the North Side Gang after O’Banion’s death.
Differences: Born in Poland and always carried a rosary and Bible with him to remind everyone he was Catholic despite the Jewish sounding name. Brother said he once saw him in 20 years “when he shot me.” When photographers tried to take his picture, he’d glare at them and say in a low voice, “You take a picture of me and I’ll kill you.” Once chased away a US marshal at gun point who came to arrest a friend for a Mann Act violation at a party he attended. After the marshal returned with reinforcements, arrested the friend, and confiscated a bunch of booze and weapons, Weiss would file a lawsuit to recover some silk shirts and socks he claimed the marshals had stolen. It came to nothing.
Ultimate Fate: Unfortunately, he wasn’t head of the North Side Gang for long. Was killed at O’Banion’s old flower shop in 1926 by two gunmen wielding submachine guns. He was 28.

28. Mickey Duffy (1888-1931)

Does Mickey Duffy always that glum or did he just not like getting his picture taken? Still, didn't have as much as Mickey Doyle does on Boardwalk Empire.

Does Mickey Duffy always that glum or did he just not like getting his picture taken? Still, didn’t have as much as Mickey Doyle does on Boardwalk Empire.

Known in Life as: Polish American gangster and rival Max “Boo Hoo” Huff during Prohibition. Was one of the most powerful beer bootleggers in Philadelphia.
Character or Inspiration? Inspiration for Mickey Doyle.
Similarities: Well, both were born Polish with the name Cusick (or Kuzik) yet changed to Irish sounding names (but while Duffy did it to fit in with Irish gangs in Philly and married an Irish girl, Doyle just thought the name sounded better).
Differences: Was a criminal from the time he was a child and had served time in prison in 1919 for assault and battery with intent to kill for 3 years. Got into organized crime and smuggling during Prohibition. Was one of the most dominant bootleggers in the Delaware Valley in the early 1920s with breweries in Philadelphia, Camden, and South Jersey. Despite being engaged in fights with his rivals, he owned several clubs and ran bootlegging numbers at the old Ritz-Carlton hotel. Was shot 3 times with a Thompson submachine gun and survived. Wasn’t as much of an idiot as Doyle nor as lucky either.
Ultimate Fate: Shot to death by unknown assailants at Atlantic City’s Ambassador Hotel in 1931. He was 31. The murder remains unsolved to this day. Thousands try to come to his funeral but were blocked by police.

29. Walter E. Edge (1873-1956)

Despite how he's depicted on Boardwalk Empire, Walter Edge wasn't an old man in the early 1920s and actually wore glasses. And no, he didn't have a construction business, he was a media guy.

Despite how he’s depicted on Boardwalk Empire, Walter Edge wasn’t an old man in the early 1920s and actually wore glasses. And no, he didn’t have a construction business, he was a media guy.

Known in Life as: New Jersey US Senator from 1921-1929 as well as governor from 1917-1919 and 1944-1947. Also served as US Ambassador to France from 1929-1933.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Campaign manager’s name was Nucky whose relationship with him would soon sour (in real life they openly broke in 1928 though). Also was on a possible shortlist to be Warren Harding’s VP (though he lost out due to a Republican Party leader holding a grudge against him because Edge wouldn’t appoint his guy to be county prosecutor).
Differences: Wore glasses and was never in the construction business but in media and publishing. Was only 47 in 1920. Education was in a 2 room school house and went only as far as 8th grade. Started a weekly newspaper devoted to social news when he was 10 which had a circulation of 100. Owned his own advertising business in Atlantic City when he was 17 which became a multi-million dollar agency with offices in numerous US and European cities. Founded two newspapers and bought another. Helped get worker’s compensation in New Jersey. As governor obtained legislation consolidating state boards, improving the civil service, imposing a franchise tax on public utilities, allowing greater home rule for cities, reforming corporation law, and improving state institutions, especially the prisons. Also reorganized the state road department and authorized a few bridge constructions. Was openly anti-Prohibition. Married twice and fathered 4 kids.
Ultimate Fate: Edge would go on to be Ambassador to France as well serve another term as governor in the 1940s. His second term as governor would be marked with numerous battles against Frank Hague. He would also restructure the civil service system, incorporate an anti-discrimination agency into the education department, and create a department of economic development. Would retire from politics for good in 1947 but would spend his later years as an elder statesman of New Jersey’s Republican Party. Owned the home of Richard Stockton for a time. Died of natural causes in 1956 at 82.

30. Jesse Smith (1871-1923)

I know he's supposed to be known for being found mysteriously shot in his green house on K Street, yet I can't help but say that Jesse Smith looked like a muppet. Seriously, he reminds me of the disgruntled customer at Grover's diner but in 1920s clothes.

I know he’s supposed to be known for being found mysteriously shot in his green house on K Street, yet I can’t help but say that Jesse Smith looked like a muppet. Seriously, he reminds me of the disgruntled customer at Grover’s diner but in 1920s clothes.

Known in Life as: Member of Warren G. Harding’s Ohio Gang as well as friend and gofer of Harry Daugherty.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Well, he’s an aide to Daugherty and wielded considerable influence in the Justice Department. His activities were said to make him become an embarrassment to Daugherty and the Harding administration. Was found dead with a gunshot wound in his home and a pistol by his side.
Differences: Though fat, he actually wore Harry Potter glasses and had a bit of a Hitler mustache. Was divorced and it’s only alleged that he sold liquor to bootleggers at his little green house on K Street. It’s said that Harding wanted Smith out of Washington before he went to Alaska while his administration was engulfed in the Teapot Dome scandal.
Ultimate Fate: Found dead at his K Street home with a gunshot wound and a pistol by his side. He was 52. Death was ruled a suicide though many authors who write about the Teapot Dome scandal and the Harding administration say he as murdered. Still, Smith’s well-timed death through gunshot wound is was during the worst of the Harding administration scandals of 1923 and the reason why he’s best remembered.

31. Theodore Hardeen (1876-1945)

Well, he sure looks like he could be Houdini's brother. Yet, Hardeen also had a good bit of talent as a magician and escape artist, tool. Also founded a union for magicians as well.

Well, he sure looks like he could be Houdini’s brother. Yet, Hardeen also had a good bit of talent as a magician and escape artist, tool. Also founded a union for magicians as well.

Known in Life as: Magician and escape artist who was the younger brother of Harry Houdini. Founder of the Magician’s Guild and first magician to escape from a submerged straitjacket in full view of the audience, rather than behind a curtain.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Well, when his brother was alive, he was the guy you got when you couldn’t get Houdini.
Differences: Born in Hungary. While he did study under his brother, he’s also said to have considerable talent of his own. He did many of his brother’s routines after the former’s death in 1926. Entertained the troops during World War II.
Ultimate Fate: Though he planned to write a book about his brother, he died from surgical complications in 1945 at 69.

32. Edith Day (1896-1971)

Edith Day in a film by Republic Pictures called Children Not Wanted. I suppose this is a comedy, right? Still, she was more of a musical gal if you know what I mean.

Edith Day in a film by Republic Pictures called Children Not Wanted. I suppose this is a comedy, right? Still, she was more of a musical gal if you know what I mean.

Known in Life as: Actress and singer best known for her roles in Edwardian musical comedies and operettas, first on Broadway and then on London’s West End.
Character or Inspiration? She’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Sang “Alice Blue Gown.”
Differences: Was born in Minnesota. Married 3 times and saw her only son die in WWII. Best known for the title role of Irene. Was part of the 1928 cast of Show Boat in which she did 350 performances. Has a cocktail named after her.
Ultimate Fate: Died in London in 1971 at 75.

33. Mamie Smith (1883-1946)

Mamie Smith was one of the first female African American singers to work in a recording studio. She was also called "Queen of the Blues" and ushered the careers of the female singers. Apparently Niki Minaj and Beyonce probably don't know who she was.

Mamie Smith was one of the first female African American singers to work in a recording studio. She was also called “Queen of the Blues” and ushered the careers of the female singers. Apparently Niki Minaj and Beyonce probably don’t know who she was despite owing their careers to her.

Known in Life as: African American Vaudeville singer, dancer, pianist, and actress who appeared in several films late in her career. Performed in a number of styles including jazz and blues. Was the first African American artist to make vocal blues recordings in 1920.
Character or Inspiration? She’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Sang “Crazy Blues.”
Differences: Born in Cincinnati. Was a successful blues artist as well as helped the recording industry see African Americans as a great market since they bought most of her records. Helped usher careers for other female blues artists like Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday as well as opened the music industry for other African Americans in other genres. Once billed, “Queen of the Blues.” Also performed on radio. Married to movie producer Jack Goldberg.
Ultimate Fate: Died in New York in 1946 at 63.

34. Sophie Tucker (1887-1966)

Despite being overweight, Sophie Tucker would enjoy a long career in show business entertaining generations around the world. Apparently comical risque songs never seem to go out of style. Still, you can't help but be creeped out seeing her holding flowers in this picture.

Despite being overweight, Sophie Tucker would enjoy a long career in show business entertaining generations around the world. Apparently comical risque songs never seem to go out of style. Still, you can’t help but be creeped out seeing her holding flowers in this picture.

Known in Life as: Jewish American singer, comedian, actress, and radio personality. Known for her stentorian delivery of comical and risqué songs, she was one of the most popular entertainers in the US for the first half of the 20th century. Known as “The Last of the Red Hot Mamas.”
Character or Inspiration? She’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Sang “Some of These Days.”
Differences: Born in Russia. Married 3 times and had at least one son. Began singing at her parents’ Connecticut restaurant for tips. Before taking orders she, “would stand up in the narrow space by the door and sing with all the drama I could put into it. At the end of the last chorus, between me and the onions there wasn’t a dry eye in the place.” Would continue to sing at cafes and beer gardens until she made her first Vaudeville appearance in 1907 but in blackface. When she lost her makeup, she just performed without it, she stunned the crowd by saying, “You all can see I’m a white girl. Well, I’ll tell you something more: I’m not Southern. I’m a Jewish girl and I just learned this Southern accent doing a blackface act for two years. And now, Mr. Leader, please play my song.” Though made fun of herself for being overweight, she didn’t see anything wrong with being chunky. Performed with the Ziegfield Follies as well as for King George V. Elected present of the American Federation of Actors in 1938. Had her own radio show and made numerous guest appearances in radio and television including The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show. Was a punchline to a Beatles joke by Paul McCartney.
Ultimate Fate: Continued to perform for the rest of her life until her death from a lung ailment and kidney failure in 1966 at the age of 79. Still, she influenced a lot of female performers including May West, Joan Rivers, Roseanne Barr, Carol Channing, Ethel Merman, “Mama” Cass Elliot, and Bette Midler.

35. Jack Dempsey (1895-1983)

Jack Dempsey would win the World Heavyweight Championship title for most of the 1920s. Still, despite being a Mormon since he was 8, he married his 3 wives one at a time.

Jack Dempsey would win the World Heavyweight Championship title for most of the 1920s. Still, despite being a Mormon since he was 8, he married his 3 wives one at a time.

Known in Life as: American professional boxer and cultural icon of the 1920s. Held World Heavyweight Championship from 1919 to 1926. His aggressive style and exceptional punching power made him one of the most popular boxers in history. Had many of his fights set financial and attendance records, including the first million dollar gate.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Well, he’s a famous boxer and his fights were frequently broadcasted on the radio.
Differences: Born in Colorado and was baptized at 8 into the LDS church with his parents in 1903. Elementary school dropout and left home at 16. Frequently traveled underneath trains and slept in hobo camps in his early years. Started his career in barroom brawls saying, “I can’t sing and I can’t dance, but I can lick any SOB in the house.” Was a part time bodyguard for John Kearns who was the son of a US Senator. Lost the World Heavyweight Championship title in 1926 to Gene Tunney coining the phrase, “Honey, I forgot to duck.” Married 3 times and had at least 3 kids.
Ultimate Fate: Retired from boxing in the 1930s and went on to other things like writing, training, and philanthropy. Assisted Joe Louis when the latter fell on hard financial times as well as made friends with former rivals Henry Wills and Gene Tunney. Was a close friend of famous Watergate judge John Sirica. Beat up a couple of muggers in 1971. Died of heart failure in New York in 1983 at 87. Influenced Bruce Lee.

36. Frank Hague (1876-1956)

Frank Hague would be Jersey City's mayor and political boss for the New Jersey Democratic Party for 30 years. Was known to be very corrupt and a chronic backstabber as well.

Frank Hague would be Jersey City’s mayor and political boss for the New Jersey Democratic Party for 30 years. Was known to be very corrupt and a chronic backstabber as well. Still, nice suit though.

Known in Life as: Mayor of Jersey City from 1917-1947 and prominent Democratic politician and political boss. Had a widely known reputation for corruption and bossism and by 1947, enjoyed palatial homes, European vacations, and a private suite in the Plaza Hotel. Said to have amassed wealth of over $10 million at the time of his death though his city salary never exceeded $8,500 annually and he had no other legitimate income. Personal influence extended to national level, especially in federal patronage and Presidential campaigns.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Was well known as a chronic backstabber (even before the 1920s). Didn’t bat an eye at doing nefarious deeds with Democrats.
Differences: Born to Irish immigrants. Expelled from school at 14 for poor attendance and unacceptable behavior. Worked as a blacksmith’s apprentice and tried to be a boxer. Won his first election at 20. Pride and joy was the Jersey City Medical Center. Had a wife and son. Was seen as a reformer who wanted to reshape the corrupt Jersey City police force and spearhead crackdowns of prostitution and narcotics trafficking. Also made improvements to the city’s fire department. Had very little tolerance for those who opposed him publically. Took a lot of kickbacks but was able to avoid state and federal investigations for years. Use of voter fraud was said to be the stuff of legend.
Ultimate Fate: Retired from politics in 1947. Died at his Park Avenue duplex in New York in 1956 at 79. Though hundreds attended his funeral only a few removed their hats while passing his coffin. One woman held an American flag and a sign reading, “God have mercy on his sinful, greedy soul.”

37. William “Bill” McCoy (1877-1948)

Of course, I could only wonder what kind of booze Bill McCoy brought to the Eastern Seaboard. Let me see, Bacardi or Captain Morgan? Oh, wait, that's rum and he transported his stash from the Bahamas.

Of course, I could only wonder what kind of booze Bill McCoy brought to the Eastern Seaboard. Let me see, Bacardi or Captain Morgan? Oh, wait, that’s rum and he transported his stash from the Bahamas.

Known in Life as: American sea captain and rum runner smuggler during Prohibition. Smuggled whiskey from the Bahamas to the Eastern Seaboard.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Retired from bootlegging after a stint in jail in late 1923.
Differences: Though seen drinking on the show on numerous occasions, he was actually a teetotaler. Viewed John Hancock as a role model and called himself, “an honest lawbreaker.” Never paid a cent for organized crime, politicians, and law enforcement for protection. Born in Syracuse and had a bricklayer father who served in the Union blockade during the American Civil War. Attended the Pennsylvania Nautical School on board the USS Saratoga and graduated first in his class. Served as mate and quarter master on various steamers. Had a reputation as a skilled yacht builder. Moved to Florida in 1900 and only went into the bootlegging business because he and his brother fell on hard financial times. Also smuggled liquor from other Caribbean islands and Canada.
Ultimate Fate: After being arrested by the US Coast Guard, he spent 9 months in a New Jersey jail. Quit bootlegging upon his release and spent the rest of his life investing in Florida real estate as well as build boats and travel down the coast. He died in 1948 at 71.

38. The Lanzetta Brothers
Known in Life as: Six gangster brothers from Philadelphia during the 1920s and 1930s. Were notorious gunmen, numbers gamblers, narcotics dealers, and liquor bootleggers. Used an “Alky Cooking” supply network by providing a contingent row of house dwellers with home sills and paying them to sell saleable liquor. Criminal career was marked by frequent arrests and brutal violence.
Character or Inspiration? Inspiration for the D’Alessio brothers, particularly Leo and Ignacius.
Similarities: Well, both clans have brothers named Ignatius, Pius, Lucien, and Leo, who was considered the leader.
Differences: Two of the brothers were named Willie and Teo and I’m not sure if they had a brother who was a dentist anywhere. May have possibly murdered Mickey Duffy. Held out for much longer than their TV counterparts (who all die by a half-faced war vet in the first season). Leo was considered the leader since he was the oldest. Pius was “the Brain.” Ignatius was always impeccably dressed. Lucian had the explosive temper. Willie was the quiet one. And Teo, “the Baby” made women swoon because of his matinee idol good looks.
Ultimate Fate: Well, a lot of them didn’t come to good ends. Leo was killed in 1925 after leaving a barbershop in an apparent retribution of the murder of rival Joseph Bruno. Pius and Willie were killed by enemy bullets in 1936 and 1939. By 1940, Teo was serving a sentence in drug trafficking and Ignatius was released by a US Supreme Court decision declaring the New Jersey “Gangster Law” unconstitutional and might’ve joined Lucian and their mother in fleeing to Detroit.

39. Santo Trafficante Sr. (1886-1954)
Known in Life as: Sicilian born American gangster based in Florida and father of notorious mobster Santo Trafficante Jr.
Character or Inspiration? Possible inspiration for Vincenzo Petrucelli yet he hasn’t actually appeared on the show, yet.
Similarities: Both had a long time alliance and friendship with Masseria. Both were based in Florida.
Differences: Married with 5 sons. Wasn’t Masseria’s cousin, though he did send Santo Jr. to New York to learn under other mobsters. Gained power as a mobster and ruled the Mafia in Tampa from the 1930s to his 1954 death. Was a well-respected boss with ties to Luciano and Thomas Lucchese.
Ultimate Fate: Died in Tampa, Florida in 1954 at 68 and left his organization to his son who was respected under the New York bosses.

The Real People of Boardwalk Empire: Part 2 – Jimmy Boyd to Frankie Yale

boardwalk-empire-babette-s-supper-club

So we’re off to a good start. Of course, there may be plenty of famous gangsters you might recognize, some you may not, and some you may think were just made up by the writers of Boardwalk Empire but weren’t. Of course, I have to open this post in this series with a poster of Babette’s Supper Club which was a real place in 1920s Atlantic City but didn’t get the name until the 1930s. Still, it’s one of the more iconic places in the Prohibition era HBO show as well as one of Nucky Thompson’s frequent hangouts with his friends, lovers, and associates. In fact, it’s his favorite restaurant. Still, in this selection, we’ll look at Atlantic City notable Jimmy Boyd who was a partial inspiration for Jimmy Darmondy but came on the scene after the 1920s. At this time, he’s just a bell boy. Yet, I’ll also introduce to you two of Al Capone’s brothers who joined him in the Chicago Outfit bootlegging business. Their names were named Ralph and Frank. Then we’ll get to know officials in government like Gaston Means (who’s a con artist), Attorney General Harry Daugherty, Treasury Secretary, banker, and Treasury notable Andrew W. Mellon, the infamous FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, and Assistant Attorney General Mabel Walker Willebrandt who’s the inspiration for Esther Randolph. We also have famous booze baron and possible inspiration for Jay Gatsby, George Remus who you remember referring to himself in 3rd person as well as the renown entertaining powerhouse Eddie Cantor you recall for telling all those stupid jokes about dumb women. Oh, yeah, almost forgot gangsters Waxey Gordon, Dean O’Banion (the mob boss with the flower shop), and Frankie Yale. So without further adieu, in this second installment, here are some more real people from Boardwalk Empire.

14. Jimmy Boyd (1906-1974)
Known in Life as: Political operative who worked closely with Nucky Johnson and Frank Farley as well as become member of the Atlantic Board of Freeholders for about 40 years as well as executive chairman of the 4th Ward Republic Club for 2 decades.
Character or Inspiration? An inspiration for Jimmy Darmondy (though maybe a bit of a stretch).
Similarities: Well, they were war veterans and have rags to riches stories. Both were married. Both did dirty work for their bosses. Yet, that’s about it.
Differences: Probably started off as a bell hop at the Ritz and worked his way up. Served in WWII. Was never a gangster nor was killed by Nucky Johnson. Certainly wasn’t the son of “the Commodore” and a teenager nor did he go to Princeton.
Ultimate Fate: Died in 1974 at 68. His widow is still alive and established a scholarship at Atlantic Cape Community College in his name.

15. Gaston Means (1879-1938)

Actually he looks quite like the guy who played him in the show. Not sure if he made Jess Smith commit suicide but I wouldn't be surprised if he did. Nevertheless, he'll go to Leavenworth after he tried to pull a con during the Lindbergh kidnapping. Bastard.

Actually he looks quite like the guy who played him in the show. Not sure if he made Jess Smith commit suicide but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. Nevertheless, he’ll go to Leavenworth after he tried to pull a con during the Lindbergh kidnapping. Bastard.

Known in Life as: Private detective, salesman, bootlegger, forger, swindler, murder suspect, blackmailer, and con artist. Though not involved with the Teapot Dome scandal, was associated with other members of the so-called Ohio Gang that gathered around the Harding administration. Also tried to pull a con associated with the Lindbergh kidnapping.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Had a Southern accent. Was a con man and master manipulator you couldn’t trust. Was hired as an investigator for the FBI despite his dubious reputation as a detective. Wasn’t well liked by Harry Daugherty (but for the right reasons). Assisted bootleggers and was arrested for perjury.
Differences: May or may not have had anything to do with Jess Smith’s death. Wrote a book saying that Warren G. Harding was killed by his wife and later repudiated it.
Ultimate Fate: After trying to pull a con associated with the Lindbergh kidnapping, he was arrested, found guilty, and sentence to 15 years of prison. Died at Leavenworth in 1938 at 59.

16. Eddie Cantor (1892-1964)

Yes, this is Eddie Cantor during his younger years. No, this isn't Mr. Bean I'm sorry to say. Still, you have to love how he looks in that outfit.

Yes, this is Eddie Cantor during his younger years. No, this isn’t Mr. Bean I’m sorry to say. Still, you have to love how he looks in that outfit.

Known in Life as: Performer, comedian, dancer, singer, actor, and songwriter. Worked in vaudeville, Broadway, radio, movies, and early television.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Well, he was a well-known Vaudeville performer on stage.
Differences: Raised by his maternal grandmother (whose name was Kantrowitz but was shortened to Kanter by a clerk when he attended the Surprise Lake Camp). Though you might not know it on the show, he was a happily married man from 1914 to 1962 (to a woman named Ida Tobias who suggested he used Eddie as a stage name) and father of five daughters. Also was known to entertain the audience with his intimate stories and anecdotes of his wife and kids, sometimes to his children’s chagrin. Was president of the Screen Actors Guild in the 1930s and coined the term for “the March of Dimes” for the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis and was its spokesman for its 1938 campaign.
Ultimate Fate: Though he lost his multi-millionaire status and was left deeply in debt in the 1929 Stock Market Crash, he managed to rebuild his fortune with a new bank account and a series of highly popular bestselling humorous books with cartoons. In 1935, he, Charles Tobias and Murray Melcher would write “Merrily We Roll Along” which he recorded in the 1950s but was used as a theme song for the Merrie Melodies cartoon series for Warner Brothers between 1937 to 1964. Also had a successful career in film and television despite being turned down for The Jazz Singer. Died of a heart attack at 72 in 1964.

17. Harry Daugherty (1860-1941)

Looked much different than I thought he did. Sure he's wearing a nice 3 piece suit but he's corrupt as hell and tried to say his friend killed himself after being diagnosed with diabetes. Seems suspicious.

Looked much different than I thought he did. Sure he’s wearing a nice 3 piece suit but he’s corrupt as hell and tried to say his friend killed himself after being diagnosed with diabetes. Seems suspicious.

Known in Life as: Attorney general under Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge. Was an influential official behind the election of several Congressmen and US Senators and served as Harding’s campaign manager in 1920. Instrumental for winning presidential pardons for jailed anti-war dissidents including one Eugene V. Debs. “Ohio Gang” member and may have been involved in the Teapot Dome scandal. Forced to resign as attorney general after being twice subject to US government investigations in 1924.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Was massively corrupt and untrustworthy. Shared a hotel room with Jesse Smith and was close friends with him.
Differences: Let’s just say that he and Jesse Smith may have just been good friends and leave it at that. Also, was married with two kids, fat, and bald. Was about 60 in 1920.
Ultimate Fate: After indictments and his resignation, he returned to practicing law until his retirement in 1932. Wrote a book trying to clear his name pinning the Teapot Dome scandal on Albert Fall and saying that Jesse Smith killed himself because of diabetes, not a guilty conscience. He planned on writing two more. Died in his sleep in 1941 at 81 a year after he experienced two heart attacks and pneumonia that made him blind in one eye.

18. Andrew W. Mellon (1855-1937)

Now I know that Andrew Mellon exists since he's a Pittsburgh native. And the Mellon name is incredibly famous in the area with the now Bank of New York Mellon. Nevertheless, he didn't look at all like James Cromwell as you see here.

Now I know that Andrew Mellon exists since he’s a Pittsburgh native. And the Mellon name is incredibly famous in the area with the now Bank of New York Mellon. Nevertheless, he didn’t look at all like James Cromwell as you see here.

Known in Life as: Banker, businessman, industrialist, philanthropist, art collector, US Ambassador to the UK, and US Treasury Secretary under Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Well, he was Harding’s Treasury Secretary. Responsible for upholding taxes and Prohibition despite that he hated both.
Differences: Resembled nothing like James Cromwell. Had a mustache and a head full of white hair at this time period. Believed in a progressive income tax but at lower rates. We’re not sure whether he owned a distillery in the 1920s though he denied it amid rumors. Fathered two children and was divorced. Was in his 60s and early 70s during the 1920s.
Ultimate Fate: Became unpopular with the onset of the Great Depression that he was nearly impeached but resigned in 1932. Was investigated and indicted over his personal tax returns by the FDR administration though he’d later be exonerated. Died in New York in 1937 at the age of 82.

19. Waxey Gordon (1888-1952)

Let's just say that while Waxey Gordon may seem like a guy the Boardwalk Empire writers made up, he actually was a real gangster. Still, he was born Irving Wexler and the name he's best known by was made up.

Let’s just say that while Waxey Gordon may seem like a guy the Boardwalk Empire writers made up, he actually was a real gangster. Still, he was born Irving Wexler and the name he’s best known by was made up.

Known in Life as: A Jewish American crime boss in Philadelphia during Prohibition who specialized in bootlegging and illegal gambling.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Was an associate of Arnold Rothstein and helped run most of his East Coast bootlegging operation.
Differences: Real name was Irving Wexler and was born in New York. Married to a rabbi’s daughter and had a son in medical school. Was a chunky dark skinned man. Started out as a pickpocket before he became a rum-runner during the early days of Prohibition. Lived an extravagant lifestyle from his multi-million dollar empire and had mansions in New York and Philadelphia.
Ultimate Fate: After Rothstein’s death in 1928, his glory days were over. Though he made alliances with future National Crime Syndicate founders Luciano, Lansky, and Louis Buchaller, his struggles with Lansky over bootlegging and gambling interests would lead to a gang war between the two as well as the deaths of several associates (the writers missed a great opportunity there). Lansky and Luciano would later supply US Attorney Thomas E. Dewey with evidence that led to his conviction of tax evasion in 1933. After his 10 year prison sentence, he found his gang disbanded, divorced, and his East Coast empire lost. Tried to start over as a single man by moving to California, selling 10,000lbs of coupon rationed sugar during WWII, and imported illegal drugs. Was busted for selling heroin to an undercover cop in 1951. He was convicted of narcotics and trafficking and sentence to 25 years. He died of a heart attack on Alcatraz in 1952 at 64.

20. Ralph “Bottles” Capone (1894-1974)

Now he doesn't seem to resemble Herc from The Wire at all who plays him on the show. Reminds me more of Al Capone if he ever became a milkman in a newspaper cap. You can see the family resemblance there.

Now he doesn’t seem to resemble Herc from The Wire at all who plays him on the show. Reminds me more of Al Capone if he ever became a milkman in a newspaper cap. You can see the family resemblance there.

Known in Life as: Chicago gangster and brother of Al Capone. Most famous for being “Public Enemy #3.”
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Got his nickname “Bottles” for running a legal bottling plant (it was for soft drinks like ginger ale as well as soda water for mixed drinks and was very profitable for the Chicago Outfit).
Differences: Was born in Italy and came to the US as a baby making him older than Al. Married three times and divorced twice. Took his son Ralph Jr. away from his wife and had his mother raise him as her youngest child. Was the dominant soft drink vendor other than Coca Cola during the 1933 World’s Fair. Had relatively little power in the Outfit and the National Crime Syndicate.
Ultimate Fate: Remained in the Outfit after his brother’s arrest as well as hosted several high-level Outfit conferences from his brother’s Palm Island, Florida residence. Managed Chicago’s Cotton Club where he was involved in syndicate gambling and vice districts. In 1932, was convicted of tax evasion and served 3 years. Purchased a home and was a silent partner in a hotel/tavern at Mercer, Wisconsin. Moved to Wisconsin after his release. Died of natural causes in Hurley, Wisconsin in 1974 at 80. His widow would marry his best friend three years later. So let’s just say that Bottles post-crime life was very good indeed.

21. Frank Capone (1895-1924)

I know this isn't much but this is the only picture I could find of Frank Capone alive. Most of the photos featured of him on Google Images show him shot up and dead. Still, probably the best looking brother in the Capone bunch as we've seen.

I know this isn’t much but this is the only picture I could find of Frank Capone alive. Most of the photos featured of him on Google Images show him shot up and dead. Still, probably the best looking brother in the Capone bunch as we’ve seen.

Known in Life as: Chicago gangster and Al Capone’s brother who participated in the attempted takeover of Cicero, Illinois for Al’s criminal organization.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Dressed in well attired clothes to project an image of a mild-mannered businessman. Was shot to death by Chicago police shooting him up on Election Day.
Differences: Older than Al but they were close. Was involved in the Five Points Gang with Johnny Torrio. Was considered more violent than his younger brother and certainly didn’t die just defending him. Actually unleashed a wave of terror during the Illinois Democratic Party that April sending Southside gang members with submachine guns and sawed-off shotguns to make sure the locals voted for Cicero city manager Joseph Z. Klenha. Those who didn’t cooperate were assaulted and blocked. Also led an attack at the opponent’s campaign headquarters ransacking the office and assaulting several campaign workers, one of whom was shot in both legs and held hostage along with 8 others until after the primary was over. CPD had to send 70 plainclothes officers over this.
Ultimate Fate: Was shot dozens of times by Chicago police during the Illinois Democratic Primary on April 1, 1924 at 28. It was considered a justifiable shooting since police said he pulled out a gun at them though some witnesses disagree. Al escaped unharmed but retaliated by murdering one official, kidnapping others, and stealing ballot boxes from the polling stations. Still Frank Capone was laid in a silver laden casket and had an extravagant funeral that costs $200,000 worth of flowers from Dean O’Banion’s florist shop as well as over 150 cars in the motorcade. Al also had gambling dens and speakeasies closed for two hours for the funeral.

22. J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972)

Sure the young FBI director was a rabid lifelong racist but damn, did he really know how to dress. Also, didn't wear women's clothes but sure knew how to wear a suit. Probably should've considered becoming a male model and save people from decades worth of pain with him in government.

Sure the young FBI director was a rabid lifelong racist but damn, did he really know how to dress. Also, didn’t wear women’s clothes but sure knew how to wear a suit. Probably should’ve considered becoming a male model and save people from decades worth of pain with him in government.

Known in Life as: First FBI director in the United States and led the bureau from 1924 to 1972. Instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935 and is credited with building it into a large crime fighting agency and with instituting a number of modernizations to police technology such as a centralized finger print file and forensic laboratories. Was a much more controversial later in life as evidence of his secret actions became known. His critics accused him of exceeding the FBI’s jurisdiction and used the organization to suppress dissidents and activists, to amass secrets on political leaders, and collect evidence using illegal methods. Amassed a great deal of power and was in a position to intimidate and threaten sitting US Presidents.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Was only 29 in 1924. Was obsessed with bringing down Marcus Garvey as well as racist (remember he opposed the Civil Rights Movement and taped Martin Luther King Jr.). Instituted highly selective hiring standards and ruthlessly efficient investigation procedures that provided his organization to infiltrate and thoroughly investigate criminal empires during Prohibition.
Differences: Helped carry out the Palmer Raids in 1919 (hated liberals, too, as you know) and was appointed as director of the BoI when his boss was alleged to have been involved in the Teapot Dome scandal. Despite his racism and obsession with hunting down black civil rights leaders, he didn’t ignore organized crime (at least later on). Was noted to be rather capricious in his FBI leadership as well as frequently firing agents or singling out those who “looked stupid like truck drivers” or considered “pinheads.” He was even said to relocate agents who’ve displeased him to career-ending assignments and locations (Melvin Purvis is a good example of this). Was alleged to be gay as well as had a close lifelong friendship with Clyde Tolson (as we know it).
Ultimate Fate: Hoover will lead the FBI for a very long time serving as its director under every US President to Calvin Coolidge to Richard Nixon and will gain a lot of power and notoriety. Died from a heart attack at his Washington D. C. home in 1972 at 77 and his body lay in state at the Capitol Rotunda with Warren Burger and Richard Nixon. Still, Nixon’s appointment of L. Patrick Gray over Hoover’s No. 2 at the time Mark Felt would lead Felt to leak information to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein on the Watergate Scandal.

23. Mabel Walker Willebrant (1889-1963)

And you thought Esther Randolph was just totally made up to make the 1920s seem like a more feminist time than it was. Actually, she's based on a real Assistant Attorney General named Mabel Walker Willebrandt who actually did nail George Remus and other wrongdoers during Prohibition. Too bad she didn't get promoted to Attorney General under Herbert Hoover. Damn, and we couldn't get a woman Attorney General until the 1990s. Isn't sexism unfair?

And you thought Esther Randolph was just totally made up to make the 1920s seem like a more feminist time than it was. Actually, she’s based on a real Assistant Attorney General named Mabel Walker Willebrandt who actually did nail George Remus and other wrongdoers during Prohibition. And this is her picture here. Pretty wasn’t she? Too bad she didn’t get promoted to Attorney General under Herbert Hoover. Damn, and we couldn’t get a woman Attorney General until the 1990s. Isn’t sexism a bitch?

Known in Life as: “First Lady of Law” was US Assistant Attorney General from 1921-1929 handling cases concerning violations of the Volstead Act, federal taxation, and the Bureau of Federal Prisons.
Character or Inspiration? Inspiration for US Attorney Esther Randolph.
Similarities: Well, they’re both Assistant Attorney Generals in the 1920s who deal with the Volstead Act. Both were willing to take down bootleggers when their superiors wouldn’t. Brought down George Remus and were successful in the biggest prosecutions during Prohibition. Both showed high degrees of professionalism.
Differences: Was divorced but she probably didn’t sleep with her assistant. Wasn’t reduced to prosecuting bit time bootleggers at the D. C. night court circuit for she had other things to do. And she’d probably not ally herself with booze barons. Yet, she did get her start defending prostitutes without pay and handled 2000 cases pertaining to them. During WWI, she served as head of the Legal Advisory Board for draft cases in Los Angeles, California. Oh, and she was the second woman appointed as Assistant Attorney General but the first to serve an extended term, which made her the highest ranking woman in the federal government. Her administration the establishment for the Alderson federal prison which was the first of its kind for women. She was also an opponent to Prohibition but aggressively upheld the Volstead Act but criticized the federal government’s efforts to enforce the law in her book The Inside of Prohibition describing political interference, incompetent public officials, and public indifference. Her efforts to prosecute bootleggers were hampered by the Treasury and Justice Departments though she managed to prosecute 48,734 Prohibition-related cases from June 1924 to June 1925, of which 39,072 resulted in convictions. Submitted 278 cases of certiorari to the Supreme Court regarding defense, clarification, and enforcement of Prohibition and the Volstead Act. Also argued more than 40 cases before the Supreme Court and won several victories.
Ultimate Fate: Though she heavily campaigned for Herbert Hoover in 1928, she failed to be appointed Attorney General (not surprisingly) and resigned her post in 1929. She continued to work as an attorney having offices in Washington and Los Angeles. In 1950 she represented the Screen Actors Guild during a labor hearing as well as California Fruit Industries. Became the first woman to chair a committee of the American Bar Association on the committee of aeronautical law as well as held several honorary doctorates. Later converted to Roman Catholicism and died of natural causes in Riverside, California in 1963 at 73.

24. George Remus (1874-1952)

Cincinnati booze baron George Remus behind bars. After he gets out of prison he's going to find out his wife had an affair and basically swindled him royally. He'd then kill her in front of a lot people in broad daylight and get off on temporary insanity. Yet, George Remus won't be nearly that rich again.

Cincinnati booze baron George Remus behind bars. After he gets out of prison he’s going to find out his wife had an affair and basically swindled him royally. He’d then kill her in front of a lot people in broad daylight and get off on temporary insanity. Yet, George Remus won’t be nearly that rich again.

Known in Life as: Cincinnati lawyer and bootlegger during Prohibition. It’s been claimed that he was the inspiration for the title character in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Was brought down by a female Assistant Attorney General. Exploited a loophole in the Volstead Act that permitted its trade for medicinal purposes (which was why he moved to Cincinnati where 80% of the US “bonded” whiskey was located). Entered the booze business to get rich but wasn’t really violent. Was a teetotaler as well as short, fat, and bald. Actually referred to himself in the 3rd person.
Differences: Born in Germany and came to the US at 5. Supported his family by working in a pharmacy at 14 because his dad couldn’t work. Bought the pharmacy at 19 and another at 24 but became a lawyer after getting bored. Daughter was Romola Remus who played Dorothy Gale in the 1910 silent version of The Wizard of Oz when she was 8. Specialized in criminal defense and became rather famous that he was earning $50,000 annually by 1920 on his legal career alone. Married twice and divorced once. Was known as “The King of Bootleggers” for his vast booze empire as well as extravagant lifestyle and parties you’d see in The Great Gatsby including one in which he gave all the adult male guests diamond watches and their wives a brand new car. At his peak he owned 10 distilleries, employed 3,000 people, and had the most dominant bootlegging operation in the Midwest that would put Al Capone to shame. Loved fine food, art, literature, and swimming. Was well liked by the local kids as well as let them swim in his Grecian Olympic sized swimming pool. Beloved in Cincinnati and known for his generosity.
Ultimate Fate: In 1925, he was indicted for 3,000 violations under the Volstead Act and convicted by a grand jury in just 2 hours as well as received a 2 year prison sentence. While in the slammer, befriended a fellow prison inmate who turned out to be an undercover Prohibition agent named Franklin Dodge who later resigned and had an affair with his second wife Imogene. Dodge and Imogene would liquidate his assets and hide as much money as possible, strip his large Marble Palace mansion of everything of value and nail the doors shut, attempt to deport him, and even hire a hitman to murder him for $15,000. Imogene sold his Fleischmann distillery in which she gave him $100 for it and would file for divorce. In 1927, he had his driver chase his second wife and daughter through Eden Park on her way to the divorce finalization, where he fatally shot his wife in the abdomen in front of the Spring House Gazebo in front of horrified onlookers. He successfully pleaded temporary insanity in record time while acting as his own attorney with a case bringing national headlines for a month as well as prosecuted by a former president’s grandson. Was sentenced for 6 months. Upon release, tried to return to bootlegging but found it was taken over by gangsters so he moved to Covington, Kentucky where he lived a modest life for the next 20 years without incident and though he tried to regain his vast fortune, he was never successful. He died there in 1952 of natural causes at 77.

25. Dean O’Banion (1892-1924)

Dean O'Banion posing in a photo with his wife Viola holding one of his bouquets he styled himself. Too bad he'll be whacked by Frankie Yale's boys in his own flower shop.

Dean O’Banion posing in a photo with his wife Viola holding one of his bouquets he styled himself. Too bad he’ll be whacked by Frankie Yale’s boys in his own flower shop.

Known in Life as: Irish American gangster in Chicago and rival of Johnny Torrio and Al Capone during the brutal Chicago bootlegging wars of the 1920s. Led the North Side Gang until his murder by Frankie Yale, John Scalise, and Albert Anselmi in 1924.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Owned a flower shop (which was originally set up for a money laundering scheme but he found out he actually liked it). Had his men encroach others’ territory and breweries.
Differences: Was once a choir boy as a kid and sang at Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral. Childhood buddies were Hymie Weiss, Vincent Drucci, and Bugs Moran who were in the Market Street Gang specializing in theft and robbery. Worked as a singing waiter at McGovern’s Liberty Inn and was said to have a beautiful tenor voice while his buddies picked pockets in the coatroom. Also drugged his patron’s drinks known then as “slipping a Mickey Finn.” They also inflicted violence in the 42nd and 43rd ward for political bosses. As a head of the North Side Gang, his men stole liquor from other bootleggers, hijacked trucks en route (a pioneer in that), tried to frame Torrio and Capone for a murdered, trolled the Genna brothers (a Chicago Outfit affiliated gang) for no apparent practical reason, and conned Angelo Genna out of a large sum of money. Also did flower arrangements for mob funerals and regularly attended Mass at Holy Name Cathedral. At his height he was making $1 million in the early 1920s when he and his gang eliminated the bootlegging competition. Abhorred prostitution.
Ultimate Fate: Shot up by two of Frankie Yale’s hitmen in his flower shop in 1924 at the age of 32. Was denied to be buried on consecrated ground by the Catholic Church but his funeral was presided by a priest who knew him since childhood and was quite lavish. His killing would spark a 5 year gang war between the North Side Gang and the Chicago Outfit which would culminate in the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

26. Frankie Yale (1893-1928)

Yes, that's Frankie Yale. Despite the Ivy League sounding name, he's actually was an Italian born gangster who didn't go to college. Still, he and Al Capone were good friends, for a while.

Yes, that’s Frankie Yale. Despite the Ivy League sounding name, he’s actually was an Italian born gangster who didn’t go to college. Still, he and Al Capone were good friends, for a while. Had a very expensive gangster funeral.

Known in Life as: Brooklyn gangster and original employer of Al Capone before the latter moved to Chicago.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Well, he was responsible for killing Dean O’Banion in his flower shop though possibly could’ve killed Colosimo (we aren’t sure on that one).
Differences: Born in Italy, came to the US at 7, and befriended Johnny Torrio as a teenager who ushered him in the Five Points Gang. Believed in putting business ahead of ego. Took over Brooklyn’s ice delivery trade by selling “protection” and creating monopolies. Opened a bar on the Seaside Walk in Coney Island with the proceeds known as Harvard Inn. It was in this place where a young waiter named Al Capone got his famous scar. His gang also engaged in Black Hand extortion activities (especially in rackets with dock workers and unions) and ran a string of brothels. Had a sideline of notorious foul-smelling cigars packaged in boxes that bore his smiling face as well as operated his own funeral home. Was one of Brooklyn’s biggest bootleggers at the beginning of Prohibition as well as known for his generosity for the less fortunate people in his neighborhood. Yet, was a violent man who didn’t hesitate to inflict pain on others and beat his younger brother so badly he wound up in the hospital. Married twice as well as fathered 3 daughters. Survived a lot of assassination attempts and supplied much of Al Capone’s whiskey imported from Canada and would oversee the transport personally.
Ultimate Fate: Unfortunately, his long friendship with Capone began to fray when his Chicago bound trucks would fall to hijacking before leaving Brooklyn. When Capone found that Yale was stealing his booze, his informant tried to kill Yale but was gunned down instead. On July 1, 1928, Yale received a cryptic call in his Sunrise Club saying that something was wrong with his wife. Yale would dash out in his brand new armored coffee-colored Lincoln coup (but lacked bullet-proof windows) and took up at New Ultrecht Avenue in which he was chased by a Buick sedan carrying four armed men (who were from Capone’s Chicago Outfit). The Buick would catch up to him and Yale was murdered in a storm of bullets that cause his car to crash into the stoop of a brownstone at No. 923. He was 35 (still, the writers missed a great opportunity here). Had one of the most impressive gangland funerals in American history which was attended by thousands of people and set a standard for opulence for American gangsters that has been seldom matched over the years. Also led to drama when two different women claimed to be his wife.

The Real People of Boardwalk Empire: Part 1- Enoch “Nucky” Johnson to Louis “Commodore” Kuehnle

boardwalk-empire

A few months ago my dad was reading a book about the Rooney family and the early days of owning the Pittsburgh Steelers. Since we’ve been watching the first three seasons of Boardwalk Empire, my dad had to show me the name of “Arnold Rothstein” when he got to the part about Art Rooney’s luck as a gambler on the horse racing track. Let’s just say that before he managed to read the guy’s name, he thought that Rothstein was just a fictional character created by the writers of the hit Emmy-winning HBO show. Of course, I couldn’t write about Boardwalk Empire at that moment since I was possibly working on my blog series on movie history. Yet, that incident got me to thinking about doing a series dedicated to the historical figures who’ve appeared or inspired  characters on the show no matter how minor. I mean sure I’ve watched the first three seasons but I really like the show and it’s not because of the violence. I like the characters, the clothes, the sets, and well, the historicity of it all. Still, since Boardwalk Empire is airing it’s final season around this time of year, I thought this little five part blog series would be a nice commemoration as a tribute to the Prohibition Era, the 1920s, the Jazz Age, and all that. In this selection, we’ll look at Atlantic City locals like Enoch L. “Nucky” Johnson and his brother Alf, Mary Ill, Mayor Edward L. Bader, and Louis “Commodore” Kuehnle. We’ll also get to know Casper Holstein an inspiration to Casper Holstein. Of course, we’ll also get to see famous gangsters like Johnny Torrio and Al Capone from Chicago and men like Arnold Rothstein, Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, and Joe Masseria. So without further adieu, let me introduce you to my first installment of the real people of Boardwalk Empire.

1. Enoch L. “Nucky” Johnson (1883-1968)

Doesn't seem to remind me of Steve Buscemi in the least. Rather he seems to resemble an old timey college professor of some sort. Still, very well dressed.

Doesn’t seem to remind me of Steve Buscemi in the least. Rather he seems to resemble an old timey college professor of some sort. Still, very well dressed.

Known in Life as: He was a New Jersey political boss and racketeer. From the 1910s to his 1941 conviction and imprisonment, he was the undisputed “boss” of the political machine that controlled Atlantic City and the Atlantic County government. His rule saw Atlantic City as a refuge from Prohibition and was at its height of popularity as a tourist destination. His organization engaged in bootlegging, gambling, and prostitution. Yet, he was also known for giving freely to those in need and was widely beloved by local citizens, among whom his benevolence and generosity were legendary.
Character or Inspiration? He’s the main inspiration for “Nucky” Thompson and to a lesser extent Chalky White.
Similarities: Well, he and Nucky had wives named Mabel who died in 1912 (but from TB not suicide) and began to live fast lives after that. They both lived on the ninth story of the Ritz-Carlton rather lavishly, wore a fresh red carnation on their lapels daily, and had a German personal assistant and valet. They also both served as Atlantic County treasurer and were natty dressers. Like Chalky, he was seen as a benefactor to the Northside African American community but that’s pretty much it.
Differences: Unlike Nucky on the show, Johnson didn’t have any kids and didn’t remarry until 1941 and to a showgirl 25 years his junior. Also, in addition to mob boss, booze baron, political boss, sheriff, and county treasurer, Johnson was also county collector, campaign manager to Walter E. Edge, publisher of a weekly newspaper, president of a banking and loan company, and director of a Philadelphia brewery. Yet, though a political boss, he didn’t have much influence in US politics outside the state of New Jersey where he helped get several governors and US Senators elected. Not to mention, he briefly studied to be a teacher and before quitting for an unpaid clerkship and eventually work for his sheriff father (thus, he basically rose to power through nepotism). Still, Johnson didn’t have a terrible childhood, was probably a WASP, or an abusive dad who was a drunk(as far as we know) and wasn’t known for killing anybody (at least in the premeditated sense) or engaging in competition or turf wars with organized crime (though he did take a cut in illegal alcohol sales in Atlantic City). Also was 37 in 1920 as well as a tall, muscular, and bespeckled man who weighed 225 and stood 6’4” tall. Not to mention, he swam every week to keep in shape and was a forceful and outgoing personality.
Ultimate Fate: Was convicted and imprisoned for tax evasion (after being under investigation since 1933 thanks to William Randolph Hearst who leaked his name out of spite because they were both after the same showgirl). Was paroled in 1945 as well as worked in sales at the Richfield Oil Company and with his wife for Renault Winery. Yet, he did continue to dress impeccably and attend political events. Died of natural causes in 1968 at 85.

2. Alfred “Alf” Johnson (1878-1958)

Of course, I don't know if this is from the 1920s but it's the only picture I could find of him. Still, he doesn't look that bad and seems to love his little kitty.

Of course, I don’t know if this is from the 1920s but it’s the only picture I could find of him. Still, he doesn’t look that bad and seems to love his little kitty.

Known in Life as: Sheriff of Atlantic County and Nucky Johnson’s brother.
Character or Inspiration? Inspiration for Eli Thompson.
Similarities: Well, he was his brother’s henchman and did serve as county sheriff.
Differences: Unlike Eli Thompson in the show, Alf Johnson was actually older than his more famous brother Nucky. Also, he didn’t have any kids and may not have been married. Not to mention, his father was also a sheriff as well and wasn’t brought up in an abusive home and probably not Irish Catholic. In addition didn’t become sheriff until after 1920 long after his brother and father served that post.
Ultimate Fate: Died from a lingering illness in 1958 at 80.

3. Mary Ill
Known in Life as: Housewife, boardinghouse maid, and political activist. Best known for requesting a meeting with Nucky Johnson and being one of his political supporters.
Character or Inspiration? Inspiration for Margaret Shroeder.
Similarities: Well, they were both married to part-time baker’s helpers who were gamblers and abusive drunks. Like Margaret, she was also active in local politics and charitable organizations.
Differences: It’s fair to say that she and Nucky Johnson were never romantically involved (and certainly not married, though they did remain friends and he did give her $100 and a house). Nor did Johnson have her husband murdered (actually had him banned from local gambling halls instead). Also, we’re not sure whether she’s even an Irish immigrant.
Ultimate Fate: Well, her extensive interviews were used as research for a non-fiction book (the show was based on) and helped create Nucky Thompson’s character on the show. She at least lived long enough for that.

4. Arnold Rothstein (1882-1928)

Yes, ladies, this is a genuine photograph of the guy who fixed the 1919 World Series on his telephone. Kind of disappoints you that he doesn't look like the New York Jewish mob boss from Boardwalk Empire doesn't it?

Yes, ladies, this is a genuine photograph of the guy who fixed the 1919 World Series on his telephone. Kind of disappoints you that he doesn’t look like the New York Jewish mob boss from Boardwalk Empire doesn’t it?

Known in Life as: Jewish American racketeer, businessman, gambler, and kingpin of the Jewish mob in New York City. Best known for being a corrupting influence in professional sports and fixing the 1919 World Series. According to Leo Katcher, “transformed organized crime from a thuggish activity by hoodlums into a big business, run like a corporation, with himself at the top.” Rich Cohen says he was the first person to realize that Prohibition was a business opportunity, a means to enormous wealth who, “understood the truths of early century capitalism (giving people what they want) and came to dominate them.”
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Well, he did have a criminal organization that included notables like Meyer Lansky, Jack “Legs” Diamond, Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, and Dutch Schultz. Frequently mediated differences between the New York gangs and reportedly charged a hefty fee for his services. Did business in both bootlegging and narcotics as well as on the street (but surrounded by bodyguards). Wore bow ties.
Differences: He was nowhere near as attractive as Michael Stuhlbarg is and certainly didn’t fit the mainstream idea of handsome. And despite what the show implies, he wasn’t faithful to his wife (had at least 2 known mistresses). Also, he’s only alleged to fix the 1919 World Series while official records state it wasn’t fixed at all nor was he involved. Let’s just say that all the evidence and minutes of the Grand Jury disappeared during the investigation and the case was dismissed. While not shown on the show, he also exploited his role as mediator in the legitimate business world and soon forced Tammany Hall to recognize him as a necessary ally in its running of the city. Let’s just say Nucky Thompson’s role in Atlantic City is similar to his in New York City.
Ultimate Fate: Due to failure to pay a large debt of $320,000 that resulted from a 3 day long fixed high stakes poker game, he was shot and mortally wounded during a business meeting at Manhattan’s Central Park Hotel on 7th Avenue near 55th Street in 1928. He died at 46 at Stuyvesant Polyclinic Hospital. Who was responsible for his murder remains a mystery to this day. Still, by fast forwarding to 1931, I think the show’s writers missed a great opportunity with this. His illegal empire was divided by his underlings after his death and the political boss system of the 19th century was in total collapse. Ten years after his murder, his estate would be bankrupt and all his wealth would disappear.

5. Charles “Lucky” Luciano (1897-1962)

Now seriously, I'm not sure if I'd want that guy to star in Clint Eastwood's Jersey Boys. Then again, he doesn't look that bad, for an outright Prohibition bootlegging gangster. Of course, he'll whack anybody who stands in his way.

Now seriously, I’m not sure if I’d want that guy to star in Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys. Then again, he doesn’t look that bad, for an outright Prohibition bootlegging gangster. Of course, he’ll whack anybody who stands in his way.

Known in Life as: Sicilian-born American mobster and considered the father of modernized crime in the United States for splitting New York City into 5 different Mafia crime families and establishment of the first Commission. He was the first official boss of the Genovese crime family. Along with Meyer Lansky, he was instrumental in the development of the National Crime Syndicate of the United States. Said to be the most powerful American Mafia boss of all time.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Met and befriended Meyer Lansky as a teenager as well as Rothstein’s protégé. Was a womanizer. Arranged Masseria’s murder in 1931.
Differences: Actually started working as a gunman for Masseria before he went to Rothstein in the early 1920s and didn’t return to him until after Rothstein’s murder. He didn’t turn against Rothstein nor did Rothstein double cross him. Also, may have been called “Lucky” as early as 1923 after being severely beaten by 3 men and having his throat slashed. Not to mention, despite being arrested 25 times between 1916 to 1936, he spent no time in prison. Actually he got beat up a lot over his lifetime and survived a 1929 kidnapping when he was beaten and stabbed by 3 men before being dumped on a Staten Island beach (this would’ve made a great episode). Certainly wasn’t nearly as handsome as Vincent Piazza on the show.
Ultimate Fate: Though he’d continue trying to run his criminal enterprise, Luciano would later see prison in the late 1930s, would strike a deal with the US government to help root out German and Italian agents in New York, and would be deported to Italy in 1946. Except for a stint in Cuba, he would remain in Italy for the rest of his life. Also, would get in trouble with the Italian authorities which would result in a ban from Rome and his passport revoked. Died of a heart attack in Naples International Airport in 1962 at 65.

6. Alphonse “Al” Capone (1899-1947)

Now this is the 1920s Prohibition gangster we all remember unless we're under 5 or hiding under a rock somewhere. Still, he had great fashion sense.

Now this is the 1920s Prohibition gangster we all remember unless we’re under 10 or hiding under a rock somewhere. Still, he had great fashion sense and today he’s the most famous American gangster who ever lived.

Known in Life as: A violent Chicago gangster who attained national fame during Prohibition and was crime boss of that city for seven years. Alleged to be responsible for the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929 (show missed great opportunity there). Possibly the most famous Prohibition gangster in the United States who ever lived.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Was born in New York. Said he served in WWI (even though he didn’t but he was embarrassed that he got his nasty scar from a knife fight). Had an Irish wife and brothers in the business as well (save one who was a Prohibition agent).
Differences: Was bigger than Stephen Graham. Moved to Chicago after being in memberships with small town gangs and the Five Points Gang where he was mentored by Frankie Yale. Was 21 in 1920 and started out in Chicago as a Johnny Torrio’s bodyguard not driver. Still, though he may have been a violent gangster who gained control of the Chicago bootlegging through violent means, he knew the value of PR and would stylize himself as a generous benefactor and a modern day Robin Hood. He’d also help cultivate relationships with Mayor William Hale Thompson and the city police.
Ultimate Fate: Was investigated and convicted of tax evasion thanks to the efforts of IRS agent Frank J. Wilson. Was sentenced to 11 years in prison but would serve 7 including a stint in Alcatraz where he’d be diagnosed with syphilis and gonorrhea. Was paroled in 1939 and would spend his remaining years in Florida where he showed symptoms of syphillic dementia. Died of cardiac arrest after suffering a stroke in 1947 at 48. His Chicago Outfit would continue at a low profile though and is still around.

7. Meyer Lansky (1902-1983)

Still, while Luciano is the better looking gangster on Boardwalk Empire, Lansky probably beats him in the looks department in real life. Of course, that's just my opinion. Nevertheless, Lansky will eventually outlive most of his peers from this era and enjoy a nice retirement in Florida.

Still, while Luciano is the better looking gangster on Boardwalk Empire, Lansky probably beats him in the looks department in real life. Of course, that’s just my opinion. Nevertheless, Lansky will eventually outlive most of his peers from this era and enjoy a nice retirement in Florida.

Known in Life as: Called the “Mob’s Accountant” was a major organized crime figure who along with Luciano was instrumental in developing the National Crime Syndicate in the United States. Thought to be one of the most powerful men in the country for decades. Had a gambling empire that stretched across the seas and was said to own casinos in Las Vegas, Cuba, the Bahamas, and London. Despite being in the Jewish Mob, he had as strong influence on the Italian Mafia and played a large role in consolidating the criminal underworld.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Met and befriended Luciano as a teenager as well as served as Rothstein’s protégé. Also was acquainted with Bugsy Siegel during that time as well (they became lifelong friends as well as had the latter save him several times).
Differences: Was 18 in 1920. Was much closer to Siegel than Luciano (he and Bugsy formed their own gang and were BFFs for life). Probably didn’t turn on Rothstein. Also didn’t quite look like Anatol Yusef.
Ultimate Fate: Well, he’s much luckier than a lot of his colleagues. Though he did get deported to the US from Israel and have his Cuban ventures end to the rise of Castro, he manage to establish a lot of gambling operations (considered to have high integrity) and transferred a lot of his earnings to a Swiss bank account. Was instrumental in Operation Underworld during World War II for the US Navy. From 1974 to his death of lung cancer at 81 in 1983, he spent a long peaceful retirement at Miami Beach. Yet, the amount of money he left will never be known though he was survived by his widow and 3 children.

8. Casper Holstein (1876-1944)

Let's just say that while the Harlem Renaissance had it's share of African American musicians, academics, scientists, and writers, they also their share of Prohibition era gangsters. Casper Holstein is the most famous despite his Germanic name. Yet he had a Scandinavian father.

Let’s just say that while the Harlem Renaissance had it’s share of African American musicians, academics, scientists, and writers, they also their share of Prohibition era gangsters. Casper Holstein is the most famous despite his Germanic name. Yet he had a Scandinavian father.

Known in Life as: Prominent New York gangster involved in the Harlem “numbers rackets” during the Harlem Renaissance. He, along with his rival Stephanie St. Clair, was responsible for bringing back illegal gambling to the neighborhood after an 8 year absence following the conviction of Peter H. Matthews in 1915. Was well known for his generosity with his wealth in Harlem.
Character or Inspiration? Main inspiration for Doctor Valentin Narcisse and to a lesser extent, Chalky White.
Similarities: Both hailed from the West Indies. Both were prominent crime figures in Harlem during Prohibition. Both were philanthropists and financed the Harlem Renaissance (Holstein donated money to build dormitories at black colleges, was patron to the area’s artists, writers, and poets.) Were very supportive of the UNIA-ACL and wanted to improve African American society.
Differences: Didn’t call himself a “doctor of divinity.” Was of mixed African and Danish descent. Regularly contributed to the NCAAP’s Crisis. His operation actually focused more on “number rackets” and illegal gambling than anything (though he owned a few nightclubs and other legitimate businesses). Was in the US Navy during WWI as well as had several jobs like a Manhattan porter and doorman as well as head messenger to a Wall Street brokerage firm. Was kidnapped by a few whites in 1928 for a $50,000 but was released days later with the ransom never paid. Was never involved in drugs as far as I know.
Ultimate Fate: After serving a stint in prison following his 1937 arrest for illegal gambling (after leaving the numbers game in 1932), he “retired” from gambling but continued his philanthropic activities in Harlem and got in the real estate business. He died in 1944 at 67. 2,000 people attended his funeral. Has a scholarship in at the University of the Virgin Islands and a housing development in St. Croix named after him.

9. Johnny Torrio (1882-1957)

Sure he may remind you of some distinguished gentleman you'd see at Barnes & Noble. However, this guy was a Chicago Outfit mob boss as well as Al Capone's immediate supervisor and mentor.

Sure he may remind you of some distinguished gentleman you’d see at Barnes & Noble. However, this guy was a Chicago Outfit mob boss as well as Al Capone’s immediate supervisor and mentor. He’d later quit the racket and would later become a mob consultant in New York.

Known in Life as: Italian American gangster who helped build the Chicago Outfit in the 1920s that would be inherited by his protégé Al Capone in 1925. Also put forth the idea of a National Crime Syndicate in the 1930s and later became an unofficial adviser for the Genovese crime family.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Well, he was Al Capone’s mentor who helped bring him to Chicago and was second to Big Jim Colosimo (who was his uncle by marriage and invited him to deal with extortion demands from the Black Hand.) Might’ve set up Colosimo’s murder after he refused to invest in the alcohol business (though we aren’t so sure). Made no distinction between Irish and Italians in his gang. Was a rival of the Northside Gang headed by Dean O’Banion. Handed over the reins to Capone after an assassination attempt put him in the hospital and moved to Italy in 1925.
Differences: Was only 38 in 1920 while Greg Antonacci is certainly not. Also, resembled much more of a grandfatherly businessman in his later years. Not only that, but Torrio also may have set up Colosimo’s murder for a more personal reason which was divorcing his aunt so he could marry an actress and singer. Still, we’re not sure whether he did.
Ultimate Fate: Of course, he only lived in Italy for 3 years and moved back to the US due to the rise of Benito Mussolini. Engaged in a number of legitimate businesses including liquor distribution and bail bonds and acted as a crime consultant before his income tax arrest and conviction in 1939 which resulted in 2 years in prison. After his release, dabbled in real estate and spent a nice long retirement as a promise he made to his wife. Died in a Brooklyn barber shop of a heart attack in 1957 just before he was to get his hair cut. Left a wife and three kids.

10. Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel (1906-1947)

Oh, my is this bad boy a very handsome man? And in a checkered sports coat who knew? Still, it's a shame that this gangster would go to a bad end and with a left eye blown out of its socket. Jesus Christ!

Oh, my is this bad boy a very handsome man? And in a checkered sports coat who knew? Still, it’s a shame that this gangster would go to a bad end and with a left eye blown out of its socket. Jesus Christ!

Known in Life as: Jewish American gangster with the Luciano crime family and known to be one of the most infamous and feared gangsters of his day. Was one of the first front-page celebrity gangsters and a driving force behind the development of the Las Vegas strip, a founder and leader of Murder, Incorporated, and Prohibition bootlegger. One of the most feared hitmen in history.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Was a teenager in the 1920s as well as a close associate with Meyer Lansky (they were BFFs for life). Lansky would hire him out as a hitman. Was bloodthirsty, aggressive, and audacious.
Differences: Was a boyhood friend to Al Capone and allowed him to hide out with his aunt. Would soon rise to prominence as a gangster. Had a record that included armed robbery, rape, and murder dating back to his teenage years.
Ultimate Fate: Would soon have to move to California and develop a syndicate with Mickey Cohen during the late 1930s and early 1940s. Befriended a lot of Hollywood stars and had an extravagant life. Went to Las Vegas to develop the Flamingo Hotel on the strip which was an initial failure but made a profit. Shot in the head by an M-1 carbine at his girlfriend Virginia Hill’s Beverly Hills home in 1947 at 41. May have received “the Moe Greene Special.” His murder remains unsolved. The Flamingo Hotel still stands though.

11. Edward L. Bader (1874-1927)

Not a great photograph of the Atlantic City mayor of the 1920s who died from peritonitis, but it'll have to do. Still, very different looking from the Ed Bader we see on the HBO show.

Not a great photograph of the Atlantic City mayor of the 1920s who died from peritonitis, but it’ll have to do. Still, very different looking from the Ed Bader we see on the HBO show.

Known in Life as: Mayor of Atlantic City, New Jersey from 1920-1927.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Had a construction business prior to his election as mayor.
Differences: Was actually bald and son of Catholic German immigrants (since he was part of the Atlantic City Knights of Columbus). Played for the Latrobe Athletic Association in US professional football after attending the University of Pennsylvania. Was a champion for education. Spoke out against the KKK, was a patron of athletics, and set up a garbage collecting operation as well as helped rebuilt Atlantic City during a hurricane. Very active in his community, sponsored a lot of construction projects, organized the first Miss America pageant, as well as had a wife and four kids. Still, he was much more than a pawn to the political bosses and he and Nucky Johnson were good friends (the latter was at his deathbed).
Ultimate Fate: Died of peritonitis in 1927 at 52 (and the fact his appendix was on the left side of his torso).

12. Joe Masseria (1886-1931)

Man, he doesn't seem like a nice guy here. Still, seems to have a lighter skin complexion than Ivo Nandi on the show to my surprise. Of course, he'll be done in by Luciano some time after this picture is taken.

Man, he doesn’t seem like a nice guy here. Still, seems to have a lighter skin complexion than Ivo Nandi on the show to my surprise. Of course, he’ll be done in by Luciano some time after this picture is taken.

Known in Life as: Early Mafia boss in New York City and what is now called the Genovese crime family. Waged a bloody war to take over criminal activities in the city.
Character or Inspiration? He’s a character on the show.
Similarities: Was the big Italian crime boss in the 1920s who gangsters feared and respected. Survived numerous assassination attempts save the one ordered by Luciano.
Differences: Gave Luciano his start as a gunman before he left for Rothstein. May have played a role in the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929. Was only top mob boss in New York for 3 years. Wasn’t the head of the Morello crime family until 1922.
Ultimate Fate: Assassinated at a Coney Island restaurant in 1931. He was 45. We’re sure it was on Luciano’s orders since he wanted to end the Castellammarese War and dissolve the old Costa Nostra structure.

13. Louis “Commodore” Kuehnle (1857-1934)

I know this is a picture of Kuehnle from 1916 but it'll have to do. Yet, he doesn't look in the way I expected him to. Wonder if he hunted animals enough to make them an endangered species.

I know this is a picture of Kuehnle from 1916 but it’ll have to do. Yet, he doesn’t look in the way I expected him to. Wonder if he hunted animals enough to make them an endangered species.

Known in Life as: American business entrepreneur and politician. Leader of the Republican organization that controlled Atlantic City during the early 1900s. Was pursued for election fraud by New Jersey governor Woodrow Wilson in 1910 and was convicted on conflict of interest in 1913 where he served 6 months in prison.
Character or Inspiration? Inspiration for Louis Kaestner a. k. a. “the Commodore” (also has a personality more akin to an evil Teddy Roosevelt).
Similarities: Both founded a political machine and were succeeded by a guy named Nucky. Both were crooks who served jail time.
Differences: Didn’t really successfully challenge Nucky Johnson (at least not to have him put in prison, though Nucky did help him to get elected as City Commissioner which he served for the rest of his life). Owned the Kuehnle Hotel where he ran a gambling and prostitution racket. Probably didn’t rape a 13 year old girl and didn’t have a maid try to poison him. Was clean shaven and had no kids.
Ultimate Fate: Died of complications from appendicitis operation in 1934 at the age of 76.

More Historical Villans Who May Not Have Been That Bad

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Of course, this is a continuation of my last post on how some historical figures tend to get some bad reputation for being misunderstood or not being fairly represented in mainstream history while some are too overrated for their own good. Some of them may have been bad by our standards like the Spanish Inquisition but by the standards of their time may have been just as terrible as other authorities, if not more humane. Others may have terrible reputations for being on the opposite side or for being a convenient scapegoat like Lucrezia Borgia or they were simply very unlucky rulers who got unceremoniously deposed like Richard III, thus with successors needing to justify their actions. Still, here is a list of historical villains who are probably not as bad as portrayed.

1. The Persians (especially Xerxes I)

You know them as: The bad guys from 300. Not to mention, they are the adversaries of the Greeks in any American class on the history of western civilization.

Why they might not have been that bad: If the Iranian outrage over 300 should tell you anything,  it’s that Persians have been victims of unfair historical depictions for generations and they need not be. Sure they were itching to take over Greece and help start the Persian Wars, but in those days so was everyone. Of course, the Persians just happened to amass one of the largest empires in the ancient world and somehow got their asses kicked by the Greeks and Alexander. Yes, they were warlike, but so was any power entity with an empire. However, what we can say is that they were a rather sophisticated and progressive civilization with one of the oldest religions still in existence (albeit Zoroastrianism, though with much fewer followers as well as the faith of Freddie Mercury) and a empire with a government policy of tolerance toward other cultures and religions. If you read the Old Testament, they are seen as the only group of conquerors who the Jews seemed to get along with. Even Xerxes gets better press in Esther who may start out as a dick but does get better. His dad is a nice guy in Daniel who takes the prophet in after sacking Babylon. Of course, the Persians let the Jewish people return to their homeland, ending the Babylonian captivity. Yet, Xerxes wasn’t as nearly debauched as portrayed on 300 and certainly didn’t look like a reject from Cirque d’ Soleil. Also, he was never in Greece during the whole thing. In Iran, he’s seen as a hero  and is very beloved that he’s known as “the Great.” Sure the Persians should probably have never fought the Greeks but, c’mon, they weren’t a terrible civilization.

2. King Richard II

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You know him as: The cruel, vindictive, and irresponsible king in Shakespeare’s Richard II. Said to have suffered from mental illness and rule as a tyrannical absolute monarch but an incompetent one and a failure.

Why he may not have been that bad: Richard II is perhaps one of the most misunderstood and unlucky monarchs in history who gets his reputation because he was overthrown and possibly by people who didn’t like him. Also, his fall from power began the Wars of the Roses which put England in chaos for much of the 1400s. Though he may have seen as poster boy for medieval tyranny over several centuries after his death, modern historians have now reexamined the English monarch who probably was not as tyrannical or incompetent as previously depicted. And he may not have been mentally ill, though he did ascend the throne at the age of ten and was a rather religious man. Contemporary accounts and forensic science have said he was a smart, tall, and good looking guy and his portrait is one of the most accurate portrayals of a monarch to date. He was said to be a great patron of culture and the arts (he was great supporter of Geoffrey Chaucer). Not to mention, he tried to be a good king in the traditional medieval sense and really tried to do what was best for his country. He tried to avoid war with France so he won’t have to raise taxes on the peasantry (and the fact that a peasant’s revolt and the Hundred Years’ War was going on in his childhood, these policies seem to make perfect sense). However, what did him in was that his policies pissed off the wrong people (i.e. nobles and relatives) who wanted a war with France and though Richard knew they were a threat to his power, he didn’t do the necessary thing to stop them like a tyrant would (i. e. have them executed). Also, disinheriting and exiling his cousin Henry Bolingbroke was probably not a good idea even after his dad John of Gaunt died (who basically helped keep peace between the two). So while Henry was exiled he gathered a following of prominent nobles also fed up with him and together they overthrew Richard who later died in the Tower of London under mysterious circumstances. And he’s suffered a bad reputation ever since. So while Richard II may not have been a crazy megalomaniac he’s depicted as but his story is a good example of a decent leader pissing off the wrong people led to his terrible portrayal in the history books, especially when his successors had to go to great lengths to justify getting rid of him.

3. Ulysses S. Grant

You know him as: “The Butcher” who only won the Civil War for the Union because he had plenty of men to spare and was more willing to send his troops to their deaths, later to become a shitty president over a corrupt administration. Said to have also been a drunk.

Why he may not have been that bad: While Grant did send a lot of his soldiers to their deaths during the Civil War and wasn’t one of our better US presidents, he was a well loved figure while for much of his life since then and even after his death. Even his funeral and his tomb dedication had a great attendance turnout and for a long time was put in the same league with Washington and Lincoln. However, what does his historical reputation in is the rise of the “Lost Cause” school of history consisting of Pro-South historians who try to rationalize why a pure and civilized culture of theirs (in their eyes) succumbed to a great fall. In their minds, since Grant was largely responsible for winning the Civil War for the North, he’s the bad guy. However, while Grant’s relationship with alcohol has been debated, he certainly not a “butcher,” a terrible general, or as shitty of a president as he’s been depicted for a long time. Sure Grant may have graduated in the middle of his class at West Point and had a bad stint as as civilian before the Civil War, he was said to be a fairly good soldier and military officer who was calm under fire and a general who may have been ahead of his time. Sure he was willing to put his men in dangerous situations and knew he could replace the ones he lost, but he was good to his soldiers and they loved him. Not to mention, General Sherman was two years older than him and had spent his entire career in the military was happy to have him as his commanding officer, which is saying something. He won battles but he won them with the kind of tactics and strategy one would see from 20th century generals, which earned him a nickname of “The Butcher” but he was also known as “Unconditional Surrender” Grant for his willingness to accept Confederate surrender without exposing them to humiliation, earning respect from allies and enemies alike. Off the battlefield, he wasn’t a violent man but one who was devoted to his family and had a rather sane mind as well as a good man holding many modern views. As president Grant was elected for two terms and tried to do things like protect African American citizenship, eliminate vestiges of Confederate nationalism and slavery, and defeat the KKK. He also tried to promote America’s image overseas and basically left office with a country more united than he was sworn in at a time when many US presidencies resulted in the opposite. Besides, most of the problems Grant faced as president had more to do with the context of his times and the political culture than anything to do with him personally. And after his presidency, he and his wife traveled the world to promote America’s image abroad and wrote his memoirs which mostly dealt with his time in the Civil War more than anything. Grant may have not have been a great president but he wasn’t the kind of general or man “Lost Cause” historians make him out to be.

4. William Tecumseh Sherman

You know him as: The general who burned down Atlanta and torched Georgia, thanks to Gone with the Wind. And just as an uncaring monster as Grant but more bloodthirsty and crazy.

Why he may not have been that bad: Sure Sherman was one of the most ruthless, vicious, and terrifying Union generals on the battlefield, but he did have a tendency to show mercy once the smoke cleared and was willing to let his defeated enemies go home without further molestation. Of course, he did torch Atlanta and brought the Civil War to Southern civilians but he believed that in order the North to win, then it was the Union’s job to make the war so terrible for the South that the Confederates would be less willing to fight and his strategy ultimately worked. Also, in the beginning of the war, Sherman was one of the few generals who guessed correctly it would last more than 90 days. Historians have said he was one of the most pragmatic Civil War generals ever and avoided many tactical mistakes and didn’t do anything unusually stupid. Not to mention, Sherman was willing to fight for his country despite suffering an earlier incident of PTSD. And like Grant, he was a seen as a father to his men. Now maybe Sherman didn’t fight like a 19th century gentleman, but he had his reasons.

5. Benedict Arnold

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You know him as: If you’re American, his name is synonymous with vile and cowardly traitor who tried selling the fort at West Point to the British.

Why he may not have been that bad: Well, as an American, I’m very much biased about him since I’ve been taught to see the guy in the same league as Judas. So, yes, I do consider him a villain. However, before he betrayed his country, Arnold started out as a capable commander for the colonists’ side during the Revolutionary War and was largely responsible for winning Saratoga since his commanding officer General Horatio Gates mostly kept himself in a tent (this guy was useless). Still, perhaps one of the reasons why he betrayed his country was that he made many powerful enemies among the upper brass and congress that he wouldn’t be eligible for promotion or additional wages for his military service he deserved (though it was due to lack of money that the government could spare). To make things worse, other officers were receiving credit for his accomplishments. Of course, it didn’t help that Arnold married a daughter of a British sympathizer. Still, he only tried to sell out West Point when Washington wouldn’t let him resign in order to evade the dishonorable consequences. Sure Arnold was a traitor, but he should’ve gotten the credit he deserved which he didn’t, which might have led to him trying to sell West Point. In other words, Arnold turned traitor because he got screwed.

6. The Vikings

You know them as: The Norse and Germanic tribesmen from Scandinavia who are brutish and bloodthirsty raiders, plunderers, and killers. Also wore horned helmets.

Why they may not be that bad: While the term “viking” may refer to a Norse pirate, the Vikings were no more savage or prone to violence than any other people at the time and had a very sophisticated culture (as were all the other Germanic tribes). Also, they were explorers, traders, and fine craftsmen in their own right. Not to mention, they bathed frequently and treated their wives better (Viking women had more rights than many of their counterparts). As for the horned helmets, they only wore them for ceremonial occasions since wearing them during raiding and battle would be highly impractical (though they did wear their weapons all the time). However, the Vikings get their bad press since many of their targets tended to be monasteries (for obvious reasons) as well as other areas where at least one person could read or write (which the Vikings didn’t really do that much but they did have a system). And it doesn’t help their case that they considered themselves a race of warriors with a warrior religion and Valhalla. To consider these people as brutish and bloodthirsty killers would be like a compliment to them because such would get them into their Viking heaven. Sure the Vikings were bloodthirsty warriors but they were so much more than that and just as violent as everyone else.

7. The Waffen-SS

You know them as: The black uniformed clad Nazi soldiers in WWII films who are part of the elite, special forces organization of the German military where the soldiers would serve the front lines. Not to mention, they helped orchestrate the Holocaust.

Why they may not have been that bad: Sure they weren’t the Gestapo but even with the snazzy black outfits, the SS wasn’t really as feared elite, special forces organization as many WWII media make it out to be. In short, they were no more a threat to the Allies than non-SS divisions in the German Army. Some SS did distinguish themselves in combat but the only extra training an SS unit would receive that regular army units didn’t as ideological. In fact, it’s said that some SS units had worse combat training and equipment than non-SS units. Besides, they weren’t used as front line combat units until 1943 and before that their role consisted as bodyguards and internal security with their military role barely mentioned and thought of as a little more than thugs (in their own country). Though many of them certainly were Nazis and served in battle as well as were Hitler’s troops that helped exterminate millions of innocent people (they were under the command of Himmler after all and were deservedly banned in Germany after the war in 1945), they weren’t the kind of evil elite special forces organization of combat units you’d see in WWII films that have nothing to do with the Holocaust. Evil, yes, but they were just as defeatable soldiers as anyone else. Not to mention, the SS and the Gestapo weren’t the same thing.

8. Commodous

You know him as: The bad Roman Emperor in Gladiator who kills his dad, has a thing for his sister, kills Russell Crowe’s family and puts him in slavery, and fought in the gladiatorial games before his death in the arena.

Why he may not have been that bad: Sure Commodous did fight in the arena but that’s one of the only accurate things about him from that movie. Of course, he may not have been a great Roman Emperor like his dad Marcus Aurelius but he didn’t have a thing for his sister (actually had her killed for conspiring against him), didn’t kill his dad (who died from natural causes), and didn’t die in the arena (he was strangled while bathing). In fact, Commodous and Marcus Aurelius most likely got along splendidly since they certainly have had to. For one, there was no official line of succession since many Roman Emperors either didn’t have any surviving sons or didn’t live long enough to have any. Before Marcus Aurelius most Emperors would usually choose and adopt their successors outside their biological families. Commodous’s succession was unusual since he was the first Emperor “born to the purple” and broke tradition by succeeding his father. Not to mention, Commodous ruled jointly with his father for four years before the old man’s death. In short, there is overwhelming evidence that Marcus Aurelius chose his son to succeed him. Still, his dad is known as the last of the “Five Good Emperors” for a reason since Commodous was actually considered a bad emperor for believing himself to be Hercules and renaming everything in the Empire including Rome after himself, which wouldn’t go well with Romans. Oh, and he did order one his slaves to be burned for making his bath too cold. Still, he only became the tyrannical dictator in history after several attempts were made on his life and before then basically did whatever he fancied and had a grand old time. Even so, none of this makes him as bad as most rulers in history even in Rome where it wasn’t unusual for Roman Emperors to have people in their lives trying to kill them (even by people charged with protecting them like the Praetorian guard or members of their own family). Still, he was more or less power mad and ignorant of responsibilities than anything though he did bring an end to the Pax Romana, devalued Roman coinage while simultaneously raising taxes which created a wave of poverty unseen since the Old Republic.  Of course, that all may be senatorial bullshit but there’s a reason why he’s not considered a good ruler. Terrible ruler, yes, but not the Commodous depicted in Gladiator.

9. Ivan the Terrible

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You know him as: The crazy Russian Czar who massacred the city of Novorgod and killed his own son in a violent rage. Also had a habit of torturing people in lots of brutal and deadly ways.

Why he may not have been that bad: Well, he’s certainly a villain and certainly wasn’t a pleasant ruler to reckon with but he was no more brutal or worse than most rulers of his time or even by Russian standards (though Russia was still a pretty shitty place). Still, what gives Ivan a bad rap is that he was a deeply religious man who acknowledged his treacherous deeds as a way of doing penance. Besides, he’s mostly remembered for transforming Russia into a multiethnic and multiconfessional state (meaning he probably didn’t kill anyone for being of a different culture or different religion once he’d already conquered them, which is saying something compared to many 16th century rulers in Europe like Cathy de Medici). Not to mention, he was a fairly competent Czar (as well as the first) who transformed Russia from a medieval state to a regional and emerging power (though it wouldn’t be modernized to some extent until years later and mostly took Siberia because nobody wanted it). He was even popular among the common people as well as a patron of the arts and founder of Russia’s first Print Yard. In short, he’s largely responsible for what Russia is today. Plus, he most likely died from natural causes at 54 (an old man by 16th century Russian standards). Brutal, crazy, unpredictable, and cruel, yes, but he wasn’t a ruler out of the ordinary. Also, the Russian war for “terrible” can also translate as “awesome.”

10. J. Bruce Ismay

You know him as: The guy whose company was responsible for building and commissioning the Titanic as well as a bullying prick who pressures Captain Smith to run the ship at full speed into an ice field and cowardly jumping into a lifeboat to save himself while there were still hundreds of women and children aboard the ship.

Why he may not have been that bad: Ismay didn’t really pressure Captain Smith to take the ship full speed (more or less was the Captain’s decision) though he wasn’t totally blameless. Titanic was an ill-equipped ship that didn’t have enough lifeboats for the passengers (and while it was sinking many of them weren’t filled to full capacity), had no searchlight, had a crew who wasn’t trained to handle emergency situations, and didn’t have anyone to keep watch equipped with binoculars. To make things worse, Captain Smith cancelled a lifeboat drill and the ship had received radio warnings of icebergs in the area that were ignored. Nevertheless, when Titanic did hit an iceberg, Ismay was diligent in helping load and lower the lifeboats and only took his seat after making sure there were no women or children there to take it instead. However, we know now that there were hundreds of women and children who went down with the ship who were mostly in steerage and some couldn’t get out anyway. Ismay probably had no idea of this and maybe was in a state of panic. Yet, many rich guys who survived the Titanic also suffered in their reputation for exactly that as well just because they should’ve been willing to go down with the ship instead unless all the women and children were on the lifeboats. However, since Ismay practically owned Titanic, his reputation took a deeper dive. Ismay may have bore some responsibility for the Titanic disaster since it came from his line but he wasn’t really a bullying prick nor a dirty coward as depicted.

11. King Edward I Longshanks

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You know him as: The evil king in Braveheart who wanted to take over Scotland, threw his son’s lover out the window, ruled as a oppressive tyrant, and was a “cruel pagan.”

Why he may not have been that bad: Of course, Edward was a brutal conqueror abroad as well as an anti-Semite but you’d expect these things from almost any medieval king. Still, he didn’t throw his son’s lover out the window, was a pagan, nor ruled like a tyrant. In fact, he was a Christian no more or less devout than your average medieval king and certainly didn’t oppress his English subjects (foreign ones are a whole different matter). Furthermore, he was considered a social radical by medieval European standards since he set up Parliament as a permanent institution, set up a working system of taxation, and helped draft complex legislation which would help revolutionize England forever. Not only that but he initially went to Scotland to mediate a matter which almost caused a civil war. Of course, he did break his word anyway but any medieval king would do the same thing. Thus, sure Edward may have been a land grabber but he was a pretty decent king by medieval standards and no brutal than your average ruler at the time.

12. Genghis Khan

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You know him as: The bloodthirsty Mongol conqueror who founded one of the largest empires of all time stretching from Hungary, India, and China. Known for riding with his barbarian Mongol forces and putting whole cities to waste while making a hell on earth for men, women, and children.

Why he may not have been that bad: Well, Genghis and his Mongol hordes were certainly not a group you’d want to mess with and of course, they would very much like to be known for that so your city could easily surrender. Still, much of what’s written by them were authored by their conquered subjects who kind of exaggerated their bloodlust. However, Genghis Khan wasn’t just a bloodthirsty conqueror. He also managed to unite the Mongol tribes who’ve been fighting against themselves for thousands of years, which at the time was almost unthinkable and all in the span of a couple of decades through skillful political maneuvers like attracting allegiance of other tribes and defeated enemies, giving those he defeated a share in the spoils of war, and basing promotions on merit than politics. Not to mention, his idea of conquering everything in sight was a primarily a team building exercise to keep the tribes from fighting each other with such conquest continuing after his death making the Mongols not only a powerful foe but also very rich and powerful in the process. Sure Genghis Khan and his Mongols weren’t the nicest guys, but at least he had rather unselfish reason to conquer mainland Asia.

13. The Spanish Conquistadors

You know them as: The cruel and barbaric mercenaries who mercilessly toppled two major Indian empires to satisfy their greed, enslaved a race of people, forced them to convert to Christianity, and committed some of the worst human rights abuses in the age of Exploration.

Why they may not have been that bad: Of course, as cruel and merciless as the conquistadors were they weren’t as evil as they’re seen in many depictions. As bad as they treated the Indians, they were more interested in using them as a labor force and assimilating them into their culture (well, as much as they could) than actually killing them. Furthermore, many Spanish Conquistadors took native wives and treated their mixed race kids as members of their families. Not to mention, they weren’t nearly as racist as their English colonial counterparts who discouraged Indian intermarriage and just saw them as an obstacle that kept them from taking their land (it’s not wonder that many Indian children by English settlers joined the Indian tribes). Of course, the conquistadors did wipe out 95% of the American indigenous population but it mostly through germs and in places where no Spaniard had stepped foot. Also, Cortes could not have brought down the Aztec Empire if he didn’t have help from the local Indian tribes who were already fed up with them despite that he probably did betray them in the end (unsurprisingly). Not to mention, the conquistadors conquered civilizations that were cruel conquerors in their own right who also treated their defeated subjects like shit. So many Indians really didn’t have it much worse than before but last least the Mesoamerican Indians didn’t have to worry about being captured in battle in order to have their heart ripped open from their chests. Seriously, both Spanish and Indians had their moments of savagery especially in Meso and South America. Sure the Spanish conquistadors were cruel, ruthless, and greedy, but they weren’t the only guys out for gold and were no more worse conquerors than those of other European nationalities or their indigenous foes. Besides, the English colonists stabbed the Indians in the back in much worse ways.

14. George Armstrong Custer

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You know him as: The flamboyant, cowardly, and idiotic bigot who spent more time looking good for the camera than fighting. Sometimes seen as the lucky idiot at the right place at the right time or someone who gleefully orchestrated Indian massacres and got exactly what he deserved at Little Bighorn.

Why he may not have been that bad: Sure Custer wasn’t the Indians’ friend nor a model soldier who wasn’t above using women and children as human shields. And he was certainly flamboyant but many portrayals of him usually tend to exaggerate his shortcomings (even in movies like They Died with Their Boots On which portrays Custer in a more favorable light). Still, many of them tend to ignore the fact that despite graduating at the bottom of his class at West Point, Custer was a capable soldier and cavalry commander who actually fought bravely in battle and could even be considered a war hero (for his actions in Gettysburg during the Civil War when he held off the Confederate cavalry). And though he attained the brevet rank of general, his promotion was certainly not a mistake. Not to mention, despite his penchant for recklessness that incurred high casualties, Custer did manage to earn the respect and loyalty of his men. What did Custer in at Little Bighorn had more to do with his ego overriding his judgment in attacking a force that vastly outnumbered his (never a good idea). As for his attitude toward the Indians, Custer was no more racist or bigoted against them than anyone else at the time and he certainly didn’t kill Indians out of sadistic glee (he mainly killed Indians because it was part of his job). Sure Custer wasn’t a perfect  soldier and was no friend to the Indians but he wasn’t an incompetent idiot, a sadistic bigot, or a dirty coward either.

15. Queen Anne Boleyn

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You know her as: The scheming and manipulative woman who led Henry VIII astray from his wife Catherine as well as compelled him to break away from the Catholic Church. Also was said to be a major slut, have deformities, and stole Henry away from her sister, Mary. Not to mention, she was Queen Elizabeth I’s mother and got her head chopped off for being a major slut.

Why she may not have been that bad: Sure Anne may have had some ambition to some degree and was a highly intelligent beauty with a strong personality and independent streak as well as been partly the reason for Henry VIII’s break with the Catholic Church after the Pope wouldn’t annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon (for understandable reasons that he was being held captive by Catherine’s nephew Charles V who certainly didn’t want his aunt cast aside) but she was more of a victim of circumstance than anything else. And she didn’t have a sixth finger or a third breast or else she would have never been presented to court in the first place. Yet, she certainly was in her mid to late twenties when she got involved with Henry VIII as well as in her thirties when she had Queen Elizabeth. Still, how much she had to do with Henry’s defiance of papal power is up for debate but she did have some reformist attitudes (so did Erasmus and Thomas More but they didn’t break away). Yet, Anne Boleyn wasn’t Henry’s only reason for wanting to an annulment from the Pope since he only broke  away from the Catholic Church after he knocked her up but he also wanted to disinherit his daughter Mary, too (a simple divorce wouldn’t have done that). However, many historians agree that there is no evidence that she had sex with anyone other than Henry VIII and most of the charges against her leading to her beheading were mostly trumped up (her real crime being she had miscarried two boys). Her sister Mary on the other hand, had a reputation for being a major slut and already had a husband by the time she and Henry VIII were having their dalliance possibly resulting in two children Henry never acknowledged (though he wasn’t an entirely faithful husband to Catherine either). Besides, Mary had been recalled from the French court for her sexual exploits. Not only was Anne was a virgin until she was over thirty (which is unusual by 16th century standards), she had refused to sleep with Henry for years and had some regard for her chastity. And many historians think that Henry was more or less stalking her though she did go along with his attentions and eventually gave in (but not just because of love, ambition and pressure from her family could’ve been factors. After all, it wouldn’t be right to say no to a king). Nevertheless, Anne would pay her price as well as make plenty of enemies at court but led to her execution was something she just couldn’t control. An interesting woman in her own right, yes, but Anne wasn’t a scheming whore who might have suffered the penalty for doing what might’ve been expected of her. More of a convenient scapegoat than anything else.

16. Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen

You know him as: The guy who killed his wife, chopped up and disposed her body in his basement, and ran off with his mistress on a ship only to be captured through wireless communication and convicted on forensic evidence (a first for the latter two). He was eventually hanged.

Why he may not have been that bad: Well, let’s just say the Crippen case may not be as open and shut case as it once appeared to be 100 years ago and there are plenty of gaping holes. Recent forensic scientists have examined the preserved remains with 21st century technology and have come up with findings that raise significant doubts whether Crippen killed his wife. Through DNA testing, they not only found that the remains found in Crippen’s basement weren’t Cora’s, but also that they belonged to a man. And they did plenty of test to make sure of that one. Then there’s the question of whether the remains found in Crippen’s basement was actually planted by the police as evidence who were under tremendous pressure to nab a suspect for such heinous crime (they didn’t want another Jack the Ripper case). Besides, if Crippen was so keen on getting away with killing his wife, why would he successfully dispose of her limbs and head while burying her torso in his cellar under his dining room? Surely anyone would know that this is a very stupid way to dispose a body, especially in the early 1900s. Then there’s the fact that the case didn’t become public until after the remains were found. Clearly something suspicious was going on in the investigation. Still, it’s growing ever more likely that if Dr. Crippen was responsible for killing anyone, it would’ve been due to his work in homeopathic drugs than anything. So as far as Cora’s murder, there’s a good chance he may be innocent after all.

More Historical Heroes and Why They Probably Don’t Deserve Their Fame

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Since I got a number of views on my last post on historical heroes, there are plenty of others I didn’t seem to touch upon who are immortalized for their heroic deeds but weren’t as great people as thought or the stories were just plain made up.  I’m not going to use John F. Kennedy though he may not have had as great a presidency as it’s perceived, he’s still considered a hero since he managed to have the kind of life he led despite suffering from serious health problems like Addison’s. Also, I’m not going to use King Henry V though he may not be the guy Shakespeare depicted and actually quite ruthless, though no more than most medieval kings in his day. Yet, sometimes history isn’t as unbiased as you think it is. Here are more historical heroes I will kindly list here:

1. Medieval Knights

Known for: Being the champions of Christendom and chivalry who fought baddies, wooed ladies without seducing them, behaved honorably, and saved the day with a sword. They always fought for their country, king, and God. As good guys, they were always willing to protect the weak and vulnerable you could always count on them to rescue a damsel in distress. They’d also fight tournaments to win a lady’s favor.

Why they may not deserve their fame: Of course, there may have been some knights like this but they were human beings like any other. For instance, we all know that King Arthur’s knights weren’t all like that. I mean Sir Lancelot may do good in battle and be able to heal others yet he deserted his wife and kid as well as banged his boss’ wife. Mordred was an evil product of incest who does his old man in (in some versions, in others, he’s just Arthur’s evil nephew, brother-in-law, or not related to him at all). Sir Gawain was a homicidal maniac and had many other issues. Still, though a knight may claim loyalty to a nation, a king, or his lord, he was ultimately a mercenary working for himself mostly for land, power, and riches. If they were of the a Crusade Order, they could be ruthless and fanatical but so was everyone in the Middle Ages to some extent. However, it’s interesting to note that the Crusades weren’t just fought in the name of God to capture the Holy Land from the Muslims. Rather, many thought the Crusades were a good idea since it would not only grant knights penance for killing Muslims but also keep many of them from fighting and terrorizing each other as well as raping, pillaging and burning peasant villages. Really, they would do this to their fellow Europeans or even their own serfs, let alone Muslims. Yet, they wouldn’t kill each other unless it was in battle and considered the slaughter of peasants after capturing a village whether they be men, women, or children. Still, as for medieval damsels in distress, they probably wouldn’t call on a knight in shining armor to save them unless it was a last resort or if the guy was her husband. Most damsels in distress at the time usually tried to save themselves, because they’d never know what a knight may do to them.

2. King Richard the Lionheart

Known for: Being the good King Richard in the Robin Hood stories and seen as a paragon of knighthood and champion of Christendom. Badass hero of the Crusades.

Why he may not deserve his fame: King Richard I was a rather complex individual like any member of his family (like King John, for instance). He wasn’t the biggest jerk but he was as warlike as he was greedy. He certainly liked being in France better than England (there’s a story where he claimed to sell London if he could find a buyer, oh, and he only spent six months of his reign there anyway). And as like anyone in his family, he wasn’t above stabbing people in the back (of course, you can say that about any ruler in the Middle Ages.) Of course, he only saw his subjects as producers of tax revenue to support his exploits abroad. Then there’s the time when he was taken hostage by Archduke Leopold I of Austria and Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI. Of course, he was ransomed after two years but it was from the pockets of his English subjects. And he was taken prisoner by a guy he used to boss around. Richard may have been a great warrior king but he wasn’t good at anything that didn’t involve warfare and tactics like budgeting, tolerating, or judging. So Good King Richard wasn’t such a great English king after all. Yet, as a paragon of knighthood and chivalry, well, as far as actual medieval knights go, he may not be far off.

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3. Charles Lindbergh

Known for: Being the first man to fly across the Atlantic solo from New York to Paris on The Spirit of Saint Louis. One of the biggest celebrities of his day. Also, his son was kidnapped and killed in one of the most infamous child abduction cases in history.

Why he may not deserve his fame: Well, Lindbergh certainly does deserve his fame but there’s no doubt about that. Yet, just because his picture may be in the history books and your grandpa might have had a poster of him, doesn’t mean that he’s a kind of role model you’d want to emulate or put on a pedestal. For one, he believed in eugenics and racist which wasn’t unusual at the time yet his beliefs on either may have been too much for those in the 1930s. Also, it certainly doesn’t help his case that he was a staunch isolationist (though he stuck with his country before Pearl Harbor), accepted a medal from Nazi Germany (and didn’t return it after the Kristallnacht), had a friendship with Anti-Semitic Henry Ford, and was willing to make excuses for Hitler. So no wonder he was suspected of being a Nazi sympathizer. Oh, and 29 years after his death it was discovered that he fathered seven children to three German women (trust me, you can’t make things like this up and it was mentioned on PBS).

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4. Lady Godiva

Known for: 11th century pre-Norman Conquest Saxon noblewoman who pleaded with her despotic husband Leofric to be nice to his subjects and reduce taxes. Yet, when he refused, as a protest, she got up on her white horse and rode the streets of Coventry in her birthday suit.

Why she may not deserve her fame: Well, Lady Godiva has a bit in common with Betsy Ross, two famous women who get credit for something they didn’t actually do but receive credit long after their deaths. Still, though Betsy Ross most likely didn’t design the first American flag, there’s reasonable evidence that she might have had some involvement with its production. With Lady Godiva, however, there’s no historical evidence that she was ever known for anything from being beyond a sweet and charitable woman. She may have pleaded with Leofric to be nice and reduce taxes but that’s probably as true as the legend about her gets. Still, there’s no evidence that she ever rode naked into Coventry and that legend only surfaced about 200 years after her death. She was, however, the only female to remain a major Saxon landholder after the Norman Conquest.

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5. Andrew Jackson

Known for: Seen as a war hero in the War of 1812 and a populist bad ass who loved his wife and stood up for the people against the wealthy elite. President of the United States during the late 1820s and early 1830s. Nicknamed “Old Hickory.” Father of Jacksonian democracy as well as one of the godfathers of the modern Democratic Party. Picture is on the $20 bill.

Why he may not deserve his fame: There’s more than one good reason why Andrew Jackson is considered one of the most controversial US presidents to this day. The most obvious being his policies towards Native Americans such as his aggressive enforcement of the Indian Removal Act (despite that the law was struck down by the Supreme Court) which resulted in the relocation of thousands of Indians to Oklahoma and the Trail of Tears. Of course, it was said he did it out of belief that it would prevent a war with the tribes and possibly a civil war but still, it was a policy that denied human rights to a group of people for no good reason, resulted in genocide, and has put a strain on Native Americans ever since. Then there’s Jackson’s policy of getting rid of the Bank of the United States which would later be a direct cause of the Panic of 1837 throwing the nation into a deep depression (basically this is what would happen if we got rid of the Federal Reserve). Finally, you got the introduction of the spoils system which chose unelected government workers based on party loyalty regardless whether these people had any qualifications to do their jobs. This brought widespread corruption and incompetence as well as lack of accountability on every level of government and would eventually played a role in the assassination of a US president (James A. Garfield was shot by a rejected office seeker). As a side note, he appointed Roger B. Taney as Chief Justice to the Supreme Court (who will have an important role in the notorious Dred Scott Decision). Also, engaged in dirty campaign tactics against John Quincy Adams, did a bunch of things that would certainly get him arrested today (such as fighting duels), and might have been a bit crazy (yet he’s still a rather interesting and complex man).

6. Ronald Reagan

Known for: President of the United States during the 1980s, and seen as the greatest president of all time by American conservatives. Said to have ended the Cold War, revived the economy through Reaganomics, restored dignity and self-respect to the presidency, restored American pride and morale, and did all these super wonderful things that helped make the USA the greatest nation on earth. Voted as the Greatest American on the History Channel.

Why he may not deserve his fame: I tried to refrain from writing about him since he was a popular president but still, he doesn’t really deserve all the hype. Not to mention, conservatives still sort of make Reagan into a man he wasn’t. For one, the 1980s weren’t a wonderful time in history, especially since it was a time when many corporations started basically outsourcing their productions to other countries (and many areas never recovered). Reagan’s economic policies also started widening the gap between rich and poor, created budget deficits as well as an increase in homelessness. However, he did increase taxes a few times when he realized that tax cuts for the rich weren’t helping. Other blunders include the Iran-Contra Affair (which lowered American credibility), huge budget deficits (which made GOP “fiscal conservatism neither fiscal nor conservative), his environmental ignorance (believed that trees caused pollution), his do-nothing reaction to the looming AIDS epidemic, courting Saddam Hussein, and the list goes on. As for the Cold War, Reagan showed little sign of burying the hatchet with the Soviet Union (“evil empire” as he called it) until the Mikhail Gorbachev assumed power in 1985. And even then he was uncooperative in peace talks with the Russian leader until facing a scandal and low approval ratings, he was willing to do anything. And as for Russia’s bankruptcy, it was due to the War in Afghanistan that started while Reagan was still in California so bankruptcy was the Soviets’ own fault. Also, he had Alzheimer’s during his presidency (his son has even said this.) Then there are the times before he became president. For one, he didn’t become a Republican until age 51 and was mostly willing to change his political views for his declining career and satisfy his father-in-law. He opposed civil rights and Medicare, was almost recalled during his term as governor of California, sent the California Highway Patrol to crack down on campus protests at Berkeley, and oh, legalized no-fault divorce and abortion in California (though he later switched his position on the latter after realizing what it might to do him politically but still he didn’t do anything to make abortion illegal again and this was in 1967 so he had a good six years). Not to mention, he was divorced (from actress Jane Wyman), certainly engaged in pre-marital sex (wife Nancy was pregnant at the altar), was more into astrology than Jesus, and basically betrayed his fellow actors by leaking some of their names to the House Committee of Un-American Activities while president of the Screen Actors Guild. Reagan may not have been one of the worst American Presidents, but he certainly shouldn’t be ranked among one of the best. In fact, he wasn’t much of a great president anyway. I may be a liberal but even so, I don’t believe he deserves the hype regardless of anyone’s political affiliation.

7. Woodrow Wilson

Known for: US President during WWI and was seen as a model for Progressivism and Idealism. His 14 Points speech helped set the stage for the United Nations and earned him a Nobel Peace Prize.

Why he may not deserve his fame: Wilson’s presidency has come under significant controversy in recent years. Though many of his economic policies tend to be seen in a positive light since many his reforms on that front were greatly needed, he appointed the heads of large corporations to agencies supposedly regulating business. Not to mention, they did no favors for women, minorities, immigrants, workers, or others in need of assistance. Though his Virginia upbringing during the Civil War might have inspired his commitment to peace, it also served as the major influence to his hardcore racism and his policy of mandatory segregation of the government. I mean he was considered a racist even by early 20th century standards and seem to have a nostalgia for slavery (though he deemed it uneconomical). Oh, and he barred blacks from serving in the Navy which was at times more than 1/3 African American dating from the revolutionary war. To be fair, he was no fan of immigrants either and criticized Irish immigrants harshly. Then there’s the fact he’s one of the nation’s first of the Red Scare anti-socialist and anti-communist presidents, launched the Espionage Act of 1918 which arrested those who spoke out against WWI, and ran his reelection campaign on a pacifist platform (though he would be calling for war at the start of his second term). Though he’s seen as an anti-imperialist, he ended up intervening in places like the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Mexico. Of course, the Mexicans were attacking our borders but in some ways, they were doing it in response for the US occupation of Veracruz. As for ending WWI and other related foreign policy, let’s just say that it’s complicated. Wilson may have consented to punishing Germany for starting the war (even though Germany certainly didn’t). However, it would be unfair to blame him for the events surrounding actions during the Treaty of Versailles, especially when it came to Germany getting the short end of the stick. For one, Wilson wasn’t well aware about European politics and saw WWI as a war between Democracy and Absolute Monarchy (Germany was actually a constitutional monarchy while Russia was ruled by Czarist autocrat before the Russian Revolution.) Second, the US only entered the war in 1917 when it started in 1914. Also, France’s Georges Clemenceau was more the dominating influence at Versailles than Wilson ever was and wanted to punish Germany for a lot more than just WWI (like the Franco-Prussian War). Thus, Clemenceau wanted revenge, not peace. Not to mention, David Lloyd George was more concerned with politics in his native Britain than anything. Wilson may have been a bad president but he’s far from being one of the greats.

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8. Nathan Bedford Forrest

Known for: Well, I’ll get to part of that in a moment. However, in the South, he’s considered a great Confederate Civil War general and kind of a hero. I mean he has so many places and memorials dedicated to him it’s ridiculous.

Why he may not deserve his fame: Forrest is perhaps one of the worst examples when it comes to being seen as a historical hero. Of course, this would stem from the Pro-white Southern “Lost Cause” school of history which seemed to prevail during segregation. However, while Robert E. Lee may not have been the great general or the great man he’s portrayed as but at least he has some admirable qualities you can respect. Despite his flaws, Lee can be seen as a great hero and a great man. However, this is not so with Forrest since he’s best known as the first Grand Wizard of the KKK as well as a figure associated with white supremacy (he may not have been as racist but still). And it doesn’t help he was a slave trader before the Civil War either. Nevertheless, Forrest still embodies the worst of the Confederacy during the Civil War mostly because of what happened at the Battle of Fort Pillow. Fort Pillow was a Union held fort which Forrest managed to attack and capture back in 1864. However, it was a battle that where countless black and Southern Unionist troops were killed and may not have died in combat. In other words, these two groups of captured soldiers were basically slaughtered after surrender, which is a war crime. Of course, Confederate commanders didn’t record that such massacre took place at Fort Pillow (even Forrest’s report doesn’t mention it), yet there is significant evidence that states such slaughter took place. For one, there are accounts by Union survivors and some even from Confederate soldiers writing back home. Second, the Union casualty rates pertaining to the battle are unusually higher (like nearly 300 killed out of around 600-700) than what the Confederates sustained (which was about 14 killed and 86 wounded out of 5,000-6,000). And in some ways the Union casualty rate is much higher than it should be if the Confederates sustained a rate like that in 1864. This is also telling when you consider that only 90 of the 262 black Union troops involved managed to survive the battle. Out of the white Union forces, only 205 out of 500 survived. If this doesn’t convince anyone why Nathan Bedford Forrest shouldn’t be remembered so fondly, then I don’t know what does.

9. Dwight D. Eisenhower

Known for: Being an admirable and badass general during WWII as Supreme Allied Commander and a great president who maintained stability in the early years of the Cold War and warned of the Military-Industrial complex. Affectionately nicknamed Ike in the 1950s. Possibly the most bipartisan and compromise-friendly US president of the 20th century.

Why he may not deserve his fame: Eisenhower certainly does deserve his fame and certainly can be considered a hero, in some ways, a lot of what happened under his presidency that have long term implications for the United States and need to be discussed. For one, Eisenhower appointed Richard M. Nixon as his running mate and it’s clear to say that Nixon may not have been elected president if he wasn’t tapped as Ike’s VP. Of course, we all know about the long term implications with that appointment. Of course, what should really get more attention in regards to Eisenhower’s presidency is his foreign policy which done its share of long term damage of US credibility over the decades. For one, Eisenhower supported a couple of coups against democratically elected governments such as Prime Minister Mossadegh in Iran and President Arbenz in Guatemala. Both these guys were replaced by dictators. Overthrowing Mossadegh has critically strained relations between the Islamic world and the West to this day. Overthrowing Arbenz had put Guatemala under the successive rule of military dictatorships for decades. Also, Ike supported the Batista regime in Cuba which gives the Castro brothers a few good reasons to hate the US. Then there’s the fact he blocked an important vote on Vietnamese unification and installed pro-US dictator Ngo Dinh Diem in South Vietnam after finding out that 80% of the Vietnamese would’ve sided with Ho Chih Minh and the Communists in said referendum, setting the stage for US involvement in the Vietnam War. Sure Eisenhower may have been a good president or even a great one, yet some of his shady foreign policy decisions have done more than its fair share to hurt US credibility and these should not be ignored.

10. Mohandas K, Gandhi

Known for: Seen as a saint who through the principles of ahimsa (nonviolence) brought independence to India in 1947.

Why he may not deserve his fame: This is a controversial one since Gandhi did help bring independence to India as well as inspired hundreds and has certainly earned respect. However, the Indian Independence Movement was a strong force well before he entered the scene when he did, he basically served as a figurehead for a cause and was happy to take the credit while other leaders did most of the work (like Nehru, Jinnah, Bose). Sure he talked of peace but also played politics as ruthlessly and slimy as any politician (more of a pacifist Machiavellian if you will). And he wasn’t above politically stabbing people in the back. Also, his ideas weren’t that original and even he knew that (basically nonviolence had been a kind of idea dating thousands of years. Not to mention, he was a British educated lawyer who spent a spell living in South Africa (of you knew that). Then there’s his private life which isn’t pretty. For one, he was difficult and demanding, a tyrannical and abusive father, obsessed with the workings of his own and other people’s bowels, and subject to long bouts of depression during which he refused to speak to even his closest associates. Also, slept naked alongside his female disciples after the death of his wife.

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11. Medieval Outlaws

Known for: Being honorable men who steal from the rich to give to the poor, live in the forest, and stick up to corrupt sheriffs and noblemen, you know, like in Robin Hood. Basically a fugitive from a unfair justice system.

Why they may not deserve their fame: Outlaws then were probably no better or worse than today’s criminals. However, with lack of adequate law enforcement outlaws can basically get away with a lot more shit then (seriously no one would want to be the sheriff of Nottingham, it would’ve been a lot worse than being a cop on The Wire, especially since there was a lot more crime in the Middle Ages as there is today). Of course, outlaws would certainly steal from the rich yet they’d also rob or harm just about anybody. Also, many of those in England became knights later on so you might want to see what I have to say about them.

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12. Cowboys

Known for: Seen as heroes of the Wild West who travel the open range on cattle drives while doing a bunch of other shit, I’m not sure what. They traveled on horseback by day and sang songs by the campfire at night. Sometimes they’d even shoot bad guys or Indians. Still, cowboys are seen as one of most prominent American cultural icons and loved by everyone everywhere.

Why they may not deserve their fame: This might depend on your definition of heroism since real cowboys were much different from the ones you saw in the movies. Besides, if you ask any boy in the 19th century whether he’d like to be a cowboy, he’d more likely say no unless he was black, Mexican, Indian, a poor white, gay, or an immigrant off the boat. I mean the job of cowboy was a low wage and low status job that entailed herding cattle from the ranches to the railroads which would transport them to the slaughterhouses in Chicago. The average cowboy earned a dollar a day for his hard work, slept in a barracks on the home ranch, and were more concerned with cattle rustlers and predators than Indians (Indians were more of a job for the US Army). Also, they wouldn’t be wearing those nice cowboy outfits you’d see at rodeos. Not to mention, they were notorious in Kansas for their wild and violent behavior especially since the place was seen as an end of a long cattle drive where cowboys received their pay as well as had towns with drinking and gambling establishments.

Underrated, Overlooked, Forgotten, and Ignored Historical Heroes who Need More Love

Some historical heroes get all the glory and praise even though they didn’t really deserve it. Others perform great deeds but are barely recognized for them for some reason whether it be by race, gender, job, or just that they don’t really fit into the historical narrative. Others are famous for one reason or another but aren’t really fully recognized for their work because they may share some unlikable quality the status quo doesn’t like or their accomplishments just get lost in the historic record. In some ways, history doesn’t do much justice to them either. Here are some of the great historical heroes who need more love. (I’m not including Tesla because he’s on too many lists already.)

1. Frank J. Wilson

His Feats: He was the IRS agent who nailed Al Capone, used the serial numbers on ransom notes to help solve kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh baby (well, he nailed Bruno Hauptmann), and eventually became head of the Secret Service where he successfully resisted attempts of an FBI takeover orchestrated by J. Edgar Hoover, nearly eliminated the production and distribution of counterfeit money through a nationwide education program, and initiated practices in presidential security which have since become standard procedure, all before retiring in 1947. It’s been said that Al Capone had a plot to kill him which he later cancelled and came to regret.

Why He’s Ignored: Wilson couldn’t bask in the glory of his accomplishments since secrecy was part of his job. Even during his three year investigation of Al Capone, he didn’t even tell his wife about his work if that gives you any idea. So naturally the credit went to Elliot Ness instead.

2. Mary Seacole

Her Feats: She’s best known as a nurse in the Crimean War who used her own resources to set up her own hospital to treat the wounded even though she ended up bankrupt afterwards and her popular made it possible for much of the British public to support her. Known as “Mother Seacole.” Her autobiography was one of the first written by a black woman in Britain as well as successfully combated racial prejudice.

Why She’s Ignored: Well, she’s not actually ignored in Britain and her home country Jamaica, most people in the world have barely heard of her. Also, she was black (though her father was Scottish), not conventionally educated (mostly learned to be a nurse from her mother), and her presence in the Crimean War doesn’t fit well with the Florence Nightingale. Also, Nightingale criticized her for keeping a “bad house” in the Crimea and was responsible for “much drunkenness and improper conduct.” Whether Nightingale was either telling the truth or acting out of jealousy is unclear. Not to mention, there’s some debate over whether Seacole’s achievements were exaggerated for political reasons, especially in recent years. Of course, she’s no Florence Nightingale but even that shouldn’t dismiss her from the history books or even as a pioneer in nursing since she did have an amazing story as well as helped make nursing a more respectable profession . Still, since she was quite popular with the soldiers who were willing to raise money for her, she was certainly no fraud.

3. Helen Keller

Her Feats: Overcame her blindness and deafness after a bout with illness as a toddler as well as graduate from Radcliffe College. Later she became a writer, lecturer, and lifelong activist for the disabled, disadvantaged, women, and ethnic minorities as well as sent money to the NAACP and helped co-found the American Civil Liberties Union.

Why She’s Ignored: Helen Keller isn’t really ignored as a historical figure per se, but almost everything about her and the reason why she’s such an influential figure often is. Of course, this is because to talk about her adult life and how she achieved fame is to acknowledge Keller’s radical politics, namely the fact she had been a Socialist since she was in college. Her radical political views stemmed from her realization of how social conditions had an impact on how likely a person was going to end up disabled. Not only that, but she also knew full well that she was able to receive the guidance she got from Anne Sullivan was because of her privileged background. Her Socialist politics and activities were very well known at the time and she made no secret about them either. If you don’t believe it, here’s a quote of hers from 1911, “The few own the many because they possess the means of livelihood of all … The country is governed for the richest, for the corporations, the bankers, the land speculators, and for the exploiters of labor. The majority of mankind are working people. So long as their fair demands—the ownership and control of their livelihoods—are set at naught, we can have neither men’s rights nor women’s rights. The majority of mankind is ground down by industrial oppression in order that the small remnant may live in ease.” Of course, you’ll never hear that from Helen Keller in elementary school. Of course, many conservative parents wouldn’t really want their children to glorify a Socialist, would they? Still, you don’t make it to the TIME 100 of the 20th Century just by overcoming being blind and deaf.

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4. Clara Barton

Her Feats: Well, she was a teacher who started New Jersey’s first public school, a patent clerk (first female to work in the US government), army nurse, humanitarian, political activist, and founder of the American Red Cross as well as ran the Office of Missing Soldiers.

Why She’s Ignored: Well, she’s not really much ignored when it comes to moments of her life such as the Civil War and founding of the American Red Cross. Of course, most people know her for being a Civil War nurse but she wasn’t just that. For one, she started out as a teacher for a dozen years in schools in Canada in West Georgia and was rather successful. She even started a free school in New Jersey which she ended up quitting after being past over for a promotion. After that she worked at the U.S. Patent Office as a clerk, which made her the first woman to hold a job in the US government. After the war, she ran an office to find missing Civil War soldiers whose fate were unknown other than they didn’t come back. Before the Civil War, searching for dead soldiers wasn’t done before even though we take the concept for granted today. The Clara Barton National Historic Site is one of the first national historic sites dedicated to the accomplishments of a woman. However, in American history class, she’s only a footnote.

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5. Helen Hunt Jackson

Her Feats: She was one of the early Native American rights activists who wrote A Century of Dishonor chronicling the mistreatment of Indians that was legally sanctioned by state and federal policy and a novel Ramona. Both books remain in print to this day as she also attracted considerable attention to her cause.

Why She’s Ignored: Well, for one, she was living at a time when Native American rights was a fairly controversial issue (like gun control in some states), especially since the US government’s higher priority was taking land from the Indians and placing them on reservations. Speaking of the US government, she wasn’t well liked by them, the settlers, or the military officers she documented as being corrupt as well as encroaching and stealing Indian lands. Doesn’t fit in the Western movies does it?

6. Dr. Charles R. Drew

His Feats: He was a physician, surgeon, and medical researcher best known for developing techniques for blood storage and applied his expert knowledge in developing large-scale blood banks early in WWII, allowing medics to save thousands of lives of Allied Forces. Also, bears distinction as the first black surgeon selected to serve as ab examiner on he American Board of Surgery.

Why He’s Ignored: Unfortunately the racial politics at the time cost Drew his job after he protested the racial segregation in the donation of blood over it lacking scientific foundation. Also, he was black and most black doctors and scientists weren’t going to be the ones winning the Nobel Prizes in Medicine or be talked about in a school history or science class. I mean most of history was written by white men, right? Then there’s the fact that he’s responsible for saving thousands of lives back in WWII which many white veterans might not even want to admit, especially if they’re from the South. Not to mention, his work in blood storage continues to save people’s lives to this day but not many would want to hear that it was a black man who made that possible.

7. Percy Julian

His Feats: He was a research chemist who pioneered in the chemical synthesis of medicinal drugs from plants. He was first to synthesize the natural product of physostigmine and a pioneer in the large-scale industrial chemical synthesis of human hormones, steroids, progesterone, and testosterone from plant sterols such as stigmasterol and sitosterol. His work would lay the foundation for the steroid drug industry’s cortisone, other cortisteroids, and birth control pills. Later, he started his own company for synthesized steroid intermediates of the Mexican wild yam, greatly reducing the cost of these products to large multinational pharmaceutical companies, helping significantly expand the use of several important drugs. Received more than 130 chemical patents and was the first African American to hold a doctorate in chemistry as well as inducted into the National Academy of Sciences and second African American scientist inducted from any field.

Why He’s Ignored: Still, though Julian’s scientific contributions radically changed the world, perhaps the only recognition he gets nowadays is his own Nova episode called Forgotten Genius. Still, most people outside the black scientific community don’t really know who this guy is. His race has a lot to do with this since any white scientist with a similar list of accomplishments would’ve certainly become a household name. There are other factors in his life that play a role as well. For one, unlike his much more famous counterparts, Julian didn’t spend most of his career at a college but in a corporation (mostly because he couldn’t get an academic position after a scandal got him fired from Howard University. Not to mention, he didn’t have a good chance getting hired anywhere else mostly because he was black and this was pre-Civil Rights Era). Still, working in a corporation isn’t going to help a scientist’s chances receiving a Nobel Prize which Percy Julian certainly didn’t receive (but definitely deserved). Nevertheless, for a man like him to make the kind of contributions he did despite tremendous odds makes him a very significant figure indeed.

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8. James Madison

His Feats: Founding father, “Father of the Constitution,” secretary of state, and 4th President of the United States. He was the first president to lead a nation into war (reluctantly after negotiations and embargoes had failed), first president to face enemy gunfire while in office, and the first (and only) president to exercise his authority as Commander in Chief while in battle. He did all this while presiding over a divided cabinet, a factious party, a difficult Congress, and useless generals. In 1814 as the misnamed War of 1812 continued, he and Dolley were forced to flee Washington while British troops burned down the White House and Capitol. Yet, he still signed a peace treaty with Great Britain later that year, which ended the “Second War of Independence” and resulting in the US losing no territory. Madison miraculously brought peace to America (despite near-treasonous actions by New England), and showed that the new nation still had what it took. Outside the War of 1812, created the Second Bank of the United States, a stronger military, a high tariff to protect the new factories opened during the war, and a federally subsidized road and canal system. When he stepped down in 1817, ex-president John Adams wrote to ex-president Thomas Jefferson (Madison’s former mentor, predecessor, and close friend) that Madison had, “acquired more glory, and established more union than all three predecessors…put together.”

Why He’s Ignored: As a founding father, Madison is very well known since he’s the one delegate from the Constitutional Convention who devised much of the system of the US government as we know today. As president though, he’s best known as Dolley Madison’s husband. And though Mrs. Madison might have had plenty of contributions of her own such as stopping Congressmen from killing each other, playing hostess, saving critical memorabilia from the British, and set precedent for the role of First Lady, Mr. Madison is continually placed on the lists of Top 10 US presidents by academics. Also, the War of 1812 isn’t a significant war on the American radar mostly because it lasted less than 3 years, didn’t have Americans fighting each other or abroad, was fought at a time before photos and film documentation, and didn’t result in the loss or gain of any territory. Not to mention, it only comes up when we talk about “The Star Spangled Banner,” Tecumseh, the Battle of New Orleans (fought two weeks after the war had ended due to slow communication), and Dolley Madison’s heroic actions as the White House burned.

9. Elizabeth Kenny

Her Feats: She an unaccredited Australian nurse who devised a controversial new approach for the treatment of polio before Dr. Jonas Salk developed the vaccine which eradicated the virus in most countries. Her findings ran counter to conventional medical wisdom, which demonstrated the need to exercise the muscles affected by polio instead of immobilizing them. Her principles of muscle rehabilitation would become the foundation of physical therapy. Polio survivor and actor Alan Alda basically stated that she was his main reason for being a feminist since his mother used her methods for treating him.

Why She’s Ignored: Her idea of physical therapy to combat polio though successful stirred significant controversy in the medical community, especially in her own country who questioned her results and methodology. Also, she wasn’t formally trained as a nurse (and might have learned her craft from a midwife.) Then there’s the fact she’s a woman whose methods challenged conventional medical wisdom. Not to mention, her treatments weren’t always successful. Even so, they helped improve the quality of life of thousands of people who probably would’ve ended up paralyzed otherwise and her methods nowadays are considered medical gospel.

10. Beulah Henry

Her Feats: Known as “Lady Edison” she had a role in over 100 inventions though she was more of a visionary who relied on model makers and engineers to bring them to life since she lacked the technical knowledge. Of her many inventions lists the vacuum ice freezer, the “protograph” (a primitive photocopier), the inflatable doll, the can opener, hair curlers, the “Latho” (a sponge that held a bar of soap in the center), and an umbrella with a snap-on cloth cover that allowed it to be color coordinated.

Why She’s Ignored: For one, she’s a woman at a time when the most famous inventors were men. Also, she only took 49 patents while many of her male counterparts took way more for things they weren’t totally their own ideas (I’m talking to you Edison).

11. Walter Reuther

His Feats: Labor activist, trade unionist, and helped make the United Auto Workers a force to be reckoned with as well as helped legitimize the presence of unions as a method of leverage for employers and a powerful political force. He successfully led major strikes against Ford and General Motors during the 1930s and 1940s. Founded Americans for Democratic Action in 1947, negotiated a merger that formed the AFL-CIO, marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, and the list goes on.

Why He’s Ignored: Well, to put it this way, politics. Although Reuther’s union activism was responsible for improving the lives of millions of Americans, he’s not a kind of guy Red State school board would want to see in an American History textbook. Also, the fact he was a Socialist in the 1930s and spent a stint in the Soviet Union don’t help his case either along with a 200 page FBI file. Not to mention, how unions continue to decline in power since the 1980s. I mean conservatives don’t like him at all.

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12. Frances Perkins

Her Feats: First US female cabinet member who served as Secretary of Labor under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. She played an essential role in the New Deal program as well as the second-longest US cabinet member in history. Not only did she help pull the labor movement into the New Deal coalition, she also championed many New Deal aspects like the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Public Works Administration (succeeded by the Federal Works Agency and the labor portion of the National Industrial Recovery Act she also played a role in). She helped established unemployment benefits, elderly pensions, welfare,minimum wage, overtime laws, and defined the standard of the 44 hour workweek. She pushed to reduce workplace accidents and helped craft laws against child labor as well as formed policy dealing with labor unions and alleviating strikes through the US Conciliation Service. The US Labor Department building is named after her in her honor.

Why She’s Ignored: Well, there was a recent scandal involving a mural depicting her in the Maine Labor Department Headquarters, which the governor wanted removed. The claims were that he received complaints from state business officials and an anonymous fax charging it was reminiscent of “communist North Korea where they use these murals to brainwash the masses.” He also ordered that the names of seven conference rooms in the state’s labor department be changed, including one named after Perkins. If that gives you any idea why she’s seen as a token cabinet member in a U.S. History book, then here it is.