The Forgotten Richard Nixon Assassination Attempt – 1968

Yemeni Born Brooklyn Resident, Ahmed Rageh Namer Is Arrested For A Conspiracy To Assassinate President-Elect Richard Nixon – 1968

Ahmed Rageh Namer in custody as a Brooklyn detective holds a rifle confiscated from Namer's home

Ahmed Rageh Namer (in hat) is arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder, as a Brooklyn detective holds a rifle confiscated from Namer’s home. photo: AP

Some students of history are familiar with Samuel Byck’s  1974 deluded attempted assassination attempt of Richard Nixon by hijacking and flying a plane into the White House.  Or they may know about Arthur Bremer’s attempt on Nixon in 1972. Bremer failed to get near Nixon and instead successfully shot and paralyzed presidential candidate George Wallace a few weeks after his failed attempt at Nixon.

But most people are unaware that a Brooklyn man, born in Yemen named Ahmed Rageh Namer was arrested along with his two sons in 1968 and charged with conspiracy to kill President-elect Richard Nixon. Continue reading

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Classic Hollywood #44

Brian Donlevy and Wife Marjorie Lane At A Party 1946

Brian Donlevy and wife Marjorie Lane

Brian Donlevy is one of those stars who you see in a lot of films from the 1930’s – 60’s who has been mostly forgotten by today’s generation. That is a shame because he was a good actor who starred in some excellent films including Beau Geste (1939), The Great McGinty (1940), The Glass Key (1942), Kiss Of Death (1947) and The Big Combo (1955).

Donlevy took his role as the sadistic Sergeant Markoff in Beau Geste a little too seriously alienating many of the other cast members to the point that they all supposedly detested him. In one of the final scenes in the film, John Geste played by actor Ray Milland, kills Donlevy with a bayonet. According to director William Wellman and corroborated by Ray Milland in each of their autobiographies, Milland actually stabbed Donlevy near his left armpit. The rest of the cast was elated, Milland was apologetic.

This photo above was taken by Nat Dallinger, the great photographer of Hollywood’s stars during its off hours at home and at play. King Features Syndicate would distribute Dallinger’s photos called “Inside Hollywood with Nat Dallinger” with many of captions written by Dallinger himself.

Here is the original caption: Continue reading

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Old New York In Photos #52

Fifth Ave and Broadway Looking North From The Top of the Flatiron Building 1904

Fifth Ave Broadway looking North from Flatiron Building

The Fuller Building known more commonly as the Flatiron Building sits at the convergence of Fifth Avenue and Broadway at 23rd Street. It is a great place to get a nice view of Manhattan, so the Keystone View Company sent a photographer to take this picture on a clear late summer day in 1904. This photo shows the two principal avenues of Manhattan splitting north after 24th street with Broadway branching off to the left and Fifth Avenue on the right.

The streets are busy with horsecars, trolleys and a few automobiles making their way up and downtown as all streets had traffic running both ways. Continue reading

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Mel Ott Rare Batting Photos

The Unusual Swing Of New York Giants Star Mel Ott

Mel Ott swing sequence 1

It’s hard to imagine in this era where everyone is recording everything, that there is very little film of the old time great players (pre-1950) actually playing.

Because of this when all-time, all-star lists are drawn up the players, modern ballplayers usually get picked over old-timers because there are few people alive who saw those old-timers play. There are exceptions like Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson and other greats who have superb stats or reputations that have carried into the 21st century. They get named to those all-time lists. But many of the early 20th century’s great players are mostly forgotten.

A case in point is Mel Ott, the  slugger who played his entire career with the New York Giants from 1926 until 1947. Ott had 2,876 hits, 511 home runs, drove in 1860 runs and hit .304 in his 22 year career.

The left-handed hitting Ott had one of the strangest batting stances in baseball, lifting his right leg high in the air while the pitch was on the way to the plate.

In this rare sequence of photos Continue reading

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Old New York In Photos #51

Broadway And The Astor House Hotel circa 1868

Broadway with the Astor House Hotel on the left circa 1868

Broadway with the Astor House Hotel on the left circa 1868

We are looking north on Broadway from Barclay Street on what has to be a weekend, as there is hardly any traffic on this normally bustling part of Broadway.

Enlarging the photograph you can see some interesting details. Horse drawn vehicles line up on both sides of the street as a few pedestrians mill about. A glimpse of City Hall Park and its trees can be seen on the right. Architect Alfred Mullett’s main Post Office has not been built yet (1869-1880) and has not encroached upon the southern end of the park, which was sacrificed for that building.

A few gas lamps provide the nighttime illumination for the area. There are also no overhead telegraph wires or poles visible. Surrounding most trees in the foreground are wrap-around wooden advertising placards. In the left hand corner of the photograph is a large ad for the Pennsylvania Railroad, in what may have been the Astor House’s ticketing office.

Besides the interesting view up Broadway, the famous five-story granite Astor House Hotel on the left is the focal point of this photograph. Astor House was built on Broadway between Barclay and Vesey Streets in 1836 by John Jacob Astor. After it opened it was called “the world’s finest hotel.” Presidents and statesmen like Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, Franklin Pierce, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster and John Calhoun made Astor House their chosen hostelry when visiting New York. Continue reading

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The Best Sports Announcer – EVER!

Ray Hudson Commentator Extraordinaire

Let’s get one thing straight; I can’t bear to watch (football) soccer. Despite its worldwide popularity I find it to be the most boring game ever invented with typical 0-0 or 1-0 outcomes.

Ray HudsonThat is unless former soccer player Ray Hudson is on TV calling the game.

I was part of a captive audience at a pub recently, so there was no way of avoiding the Peru vs. Chile game playing on ten TV sets and blasting over the sound system of the bar.

As unexciting as the game was, the commentator was not letting it affect him. Every play was exciting. With lyrical metaphors, alliteration, vague poetical and pop-culture references and pure bombast, this man was making what was on the TV a spectacle not to be missed.

Here was my discovery of Ray Hudson.

Ray Hudson made every minute of a nothing nothing game among the most entertaining sporting events I have ever witnessed.

I don’t know all that much about soccer and its announcers, but doing a quick web search I discovered that Hudson is either loved or hated; there is little middle ground among fans. Continue reading

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Nicholas Winton Dies At 106, Saved Hundreds From The Holocaust

The Extraordinary Life Of Nicholas Winton

Nicholas Winton at 105 photo David Levene for The Guardian

Nicholas Winton at 105 photo David Levene for The Guardian

Nicholas Winton who saved hundreds of children from the Holocaust and didn’t tell anyone about it for over 50 years died Wednesday, July 1 in Maidenhead, England at the age of 106.

With all the chaos and hatred that permeates today’s news, it is sometimes easy to forget that there are real humanitarians in this world who have accomplished extraordinary things. Nicholas Winton was one of those truly good people who remind us that good deeds can come out of bad events.

How Nicholas Winton rescued 669 children from Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II is an amazing story told on the BBC 27 years ago and in America in 2014 on 60 Minutes.

Here is a portrait of humanity at its best with 60 Minutes telling Winton’s story.

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The Strikeout: The Rise and Acceptance of Baseball’s Unproductive Out

Hitters Never Used To Strikeout Like This

Chris Carter does what he does best: strikes out. photo: Houston Chronicle

Chris Carter does what he does best: strikes out. photo: Houston Chronicle

We are not even at the end of June and yesterday I read that the Astros Chris Carter had struck out 102 times so far this season. Carter is batting .198 with 13 home runs. The Astros as a team have struck out 728 times.

Those statistics are appalling and yet no one in baseball circles talks about it. Had they been playing thirty or more years ago players like Chris Carter, Mark Reynolds and the recently retired Adam Dunn most likely would not have been on a major league roster. Hitting thirty or more home runs, and batting .220 or under and striking out around one third of your plate appearances would have insured that you would not be around the big leagues very long.

But those days are over. Apparently there is no shame in striking out consistently if you can hit a few homers. Many teams apparently covet these one dimensional players and give them big contracts if they can hit some dingers.

The 1935 starting infield of the Detroit Tigers from left to right Charlie Gehringer, Billy Rogell, Hank Greenberg and Marv Owen. They combined for 173 strikeouts.

1935 starting infield of the Detroit Tigers (l to r) Charlie Gehringer, Billy Rogell, Hank Greenberg & Marv Owen. They combined for 173 of the team’s 453 strikeouts.

Contrast today’s strikeout numbers with baseball’s glory days and the statistics are startling. For instance, the 1935 Detroit Tigers hitters had 453 strikeouts in total.

Almost every starting player on the team had more walks than strikeouts.

Even the Tigers pitchers only struck out a combined 84 times in 549 plate appearances.

Tigers 1935 stats via baseball-reference.com Hank Greenberg led the team with 91 strikeouts, while hitting 36 home runs and driving in an astounding 168 runs. Hall of Fame catcher Mickey Cochrane batted .319 and struck out a total of only 15 times. Continue reading

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“He Ruined My Wife!” The 109th Anniversary of The Crime Of The Century

Millionaire Harry K. Thaw Shoots Architect Stanford White At Madison Square Garden  June 25, 1906

The Beautiful Evelyn Nesbit Is At The Center Of It All

Evelyn Nesbit happy

In the annals of 20th century crime there are many cases that claim the title of the “crime of the century.” From the Lindbergh kidnapping case to the O.J Simpson saga, the public has always had an unquenchable thirst for following the media coverage of lurid crimes.

Madison Square Garden photo H.N. Tiemann

Madison Square Garden 1909 photo H.N. Tiemann

Harry Thaw’s murder of Stanford White at the roof garden theater of White’s creation, Madison Square Garden on June 25, 1906, was as big a story that has ever played out in the public eye. If it was not the “crime of the century,” it certainly qualifies for being in the top five.

A brief summary of the principal players in this drama and the events leading up to the murder goes like this.

In 1901, Stanford White, partner in the renowned architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White wants to meet artist’s model and showgirl Evelyn Nesbit, who is 16. White is known in certain circles for being a scoundrel and having many sexual affairs with actresses, models and other pretty girls. Stanford White photo Kings Notable New YorkersAfter meeting Nesbit under the approval of Evelyn’s mother, White becomes Evelyn’s benefactor over the course of several months paying for a multitude of things for Evelyn, her brother and mother. White arranges for Evelyn’s mother to take a trip back home to Pennsylvania while he promises to “look after Evelyn.” One night, while Evelyn’s mother is away and Evelyn is at White’s bachelor apartment, he plies Evelyn with liquor.  Evelyn passes out and White has his way with his virgin teen beauty. Evelyn wakes up in bed naked with White and is in shock after being raped. White begs Evelyn not to talk about what has happened. Continue reading

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Classic Hollywood #43

Joan Crawford And Her Shoes

Joan Crawford shows off one her 500 pairs of shoes 1954 6 23When Joan Crawford’s adopted daughter Christina Crawford wrote her 1978 poison pen biography “Mommie Dearest” about her Hollywood superstar mother, many people found the account to be unbelievable.

It is still debated today how much of Christina’s biography really occurred. There are others who knew Joan Crawford personally and did not find Christina’s allegations to be extraordinary. We’ll never know for sure, but take this to heart, Joan Crawford was known to be controlling and manipulative in advancing her career.

I will say Joan Crawford was a good actress. But that is where it ends for me.

In this publicity photograph dated June 23, 1954, Crawford shows off one of her 500 pairs of shoes meticulously arranged in her shoe closet.

I’m sure there were others in the golden years of Hollywood that had a bigger collection of shoes. But my question is – would you show them off to the press and the public? Strange woman.

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