Saturday, June 29, 2013

Crazy Horse: American Indian

Crazy Horse (Lakota: Tȟašúŋke Witkó in Standard Lakota Orthography, IPA:tχaʃʊ̃kɛ witkɔ), literally "His-Horse-Is-Crazy" or "His-Horse-Is-Spirited"; ca. 1840 – September 5th, 1877) was a Native American war leader of the Oglala Lakota. He took up arms against the U.S. Federal government to fight against encroachments on the territories and way of life of the Lakota people, including leading a war party to victory at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in June 1876.

After surrendering to U.S. troops under General Crook in 1877, Crazy Horse was fatally wounded by a military guard while allegedly resisting imprisonment at Camp Robinson in present-day Nebraska. He ranks among the most notable and iconic of Native American tribal members and has been honored by the U.S. Postal Service with a 13¢ Great Americans series postage stamp.

Sources differ on the precise year of Crazy Horse's birth, but they agree he was born between 1840 and 1845. According to a close friend, he and Crazy Horse "were both born in the same year at the same season of the year", which census records and other interviews place at about 1845. Encouraging Bear, an Oglala medicine man and spiritual adviser to the Oglala war leader, reported that Crazy Horse was born "in the year in which the band to which he belonged, the Oglala, stole One Hundred Horses, and in the fall of the year", a reference to the annual Lakota calendar or winter count. Among the Oglala winter counts, the stealing of 100 horses is noted by Cloud Shield, and possibly by American Horse and Red Horse owner, as equivalent to the year 1840-41. Oral history accounts from relatives on the Cheyenne River Reservation place his birth in the spring of 1840. On the evening of his son's death, the elder Crazy Horse told Lieutenant H. R. Lemly that his son "would soon have been thirty-seven, having been born on the South Cheyenne river in the fall of 1840".

Crazy Horse was named at birth Cha-O-Ha ("In the Wilderness" or "Among the Trees", meaning he was one with nature.) His mother's nickname for him was "Curly" or "Light Hair"; as his light curly hair resembled that of his mother. 

Crazy Horse was born to parents from two tribes of the Lakota division of the Sioux, his father was an Oglala and his mother was a Miniconjou. His father, born in 1810, was also named Crazy Horse. One account said that after the son had reached maturity and shown his strength, his father gave him his name and took a new one, Waglula (Worm). (Another version of how the son Crazy Horse acquired his name was that he took it after having a vision.) His mother was Rattling Blanket Woman (born 1814). Crazy Horse's cousin (son of Lone Horn) was Touch the Clouds. He saved Crazy Horse's life at least once and was with him when he died. 

Rattling Blanket Woman was the daughter of Black Buffalo and White Cow (also known as Iron Cane). Her older siblings were Lone Horn (born 1790–1795, died 1875) and Good Looking Woman (born 1810). Her younger sister was named Looks At It (born 1815), later given the name They Are Afraid of Her. The historian George Hyde wrote that Rattling Blanket Woman was Miniconjou and the sister of Spotted Tail, who became a Brulé head chief.

In the summer of 1844, "Waglula" (Worm) went on a buffalo hunt. He came across a Minneconjou Lakota village under attack by Crow warriors. He led his small party of warriors to the village and rescued it. Corn, the head man of the village, had lost his wife in the raid. In gratitude he gave Waglula his two eldest daughters as wives: Iron Between Horns (age 18) and Kills Enemy (age 17). Corn's youngest daughter, Red Leggins, who was 15 at the time, requested to go with her sisters; all became Waglula's wives.

According to Frederick Hoxie's Encyclopedia of North American Indians(1996), Crazy Horse was the third in his male line to bear the name of Crazy Horse, which in Oglala is Tasunke Witko. Tasunke Witko III (1840–77) was the son of Rattling Blanket Woman and Tasunke Witko II. The love of his life was Black Buffalo Woman, whom he courted, but she married another man named No Water. At one point, Crazy Horse persuaded Black Buffalo Woman to run away with him. No Water borrowed a pistol and ran after his wife. When he found her with Crazy Horse, he fired at him, gravely injuring him in the face and leaving a noticeable scar. Crazy Horse was married two times: first to Black Shawl, and second to Nellie Larrabee (Laravie). Nellie Larrabee was assigned to spy on Crazy Horse for the military, so the "marriage" is suspect. Only Black Shawl bore him any children: a daughter named They Are Afraid of Her, who died at age three. 

Crazy Horse lived in the Lakota camp with his younger brother, High Horse (son of Iron Between Horns and Waglula) and a cousin Little Hawk. (Little Hawk was the nephew of his maternal step-grandfather, Corn.) The camp was entered by Lt. Grattan and 28 other US troopers, who intended to arrest a Minniconjou man for having stolen a cow (The cow had wandered into the camp, and after a short time someone butchered it and passed the meat out among the people). A conflict known as the Grattan massacre ensued and the Sioux killed the US Army forces.

After having witnessed the death of the Lakota leader Conquering Bear, Crazy Horse began to get trance visions. His father Waglula took him to what today is Sylvan Lake, South Dakota, where they both sat to do a hemblecha or vision quest. A red-tailed hawk led them to their respective spots in the hills; as the trees are tall in the Black Hills, they could not always see where they were going. Crazy Horse sat between two humps at the top of a hill north and to the east of the lake. Waglula sat south of Harney Peak but north of his son.

Crazy Horse's vision first took him to the South where, in Lakota spirituality, one goes upon death. He was brought back and was taken to the West in the direction of the wakiyans (thunder beings). He was given a medicine bundle to protect him for life. One of his animal protectors would be the white owl which, according to Lakota spirituality, would give extended life. He was also shown his "face paint" for battle, to consist of a yellow lightning bolt down the left side of his face, and white powder. He would wet this and put marks over his vulnerable areas; when dried, the marks looked like hailstones. His face paint was similar to that of his father, who used a red lightning strike down the right side of his face and three red hailstones on his forehead. Crazy Horse put no makeup on his forehead and did not wear a war bonnet. Lastly, he was given a sacred song that is still sung by the Oglala people today and he was told he would be a protector of his people

Crazy Horse received a black stone from a medicine man named Horn Chips to protect his horse, a black-and-white pinto he named Inyan (rock or stone). He placed the stone behind the horse's ear so that the medicine from his vision quest and Horn Chips would combine—he and his horse would be one in battle.

Through the late 1850s and early 1860s, Crazy Horse's reputation as a warrior grew, as did his fame among the Lakota. The Lakota told accounts of him in their oral histories. His first kill was a Shoshone raider who had murdered a Lakota woman washing buffalo meat along the Powder River. Crazy Horse fought in numerous battles between the Lakota and their traditional enemies, the Crow, Shoshone, Pawnee, Blackfeet, and Arikara, among Plains tribes.

In 1864, after the Third Colorado Cavalry decimated Cheyenne and Arapaho in the Sand Creek Massacre, Lakota Oglala and Minneconjou bands allied with them against the US military. Crazy Horse was present at the Battle of Platte Bridge and the Battle of Red Buttes in July 1865. Because of his fighting ability, in 1865 Crazy Horse was named a Ogle Tanka Un (Shirt Wearer, or war leader) by the tribe.

On December 21st, 1866, Crazy Horse and six other warriors, both Lakota and Cheyenne, decoyed Capt. William Fetterman's 53 infantrymen and 27 cavalry troopers under Lt. Grummond into an ambush. They had been sent out from Fort Phil Kearny to follow up on an earlier attack on a wood train. Crazy Horse lured Fetterman's infantry up a hill. Grummond's cavalry followed the other six decoys along Peno Head Ridge and down toward Peno Creek, where several Cheyenne women taunted the soldiers. Meanwhile, Cheyenne leader Little Wolf and his warriors, who had been hiding on the opposite side of Peno Head Ridge, blocked the return route to the fort. The Lakota warriors swept over the hill and attacked the infantry. Additional Cheyenne and Lakota hiding in the buckbrush along Peno Creek effectively surrounded the soldiers. Seeing that they were surrounded, Grummond headed his cavalry back to Fetterman.
The combined warrior forces of nearly 1,000 killed all the US soldiers, in what became known at the time to the white population as the Fetterman Massacre. It was the Army's worst defeat on the Great Plains up to that time. The Lakota and Cheyenne call it the Battle of the Hundred in the Hand.


On August 2nd, 1867, Crazy Horse participated in the Wagon Box Fight, also near Fort Phil Kearny. Lakota forces numbering between 1000 and 2000 attacked a wood-cutting crew near the fort. Most of the soldiers fled to a circle of wagon boxes without wheels, using them for cover as they fired at the Lakota. The Lakota took substantial losses, as the soldiers were firing new breech-loading rifles. These could fire ten times a minute compared to the old muzzle-loading rate of three times a minute. The Lakota charged after the soldiers fired the first time, expecting the delay of their older muskets before being able to fire again. The soldiers suffered only five killed and two wounded, while the Lakota suffered between 50 and 120 casualties. Many Lakota were buried in the hills surrounding Fort Phil Kearny in Wyoming

In the fall of 1867, Crazy Horse invited Black Buffalo Woman to accompany him on a buffalo hunt in the Slim Buttes area of present-day northwestern South Dakota. She was the wife of No Water, who had a reputation for drinking too much. It was Lakota custom to allow a woman to divorce her husband at any time. She did so by moving in with relatives or with another man, or by placing the husband's belongings outside their lodge. Although some compensation might be required to smooth over hurt feelings, the rejected husband was expected to accept his wife's decision. No Water was away from camp when Crazy Horse and Black Buffalo Woman left for the buffalo hunt.

No Water tracked down Crazy Horse and Black Buffalo Woman in the Slim Buttes area. When he found them in a tipi, he called Crazy Horse's name from outside. When Crazy Horse answered, No Water stuck a pistol into the tipi and aimed for Crazy Horse. Touch the Clouds, Crazy Horse's first cousin and son of Lone Horn, was sitting in the tipi nearest the entry. He knocked the pistol upward as No Water fired, deflecting the bullet to Crazy Horse's upper jaw. No Water left, with Crazy Horse's relatives in hot pursuit. No Water ran his horse until it died and continued on foot until he reached the safety of his own village.

Several elders convinced Crazy Horse and No Water that no more blood should be shed. As compensation for the shooting, No Water gave Crazy Horse three horses. Because Crazy Horse was with a married man's wife, he was stripped of his title as Shirt Wearer (leader)  

Crazy Horse married Black Shawl, a member of the Oglala Lakota and relative of Spotted Tail. The elders sent her to heal Crazy Horse after his altercation with No Water. Crazy Horse and Black Shawl Woman were married in 1871. Black Shawl gave birth to Crazy Horse's only child, a daughter named They Are Afraid Of Her, who died in 1873. Black Shawl outlived Crazy Horse. She died in 1927 during the influenza outbreaks of the 1920s.

"Red Cloud also arranged to send a young woman to live in Crazy Horse's lodge. Interpreter William Garnett described (Nellie Larrabee) as "a half-blood, not of the best frontier variety, an invidious and evil woman." Nellie, also referred to as Chi-Chi and Brown Eyes Woman, was the daughter of a French trader and a Cheyenne woman. Garnett's first-hand account of Crazy Horse's surrender alludes to Nellie as the "half blood woman" who caused Crazy Horse to fall into a "domestic trap which insensibly led him by gradual steps to his destruction" 

On June 17th, 1876, Crazy Horse led a combined group of approximately 1,500 Lakota and Cheyenne in a surprise attack against brevetted Brigadier General George Crook's force of 1,000 cavalry and infantry, and allied 300 Crow and Shoshone warriors in the Battle of the Rosebud. The battle, although not substantial in terms of human losses, delayed Crook's joining with the 7th Cavalry under George A. Custer. It contributed to Custer’s subsequent defeat at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

A week later at 3:00 p.m. on June 25, 1876, Custer's 7th Cavalry attacked a large encampment of Cheyenne and Lakota bands along the Little Bighorn River, marking the beginning of his last battle. Crazy Horse's actions during the battle are unknown.  

Hunkpapa warriors led by Chief Gall led the main body of the attack. Crazy Horse's tactical and leadership role in the battle remains ambiguous. While some historians think that Crazy Horse led a flanking assault, ensuring the death of Custer and his men, the only proven fact is that Crazy Horse was a major participant in the battle. His personal courage was attested to by several eye-witness Indian accounts. Water Man, one of only five Arapaho warriors who fought, said Crazy Horse "was the bravest man I ever saw. He rode closest to the soldiers, yelling to his warriors. All the soldiers were shooting at him, but he was never hit." Sioux battle participant, Little Soldier, said, "The greatest fighter in the whole battle was Crazy Horse."

On September 10th, 1876, Captain Anson Mills and two battalions of the Third Cavalry captured a Miniconjou village of 36 tipis in the Battle of Slim Buttes, South Dakota. Crazy Horse and his followers attempted to rescue the camp and its headman, (Old Man) American Horse but they were unsuccessful. The soldiers killed American Horse and much of his family after they holed up in a cave for several hours.

On January 8th, 1877, Crazy Horse's warriors fought their last major battle at Wolf Mountain, against the US Cavalry in the Montana Territory. His people struggled through the winter, weakened by hunger and the long cold. Crazy Horse decided to surrender with his band to protect them, and went to Fort Robinson in Nebraska.  

Crazy Horse and other northern Oglala leaders arrived at the Red Cloud Agency, located near Fort Robinson, Nebraska, on May 5th, 1877. Together with He Dog, Little Big Man, Iron Crow and others, they met in a solemn ceremony with First Lieutenant William P. Clark as the first step in their formal surrender.

For the next four months, Crazy Horse resided in his village near the Red Cloud Agency. The attention that Crazy Horse received from the Army drew the jealousy of Red Cloud and Spotted Tail, two Lakota who had long before come to the agencies and adopted the white ways. Rumors of Crazy Horse's desire to slip away and return to the old ways of life started to spread at the Red Cloud and Spotted Tail agencies. In August 1877, officers at Camp Robinson received word that the Nez Perce of Chief Joseph had broken out of their reservation in Idaho and were fleeing north through Montana toward Canada. When asked by Lieutenant Clark to join the Army against the Nez Perce, Crazy Horse and the Miniconjou leader Touch the Clouds objected, saying that they had promised to remain at peace when they surrendered. According to one version of events, Crazy Horse finally agreed, saying that he would fight "till all the Nez Perce were killed". But his words were apparently misinterpreted by a half-Tahitian scout, Frank Grouard (not be confused with Fred Gerard, another U.S. Cavalry scout during the summer of 1876), who reported that Crazy Horse had said that he would "go north and fight until not a white man is left". When he was challenged over his interpretation, Grouard left the council. Another interpreter, William Garnett, was brought in but quickly noted the growing tension. 

With the growing trouble at the Red Cloud Agency, General George Crook was ordered to stop at Fort Robinson. A council of the Oglala leadership was called, then canceled, when Crook was incorrectly informed that Crazy Horse had said the previous evening that he intended to kill the general during the proceedings. Crook ordered Crazy Horse's arrest and then departed, leaving the military action to the post commander at Fort Robinson, Lieutenant Colonel Luther P. Bradley. Additional troops were brought in from Fort Laramie. On the morning of September 4, 1877, two columns moved against Crazy Horse's village, only to find that it had scattered during the night. Crazy Horse fled to the nearby Spotted Tail Agency with his sick wife (who had become ill with tuberculosis). After meeting with military officials at the adjacent military post of Camp Sheridan, Crazy Horse agreed to return to Fort Robinson with Lieutenant Jesse M. Lee, the Indian agent at Spotted Tail.

On the morning of September 5th, 1877, Crazy Horse and Lieutenant Lee, accompanied by Touch the Clouds as well as a number of Indian scouts, departed for Fort Robinson. Arriving that evening outside the adjutant's office, Lieutenant Lee was informed that he was to turn Crazy Horse over to the Officer of the Day. Lee protested and hurried to Bradley's quarters to debate the issue, but without success. Bradley had received orders that Crazy Horse was to be arrested and taken under the cover of darkness to Division Headquarters. Lee turned the Oglala war chief over to Captain James Kennington, in charge of the post guard, who accompanied Crazy Horse to the post guardhouse. Once inside, Crazy Horse struggled with the guard and Little Big Man and attempted to escape. Just outside the door, Crazy Horse was stabbed with a bayonet by one of the members of the guard. He was taken to the adjutant's office, where he was tended by the assistant post surgeon at the post, Dr. Valentine McGillycuddy, and died late that night. 

Dr. McGillycuddy, who treated Crazy Horse after he was stabbed, wrote that Crazy Horse "died about midnight". According to military records, he died before midnight, making it September 5, 1877.

John Gregory Bourke's memoir of his service in the Indian wars, On the Border with Crook, describes a different account of Crazy Horse's death. He based his account on an interview with Crazy Horse's relative and rival, Little Big Man, who was present at Crazy Horse's arrest and wounding. The interview took place over a year after Crazy Horse's death. Little Big Man said that, as Crazy Horse was being escorted to the guardhouse, he suddenly pulled two knives from under his blanket and held one in each hand. One knife was reportedly fashioned from an army bayonet. Little Big Man, standing behind him, seized Crazy Horse by both elbows, pulling his arms up behind him. As Crazy Horse struggled, Little Big Man lost his grip on one elbow, and Crazy Horse drove his own knife deep into his own lower back. The guard stabbed Crazy Horse with his bayonet in the back. The chief fell and surrendered to the guards.

When Bourke asked about the popular account of the guard bayoneting Crazy Horse first, Little Big Man said that the guard had thrust with his bayonet, but that Crazy Horse's struggles resulted in the guard's thrust missing entirely and lodging his bayonet into the frame of the guardhouse door. Little Big Man said that in the hours immediately following Crazy Horse's wounding, the camp commander had suggested the story of the guard's being responsible to hide Little Big Man's role in the death of Crazy Horse and avoid any inter-clan reprisals.

Little Big Man's account is questionable; it is the only one of 17 eyewitness sources from Lakota, US Army, and "mixed-blood" individuals, that fails to attribute Crazy Horse's death to a soldier at the guardhouse. The author Thomas Powers cites various witnesses who said Crazy Horse was fatally wounded when his back was pierced by a guard's bayonet

The identity of the soldier responsible for the bayoneting of Crazy Horse is also debatable. Only one eyewitness account actually identifies the soldier as Private William Gentles. Historian Walter M. Camp circulated copies of this account to individuals who had been present who questioned the identity of the soldier and provided two additional names. To this day, the identification remains questionable


Source: Wikipedia

This work released under CC 3.0 BY-SA - Creative Commons



Friday, June 28, 2013

Carroll Bryant: Half A Million Views!

Hey you guys, we did it! We got a half million views on the blog! Outstanding! And to think, we're just a few days shy of 1 1/2 years old. That's not bad for a smuck like me. Hey, I really appreciate it. Could use some more followers but you know, we can't have everything we want, can we? LOL It's just enough to know that you're coming here and checking everything out.

I am really excited about July coming up, we have a lot going on here. By the way, July 2013 is HoiTahPoiSha month here on the blog so get ready to discover what HoiTahPoiSha is. You're going to love it. I mean, you're going to love them.

If you get a chance, swing by Youtube and check out my new and improved music videos. There is a lot going on over there too. The changes already made is only the beginning. I am working to make even more exciting videos. I'm talking to some people who specialize in making videos and I have some exciting projects in the works.

Don't forget that when you go to my Youtube channel to subscribe. TheCarrollBryant I appreciate it.

To update everyone on current events: I am in negotiations right now to perhaps do some advertising here on the blog. I know I said I wouldn't do it, but evolution is hard to ignore. I'm in talks right now with a management team and the ideas are flying all over the place.

I'm also setting up a meeting for August to talk to some people in the music industry in regards to my songwriting. Another reason for the change on my Youtube channel.

I'm also looking into some very interesting ventures where my music is concerned. This includes possible deals with a major company using one of my songs for a national commercial. I'm also exploring the possibilities of another song to be used in a highly rated cable show, and perhaps a major motion picture. I'll be heading back to California at the end of July and into the first or second week of August which means, I might be gone when my birthday rolls around. But if I want big things to happen, I have to get out there and make them happen.

In mid August, it's back into the studio to work on more songs. I am shooting for about three new releases by years end. I've decided to put a lot more focus on my music in the near future. I've said it before that my first love is poetry/ songwriting. I feel more comfortable in the studio with the guys working on music than I do writing books right now. Not that I am going to totally neglect my books, but I really want to start getting more songs out there. To be honest, I have more connections in music than the literature field. In music, there is a lot more travel involved and parties to go to. Just hanging out with other musicians and songwriters is what it's all about for me right now. I really enjoy getting out there in the world and meeting new people.

Thanks again for a half million views. I hope the audience grows even more in the upcoming days, weeks, months and years. We're really trying to do something special here and you're every bit a part of it.

Peace and love to all.


Carroll Absolom Bryant



Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Carroll's Journal: Youtube

What a weekend I had last weekend! I finally got to learn how to use my Windows media and Movie Maker gizmos thanks to a friend. She said she couldn't stand it no more to listen to my songs on Youtube the way they were posted. Can't say I blame I her.

Anyhoot, The past few days have been spent making new videos for all of my songs. The effort was well worth it. I took down all those crappy videos and replaced them with new ones. The songs are ripped from the CD so the sound quality is a thousand times better. I also have new images on the videos that make it nicer to look at. Some have multiple pictures and some tells a story. Not only that, but I also included the lyrics to ALL of the songs. It's a trifecta of improvements! You should go and check them out at my TheCarrollBryant Youtube channel. I also put the new links up in the pages section of "Carroll's Music". You can check them out there if you like.

I'm also going to leave you with a sample of what I did. 


Sammy Davis Jr.: Legend

Samuel George Davis, Jr. was born in the Harlem section of northern Manhattan Island in New York City, as an only child, to Sammy Davis, Sr., an African-American entertainer, and Elvera Sanchez, a tap dancer. During his lifetime, Davis, Jr. stated that his mother was Puerto Rican and born in San Juan; however, in the 2003 biography In Black and White, author Wil Haygood writes that Davis, Jr.'s mother was born in New York City to Cuban American parents, and that Davis, Jr. claimed he was Puerto Rican because he feared anti-Cuban backlash would hurt his record sales.

Davis's parents were vaudeville dancers. As an infant, he was reared by his paternal grandmother. When he was three years old, his parents separated. His father, not wanting to lose custody of his son, took him on tour. Davis learned to dance from his father and his "uncle" Will Mastin, who led the dance troupe his father worked for. Davis joined the act as a child and they became the Will Mastin Trio. Throughout his career, Davis included the Will Mastin Trio in his billing. Mastin and his father shielded him from racism. Snubs were explained as jealousy, for instance. When Davis served in the United States Army during World War II, however, he was confronted by strong racial prejudice. He later said, "Overnight the world looked different. It wasn't one color any more. I could see the protection I'd gotten all my life from my father and Will. I appreciated their loving hope that I'd never need to know about prejudice and hate, but they were wrong. It was as if I'd walked through a swinging door for eighteen years, a door which they had always secretly held open.

During service in WWII, the Army assigned Davis to an integrated entertainment Special Services unit and he found that the spotlight lessened the prejudice. Even prejudiced white men admired and respected his performances. "My talent was the weapon, the power, the way for me to fight. It was the one way I might hope to affect a man's thinking," he said.

After his discharge, Davis rejoined the family dance act, which played at clubs around Portland, Oregon. He began to achieve success on his own and was singled out for praise by critics, releasing several albums. This led to Davis being hired to sing the title track for the Universal Pictures film Six Bridges to Cross in 1954, and later to his appearance in the Broadway play Mr. Wonderful in 1956.

In 1959, Davis became a member of the famous Rat Pack, led by his friend Frank Sinatra, which included fellow performers Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford, a brother-in-law of John F. Kennedy. Initially, Sinatra called the gathering "the Clan", but Sammy voiced his opposition, saying that it reminded people of the Ku Klux Klan. Sinatra renamed the group "the Summit", but the media referred to them as the Rat Pack, the name of its earlier permutation led by Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. The group made several movies together, including the original version of Ocean's Eleven (1960), Sergeants Three (1962), and Robin and the Seven Hoods (1964), as well as many joint stage appearances in Las Vegas and elsewhere.

Davis was a headliner at The Frontier Casino in Las Vegas, but he was required (as were all black performers in the 1950s) to lodge in a rooming house on the west side of the city, instead of in the hotels as his white colleagues did. No dressing rooms were provided for black performers, and they had to wait outside by the swimming pool between acts. Davis and other black artists could entertain, but could not stay at the hotels where they performed, gamble in the casinos, or dine or drink in the hotel restaurants and bars. Davis later refused to work at places which practiced racial segregation

In 1964, Davis was starring in Golden Boy at night and shooting his own New York-based afternoon talk show during the day. When he could get a day off from the theater, he would be recording new songs in the studio, or performing live, often at charity benefits as far away as Miami, Chicago, and Las Vegas, or doing television variety specials in Los Angeles. Davis knew he was cheating his family of his company, but he could not help himself; as he later said, he was incapable of standing still.

Although he was still a draw in Las Vegas, Davis' musical career had sputtered by the latter 1960s, although he had a No. 11 hit (#1 on the Easy Listening singles chart) with "I've Gotta Be Me" in 1969. His effort to update his sound and reconnect with younger people resulted in some "hip" musical efforts with the Motown record label. But then, even as his career seemed at its nadir, Sammy had an unexpected #1 hit with "The Candy Man" in 1972. Although he did not particularly care for the song and was chagrined that he was now best known for it, Davis made the most of his opportunity and revitalized his career. Although he enjoyed no more Top 40 hits, he did enjoy popularity with his 1976 performance of the theme song from the Baretta TV series, "Baretta's Theme (Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow)" (1975–1978), which was released as a single (20th century 2282). He occasionally landed television and film parts, including cameo visits to the television shows I Dream of Jeannie, All in the Family (during which he famously kisses Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor) on the cheek) and, with wife Altovise Davis, on Charlie's Angels. In the 1970s, he appeared in commercials in Japan for Suntory whiskey.

On December 11th, 1967, NBC broadcast a musical-variety special entitled Movin' With Nancy. In addition to the Emmy Award-winning musical performances, the show is notable for Nancy Sinatra, daughter of Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis, Jr., greeting each other with a kiss, one of the first black-white kisses in U.S. television history.

Davis had a friendship with Elvis Presley in the late 1960s, as they both were top draw acts in Vegas at the same time. Davis was in many ways just as reclusive during his hotel gigs as Elvis, holding parties mainly in his penthouse suite, and Elvis went to them occasionally. Davis sang a version of Presley's song "In The Ghetto" and made a cameo appearance in Presley's concert film Elvis: That's the Way It Is. One year later, he made a cameo appearance in a James Bond film, but the scene he appeared in was deleted.

In Japan, Davis appeared in television commercials for coffee, and in the United States, he joined Sinatra and Martin in a radio commercial for a Chicago car dealership.

Davis was a fan of the daytime soap operas, particularly the shows produced by the American Broadcasting Company. This led to a cameo appearance on General Hospital and a recurring role as character Chip Warren on One Life to Live, for which he received a Daytime Emmy nomination in 1980. He was also a game show fan, appearing on the ABC version of Family Feud in 1979. He appeared on Tattletales with third wife Altovise Davis in the 1970s. He made a cameo during an episode of the NBC version of Card Sharks in 1981.

In addition to American soaps, he was also a huge fan of the Australian show Prisoner: Cell Block H. Davis wanted to make an appearance in Prisoner, but the show ended (in 1986) before this could be arranged.

Davis was an avid photographer who enjoyed shooting family and acquaintances. His body of work was detailed in a 2007 book by Burt Boyar, named Photo by Sammy Davis, Jr. "Jerry [Lewis] gave me my first important camera, my first 35 millimeter, during the Ciro's period, early '50s", Boyar quotes Davis. "And he hooked me." Davis used a medium format camera later on to capture images. Again quoting Davis, "Nobody interrupts a man taking a picture to ask ... 'What's that nigger doin' here?'". His catalog includes rare photos of his father dancing onstage as part of the Will Mastin Trio and intimate snapshots of close friends Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, James Dean, Nat "King" Cole, and Marilyn Monroe. His political affiliations also were represented, in his images of Robert Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr. His most revealing work comes in photographs of wife May Britt and their three children, Tracey, Jeff and Mark.

Davis was an enthusiastic shooter and gun owner. He participated in fast-draw competitions—Johnny Cash recalled that Sammy was said to be capable of drawing and firing a Colt Single Action Army revolver in less than a quarter of a second. Davis was skilled at fast and fancy gunspinning, and appeared on TV variety shows showing off this skill. He appeared in Western films and as a guest star on several "Golden Age" T.V. Westerns. 

Davis nearly died in an automobile accident on November 19th, 1954, in San Bernardino, California, as he was making a return trip from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. The accident occurred at a fork in U.S. Highway 66 at Cajon Boulevard and Kendall Drive. Davis lost his left eye as a result. His friend, actor Jeff Chandler, offered one of his own eyes if it would keep Davis from total blindness. The offer was not needed. Davis wore an eye patch for at least six months following the accident. He appeared on What's My Line? wearing the patch. Later, he was fitted for a glass eye, which he wore for the rest of his life.

While in Community Hospital, in San Bernardino, Davis' friend, performer Eddie Cantor, told him about the similarities between the Jewish and black cultures. Prompted by this conversation, Davis - who was born to a Catholic mother and Protestant father - began studying the history of Jews. He converted to Judaism several years later. One passage from his readings (from the book A History of The Jews by Abram L. Sachar), describing the endurance of the Jewish people, intrigued him in particular: "The Jews would not die. Three millennia of prophetic teaching had given them an unwavering spirit of resignation and had created in them a will to live which no disaster could crush". In many ways, the accident marked a turning point in Davis' career, taking him from a well-known entertainer to a national celebrity.

In 1957, Sammy was involved with Kim Novak, a young actress under contract to Columbia Studios. The head of the studio, Harry Cohn, was worried about the negative effect this would have on the studio because of the prevailing taboo against miscegenation. He called his friend, the mobster Johnny Roselli, who was asked to tell Davis that he had to stop the affair with Novak. Roselli arranged for Davis to be kidnapped for a few hours to throw a scare into him. His hastily arranged and soon-dissolved marriage to black dancer Loray White in 1958 was an attempt to quiet the controversy.

In 1960, Davis caused controversy again when he married white Swedish-born actress May Britt. Davis received hate mail while starring in the Broadway musical adaptation of Golden Boy from 1964–66 (for which he received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor). At the time Davis appeared in the play, interracial marriages were forbidden by law in 31 US states (but were entirely legal in New York), and only in 1967 were those laws ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court. Davis and Britt had one daughter and one son. Davis performed almost continuously and spent little time with his wife. They divorced in 1968, after Davis admitted to having had an affair with singer Lola Falana. That year, Davis started dating Altovise Gore, a dancer in Golden Boy. They were married on May 11th, 1970 by the Reverend Jesse Jackson. They adopted a son, Manny in 1989 and remained married until Davis's death in 1990.

Although Davis had been voting Democratic, he felt a lack of respect from the John F. Kennedy presidency. He had been removed from the list of performers for Kennedy's inaugural party, which was hosted by Davis' close friend, Frank Sinatra. The slight was intended to quell any controversy what might have resulted from Davis' recent interracial marriage to May Britt on November 13th, 1960.

In the early 1970s, Davis supported Republican President Richard M. Nixon (and gave the startled President a hug during a live television broadcast). The incident was controversial, and Davis was given a hostile reception by his peers. He also undertook a USO tour of South Vietnam at the behest of the Nixon administration.

Previously Davis had won their respect with his performance as Joe Wellington, Jr., in Golden Boy and his participation in the Civil Rights Movement. Nixon invited Davis and his wife, Altovise, to sleep in the White House in 1973, the first time an African American was invited to do so. Davis spent the night in the Queens' Bedroom.

Davis was a long-term donor to the Reverend Jesse Jackson's Operation PUSH organization. However, he declined to take part in Jackson's campaign for the 1984 Democratic presidential nomination, which was instead won by Walter F. Mondale of Minnesota, who then lost the general election to President Ronald W. Reagan.

Davis died in Beverly Hills, California on May 16th, 1990, of complications from throat cancer. Earlier, when he was told that surgery (laryngectomy) offered him the best chance of survival, Davis replied he would rather keep his voice than have a part of his throat removed; he subsequently was treated with a combination of chemotherapy and radiation. However, a few weeks prior to his death his entire larynx was removed during surgery. He was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale in Glendale, California next to his father and Will Mastin.

On May 18th, 1990, two days after Davis' death, the neon lights of the Las Vegas Strip were darkened for ten minutes, as a tribute to him.


Source: Wikipedia

This work released under CC 3.0 BY-SA - Creative Commons


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Flag of Russia

The flag of the Russian Federation is a tricolor flag consisting of three equal horizontal fields; white on the top, blue in the middle and red on the bottom.

The flag was first used as an ensign for Russian merchant ships and only became official in 1896. The flag continued to be used by the Russian Provisional Government after the Tsar was toppled in the February Revolution and was not replaced until the October Revolution which established the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic - the world's first constitutionally socialist state. From that time period, a 1:2 red flag featuring the abbreviated name "RSFSR" ("РСФСР") was used, until replaced in 1954 with the universal design of the Soviet flag with a blue stripe along the mast. It was not until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 that the tricolour was brought back as the official flag of the new Russian Federation. The modern era flag underwent a proportion change in 1993 and has been official since 2000.

There was no universally accepted flag for Russia until the middle of the 17th century. The earliest mention of the flag occurs during the reign of Alexis I, in 1668, and is related to the construction of the first Russian naval ship, the frigate Oryol.

According to one source, the choice of the colours may originate from the Dutch flag, and is related to the nationality of the ship's lead engineer Butler. During the construction, he faced the need for the flag, and issued a request to the Boyar Duma, to "...ask His Royal Majesty as to which (as is the custom among other nations) flag shall be raised on the ship." The official response merely indicated that, as such issue is as yet unprecedented, even though the land forces do use (apparently different) flags, the Tsar ordered that his (Butler's) opinion be sought about the matter, asking specifically as to the custom existing in his country. The Netherlands had at the time already settled on its current flag, consisting of red, white and blue stripes, which Butler duly told the Tsar.





This conversation apparently took notice, as the source proceeds to describe the materials bought "overseas" for the ship, and specifically mentions red, blue and white fabric. It is not at all certain, however, that the choice of the colours was affected by the Dutch flag.

A different account traces the origin of the Russian flag to Tsar Peter the Great's visits to Archangelsk in 1693 and 1694. Peter was keenly interested in shipbuilding in the European style, different from the barges ordinarily used in Russia at the time. In 1693, Peter had ordered a Dutch-built frigate from Amsterdam. In 1694 when it arrived, the Dutch red-white-and-blue banner flew from its stern. Peter decided to model Russia's naval flag after this banner by changing the sequence of colours. It eventually became the flag of the Russian empire.

While differing in the circumstances, the two flag origin versions agree on the Dutch flag influence. However, there are historical reasons to doubt that the flag was chosen as late as Peter's reign. One of the strongest arguments against that comes from a Dutch flag book of 1695 by Carel Allard, which is considered to be one of the world's first flag books. Printed only a year after Peter's trip to Western Europe, the book already describes three flags of a similar design noted as belonging to the either Tsar of Muscovy, or Muscovy itself. One of the three flags shown is the tricolour with a double-headed eagle bearing a shield on its breast, and wearing a golden crown over both of its heads. Another is the tricolour with a blue saltire over it and the third consists of two white (top left and bottom right) and two red (top right and bottom left) squares, with a blue cross in the middle.

The flag was adopted as a merchant flag at rivers in 1705. On 7 May 1883 it was authorized to be used on land, and it became an official National flag before the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II in 1896.

Two other Slavic countries, Slovakia and Slovenia, have flags similar to the Russian one, but with added coats-of-arms for differentiation

The three colours did not come from the coat of arms of the Grand Duchy of Moscow, which depict Saint George wearing white (silver) armor, riding a white horse, wearing a blue cape and holding a blue shield, on a red field because these colors of the coat of arms are known since mid 19th century only. According to another version, these three colours were associated with the robes of the Virgin Mary, the holy protectress of Russia.

Yet another interpretation of the three colours is that the order in which they are placed reflects the Russian social system under the monarchy: white represents God, blue the Tsar and red the peasants. Another very common interpretation is the association of colours with the main parts of the Russian Empire: white representing Belarus ("White Russia"), blue Ukraine (or Malorossia, "Little Russia"), and red "Great Russia".

The Russian flag adheres to the colours of the greater ideas of pan-Slavism.

A different interpretation associates white with the bright future (where the colour itself is associated with brightness, while its placement at the top - with future); blue with clouded present, and red with bloody past

The National Flag Day is an official holiday in Russia, established in 1994. It is celebrated on 22 August, the day of the victory over putschists in 1991, but it is not a day-of


Source: Wikipedia

This work is released under CC 3.0 By-SA - Creative Commons






Thursday, June 20, 2013

Millard Fillmore: The Presidents

Millard Fillmore was born January 7th, 1800 and died March 8th, 1874. He was the 13th President of the United States (1850–1853) and the last member of the Whig Party to hold the office of president. As Zachary Taylor's Vice President, he assumed the presidency after Taylor's death.

Fillmore opposed the proposal to keep slavery out of the territories annexed during the Mexican–American War in order to appease the South and so supported the Compromise of 1850, which he signed, including the Fugitive Slave Act ("Bloodhound Law") which was part of the compromise. On the foreign policy front, he furthered the rising trade with Japan and clashed with the French over Napoleon III's attempt to annex Hawaii and with the French and the British over the attempt of Narciso López to invade Cuba. After his presidency, he joined the Know-Nothing movement; throughout the Civil War, he opposed President Abraham Lincoln and during Reconstruction supported President Andrew Johnson. He is consistently included in the bottom 10 of historical rankings of Presidents of the United States.

Fillmore co-founded the University at Buffalo and helped found the Buffalo Historical Society, and Buffalo General Hospital.  

Fillmore was born in a log cabin in Moravia, Cayuga County, in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, on January 7th, 1800, to Nathaniel Fillmore and Phoebe Millard, as the second of nine children and the eldest son. He later lived in East Aurora, New York in the southtowns region, south of Buffalo. Though Fillmore's ancestors were Scottish Presbyterians on his father's side and English dissenters on his mother's, he became a Unitarian in later life. His father apprenticed him to cloth maker Benjamin Hungerford in Sparta, New York, at age fourteen to learn the cloth-making trade. He left after four months, but subsequently took another apprenticeship in the same trade at New Hope, New York. He struggled to obtain an education living on the frontier and attended New Hope Academy for six months in 1819. Later that year, he began to clerk for Judge Walter Wood of Montville, New York, under whom Fillmore began to study law.

He fell in love with Abigail Powers, whom he met while at New Hope Academy and married on February 5, 1826. The couple had two children, Millard Powers Fillmore and Mary Abigail Fillmore. After leaving Wood and buying out his apprenticeship, Fillmore moved to Buffalo, where he continued his studies in the law office of Asa Rice and Joseph Clary. He was admitted to the bar in 1823 and began his law practice in East Aurora where, in 1825, he built a house for his new bride. In 1834, he formed a law partnership, Fillmore and Hall (becoming Fillmore, Hall and Haven in 1836), with close friend Nathan K. Hall (who would later serve in his cabinet as Postmaster General). It would become one of western New York's most prestigious firms, and exists to this day as Hodgson Russ LLP. In 1846, he founded the private University of Buffalo, which today is the public University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, the largest school in the New York state university system.

He served in the New York militia during the Mexican–American War. 

In 1828, Fillmore was elected to the New York State Assembly on the Anti-Masonic ticket, serving three one-year terms, from 1829 to 1831. In his final term he chaired a special legislative committee to enact a new bankruptcy law that eliminated debtors' prison. As the measure had support among some Democrats, he maneuvered the law into place by taking a nonpartisan approach and allowing the Democrats to take credit for the bill. This kind of inconspicuousness and avoiding the limelight would later characterize Fillmore's approach to politics on the national stage.

He later won election as a Whig (having followed his mentor Thurlow Weed into the party) to the 23rd Congress in 1832, serving from 1833 to 1835. He was reelected in 1836 to the 25th Congress, to the 26th and to the 27th Congresses serving from 1837 to 1843, declining to be a candidate for re-nomination in 1842.

In Congress, he opposed admitting Texas as a slave territory, he advocated internal improvements and a protective tariff, he supported John Quincy Adams by voting to receive anti-slavery petitions, he advocated the prohibition by Congress of the slave trade between the states, and he favored the exclusion of slavery from the District of Columbia. He came in second place in the bid for Speaker of the House of Representatives in 1841. He served as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee from 1841 to 1843 and was an author of the Tariff of 1842, as well as two other bills that President John Tyler vetoed.

After leaving Congress, Fillmore was the unsuccessful Whig candidate for Governor of New York in 1844. He was the first New York State Comptroller elected by general ballot, defeating Orville Hungerford 174,756 to 136,027 votes, and was in office from 1848 to 1849. As state comptroller, he revised New York's banking system, making it a model for the future National Banking System. 

After Taylor died suddenly on July 9th, 1850, Fillmore became president. The change in leadership also signaled an abrupt political shift. Fillmore had very different views on the slavery issue. Before Taylor's death, Fillmore told him that, as President of the Senate, he would give his tie-breaking vote to the Compromise of 1850. When Fillmore took office, the entire cabinet offered their resignations. Fillmore accepted them all and appointed men who, except for Treasury Secretary Thomas Corwin, favored the Compromise of 1850. When the compromise finally came before both Houses of Congress, it was very watered down. As a result, Fillmore urged Congress to pass the original bill. This move only provoked an enormous battle where "forces for and against slavery fought over every word of the bill." To Fillmore's disappointment the bitter battle over the bill crushed public support. Clay, exhausted, left Washington to recuperate, passing leadership to Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois. At this critical juncture, President Fillmore announced his support of the Compromise of 1850.

On August 6th, 1850, he sent a message to Congress recommending that Texas be paid to abandon its claims to part of New Mexico. This, combined with his mobilization of 750 Federal troops to New Mexico, helped shift a critical number of northern Whigs in Congress away from their insistence upon the Wilmot Proviso - the stipulation that all land gained by the Mexican War must be closed to slavery.

Fillmore appointed Brigham Young as the first governor of the Utah Territory in 1850. In gratitude for creating the Utah Territory in 1850 and appointing Brigham Young as governor, Young named the territorial capital "Fillmore" and the surrounding county "Millard"

In foreign affairs, Fillmore was particularly active in the Asia-Pacific region, especially Japan. American shipping interests had become more keen on opening Japan up to outside trade because it would allow them to stop for supplies en route to China and Southeast Asia. American shippers also looked to the British opening of China to trade as an example of the "benefits of new trade markets." Fillmore, with help from Secretary of State Daniel Webster, sent Commodore Matthew C. Perry to open Japan to Western trade. Though Perry did not reach Japan until Franklin Pierce had replaced
Fillmore as president, Fillmore does earn the credit for ending Japanese isolation because it was he who ordered the trade mission. Fillmore was also a staunch defender against foreign intervention in Hawaii. France's Napoleon III attempted to annex the Hawaiian Islands, but was forced to withdraw after a strongly worded message from Fillmore suggesting that "the United States would not stand for any such action." 

Though President Taylor had signed the Clayton–Bulwer Treaty preventing Britain and the US from taking more possessions in the Americas, Great Britain and the United States were still attempting to gain ground in the region. The situation became tense enough that Fillmore ordered several warships to guard American merchants in an attempt to prevent British interference. Fillmore was also caught in a situation involving Cuba. Many southerners were eager to expand the bounds of slavery and since slavery territories were locked down because of the Compromise of 1850, many southerners turned to the Caribbean. Venezuelan Narciso López gathered a small force of Americans to invade Cuba. Though Fillmore tried to block such efforts, he was nevertheless unsuccessful as López managed to sail out of New Orleans. Despite the failure of the invasion, López tried another invasion a year later which came to a quick end after Spanish troops routed them from the island. The incident became particularly embarrassing for Fillmore because southerners felt he should have supported the invasion, while Northern democrats were upset at his apology to the Spanish. The French and British dispatched warships to the region in response. Fillmore sent a stern warning saying that under certain conditions control of Cuba "might be almost essential to our [America's] safety."


Another issue that presented itself during Fillmore's presidency was the arrival of Lajos Kossuth, the exiled leader of a failed Hungarian revolution. Kossuth wanted the United States to abandon its nonintervention policies when it came to European affairs and recognize Hungary's independence. The problem came with the enormous support Kossuth received from German-American immigrants to the United States (who were essential in the reelection of both Whigs and Democrats). Fillmore refused to change American policy, and decided to remain neutral despite the political implications that neutrality would produce.




Fillmore was one of the founders of the University at Buffalo. The school was chartered by an act of the New York State Legislature on May 11, 1846, and at first was only a medical school. Fillmore was the first Chancellor, a position he held while both Vice President and President. After leaving office, Fillmore returned to Buffalo and continued to serve as chancellor of the school.

After the death of his daughter Mary, Fillmore went abroad. While touring Europe in 1855, Fillmore was offered an honorary Doctor of Civil Law (D.C.L.) degree by the University of Oxford. Fillmore turned down the honor, explaining that he had neither the "literary nor scientific attainment" to justify the degree. He is also quoted as having explained that he "lacked the benefit of a classical education" and could not, therefore, understand the Latin text of the diploma, adding that he believed "no man should accept a degree he cannot read."

By 1856, Fillmore's Whig Party had ceased to exist, having fallen apart due to dissension over the slavery issue, and especially the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854. Fillmore refused to join the new Republican Party, where many former Whigs, including Abraham Lincoln, had found refuge. Instead, Fillmore joined the anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic American Party, the political organ of the Know-Nothing movement.

He ran in the election of 1856 as the party's presidential candidate, attempting to win a nonconsecutive second term as President (a feat accomplished only once in American politics, by Grover Cleveland). His running mate was Andrew Jackson Donelson, nephew of former president Andrew Jackson. Fillmore and Donelson finished third, carrying only the state of Maryland and its eight electoral votes; but he won 21.6% of the popular vote, one of the best showings ever by a Presidential third-party candidate.   

On February 10th, 1858, after the death of his first wife, Fillmore married Caroline McIntosh, a wealthy widow. Their combined wealth allowed them to purchase a big house in Buffalo, New York. The house became the center of hospitality for visitors, until the health of Fillmore's wife began to decline in the 1860s.

Fillmore helped found the Buffalo Historical Society (now the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society) in 1862 and served as its first president.  

Throughout the Civil War, Fillmore opposed President Lincoln and during Reconstruction supported President Johnson. He commanded the Union Continentals, a corps of home guards of males over the age of 45 from the Upstate New York area.

He died at 11:10 pm on March 8, 1874, of the aftereffects of a stroke. His last words were alleged to be, upon being fed some soup, "the nourishment is palatable." On January 7th each year, a ceremony is held at his grave site in the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo. 

Some northern Whigs remained irreconcilable, refusing to forgive Fillmore for having signed the Fugitive Slave Act. They helped deprive him of the Presidential nomination in 1852. Within a few years it was apparent that although the Compromise had been intended to settle the slavery controversy, it served rather as an uneasy sectional truce. Robert J. Rayback argues that the appearance of a truce, at first, seemed very real as the country entered a period of prosperity that included the South. Although Fillmore, in retirement, continued to feel that conciliation with the South was necessary and considered that the Republican Party was at least partly responsible for the subsequent disunion, he was an outspoken critic of secession and was also critical of President James Buchanan for not immediately taking military action when South Carolina seceded.

Benson Lee Grayson suggests that the Fillmore administration's ability to avoid potential problems is too often overlooked. Fillmore's constant attention to Mexico avoided a resumption of the hostilities that had only broken off in 1848 and laid the groundwork for the Gadsden Treaty during Pierce's administration. Meanwhile, the Fillmore administration resolved a serious dispute with Portugal left over from the Taylor administration, smoothed over a disagreement with Peru, and then peacefully resolved other disputes with England, France, and Spain over Cuba.


At the height of this crisis, the Royal Navy had fired on an American ship while at the same time 160 Americans were being held captive in Spain. Fillmore and his State Department were able to resolve these crises without the United States going to war or losing face.

Because the Whig party was so deeply divided, and the two leading national figures in the Whig party (Fillmore and his own Secretary of State, Daniel Webster) refused to combine to secure the nomination, Winfield Scott received it. Because both the north and the south refused to unite behind Scott, he won only 4 of 31 states, and lost the election to Franklin Pierce. 

After Fillmore's defeat the Whig party continued its downward spiral with further party division coming at the hands of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and the emergence of the Know Nothing party. 

In the history of the US presidency, Fillmore inaugurates a new era. All previous presidents had acquired substantial personal fortunes either through inheritance or marriage (or, in Martin van Buren's case, through work as an attorney). Fillmore was the first of a long line of late nineteenth century chief executives, mostly lawyers, who acquired only modest wealth during their lives, were "distinctly middle class" and who spent most of their careers in public service.[ 

The myth that Fillmore installed the White House's first bathtub was started by H. L. Mencken in a joke column published on December 28th, 1917, in the New York Evening Mail. In February 2008, a television commercial for a sales event by Kia Motors featured Millard Fillmore, referring to him as "Unheard of," repeated the Bathtub hoax, and presented a Millard Fillmore bust as a 'Soap-on-a-Rope'. 

While Fillmore's letters and papers are owned by multiple institutions, including the Penfield Library of the State University of New York at Oswego, the largest surviving collection is in the Research Library at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society. 



Source: Wikipedia

This work is released under CC 3.0 BY-SA - Creative Commons







Monday, June 17, 2013

Jennifer Lawrence: Teen Idol

I'm not completely sold that Jennifer Lawrence is a or was a teen idol or child "star", but I received an email from a reader requesting I do a post on her so, as my philosophy goes, the readers are always right and I live by the code of "give the readers what they want", and with that in mind, here is Jennifer Lawrence.

Side note: She is very easy on the eyes, isn't she? Very striking. Quite the head turner. (I didn't know who she was before but now, I might have to do a whole new top 10 list.) LOL

Jennifer Shrader Lawrence was born on August 15th, 1990. (Another Leo) She is an American actress. Her first major role was as a lead cast member on TBS' The Bill Engvall Show (2007–2009) and she subsequently appeared in the independent films The Burning Plain (2008) and Winter's Bone (2010), for which she received nominations for the Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, Satellite Award, Independent Spirit Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress. At age 20, she was the second-youngest actress ever to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. At age 22, her performance in the romantic comedy Silver Linings Playbook (2012) earned her the Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, Satellite Award and the Independent Spirit Award for Best Actress, amongst other accolades, making her the youngest person ever to be nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Actress and the second-youngest Best Actress winner.

Lawrence is also known for playing Raven Darkhölme / Mystique in the 2011 film X-Men: First Class, a role she will reprise in X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014. In 2012, she achieved international recognition starring as the heroine Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, an adaptation of Suzanne Collins' best-selling novel of the same name. Her performance in the film garnered her notable critical praise and marked her as the highest-grossing action heroine of all time. Lawrence's performances thus far have prompted Rolling Stone to call her "the most talented young actress in America." In 2013, Time named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world.


Lawrence was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. Her parents are Karen (née Koch), who runs a children's camp, and Gary Lawrence, who once owned a concrete construction firm, Lawrence & Associates. She has two older brothers, Ben and Blaine. She acted in local theater and, by the age of 14, had decided to pursue an acting career, persuading her parents to take her to New York City to find a talent agent. Prior to finding success in Hollywood, Lawrence attended Kammerer Middle School in Kentucky. She graduated from high school two years early with a 3.9 average in order to begin a career in acting. While growing up and in between acting, Lawrence served as an assistant nurse at the children's summer day camp that her mother ran. 

Lawrence has never taken any drama classes or lessons for acting. She started out her acting career in the TBS comedy The Bill Engvall Show, playing Lauren Pearson, the eldest daughter. Written and created by Bill Engvall and Michael Leeson, the show is set in a Denver suburb and follows the life of 'Bill Pearson' (played by Engvall), a family counselor whose own family could use a little dose of counseling. The series went on the air in September 2007 and was canceled in 2009 after three seasons. Lawrence received the Young Artist Award for Outstanding Young Performer in a TV Series for her role in the show.

Lawrence had guest-roles in the television series The Devil You Know, Cold Case, Medium, and Monk. In 2007, Lawrence auditioned for the role of Bella Swan in Twilight, however the role went to Kristen Stewart. Later, Lawrence stated that she was "glad" that she had not received the role because of the massive media attention that Stewart received from the role.

In 2008, she appeared in a small role in the film Garden Party as Tiff. It was directed by Jason Freeland. The same year, Lawrence appeared on the big screen in Guillermo Arriaga's film directorial debut The Burning Plain, opposite Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger. Her performance in the film earned her the Marcello Mastroianni Award for best young emerging actor/actress at the Venice Film Festival in 2008.

Still in 2008, Lawrence had the lead role in another film director's debut, Lori Petty's family drama The Poker House, opposite Selma Blair and Chloë Grace Moretz, where she starred as Agnes, a young girl victim of abuse. Lawrence was awarded the Los Angeles Film Festival Award for Outstanding Performance for her role in the film. She appeared in the music video for the song "The Mess I Made", from the 2009 album Losing Sleep by Parachute. 

Lawrence's lead role in Debra Granik's Winter's Bone, which won best picture at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010, is generally cited as a breakout performance for her. She portrays Ree Dolly, a seventeen-year-old in the Ozark Mountains who cares for her mentally ill mother and her younger brother and sister. Ree then discovers that her father put their house and land up as a bond for a court appearance before he disappeared, and the family now faces eviction. The performance was highly acclaimed by film critics. David Denby, writing in The New Yorker, said "the movie would be unimaginable with anyone less charismatic playing Ree." Peter Travers from the Rolling Stone also spoke highly of her and noted that "her performance is more than acting, it's a gathering storm. Lawrence's eyes are a roadmap to what's tearing Ree apart". Receiving accolades for her performance, Lawrence was awarded the National Board of Review Award for Best Breakthrough Performance. She received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress on January 25th, 2011, becoming the third-youngest actress to date to be nominated for the category, and also accrued nominations from the Golden Globe Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, and the Satellite Awards among others.

Lawrence appeared in The Beaver, a dark comedy starring Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson. The film was shot in 2009, but spent an extended period of time stalled due to controversy. It was released on May 6th, 2011. She also co-starred in the independent film Like Crazy, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. The following year, it was announced that Lawrence was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 

In March 2011, Lawrence was offered the part of Katniss Everdeen in the film The Hunger Games, based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins. Despite being a fan of the books, Lawrence took three days to accept the role because she was initially intimidated by the size of the movie and what it may mean for her fame. She underwent extensive training to get in shape for the role, including stunt training, archery, rock and tree climbing, combat, running, parkour, pilates, and yoga. The film was released on March 23, 2012, and set the record for the third-largest opening weekend of all time, making a record-breaking $152.5 million in three days for a non-sequel film.

The fact that The Hunger Games emerged as a big box office hit with a female lead represents a dramatic shift for the action film genre because historically, among the "top 200 worldwide box-office hits ever ($350 million and up), not one has been built around a female action star" and for the first time ever, Lawrence contradicts that. Forbes stated "No one who has seen The Hunger Games would question star Jennifer Lawrence's ability to play an action star." She is currently the highest grossing action heroine ever.

Though the film generally received positive reviews, Lawrence's portrayal of Katniss Everdeen was the most highly praised with Todd McCarthy from The Hollywood Reporter saying Lawrence embodies Katniss, "just as one might imagine her from the novel" and "anchors" the whole film "with impressive gravity and presence", ultimately calling her "the ideal screen actress". Kenneth Turan from the Los Angeles Times stated that Lawrence is the "best possible performer as Katniss and is the key factor in making 'Hunger Games' an involving popular entertainment with strong narrative drive that holds our attention". Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert also agreed that "Lawrence is strong and convincing in the central role" 

In June 2011, she starred as shape-shifting villain Mystique alongside James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender in X-Men: First Class, a prequel to the rest of the X-Men film series. Lawrence's Mystique is a younger version of the character played by Rebecca Romijn in earlier X-Men films. Lawrence will reprise the role in the 2014 sequel, X-Men: Days of Future Past. She also starred alongside Max Thieriot and Elisabeth Shue in Mark Tonderai's thriller House at the End of the Street, which was released in September 2012. She was originally cast to play "O" in the film Savages directed by Oliver Stone, but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts.

In November 2012, Lawrence played the recently widowed Tiffany Maxwell in David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook, an adaptation of the novel of the same name, by Matthew Quick, opposite Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro. She received widespread critical praise for her performance in the film, with Richard Corliss of TIME Magazine writing, "The reason to stay is Lawrence. Just 21 when the movie was shot, Lawrence is that rare young actress who plays, who is, grown-up. Sullen and sultry, she lends a mature intelligence to any role... Jennifer Lawrence is the silver lining in this mostly ordinary playbook." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone also wrote that Lawrence "is some kind of miracle. She's rude, dirty, funny, foulmouthed, sloppy, sexy, vibrant and vulnerable, sometimes all in the same scene, even in the same breath. No list of Best Actress Oscar contenders would be complete without the electrifying Lawrence in the lead. She lights up the screen." She won the Academy and Golden Globe awards for best actress for her performance. 

In 2012, Lawrence replaced Angelina Jolie in Susanne Bier's depression-era thriller, Serena, based on the novel of the same name by Ron Rash. She will be playing the role of an unstable woman named Serena who learns that she can never bear her husband children and is set out to murder the woman who bore her husband an illegitimate son before their marriage. On September 10th, 2012, Lawrence began working on the film adaptation of the second novel in the The Hunger Games trilogy, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which is scheduled to be released on November 22, 2013.

In October 2012, Lawrence was announced as the new face of Dior. She ranked No. 1 on AskMen's list of Top 99 Most Desirable Women for 2013.

In 2014, Lawrence will be reprising her role as Mystique in X-Men: Days of Future Past with James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. On February 15th, 2013 it was announced that Lawrence will star opposite Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, and Amy Adams in American Hustle about the ’70s FBI sting operation Abscam. She will also be starring in her third collaboration film directed by David O. Russell titled The Ends of the Earth.

Lawrence will play Jeannette Walls in the film adaptation of Walls' best-selling memoir The Glass Castle. Lawrence will reprise her role of Katniss Everdeen in the film adaptations of the final Hunger Games book; The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is set to be released on November 21, 2014. Part 2 is set to be released on November 20, 2015.

Lawrence lived in New York City for the first few years of her career, but now resides in Santa Monica, California. She dated British actor and X-Men: First Class co-star Nicholas Hoult from 2011 to 2013. Regarding her personal life, Lawrence has stated, "You don't want your relationship to be in the press, but at the same time, and this is only a theory, the more you try and keep it secret, the more the media tries to crack it open."







Source: Wikipedia

This work released under CC 3.0 BY-SA - Creative Commons



Saturday, June 15, 2013

Boy Toy

BOY TOY - Written by Carroll Bryant




Been believing
You been conceiving
Another plan to break my heart

You’re cruising
For another bruising
Soul to soul and rip your world apart

How many times do I need to sacrifice?
Your love only plays with my head
How many times can I take the blade
Of your knife
Before this boy toy is lying dead in your bed?

Your midnight touches sets my body
On fire
Holding you, there is no truth
Just this evil desire

Run away? Hell, I can’t even walk
This whole thing is such a shame
Listening to the box, I sing

Been believing
You been deceiving
Another stand you make that falls apart

You’re lurking
Face down in the fucking dirt
Soul to soul and there goes my fucking heart

How many times will you blow my mind?
Nothing you do anymore shocks me
I’m waiting on the Mexico line
For your life
To just mother-fucking rock me

Your hotel love is behind me
Years I can’t steal away
Never talk about them nights
Holding you, there is no imagination
Just two people who live to die in
The middle of the fight

Walk away? Hell, I’m better off to run
Hunted by the gun that is your eyes
Listening to the wind, I sing

Run away? Hell, I can’t even walk
This whole thing is such a shame
Nothing but a god damn shame

This is the end to everything

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bugsy Siegel: American Gangster

Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel was born Benjamin Siegel; February 28th, 1906 and died June 20th, 1947. He was an American mobster with the Genovese crime family. Nicknamed "Bugsy", Siegel was known to be ruthless with associates and was known as one of the most "infamous and feared gangsters of his day". Described as handsome and charismatic, he became one of the first front-page-celebrity gangsters. He was also a driving force behind the development of the Las Vegas Strip.

Siegel was one of the founders and leaders of Murder, Incorporate and became a bootlegger during Prohibition. After Prohibition was repealed in 1933, he turned to gambling. In 1936, he left New York and moved to California. In 1939, Siegel was tried for the murder of fellow mobster Harry Greenberg. Siegel was acquitted in 1942.



Siegel traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada where he handled and financed some of the original casinos. He assisted developer William Wilkerson's Flamingo Hotel after Wilkerson ran out of funds. Siegel took over the project and managed the final stages of construction. The Flamingo opened on December 26, 1946 to poor reception and soon closed. It reopened in March 1947 with a finished hotel. Three months later, on June 20th, 1947, Siegel was shot dead at the Beverly Hills home of his girlfriend, Virginia Hill. 

Benjamin Siegel was born in 1906 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to a poor Jewish family from Letychiv, Podolia Governorate of the Russian Empire, in modern Ukraine. However, other sources state that his family came from Austria. His parents, Max and Jennie, constantly worked for meager wages. Siegel, the second of five children, vowed that he would rise above that life. As a boy, Siegel dropped out of school and joined a gang on Lafayette Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He committed mainly thefts, until he met Moe Sedway. With Sedway, Siegel developed a protection racket where pushcart merchants were forced to pay him a dollar or he would incinerate their merchandise. Siegel had a criminal record that included armed robbery, rape and murder dating back to his teenage years

During adolescence, Siegel befriended Meyer Lansky, who formed a small mob whose activities expanded to gambling and car theft. Lansky, who had already had a run-in with Salvatore Lucania, saw a need for the Jewish boys of his Brooklyn neighborhood to organize in the same manner as the Italians and Irish. The first person he recruited for his gang was Ben Siegel.

Siegel became a bootlegger and was involved in bootlegging within several major East Coast cities. He also worked as the mob's hitman, whom Lansky would hire out to other crime families. The two formed the Bugs and Meyer Mob, which handled contracts for the various bootleg gangs operating in New York and New Jersey - doing so almost a decade before Murder, Inc. was formed. The gang kept themselves busy hijacking the booze cargoes of rival outfits. The Bugs and Meyer mob was known to be responsible for the killing and removal of several rival gangdom figures. Siegel's gang mates included Abner "Longie" Zwillman, Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, and Lansky's brother, Jake; "Doc" Stacher, another member of the Bugs and Meyer Mob, recalled to Lansky biographers that Siegel was fearless and saved his friends' lives as the mob moved into bootlegging:

He was also a boyhood friend to Al Capone; when there was a warrant for Capone's arrest on a murder charge, Siegel allowed him to hide out with an aunt. Siegel first smoked opium during his youth and was involved in the drug trade. By age 21, Siegel was making money and flaunted it. He was regarded as handsome with blue eyes and was known to be charismatic and liked by everyone. He bought an apartment at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and a Tudor home in Scarsdale. He wore flashy clothes and participated in the night life of New York City.

On January 28th, 1929, Siegel married Esta Krakower, his childhood sweetheart and sister of contract killer Whitey Krakower. They had two daughters. Siegel had a reputation as a womanizer and the marriage ended in 1946.

By the late 1920s, Lansky and Siegel had ties to Charles "Lucky" Luciano and Frank Costello, future bosses of the Genovese crime family. Siegel, along with Albert Anastasia, Vito Genovese, and Joe Adonis, allegedly were the four gunmen who shot New York mob boss Joe Masseria to death on Luciano's orders on April 15th, 1931. This formally ended the Castellammarese War. On September 10th of that year, Luciano hired four trigger men from the Lansky-Siegel gang (some sources identify Siegel being one of the hit men), to murder Salvatore Maranzano, establishing Luciano's rise to the top of the U.S. Mafia and marking the beginning of modern American organized crime.

In 1931, following Maranzano's death, Luciano and Lansky formed the National Syndicate, an organization of crime families that brought power to the underworld. The Commission was established for dividing Mafia territories and preventing future wars. With his associates, Siegel formed Murder, Incorporated. After Siegel and Lansky moved on, control over Murder, Inc. was ceded to Lepke Buchalter and Albert "Mad Hatter" Anastasia. Siegel continued working as a hitman breaking the law eight times. His only conviction was in Miami. On February 28th, 1932, he was arrested for gambling and vagrancy, and, from a roll of bills, paid a $100 fine.

During this period, Siegel had a disagreement with associates of Waxey Gordon, the Fabrizzo brothers. Gordon had hired the Fabrizzo brothers from prison after Lansky and Siegel gave the IRS information about Gordon's tax evasion. It led to Gordon's imprisonment in 1933.

Siegel hunted down the Fabrizzos, killing them after their assassination attempt on Lansky and Siegel. After the deaths of his two brothers, Tony Fabrizzo began writing a memoir and gave it to an attorney. One of the longest chapters was to be a section on the nationwide kill-for-hire squad led by Siegel. The mob discovered Fabrizzo's plans before he could execute it. In 1932, Siegel checked into a hospital and later that night sneaked out. Siegel and two accomplices approached Fabrizzo's house and, posing as detectives to lure him outside, gunned him down. According to hospital records, Siegel's alibi for that night was that he had checked into a hospital. In 1935, Siegel assisted in Luciano's alliance with Dutch Schultz and killed rival loan sharks Louis "Pretty" Amberg and Joseph Amberg.

Siegel had learned from his associates that he was in danger. His hospital alibi had become questionable and his enemies wanted him dead. In the late 1930s, the East Coast mob sent Siegel to California. Since 1933, Siegel had traveled to the West Coast several times, and in California, his mission was to develop syndicate gambling rackets with Los Angeles crime family boss, Jack Dragna. Once in Los Angeles, Siegel recruited gang boss Mickey Cohen as his chief lieutenant. Knowing Siegel's reputation for violence and that he was backed by Lansky and Luciano who, from prison, sent word to Dragna that it was "in [his] best interest to cooperate", Dragna accepted a subordinate role. Siegel moved Esta and their daughters, Millicent and Barbara, to California. On tax returns he claimed to earn his living through legal gambling at Santa Anita Park near Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, Siegel took over the numbers racket. He used money from the syndicate to help establish a drug trade route from the U.S. to Mexico and organized circuits with the Chicago Outfit's Trans-America Wire service.

By 1942, $ 500,000 a day was coming from the syndicate's bookmaking wire operations. In 1946, because of problems with Siegel, the Chicago Outfit took over the Continental Press and gave the percentage of the racing wire to Jack Dragna, infuriating Siegel. Despite his complications with the wire services, Siegel controlled several offshore casinos and a major prostitution ring. He also maintained relationships with politicians, businessmen, attorneys, accountants, and lobbyists who fronted for him. 

In Hollywood, Siegel was welcomed in the highest circles and befriended stars. He was known to associate with George Raft, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper and Cary Grant, as well as studio executives Louis B. Mayer and Jack Warner Actress Jean Harlow was a friend of Siegel and godmother to his daughter Millicent. Siegel led an extravagant life, he bought real estate, and threw lavish parties at his Beverly Hills home. He gained admiration from young celebrities, including Tony Curtis, Phil Silvers, and Frank Sinatra. Siegel had several relationships with actresses, including socialite Dorothy DiFrasso, the wife of an Italian count. The alliance with the countess took Siegel to Italy in 1938, where he met Benito Mussolini, to whom Siegel tried to sell weapons - and German leaders Hermann Göring and Joseph Goebbels. Siegel took an instant dislike to the Nazis and offered to kill them. He relented because of the countess's anxious pleas.

In Hollywood, Siegel worked with the crime syndicate to form illegal rackets. He devised a plan of extorting movie studios; he would take over local unions (the Screen Extras Guild and the Los Angeles Teamsters) and stage strikes to force studios to pay him off, so that unions would start working again. He borrowed money from celebrities and didn't pay them back, knowing that they would never ask him for the money. During his first year in Hollywood, he received more than $400,000 in loans from movie stars.  

On November 22nd, 1939, Siegel, Whitey Krakower, Frankie Carbo and Albert Tannenbaum killed Harry "Big Greenie" Greenberg outside of his apartment. Greenberg had threatened to become a police informant, and Lepke Buchalter, boss of Murder, Inc., ordered his killing.

Tannenbaum confessed to the murder and agreed to testify against Siegel. Siegel and Carbo were implicated to have shot and killed Greenberg, and in September 1941, Siegel was tried for the Greenberg murder. Whitey Krakower was killed before he could face trial. The trial gained notoriety because of the preferential treatment Siegel received in jail; he refused to eat prison food and was allowed female visitors. He was also granted leave for dental visits. Siegel hired attorney Jerry Giesler to defend him. After the deaths of two state witnesses, no additional witnesses came forward. Tannenbaum's testimony was dismissed. In 1942, Siegel and Carbo were acquitted due to insufficient evidence but Siegel's reputation was damaged. During the trial, newspapers revealed his past and referred to him as "Bugsy". He hated the nickname (said to be based on the slang term "bugs", meaning "crazy", used to describe his erratic behavior), preferring to be called "Ben" or "Mr. Siegel". 

During World War II, on March 10th, 1944, the draft board tried to draft Siegel in the U.S. Army by seeking a waiver of an age limit, but the State Director of Selective Service refused the waiver because of legal dealings with Siegel's attorney that prohibited it. On May 25th, 1944, Siegel was arrested for bookmaking. George Raft testified on Siegel's behalf, and in late 1944, Siegel was acquitted. 

Siegel wanted to be a legitimate businessman, and in 1946, he saw an opportunity with William R. Wilkerson's Flamingo Hotel. Las Vegas gave Siegel his second opportunity to reinvent himself. In the 1930s, Siegel had traveled to Southern Nevada with Meyer Lansky's lieutenant Moe Sedway on Lansky's orders to explore expanding operations. There were opportunities in providing illicit services to crews constructing Hoover Dam. Lansky had turned the desert over to Siegel. But Siegel had turned it over to Moe Sedway and left for Hollywood.

Lansky asked Siegel to watch Wilkerson's desert development. Siegel, who knew Wilkerson and lived near him in Beverly Hills, was the obvious choice as a liaison, but Siegel wanted no part in the operation that would take him back to Nevada. It meant leaving Beverly Hills and his playboy life. But at Lansky's insistence, Siegel consented.

In the mid-1940s, Siegel was lining things up in Las Vegas while his lieutenants worked on a business policy to secure all gambling in Los Angeles. Throughout the spring of 1946, Siegel proved useful. He obtained black market building materials. The postwar shortages that had dogged construction were no longer a problem. At first Siegel seemed content to do things Wilkerson's way. His desire to learn about the project took precedence over his sportsman lifestyle. It subdued his aggression. Under Wilkerson's tutelage, Siegel learned the mechanics of building an enterprise. However, Siegel began to feel intimidated and paranoid. He grew resentful of Wilkerson's vision for the desert. Tom Seward, a business partner of Wilkerson, described Siegel as "so jealous of Billy [Wilkerson] it drove him crazy". Siegel began making decisions without Wilkerson's authority. Informing work crews that Wilkerson had put him in charge, Siegel ordered changes which conflicted with the blueprints.

The problem came to a head when Siegel demanded more involvement in the project. To keep the project moving, Wilkerson agreed that Siegel would supervise the hotel while Wilkerson retained control of everything else

In May 1946, Siegel decided the agreement had to be altered to give him control of the Flamingo. With the Flamingo, Siegel would supply the gambling, the best liquor and food, and the biggest entertainers at reasonable prices. He believed these attractions would lure not only the high rollers, but thousands of vacationers willing to lose $50 or $100. Siegel offered to buy out Wilkerson's creative participation with corporate stock – an additional 5 percent ownership in the operation (Siegel later reneged). On June 20th, 1946, Siegel formed the Nevada Project Corporation of California, naming himself president. He was also the largest principal stockholder in the operation, which defined everyone else merely as shareholders. (William Wilkerson was eventually coerced into selling all stakes in the Flamingo under the threat of death, and went into hiding in Paris for a time.) From this point the Flamingo became syndicate-run.

Siegel began a spending spree. He demanded the finest building that money could buy at a time of postwar shortages. Each bathroom in the 93-room hotel had its own sewer system (cost: $1,150,000); more toilets were ordered than needed (cost: $50,000); because of the plumbing alterations, the boiler room was enlarged (cost: $113,000); and Siegel ordered a larger kitchen (cost: $29,000). Adding to the budgetary over-runs were problems with dishonest contractors and disgruntled unpaid builders. As costs soared, Siegel's checks began bouncing. By October 1946, the costs were above $4 million. In 1947, the Flamingo cost was over $6 million (around $62,500,000 in today's money).

The first indication of trouble came in November 1946 when the syndicate issued an ultimatum: provide accounting or forfeit funding. But producing a balance sheet was the last thing Siegel wanted to do. Siegel waged a private fundraising campaign by selling nonexistent stocks. He was in a hurry so he doubled his work force, believing the project could be completed in half the time. Siegel paid overtime. In some cases, bonuses tied to project deadlines were offered as a way to increase productivity. By late November, the work was nearly finished.

Under pressure for the hotel to make money, Siegel moved the opening from Wilkerson's original date of March 1st, 1947 to December 26th, 1946 in an attempt to generate enough money from the casino to complete the project and repay investors. However, Siegel generated confusion with the opening date. On a whim, he decided a weekend would be more likely to entice celebrities away from home. Invitations were sent out for Saturday, December 28. Siegel changed his mind again and invitees were notified by phone that the opening had been changed back to the 26th.

According to later reports by local observers, Siegel's "maniacal chest-puffing" set the pattern for several generations of notable casino moguls. Siegel's violent reputation didn't help his situation. After he boasted one day that he'd personally killed some men, he saw the panicked look on the face of head contractor Del Webb and reassured him: "Del, don't worry, we only kill each other."

Other associates portrayed Siegel in a different aspect; Siegel as an intense character who was not without a charitable side, including his donations for the Damon Runyon Cancer Fund. Lou Wiener Jr., Siegel's Las Vegas attorney, described him as "very well liked" and that he was "good to people"

Problems with the Trans-America Wire service had cleared up in Nevada and Arizona, but in California, Siegel refused to report business. He later announced to his colleagues that he was running the California syndicate by himself and that he would return the loans in his "own good time". Despite his defiance to the mob bosses they were patient with Siegel because he had always proven to be a valuable man.

The Flamingo opened on December 26th, 1946. The casino, lounge, theater, and restaurant were finished. Although locals attended the opening, few celebrities materialized. A handful drove in from Los Angeles despite bad weather. Some celebrities present were June Haver, Vivian Blaine, George Raft, Sonny Tufts, Brian Donlevy, and Charles Coburn. They were welcomed by construction noise and a lobby draped with drop cloths. The desert's first air conditioning collapsed regularly. While gambling tables were operating, the luxury rooms, that would have served as the lure for people to stay and gamble were not ready. As word of the losses made their way to Siegel during the evening, he began to become irate and verbally abusive, throwing out at least one family. After two weeks the Flamingo's gaming tables were $275,000 in the red and the entire operation shut down in late January 1947.

After being granted a second chance, Siegel cracked down and did everything possible to turn the Flamingo into a success by making renovations and obtaining good press. He hired future newsman Hank Greenspun as a publicist. The hotel reopened on March 1, 1947, with Meyer Lansky present and began turning a profit. However, by the time profits began improving the mob bosses above Siegel were tired of waiting. Although time was running out, at age 41, Siegel had carved out a name for himself in the annals of organized crime and in Las Vegas history.

On the night of June 20th, 1947, as Siegel sat with his associate Allen Smiley in Virginia Hill's Beverly Hills home reading the Los Angeles Times, an assailant fired at him through the window with a .30-caliber military M1 carbine, hitting him many times, including twice in the head. No one was charged with the murder, and the crime remains officially unsolved.

A theory in Siegel's death was his excessive spending and possible theft of money from the mob. In 1946, a meeting was held with the "board of directors" of the syndicate in Havana, Cuba so that Luciano, exiled in Sicily, could arrive and make a decision. A contract on Siegel's life was the conclusion. According to Stacher, Lansky reluctantly agreed to the decision.

Although descriptions said that Siegel was shot in the eye, he was actually hit twice on the right side of his head. The death scene and postmortem photographs show that one shot penetrated his right cheek and exited through the left side of his neck; the other struck the right bridge of his nose where it met the right eye socket. The pressure created by the bullet passing through Siegel's skull blew his left eye out of its socket. A Los Angeles' Coroner's Report (#37448) states the cause of death as cerebral hemorrhage. His death certificate (Registrar's #816192) states the manner of death as a homicide and the cause as "Gunshot Wounds of the head."

Though as noted, Siegel was not shot exactly through the eye (the eyeball would have been destroyed if this had been the case), the bullet-through-the-eye style of killing nevertheless became popular in Mafia lore and in movies, and was called the "Moe Greene special" after the character Moe Greene - based on Siegel who was killed in this manner in The Godfather.

Siegel was hit by several other bullets including shots through his lungs. According to Florabel Muir, "Four of the nine shots fired that night destroyed a white marble statue of Bacchus on a grand piano, and then lodged in the far wall."

The day after Siegel's death, the Los Angeles Herald-Express carried a photograph on its front page from the morgue of Siegel's bare right foot with a toe tag. Although Siegel's murder occurred in Beverly Hills, his death thrust Las Vegas into the national spotlight as photographs of his lifeless body were published in newspapers throughout the country.

The day after Siegel's murder, David Berman and his Las Vegas mob associates walked into the Flamingo and took over operation of the hotel and casino.



Source: Wikipedia

This work is released under CC 3.0 BY-SA - Creative Commons