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Author Topic: The Hoods  (Read 77902 times)
chris
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« Reply #90 on: August 16, 2012, 10:16:28 AM »

If the Palm Spings star is a hoax, it's quite an elaborate and costly one.  A lot of information has been given by the sponsor, who claims to be the son of Harry Grey, and it should be fairly easy to check some of the details against official records.  The usual charge for sponsoring a star is US$7,500.

In 'The Hoods' Harry Grey mentions that his kid brother was a newspaper reporter.  Grey's son says that this was Hyman Goldberg, who was a syndicated columnist and food critic for the New York Post, authored a cookbook called "Our Man in the Kitchen", a compilation of recipes from his column as "Prudence Penny" and appeared on CBS for years in one of the first cooking shows.

Quite a lot is known about Hyman Goldberg.  He was born in 1908 and and as a boy helped his father in a Bronx restaurant.  At the age of 16, he decide to become a newpaperman and and went to work as a copy boy for the New York Sun.  For a while he was a New York Police reporter covering fires, murders, gang wars and went on to interviewing stars of the stage, screen and TV.  In later years he became famous for writing the "Prudence Penny" cookery column which appeared in The Journal-American, The Mirror and The New York Post.  He also wrote several books.

He died from a heart ailment in September 1970 aged 62.

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1898&dat=19700921&id=ITAiAAAAIBAJ&sjid=93UFAAAAIBAJ&pg=1039,3122037

 


« Last Edit: July 25, 2017, 07:11:56 AM by chris » Logged
chris
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« Reply #91 on: August 17, 2012, 10:30:46 AM »

There's quite a lot of evidence from reliable official sources that the information given by the son of Harry Grey/Goldberg is genuine.  Obviously the sponsor had to play down Harry's criminal activities and emphasize the good things that he did to enable him to be accepted for a star.

In the 1960s Hyman wrote a detailed article revealing more about his father and mother (Israel & Celia), his brothers (Barney & Harry "Noodles") and his sisters (Bessie & Sue/Sarah).

"I was brought up in restaurants and hotels. My father, a blacksmith, became a restauranteur by accident.  He had a one-man Smithy in the Bronx when he became ill and had to go to the hospital for an operation.

With no money coming in, my mother, with five children to take care of, began cooking meals for men in the neighborhood who were saving money to bring their families to America from Europe.

By the time my father came out of the hospital he found, to his astonishment but also great pleasure, that my mother had a flourishing business going.

He promptly rented the flat next door, broke down the walls separating them and installed more tables. After a few years he was able to rent a store with a street entrance and opened it as a restaurant seating about 75 people.

My two brothers, two sisters and I all helped."

Hyman was buried at Mount Hebron Cemetery, Flushing, Queens, New York.  Others buried there include:


Louis 'Lepke' Buchalter - part of Murder Inc. - executed in Sing Sing

Emanuel 'Mendy' Weiss - part of Murder Inc. - executed in Sing Sing

Martin (Meyer) 'Buggsy' Goldstein - part of Murder Inc.  - executed in Sing Sing

Waxey (Irving) Gordon (Wexler) - prohibition-era alcohol smuggler

Louis 'Louis Cohen' Kerzner - contract killer - parolled in 1937 and murdered in 1939

Abraham Landau - member of the Dutch Schultz gang - killed with Dutch in 1935

Other families from Odessa


I'll try to wrap up the mass of information I've got about Harry in my next post.  
  

« Last Edit: July 25, 2017, 07:11:42 AM by chris » Logged
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« Reply #92 on: August 17, 2012, 04:39:41 PM »

thanks Afro

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chris
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« Reply #93 on: August 18, 2012, 05:00:38 AM »

Due credit should go to SimRob. He was the one who discovered the Palm Springs star and logically followed it through.  Palm Springs gave me a death date of 1979 but the true date is October 1980.

Harry Grey said that the sole liberty he took with the truth was Max's death but Sergio Leone thought that the only truly authentic parts of the book were those concerning Grey's childhood.  Grey didn't like the way gangsters were portrayed in films and wanted his book to tell events just as they had happened. Sergio Leone was thrilled at meeting the real "Noodles" but thought that the book was full of citations, gestures and words seen and heard thousands of times on the big screen.

Parts of "The Hoods" are true, some parts have been unconsciously reworked by the author, some may be fiction.  Some events such as the disappearance of Supreme Court Judge Joseph Force Crater are easily identifiable and it is unlikely that Max and Noodles participated in the disposal of the body as described in the book.  By the 1950s very few gangsters had dared to tell their life story and Harry Grey makes it clear in the book on the best way of writing the story:

"As a factual, biographical piece? Nah, no good. The actual facts would land me and everybody else in jail. I'll treat it as escapist stuff, omitting time and slightly camouflaging the place. That's it. I'll sort of blend factual happenings into fiction. After I write it, I guess I'd better keep it for twenty years or so. By that time probably the alert newspapers will finally get wind of this fantastic Combine, and I won't really be spilling the beans."

_ _ _


There is a star dedicated to Harry "Noodles" Grey in Palm Springs which was sponsored by Harry's son Simeon.  Simeon has provided the following information:

Brief Biographical Sketch - Harry Grey

Born January 1 1901 in Kiev, Russia. Parents emigrated to USA four years later. Early schooling on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, dropped out, later received honorary degree in literature and art, and was a frequent guest speaker for the BBC on the Roaring Twenties and Thirties. When his father took seriously ill, his mother cooked in her tenement apartment for local immigrant men with no families. Soon the business took off, and his Mother opened a store-front restaurant.

Harry ran the family wholesale grocery business, Embassy Food Corporation, a firm that grew to handle all exclusive accounts, i.e. Waldorf Astoria, West Pointe, etc. He ran dockside storage facilities, dealt with unions, longshoremen, food importers. Harry was physically strong and tough, and able to deal with the myriad teamsters and gangsters that controlled the waterfront and territories in New York.

He married Mildred Becker, (the "Maybelline" girl and a Hunter College graduate in English Literature) had three children, Beverle, Harvey and Simeon. After being hospitalized by an accident in his fifties and rehabilitating in the Las Palmas area in Palm Springs (as the story goes he was hit by the tail gate of a Mack truck) and being prompted by cronies Charlie Bronson and family members, Harry decided to write about life in the twenties and thirties and those syndicates who controlled the various businesses that were the life blood of the City.

To protect himself and family he changed the family name and from Herschel Goldberg became Harry Grey. Harry's brother, Hyman Goldberg, was a syndicated columnist and food critic for the New York Post, authored a cookbook called "Our Man in the Kitchen", a compilation of recipes from his column as "Prudence Penny" and appeared on CBS for years in one of the first cooking shows.

Harry authored several best sellers, among them, "Call Me Duke", "Portrait of a Mobster" and "The Hoods", all translated into foreign languages and instant successes both at home and abroad.

"Portrait of a Mobster", depicting the life story of Dutch Schultz, became a successful motion picture. "The Hoods" became the epic movie, "Once Upon A Time In America", starring Robert DeNiro, playing loosely Harry's life as "Noodles". The stellar cast included James Woods, Joe Pesci and Tuesday Weld.

_ _ _


It's possible that Simeon has played down his father's criminal activities to enable him to be accepted for a star.
 
According to Hyman Goldberg, when the family were living in the Bronx, Israel was a blacksmith. Israel became seriously ill and had to be taken to hospital for an operation. During his stay there Celia began cooking meals for men in the neighborhood who were saving money to bring their families to America from Europe. When Israel came out of hospital he found that Celia had a flourishing business and Israel started a restaurant. All the children helped out.

It's probable that Celia died in about 1933.  Israel is shown as a widower in the 1940 census and there are several recorded deaths for Celia Goldbergs in the 1930s.

In 1932 Harry married Mildred Becker and by 1940 he had moved to 1205 College Ave Bronx.  
Daughter Beverly was born in 1934 and son Harvey in 1938.
The 1940 census shows that Harry reached grade 7 whilst Mildred reached H4. Harry was described as wholesale grocery salesman.
In November 1940, a further son, Simeon, was born.

According to Simeon, Harry had an accident in the 1940s, decided to write 'The Hoods' and to protect himself and his family, changed his surname to Grey. The 1940 census, which is the last one published, and Harry's obituary in the New York Times from October 1980 provide confirmation of the change of name.


1940 census

Obituary NY Times October 1980

At one of Leone's meetings with Grey, Grey invited Leone to his house and they had a meal of spaghetti, badly cooked by Grey's wife.  She was, as Leone remembered, tired of everything and silent - an elderly ex-schoolteacher who had lived her whole life waiting for him, shaking with nerves every time the phone or the doobell rang. There is some evidence that Eva, Mildred's sister attended Hunter College and was a schoolteacher.

During the early 1970's, Leone introduced writer Medioli to Harry Grey, who confirmed that he had been associated with Frank Costello and the sole liberty he had taken in the Hoods was Max's death.  Max had survived and was now 70 years of age.  He still accepted one or two contracts a year to pay the rent but according to Grey, Max still had big ideas.  So, at seventy years of age, Max proposed to Grey that they do a hold-up together.  Harry's wife said to him: "If you dare do that, at seventy, after all these years I've waited for you, I will leave you." And so Grey turned down the proposal, Max attempted the job himself and was subsequently arrested.  The arrest was broadcast on TV.

When Sergio Leone had a date for filming to commence, he tried to contact Harry Grey to let him know the good news.  Grey's wife told Leone that her husband had died a few weeks earlier.

_ _ _

I think SimRob was trying to get in touch with the sponsor of the star and it will be interesting to find out if he has made any progress.  Simeon provided Palm Springs with a PO Box address and I may send a courteous letter there, hopefully to get a photo or other information.

 

« Last Edit: July 25, 2017, 07:11:27 AM by chris » Logged
chris
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« Reply #94 on: August 18, 2012, 06:26:23 AM »

Damn.. was Noodles born in Kiev (Ukr) and not in Odessa? I would have never thought so..

So, Chris, in your impression, has Harry Goldberg ever been a mobster or he just pretended to be that in his fictional book (it doesn't seem he was poor and indigent)?

Then: Did Leone lie us about his death date? And did Noodles lie us too about his father's death? And towards Sergio too? What an intrigue!

And finally, could i ask you to give me your opinion about decoding The Hoods dedication "my true and loyal mob M, B, S, H (it's Mildred, Beverly, Simeon and Harvey)?

We only have Simeon's word that Harry or Herschel was born in Kiev.

Father was a ragpicker then was taken seriously ill and had to go into hospital for an operation. Mother had five children and no income. Sounds fairly poor.

I don't think Leone lied to us.  Harry's widow may have been vague, Leone may have misunderstood her and other people hearing the story may have put their own interpretation on it.

Harry Grey made it clear that some of the events and dates in his book are deliberately disguised.  Anyway we now know that his father's name was Israel, Israel had a serious health problem prior to 1915, his mother died near the end of prohibition and his kid brother was a newspaper reporter.

The decoding of M B S & H is interesting.  It's actually M B H & S which fits with the birth dates order.

The main question is of course was Harry a mobster.  Sergio Leone was certainly shrewd and a good judge of character and had several meetings with Harry Grey.  From Leone's interview with Positif Magazine no 280 dated June 1984: "The most fascinating part of the book, the truest, most authentic is definitely the part about his childhood...Afterwards he doesn't reveal all the truth about his grown-up years: a lot of things stayed in the closet."  

I think Harry was certainly the black sheep of the family, not as innocent as portrayed by Simeon but not on the same level as that portrayed in 'The Hoods'.

 

« Last Edit: August 18, 2012, 06:53:31 AM by chris » Logged
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« Reply #95 on: August 18, 2012, 02:21:40 PM »

For me, it sounds very different from poverty his economic condition, it doesn't appear that his adolescence was characterized by poverty and the difficulty of finding work, indeed! if his mother ran a thriving business in the catering sector, I am sure that Harry and his family had a life of ease and totally different from what he has told in "The Hood"; perhaps, in my interpretation he simply pretended to be someone belonging to a violent reality that he saw every day, from whuch he was attracted, but that has never been part of it; anyway, i didn't understand if his name was Harry (as in the census) or Herschel (as PS, according to Simeon, said), and neither the information about his birth place, Kiev; wasn't his father from Odessa (South Ukraine, Kiev is on the opposite North) according to what rabbi in the hoods said?


You know, it almost sounds as if its Fat Moe's family, described above, perhaps the characters are amalgamations of various real life people.

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« Reply #96 on: August 18, 2012, 08:08:04 PM »

in STDWD, Frayling writes about the way that Grey used to pose in publicity photographs. So it would seem that Sir Christopher has seen the photos of him. If anyone really wants to see a photo of Grey, perhaps there is some way to contact Frayling, share this info with him and ask if he has any photos of him.

Also, remember that Grey supposedly wrote The Hoods while in Sing Sing. None of that info came up here in the recent posts. Whats the deal with that? Did the Palm Springs people just try to cover all that stuff up? Or have you figured out which Sing Sing prisoner he was, and what his crime and dates of incarceration were?

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« Reply #97 on: August 19, 2012, 03:01:04 AM »

You know, it almost sounds as if its Fat Moe's family, described above, perhaps the characters are amalgamations of various real life people.

Yes I thought that too, cigar joe.

There's no record of the family in the 1920 census and I'll have another look at that area. I'll also write to Simeon and if I get a response I'll post it.

When SimRob checked with the Jewish Home in Hawthorne, they said their records had been destroyed. There is a Harry Goldberg with the same birth year on their 1910 census but unless there's double counting in the censuses, it may not be our guy.

There are inmates in Sing Sing with similar names and people like Ron Aron will supply details of addresses and ages and even do research but I wouldn't expect them to do it for free.

From 1914 things moneywise picked up for the family but prior to that their circumstances sound quite destitute to me.  Ragpicking involves going through things thrown away by other families and their waste to see if any of it can be re-used or sold.  Most families in the area would have been destitute and most of their waste would really only have been fit for the back of a garbage truck.  After 1920 Harry's father was unemployed so again things may gone quite badly.

I'll have another look at passenger lists for 1903 to 1905. The main problem is that families may be listed under their Jewish names and, for example, I have no idea what the Jewish equivalent of Celia is.  Kiev or Odessa may be shown on the passenger list.  Many immigrants, once they had settled in America, changed their names to more American sounding names and it seems popular for Herschels to change their name to Harry.

If the book is fiction and Harry was not involved in criminal activities, it seems odd that he would go to the trouble of changing his surname and that of his family to Grey and become a recluse.  I wouldn't ignore the subsequent meetings between Sergio Leone and Harry Grey, their conversations in which Grey was more revealing and Leone's ability to spot a fraud.

 
 

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« Reply #98 on: August 19, 2012, 07:41:56 PM »


If the book is fiction and Harry was not involved in criminal activities, it seems odd that he would go to the trouble of changing his surname and that of his family to Grey and become a recluse.  I wouldn't ignore the subsequent meetings between Sergio Leone and Harry Grey, their conversations in which Grey was more revealing and Leone's ability to spot a fraud.

 


I'm not saying that Grey was never involved in criminal activities; and Leone never said that. He just said that Grey was a small-time guy who dreamed up a lot of shit in his book. (And there's no doubt that many of the stories in the book are nonsense). STDWD, p. 391: Leone "had learned that Noodles was not, decisively, 'Paul Muni in Scarface or James Cagney in Public Enemy.' Nor was he Dutch Schultz or Al Capone. Noodles was 'a poor man who had tried his luck, a long time ago, with a machine gun in his hand and a Borsalino on his head; his destiny was to become obscure and miserable... There was no Homer to sing the song of Harry Grey, whio, however, had attempted to write his own poem of crime.' " Frayling then goes on to write about how the meeting with Grey reinforced Leone's initial intuition about the book, that the childhood scenes were authentic but everything afterward was enmeshed in movie cliche's.

So, nobody's saying that Grey was never involved in any criminal activity. All Leone's saying is that he really wasn't that big. And all I am saying is that some of the stories in the book would make a cartoonist blush

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« Reply #99 on: August 19, 2012, 07:45:36 PM »

@ Harry Goldberg: if you do achieve your lifelong dream and finally get that precious picture you are looking for, you'd better hope that the murderer has the build, like Leone said,  of Edward G. Robinson; if the picture shows some tall lanky guy, then all this work would have been for nothing   Tongue

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« Reply #100 on: August 20, 2012, 07:46:02 AM »

I got the same information from the Palm Springs Walk of Stars people that Chris has already posted here. I think our next step should be to try to find Harry's son Simeon and see what else we can find. I haven't sent a letter to the Palm Springs PO Box. I'll leave that to you Chris since I've just moved to a new country and haven't got much time at the moment! Is it also possible for you to use your expert census-searching abilities to see if you can track him down in case the PO Box is no longer valid? With the info we have on dates, relatives, etc, shouldn't be too hard to find hopefully.


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« Reply #101 on: August 20, 2012, 11:46:17 AM »

I've done some searching at Ancestry.com but I can't find the family on passenger lists or the 1920 census or photos of Harry.  I did however discover a proper address for Simeon who is now 71 years of age.  I'll send a courteous letter and if I get a response, I'll post it.

Often descendants don't know about the criminal activities of their ancestors but Simeon does seem to have a lot of knowledge about his father's past and went to the trouble and expense of sponsoring a star on the Palm Springs walk.  He may want to put the record straight.  We'll see.

 

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« Reply #102 on: August 20, 2012, 11:47:56 AM »

I'm not interested in the quality of his body, only in discovering visually who Harry Goldberg was; i didn't get your point, anyway.
And the ironic side of the story, is that, over (according to Leone) the tight physical similarity Harry had with E. G. Robinson, they had the same last name too (real Edward's name, as you already know probably, was "Emmanuel Goldberg", born in Bucarest). Only conversation..

it was actually "Goldenberg"  Wink

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« Reply #103 on: August 20, 2012, 11:48:49 AM »

I believe census records are available via the National Archives http://www.archives.gov/

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« Reply #104 on: August 20, 2012, 12:16:32 PM »

I have the 1920 census but I can't find Israel, Celia, Harry and the others on it.  The family may have broken up, there may be transcription errors or perhaps they just got missed.   I have tried areas other than New York and different birth dates.  It happens.

 

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