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Author Topic: The Hoods  (Read 78997 times)
chris
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« Reply #15 on: July 01, 2012, 05:50:12 AM »

Hi Harry.

Welcome to the board and hope your research goes well.

I have no doubts that Harry Grey/Goldberg was a small-time hood who had speakeasies and did jobs on his own account and for Frank Costello and the mob.  Events similar to most of those described in the book will have happened in real life but it is likely that Grey's involvement has been exaggerated.

Some facts about Harry Grey/Goldberg which may have not been mentioned here:

Shortly before filming started in June 1982, Sergio Leone tried to contact Harry Grey/Goldberg. He was told that he had died a few weeks earlier.  So the date of death of Harry Grey/Goldberg was approx. Feb/Mar 1982.  Death certificates and records would then show Goldberg's approximate date of birth.

All Sergio Leone's meetings with Harry Grey/Goldberg were in the New York/Brooklyn/Queens areas.

If Goldberg's father was named Israel and died in 1916 that would help with census and death records.

Harry Grey/Goldberg wrote the book whilst he was in Sing Sing.


Ron Arons is a Jew living in New York whose grandfather did time in Sing Sing.  He has spent many years researching Jews who did time there and has visited Sing Sing as a researcher.  He has written books including The Jews of Sing-Sing and does talks on researching criminal ancestors.  His contact details and a free on-line searchable database of the inmates of Sing Sing is at his web site:

www.ronarons.com
 

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« Reply #16 on: July 01, 2012, 07:41:29 AM »

Yes, i confirm it, Srulick it's the English transliteration of Israel name.
Anyway, i didn't know that Leone had this impression about him (a loser who attempted success at one point of his life with a Tommy and a Borsalino); where did you read this?

Anyway, i disagree with you partially, and i tell you why: if Noodles hasn't lied (but it's probably he has) and, with his gang, he was associated with highest mobster in that era (Costello, Capone, Luciano, etc., as he mentions in the book) he absolutely WAS a major high-profile mobster, otherwise he's never could been associated (and neither know personally, premising he was saying the truth)with that MASTERS, no?

One of these two things: or he changed completely he and his gang's name, and he's really existed as a major mobster, and we can even (or we did) read about him largely of him without know that mobster is him, or he has only boasted of a life he's never lived.

Anyway, man, you seem well-documented, do you know some other interesting clue which could help us in this research?

Thanks (excuse for my poor english)


Read Christopher Frayling's biography on Leone called "Something To Do With Death," specifically the chapter on Once Upon a Time in America. That's pretty much where I got all my info.

Besides, if you read The Hoods you can tell instantly that half the stuff in there is bullshit. The stories are fantasy. About the other half, who knows.

Here is a blog some guy keeps about Jewish gangsters http://sixforfive.blogspot.com/ Don't think you'll find any info on Goldberg there.

Who knows if his real name, back in the days he was a gangster, was Harry Goldberg anyway

« Last Edit: July 01, 2012, 07:44:42 AM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #17 on: July 01, 2012, 09:47:56 AM »

Harry - welcome to the board.  Many of us in the U.S. are a conglomeration of nationalities, likely one of the strengths of the U.S. 

I read somewhere - probably here or in one of the books - that Leone turned down the Godfather job because he was more intrigued by the legacy of jewish gangsters.  Most stereotype jewish folks as accountants, lawyers, etc. who can't do auto repairs, fix-ups, construction, manufacturing, etc., but that's just a msterotype.  Guess who does this stuff in the country of Israel?  Even in sports: look at the early history of the NBA, remember Sandy Koufax (I saw him play), Hank Greenberg?  Nowadays, such stuff doesn't even make the news.  But Leone wanted to show that side of the culture.

Now there's a black President, and looks like he'll be running against a Mormon.  When Kennedy was running, there was discrimination against a catholic candidate; even Humphrey in the primaries had a campaign song "Give me that old time religion", subtlely (or not so subtle) reminder that Kennedy had a different religion.  Race relations in the US, the first real mixed-race country have improved dramatically in the past 50 years, but it just doesn't happen overnight.  As folks work with, play on sports teams with and against others, the barriers break, but not overnight.

Years ago, I had a girlfriend Debbie who was Italian-Mexican, and catholic.  Her parents were split up so she called herself  Mexican, but she was the same as everybody else.  Being half-Mexican and/or catholic didn't make any difference, and was NOT a factor, plus or minus: she was Debbie !!!

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« Reply #18 on: July 01, 2012, 10:59:58 AM »

Harry - welcome to the board.  Many of us in the U.S. are a conglomeration of nationalities, likely one of the strengths of the U.S.  

I read somewhere - probably here or in one of the books - that Leone turned down the Godfather job because he was more intrigued by the legacy of jewish gangsters.  Most stereotype jewish folks as accountants, lawyers, etc. who can't do auto repairs, fix-ups, construction, manufacturing, etc., but that's just a msterotype.  Guess who does this stuff in the country of Israel?  Even in sports: look at the early history of the NBA, remember Sandy Koufax (I saw him play), Hank Greenberg?  Nowadays, such stuff doesn't even make the news.  But Leone wanted to show that side of the culture.

Now there's a black President, and looks like he'll be running against a Mormon.  When Kennedy was running, there was discrimination against a catholic candidate; even Humphrey in the primaries had a campaign song "Give me that old time religion", subtlely (or not so subtle) reminder that Kennedy had a different religion.  Race relations in the US, the first real mixed-race country have improved dramatically in the past 50 years, but it just doesn't happen overnight.  As folks work with, play on sports teams with and against others, the barriers break, but not overnight.

Years ago, I had a girlfriend Debbie who was Italian-Mexican, and catholic.  Her parents were split up so she called herself  Mexican, but she was the same as everybody else.  Being half-Mexican and/or catholic didn't make any difference, and was NOT a factor, plus or minus: she was Debbie !!!

Thanks for the lesson on race relations, Cusser  Wink (Koufax and Greenberg played in MLB, not the NBA. And here's a little nugget of info: In 1951, Koufax played basketball in a league based out of a local Jewish Community House in Bensonhurst, and won the lcal championship. To this day, the center has photos hanging just outside its gym, of its team from each year. The picture of the 1951 team, including Koufax, still hangs outside the gym -- a 2- minute walk from my house http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Koufax#Early_life )

As for the reason Leone chose to do The Hoods and turned down The Godfather, I didn't read that it's specifically because he wanted to do a story about Jewish gangsters. He had read The Hoods (actually, his brother i law had read it to him; Leone couldn't read English) and he was thinking about doing a movie on it  by the time of GBU. He wanted to make the movie immediately after GBU, but the studio wanted another Western, they promised him he could do his gangster epic if he did another Western first, and that is how OUATITW came about. Afterward, Leone turned his attention to doing The Hoods. But it got bogged down for several reasons, including the fact that someone else owned the movie rights and it took a long time for Alberto Grimaldi to buy it from that person for Leone, then there were disputes with Grimaldi, who left the project but sold the rights to Leone, etc. etc. and it took a decade and a half to get off the ground, which it finally did when Arnon Milchan agreed to produce it. On p. 437 of STDWD, Frayling says, "The reason Arnon Milchan had managed to get the film off the ground where others had failed was entirely because of Robert De Niro," and Frayling then goes on to describe De Niro's involvement.
So for the decade and a half following GBU, Leone was focusing on doing OUATIA. So I guess it is understandable that when he was approached to do The Godfather, another gangster movie, he'd turn it down cuz he was focused on his own, very different, gangster movie. Of course, as it turned out, OUATIA isn't really a "gangster movie" like The Godfather is; it's really about Time and Dreams and Cinema, etc.

I pretty much got all this info from Frayling's amazing chapter on OUATIA.  It's about 85 pages long and just brilliant. I think it has much more info on that movie than on the other movies cuz it was made much later, and by the time Frayling wrote his book, most of the people involved in that movie (besides Leone) were still alive, and Frayling already knew Leone personally by the time of the making of that movie. So there is a wealth of information on the making of OUATIA, it's worth buying STDWD for that chapter alone  Afro

As for the issue of Jewish gangsters, and why Hollywood always depicted Italian and Irish gangs, but rarely Jews: one possible reason I read (I think it was also in STDWD) is that the studio heads were mostly Jewish immigrants from European countries, who had escaped persecution, and they were grateful for American freedoms and tried blending quietly into American society; many of them ditched their religion and "Americanized" their names, eg. Sam Goldwyn was born in Poland as Shmuel Gelbfish; (same with many actors of the early days of Hollywood, eg. Edward G. Robinson was born Emmanuel Goldenberg in Romania; Julius Garfinkle changed his name to John Garfield at the request of Jack Warner). Anyway, these studio heads who had escaped persecution in Europe were careful not to do anything that might arouse Jew-hatred, so, according to Frayling, that's why they refrained from depicting Jewish gangsters on screen.

Similarly, Leone specifically sought to distinguish between Italian gangsters and Jewish gangsters: Italians admired the gangsters from within their community; the Jews despised Jewish gangsters. (This is emphasized in The Hoods as well). That's the point of the scene with the limo driver, which has recently been restored -- he is a Jew who, like the rest of his community, despises Noodles and his kind.

« Last Edit: July 01, 2012, 12:34:34 PM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #19 on: July 01, 2012, 12:11:20 PM »

Okay, I found some of the sources in STDWD for what i said in the previous posts:

Leone's assertion about the kind of gangster Grey was is on p. 391 of STDWD: Frayling quotes Leone as saying that 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 who, however, had attempted to write his own poem of crime."

And for the part about why the movie studios didn't depict Jewish gangsters, that's on p. 386 of STDWD: After describing how the movie moguls were mostly Jewish immigrants from Europe, Frayling says: "And by 1908, there were 100 movie houses in the Jewish quarter of New York alone. But in disseminating and to some extent creating the "American Dream," the moguls submerged their own ethnic identity and avoidd subjects that could in any way arouse prejudice against them. Their families had experienced enough of that back in Europe. The low esteem in which the movies were held by the WASP cultural establishment made the film industry the perfect route for the complete assimilation of the moguls into the host community. For obvious reasons, Jewish gangsters were out."
(A footnote offers no less than 6 sources "on this aspect of the history of the gangster film.")


The part about scene with the limo driver depicting the hatred that the Jewish community had for Jewish gangsters is on p. 437: In this scene, Leone said, is "where you can feel intuitively their mutual concern and where the difference between the Italian Mafia and the Jewish equivalent is explained. The Jewish people did not admire their gangsters, unlike the Italo-Americans."


« Last Edit: July 01, 2012, 12:31:19 PM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #20 on: July 01, 2012, 05:52:12 PM »

My "info" was for Harry, who I believe has always lived in Europe.

I didn't say Koufax and Greenberg played in the NBA; I saw Koufax and Drysadale pitch games of a doubleheader against the Pirates in 1966 in Forbes Field; Pirates won both.

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« Reply #21 on: July 01, 2012, 11:40:49 PM »

I saw Koufax and Drysadale pitch games of a doubleheader against the Pirates in 1966 in Forbes Field; Pirates won both.

That's awesome  Afro Afro

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« Reply #22 on: July 02, 2012, 08:18:37 AM »

I see that this guy Ron Arons is speaking in New York on Thursday  Wink Seems like he is the expert at doing this sort of research; I'd bet that he knows about Grey. You can send him an email here http://www.ronarons.com/contact.php

---

Frayling says that in publicity photos, Grey would appear with his hat brim pulled low and a trench coat with his collar turned up, looking like a gangster. So I guess Frayling may have seen those pictures (unless someone else told him that info).

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« Reply #23 on: July 02, 2012, 10:27:16 AM »

I've never seen any photos of Harry Grey/Goldberg but Sergio Leone described him as short and thick-set with a bull neck, a very smooth face and the rosy complexion of a child, looking something like Edward G Robinson.

At the first meeting between Sergio Leone and Harry Grey in 1968, Leone thought he was over 70 years of age but in the book he is in 7th grade school in 1914. Date of birth could be anytime between 1895 to 1905. I think Delancey Street was in Ward 13 of Manhattan.

I did query something once with Ron Arons and he was very helpful. There is a chapter in his book Jews of Sing Sing about Harry Goldberg aka Henry Goldberg aka Dutch Goldberg but it's a while since I read the book and I don't think it's our Harry Grey/Goldberg.

As you say many Goldbergs have been incarcerated at Sing Sing.  Ron was willing to supply me with further information but the names need to be narrowed down.

Since then I've done my own family tree using www.ancestry.com and associated sites. They claim to have the largest on-line collection of genealogical information in the world and offer a free 14 day trial period.

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« Reply #24 on: July 03, 2012, 03:26:16 AM »

Hi Harry

The previous description of Harry Grey/Goldberg is from Frayling's STDWD but it's similar to that in Leone's 1984 interview with Cahiers du Cinema:

"Physiquement, il ressemble un peu à Edward G. Robinson, petit, gros, avec un visage rose d'enfant, comme de la céramique, beau, vraiment beau."

Frayling's book is a good starting point but I often prefer to go back the original sources e.g.

Issue 359 Cahiers du Cinema dated May 1984

Simsolo's Conversations avec Sergio Leone

Oreste de Fornari and Robert Cumbow's books

Jean A Gili - Italian Filmakers

Sergio Leone had several meetings with Harry Grey/Goldberg and during those meetings he learnt a lot about him - a lot that is not in the book.

Sergio Leone in the Jean A Gili book:  "The most facinating 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."

If Sergio Leone said Harry Grey's surname was Goldberg I would believe him. There were hundreds of Jewish gangsters about whom very little is known. Schomberg is too high profile and died in 1975.

I'm not sure what you hope to achieve but if I were trying to find out more about Goldberg I would start with the facts we know - i.e. death in 1982 probably in Queens, death of father (Israel?) in 1916 (?) at Bellevue hospital etc.  If you can pin point one specific fact and match that with official records, it may open up everything else.


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« Reply #25 on: July 03, 2012, 04:25:11 AM »

you guys are on a roll, keep on going. Afro

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« Reply #26 on: July 03, 2012, 06:00:12 AM »

So the only glaring discrepancy between Louis Schomberg & Leone's biographer's account of Grey/Goldberg is the date of death, which could be a mistake (or deliberate to keep Grey/Goldberg's anonymity) in STTWD.

Interesting.  Afro

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« Reply #27 on: July 03, 2012, 06:08:49 AM »

So the only glaring discrepancy between Louis Schomberg & Leone's biographer's account of Grey/Goldberg is the date of death, which could be a mistake (or deliberate to keep Grey/Goldberg's anonymity) in STTWD.

Interesting.  Afro

my guess is that Leone and Frayling were not concerned with Grey's anonymity once he died.

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« Reply #28 on: July 03, 2012, 06:32:50 AM »



2) Ron Arons has just answered me; he told me Harry Goldberg could be Louis Schomberg (about whom there's even a chapter on his book "Jews of Sing Sing") who had an alias of Harry Goldberg; chris, tell me why couldn't be him, the man we're looking for?

There's only a discrepancy: Schomberg should be absolutely a nickname too, because if it's true his father was "Srulik Shtarker" Goldberg  from Odessa, Noodles' last name must be Goldberg, and if it's really Schomberg, we're wrong about the man (or maybe Dutch Goldberg was his real name?).


He does not mention his father's last name. He just says his father was called Srulick the Shtarker but makes no mention of his last name


Also, The Hoods was written while Grey was in prison. (Not sure if it was published before or after he left prison). The book was first released in the early 50's, so I guess the author would have been in Sing Sing sometime in the early 50's or late 40's?

Leone called Grey to inform him a few weeks before shooting was set to begin (in June of 1982), but Grey'w wife told Leone that Grey had died a few weeks before. So I guess you can check any possible leads against death records; the person you are looking for would have died sometime in 1982 or 1981

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« Reply #29 on: July 04, 2012, 05:40:46 AM »

What do you mean?

We don't know (at least i don't) Dutch Goldberg's date of death, it could be also 1982 (where is 1975 written?).

chris posted that a couple of posts before yours  Wink

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