Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bald Jack Rose

The morning, of July 16, at around 2.A.M. EST, will mark the 96th anniversary of the killing of gambler Herman Rosenthal in front of Metropole Hotel on Forty Third Street, which was located between Broadway and Sixth Avenue in 1912.

In a nod to a very important turning point in early Jewish crime, I thought I would post an illustration of Bald Jack Rose, a key player in the entire affair.
I had hoped to finish one up of Bridgey Webber, but a minor case of stomach flu got the better of me....

Jacob Rosensweig, known as Billiard Ball Jack in early newspaper reports, but better known as Bald Jack Rose, was a Times Square legend. A masterful poker player who suffered from a rare disorder which left him virtually hairless right down to eyebrows and eyelashes. His very pale complexion also led him to powdering his head to cut down on the bouncing glare of the summer sun.
There was no mistaking Bald Jack Rose when he strolled down Broadway.

Rose was also a bagman for Lt. Charles Becker, the notorious corrupt policeman who was the first (and possibly only) member of the NYPD to be executed at Sing Sing Prison in aftermath of the murder of Herman Rosenthal. Becker supposedly instructed Rose to conduct and see through the arrangements for Rosenthal's execution.

However, many believe to this day that Rose, along with partners Louis 'Bridgey' Webber and Harry Vallon, were the actual men behind the murder plot, and concocted an impressive and layered frame up that sent Becker (and four gunmen) to the electric chair.
Their court testimonies for the prosecution in exchange for immunity were more than likely a very tall pile of perjury, fables, and poppycock.

It's a complicated case, and Rose is just one, of an unbelievable cast of characters of criminals, politicians, city administrators, journalists, and shamed Jewish community members, that would do a Hollywood script proud. It continues to fascinate historians and writers alike as so many questions are left unanswered.

There are two really great books out there at the moment that cover all aspects in detail: Satan's Circus by Mike Dash, and Against The Evidence by Andy Logan. Logan's book, published in the '70s, is out of print, but still possibly found on used book sites.

Bald Jack Rose returned to a life as Jacob Rosensweig in the wake of the trials and executions. He cleansed himself of sins as a born again Christian, and was in high demand on the criminology lecture circuit.
And he probably had a good laugh to himself.

Riding his minor celebrity status, he was also credited with creating the ‘Jack Rose’, a very popular cocktail of its time.

2 ounces applejack
1 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce grenadine

Glass Type: cocktail glass
Instructions: Shake the applejack and other ingredients well with cracked ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

and according to Esquire's The Wondrich Take, the resident cocktail historian:

"-- the drink is based on applejack, and it's rose-pink. Play on words. In any case, the Jack Rose is an effective testament to its namesake: It's smooth and sweetish and deeply deceptive."

I couldn't of said it better myself.


Avi Davis said...

Hi Mr. Hamou,
I very much admire your blog, and I look forward to seeing your book when it comes out.

I also maintain a blog, at somereservations.blogspot.com.
If you take a look, you'll notice that I added your blog to my links section.
Would you consider adding my page on your links section? It would mean a lot.

Thanks very much, and all the best.

Yours sincerely,
Avi Davis

Pat Hamou said...

Hi Avi

Thanks for the compliment and the link. I've done the same for you and no need to be formal with the Mr.!


Drazen said...

another nice one Mr. P