Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Tough Jew Synchronicity

When I was searching for information on the infamous Brownsville candy store I stumbled across a reference to the West Wing.
Evidently the character of Toby Ziegler (played by Richard Schiff) came from Brooklyn (Brighton Beach) and his father Izzy Ziegler (played by Jerry Adler) was a former hit man for Murder Inc. Jerry Adler is also known for playing Hesh on the Sopranos. Winds up he was born in Brookjlyn in 1929 on Myrtle Avenue. I found his census listing (mistakenly done so as Jewine Adler). Maybe Jerry ran across some of these tough guys. He had an older sister (22) in 1930 named Polly! Wow could she have been the Polly Adler, the famous madam friend of Dutch Schultz (another Tough Jew, Arthur Flegenheimer). Don't think so. That Polly was born in 1900 and would have been 30 in 1930. She was born in Poland. Jerry's family was born in Austria. What would Polly Adler be living at home, she was fabulously wealthy. Unless it was a cover? Anyway, in the collage above she is pictured below Jerry Adler. Back to Richard Schiff (Toby). He was born in Colorado and came east to go to City College. After struggling as a director he got his break in acting. Now he's married to the beautiful Sheila Kelly, of LA law fame, who is known for her striptease workout. I'd say Richard is one lucky (Jewish) guy. He is also the next door neighbor in Los Angeles of my wife's cousin Ken Jaffe. the last time we were out there I heard richard and his sons playing basketball in their backyard. I try to peak through the cracks in the fnece, but was restrained.
Here's some references to an episode (from 2002) in which the candy store is mentioned
The West Wing Episode Guide discovered a great link on "Murder, Inc." and the candy store in Brownsville: "Blame it on all on Brownsville, Brooklyn" -Murder Incorporated.
Toby was born December 23, 1954. His childhood and family details are not fully known; he was from a lower-class background, and grew up in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, New York City. His father, Jules Ziegler, who, according to one episode, "needed the G.I. Bill," probably fought in World War II or the Korean War, but went on to work for Murder Incorporated and later served time in prison, complicating their relationship somewhat (note: the episode "Holy Night" suggests that "Julie" Ziegler was still involved with Murder, Inc. at the time of Toby's birth - however, in reality, Murder, Inc. had largely disappeared by the end of the 1940s).
"In Brownsville, Brooklyn, at the corner of Livonia and Saratoga Avenues, stood a small twenty-four hour candy store named Midnight Rose's. This wasn't any ordinary candy store. It housed some of the most lethal for-hire contract killers, consisting mainly of Jews and Italians, that this country has ever known. These men, dubiously named Murder Incorporated by the press, carried out over eight hundred contract murders while sharing egg creams and betting on Dodger games at Ebbets Field. . .
"The location was ideal. The candy store was located under the elevated train that brought many people too and from Manhattan. There were always kids around from the local rows of attached houses, which provided security in its own way. A street lamp gave enough light for people to see where they were going, and a small window that faced each side of the street, was perfect for a lookout. Albert 'the Mad Hatter Anastasia, long time friend of Luciano, along with Garment District king pin Louis 'Lepke' Buchalter were perfect choices for the leadership of Murder Inc. Since it was a separate entity, Murder Inc. supplied its members with lawyers when they needed one and bought their own police protection and politicians. . . .
"Murder Inc. had strict rules. Luciano and Lansky did not want policemen, judges or district attorneys rubbed out for fear of reprisal against the Syndicate. They felt that any politicians or police personnel that were on the payroll would quickly turn against them. This was an important rule that was carried down from previous generations of Mafiosi."
Toby O'Brien wrote us:
"During the episode 'Holy Night', Toby said the following to his father:
"Toby: 'I know about the candy store in Brownsville. I know about Louie Amberg. I know about The Half Moon Hotel. A sixth-story window in Coney Island.'
"This had to be a reference to the shady death of Abe 'Kid Twist' Reles, who was portrayed in the movie 'Murder, Inc.' by Peter Falk. (Who got an Oscar nomination for it).

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