Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Deathday: Charles Baudelaire 1821-1867 Poet "The Flowers of Evil"

Charles Pierre Baudelaire (pronounced /ˌboʊdəˈlɛər/; French: [ʃaʁl bodlɛʁ]; April 9, 1821 – August 31, 1867) was a nineteenth-century French poet, critic, and translator. A controversial figure in his lifetime, Baudelaire's name has become a byword for literary and artistic decadence. At the same time his works, in particular his book of poetry Les fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), have been acknowledged as classics of French literature.


Early life

Baudelaire was born in Paris, France in 1821. His father, François Baudelaire, a senior civil servant and amateur artist, was thirty-four years older than Baudelaire's mother Caroline. François died during Baudelaire's childhood, in 1827. The following year, Caroline married Lieutenant Colonel Jacques Aupick, who later became a French ambassador to various noble courts.

Baudelaire's relationship with his mother was a close and complex one, and it dominated his life.[1] He later stated ; "I loved my mother for her elegance. I was a precocious dandy";and in a letter to her that, "There was in my childhood a period of passionate love for you".[2] Aupick, a rigid disciplinarian, though concerned for Baudelaire's upbringing and future, soon came to be at odds with his stepson's artistic temperament.[3]

Baudelaire was educated in Lyon, where he was forced to board away from his mother (even during holidays) and accept his stepfather's rigid methods, which included depriving him of visits home when his grades slipped. He wrote when recalling those times: "A shudder at the grim years of claustration [...] the unease of wretched and abandoned childhood, the hatred of tyrannical schoolfellows, and the solitude of the heart."[4] Baudelaire at fourteen was described by a classmate: "He was much more refined and distinguished than any of our fellow pupils [...] we are bound to one another[...] by shared tastes and sympathies, the precocious love of fine works of literature".[5] Later, he attended the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris. Baudelaire was erratic in his studies, at times diligent, at other times prone to "idleness."

At eighteen, Baudelaire was described as "an exalted character, sometimes full of mysticism, and sometimes full of immorality and cynicism (which were excessive but only verbal)."[6] Upon gaining his degree in 1839, he was undecided about his future. He told his brother "I don't feel I have a vocation for anything." His stepfather had in mind a career in law or diplomacy, but instead Baudelaire decided to embark upon a literary career, and for the next two years led an irregular life, socializing with other bohemian artists and writers.[7]

Baudelaire began to frequent prostitutes and may have contracted gonorrhea and syphilis during this period. He went to a pharmacist known for venereal disease treatments, on recommendation of his older brother Alphonse, a magistrate.[8] For a while, he took on a prostitute named Sara as his mistress and lived with his brother when his funds were low. His stepfather kept him on a tight allowance which he spent as quickly as he received it. Baudelaire began to run up debts, mostly for clothes. His stepfather demanded an accounting and wrote to Alphonse: "The moment has come when something must be done to save your brother from absolute perdition."[9] In the hope of reforming him and making a man of him, his stepfather sent him on a voyage to Calcutta, India in 1841, under the care of a former naval captain. Baudelaire's mother was distressed both by his poor behavior and by the proposed solution.[10]

The arduous trip, however, did nothing to turn Baudelaire's mind away from a literary career or from his casual attitude toward life, so the naval captain agreed to let Baudelaire return home. Though Baudelaire later exaggerated his aborted trip to create a legend about his youthful travels and experiences, including "riding on elephants," the trip did provide strong impressions of the sea, sailing, and exotic ports, that he later employed in his poetry.[11] Baudelaire returned to Paris after less than a year's absence. Much to his parents' chagrin, he was more determined than ever to continue with his literary career. His mother later recalled: "Oh, what grief! If Charles had let himself be guided by his stepfather, his career would have been very different... He would not have left a name in literature, it is true, but we should have been happier, all three of us."[12]

Soon, Baudelaire returned to the taverns to philosophize, recite his unpublished poems and enjoy the adulation of his artistic peers. At twenty-one, he received a good-sized inheritance of over 100,000 francs, plus four parcels of land, but squandered much of it within a few years, including borrowing heavily against his mortgages. He quickly piled up debts far exceeding his annual income and, out of desperation, his family obtained a decree to place his property in trust.[13] During this time he met Jeanne Duval, the illegitimate daughter of a prostitute from Nantes, who was to become his longest romantic association. She had been the mistress of the caricaturist and photographer Nadar. His mother thought Duval a "Black Venus" who "tortured him in every way" and drained him of money at every opportunity.[14]


While still unpublished in 1843, Baudelaire became known in artistic circles as a dandy and free-spender, buying up books, art and antiques he couldn't afford. By 1844, he was eating on credit and half his inheritance was gone. Baudelaire regularly implored his mother for money while he tried to advance his career. He met Balzac around this time and began to write many of the poems which would appear in Les fleurs du mal.[15] His first published work was his art review "Salon of 1845," which attracted immediate attention for its boldness. Many of his critical opinions were novel in their time, including his championing of Delacroix, but have since been generally accepted. Baudelaire proved himself to be a well-informed and passionate critic and he gained the attention of the greater art community.[16] That summer, however, despondent about his meager income, rising debts, loneliness and doubtful future, because "the fatigue of falling asleep and the fatigue of waking are unbearable," he decided to commit suicide and leave the remainder of his inheritance to his mistress. However, he lost his resolve and wounded himself with a knife only superficially. He implored his mother to visit him as he recovered but she ignored his pleas, perhaps under orders from her husband.[17] For a time, Baudelaire was homeless and completely estranged from his parents, until they relented due to his poor condition.

In 1846, Baudelaire wrote his second Salon review, gaining additional credibility as an advocate and critic of Romanticism. His support of Delacroix as the foremost Romantic artist gained widespread notice.[18] The following year Baudelaire's novella La Fanfarlo was published.

Baudelaire took part in the Revolutions of 1848.[19] For some years, he was interested in republican politics; but his political tendencies were more emotional positions than steadfast convictions, and spanned Blanquism, sympathy with the ideas of Histoire de la Raison d'Ėtat of Giuseppe Ferrari, as well as with the ultramontane critique of liberalism of Joseph de Maistre. His stepfather, also caught up in the Revolution, survived the mob and was appointed envoy extraordinary to Turkey by the new government despite his ties to the deposed royal family.[20]

In the early 1850s, Baudelaire struggled with poor health, pressing debts, and irregular literary output. He often moved from one lodging to another and maintained an uneasy relationship with his mother, frequently imploring her by letter for money. (Her letters to him have not been found.) [21] He received many projects that he was unable to complete, though he did finish translations of stories by Edgar Allan Poe which were published in Le Pays.[22] Baudelaire had learned English in his childhood, and Gothic novels, such as Lewis's The Monk, and Poe's short stories, became some of his favorite reading matter, and major influences.

Upon the death of his stepfather in 1857, Baudelaire received no mention in the will but he was heartened nonetheless that the division with his mother might now be mended. Still strongly tied to her emotionally, at thirty-six he wrote her: "believe that I belong to you absolutely, and that I belong only to you."[23]

The Flowers of Evil

Baudelaire was a slow and fastidious worker, often sidetracked by indolence, emotional distress and illness, and it was not until 1857 that he published his first and most famous volume of poems, Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), originally titled Les Limbes.[24] Some of these poems had already appeared in the Revue des deux mondes (Review of Two Worlds), when they were published by Baudelaire's friend Auguste Poulet Malassis, who had inherited a printing business at Alençon.

The poems found a small, appreciative audience, but greater public attention was given to their subject matter. The effect on fellow artists was, as Théodore de Banville stated, "immense, prodigious, unexpected, mingled with admiration and with some indefinable anxious fear."[25] Flaubert, recently attacked in a similar fashion for Madame Bovary (and acquitted), was impressed and wrote to Baudelaire: "You have found a way to rejuvenate Romanticism... You are as unyielding as marble, and as penetrating as an English mist."[26]

The principal themes of sex and death were considered scandalous. He also touched on lesbianism, sacred and profane love, metamorphosis, melancholy, the corruption of the city, lost innocence, the oppressiveness of living and wine. Notable in some poems is Baudelaire's use of imagery of the sense of smell and of fragrances, which is used to evoke feelings of nostalgia and past intimacy.[27]

The book, however, quickly became a byword for unwholesomeness among mainstream critics of the day. Some critics called a few of the poems "masterpieces of passion, art and poetry" but other poems were deemed to merit no less than legal action to suppress them.[28] J. Habas writing in Le Figaro, led the charge against Baudelaire, writing: "Everything in it which is not hideous is incomprehensible, everything one understands is putrid." Then Baudelaire responded to the outcry, in a prophetic letter to his mother:

"You know that I have always considered that literature and the arts pursue an aim independent of morality. Beauty of conception and style is enough for me. But this book, whose title (Fleurs du mal) says everything, is clad, as you will see, in a cold and sinister beauty. It was created with rage and patience. Besides, the proof of its positive worth is in all the ill that they speak of it. The book enrages people. Moreover, since I was terrified myself of the horror that I should inspire, I cut out a third from the proofs. They deny me everything, the spirit of invention and even the knowledge of the French language. I don't care a rap about all these imbeciles, and I know that this book, with its virtues and its faults, will make its way in the memory of the lettered public, beside the best poems of V. Hugo, Th. Gautier and even Byron." [29]

Baudelaire, his publisher and the printer were successfully prosecuted for creating an offense against public morals. They were fined but Baudelaire was not imprisoned.[30] Six of the poems were suppressed, but printed later as Les Épaves (The Wrecks) (Brussels, 1866). Another edition of Les Fleurs du mal, without these poems, but with considerable additions, appeared in 1861. Many notables rallied behind Baudelaire and condemned the sentence. Victor Hugo wrote to him: "Your fleurs du mal shine and dazzle like stars... I applaud your vigorous spirit with all my might."[31] Baudelaire did not appeal the judgment but his fine was reduced. Nearly 100 years later, on May 11, 1949, Baudelaire was vindicated, the judgment officially reversed, and the six banned poems reinstated in France.[31]

In the poem "Au lecteur" ("To the Reader") that prefaces Les Fleurs du mal, Baudelaire accuses his readers of hypocrisy and of being as guilty of sins and lies as the poet:

...If rape or arson, poison or the knife
Has wove no pleasing patterns in the stuff
Of this drab canvas we accept as life—
It is because we are not bold enough!
(Roy Campbell's translation)

Final years

Baudelaire next worked on a translation and adaptation of Thomas de Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium Eater.[32] Other works in the years that followed included Petits Poèmes en prose (Small Prose poems); a series of art reviews published in the Pays, Exposition universelle (Country, World Fair); studies on Gustave Flaubert (in L'Artiste, October 18, 1857); on Théophile Gautier (Revue contemporaine, September 1858); various articles contributed to Eugene Crepet's Poètes francais; Les Paradis artificiels: opium et haschisch (French poets; Artificial Paradises: opium and hashish) (1860); and Un Dernier Chapitre de l'histoire des oeuvres de Balzac (A Final Chapter of the history of works of Balzac) (1880), originally an article "Comment on paye ses dettes quand on a du génie" ("How one pays one's debts when one has genius"), in which his criticism turns against his friends Honoré de Balzac, Théophile Gautier, and Gérard de Nerval.

By 1859, his illnesses, his long-term use of laudanum, his life of stress and poverty had taken a toll and Baudelaire had aged noticeably. But at last, his mother relented and agreed to let him live with her for a while at Honfleur. Baudelaire was productive and at peace in the seaside town, his poem Le Voyage being one example of his efforts during that time.[33] In 1860, he became an ardent supporter of Richard Wagner.

His financial difficulties increased again, however, particularly after his publisher Poulet Malassis went bankrupt in 1861. In 1864, he left Paris for Belgium, partly in the hope of selling the rights to his works and also to give lectures.[34] His long-standing relationship with Jeanne Duval continued on-and-off, and he helped her to the end of his life. Baudelaire's relationships with actress Marie Daubrun and with courtesan Apollonie Sabatier, though the source of much inspiration, never produced any lasting satisfaction. He smoked opium, and in Brussels he began to drink to excess. Baudelaire suffered a massive stroke in 1866 and paralysis followed. The last two years of his life were spent, in a semi-paralyzed state, in "maisons de santé" in Brussels and in Paris, where he died on August 31, 1867. Baudelaire is buried in the Cimetière du Montparnasse, Paris.

Many of Baudelaire's works were published posthumously. After his death, his mother paid off his substantial debts, and at last she found some comfort in Baudelaire's emerging fame. "I see that my son, for all his faults, has his place in literature". She lived another four years.[35]


Baudelaire was an active participant in the artistic life of his times. As critic and essayist, he wrote extensively and perceptively about the luminaries and themes of French culture. He was frank with friends and enemies, rarely took the diplomatic approach and sometimes responded violently verbally, which often undermined his cause.[36] His associations were numerous and included: Gustave Courbet, Honoré Daumier, Franz Liszt, Champfleury, Victor Hugo, Gustave Flaubert, Balzac and the artists and writers that follow.

Edgar Allan Poe

In 1846 and 1847, Baudelaire became acquainted with the works of Poe, in which he found tales and poems that had, he claimed, long existed in his own brain but never taken shape. Baudelaire had much in common with Poe (who died in 1849 at age forty). Both had a similar sensibility and macabre and supernatural turn of mind; both struggled with illness, poverty, and melancholy. Baudelaire saw in Poe a precursor and tried to be his French contemporary counterpart.[37] From this time until 1865, he was largely occupied with translating Poe's works; his translations were widely praised. Baudelaire was not the first French translator of Poe, but his "scrupulous translations" were considered among the best. These were published as Histoires extraordinaires (Extraordinary stories) (1852), Nouvelles histoires extraordinaires (New extraordinary stories) (1857), Aventures d'Arthur Gordon Pym, Eureka, and Histoires grotesques et sérieuses (Grotesque and serious stories) (1865). Two essays on Poe are to be found in his Oeuvres complètes (Complete works) (vols. v. and vi.).

Eugène Delacroix

A strong supporter of the Romantic painter Delacroix, Baudelaire called him "a poet in painting." Baudelaire also absorbed much of Delacroix's aesthetic ideas as expressed in his journals. As Baudelaire elaborated in his "Salon of 1846," "As one contemplates his series of pictures, one seems to be attending the celebration of some grievous mystery... This grave and lofty melancholy shines with a dull light... plaintive and profound like a melody by Weber."[18] Delacroix, though appreciative, kept his distance from Baudelaire, particularly after the scandal of Les Fleurs du mal. In private correspondence, Delacroix stated that Baudelaire "really gets on my nerves" and he expressed his unhappiness with Baudelaire's persistent comments about "melancholy" and "feverishness."[38]

Richard Wagner

Baudelaire had no formal musical training, and knew little of composers beyond Beethoven and Carl Maria von Weber. Weber was in some ways Wagner's precursor, using the leitmotif and conceiving the idea of the "total art work" ("Gesamtkunstwerk"), both of which found Baudelaire's admiration. Before even hearing Wagner's music, Baudelaire studied reviews and essays about him, and formulated his impressions. Later, Baudelaire put them into his non-technical analysis of Wagner, which was highly regarded, particularly his essay "Richard Wagner et Tannhäuser à Paris".[39] Baudelaire's reaction to music was passionate and psychological. "Music engulfs (possesses) me like the sea".[39] After attending three Wagner concerts in Paris in 1860, Baudelaire wrote to the composer: "I had a feeling of pride and joy in understanding, in being possessed, in being overwhelmed, a truly sensual pleasure like that of rising in the air".[40] Baudelaire's writings contributed to the elevation of Wagner and to the cult of Wagnerism that swept Europe in the following decades.

Théophile Gautier

Gautier, writer and poet, earned Baudelaire's respect for his perfection of form and his mastery of language, though Baudelaire thought he lacked deeper emotion and spirituality. Both strove to express the artist's inner vision, which Heinrich Heine had earlier stated: "In artistic matters, I am a supernaturalist. I believe that the artist can not find all his forms in nature, but that the most remarkable are revealed to him in his soul".[41] Gautier's frequent meditations on death and the horror of life are themes which influenced Baudelaire writings. In gratitude for their friendship and commonality of vision, Baudelaire dedicated Les Fleurs du mal to Gautier.

Édouard Manet

Manet and Baudelaire became constant companions from around 1855. In the early 1860s, Baudelaire accompanied Manet on daily sketching trips and often met him socially. He also lent Baudelaire money and looked after his affairs, particularly when Baudelaire went to Belgium. Baudelaire encouraged Manet to strike his own path and not succumb to criticism. "Manet has great talent, a talent which will stand the test of time. But he has a weak character. He seems to me crushed and stunned by shock."[42] In his painting Music in the Tuileries, Manet includes portraits of his friends Théophile Gautier, Jacques Offenbach, and Baudelaire.[43] While it's difficult to differentiate who influenced whom, both Manet and Baudelaire discussed and expressed some common themes through their respective arts. Baudelaire praised the modernity of Manet's subject matter: "almost all our originality comes from the stamp that 'time' imprints upon our feelings."[44] When Manet's famous Olympia (1865), a portrait of a nude prostitute, provoked a scandal for its blatant realism mixed with an imitation of Renaissance motifs, Baudelaire worked privately to support his friend, though he offered no public defense (he was, however, ill at the time). When Baudelaire returned from Belgium after his stroke, Manet and his wife were frequent visitors at the nursing home and she would play passages from Wagner for Baudelaire on the piano.[45]


Nadar (Félix Tournachon) was a noted caricaturist, scientist and important early photographer. Baudelaire admired Nadar, one of his closest friends, and wrote: "Nadar is the most amazing manifestation of vitality."[46] They moved in similar circles and Baudelaire made many social connections through him. Nadar's ex-mistress Jeanne Duval became Baudelaire's mistress around 1842. Baudelaire became interested in photography in the 1850s and denounced it as an art form and advocated for its return to "its real purpose, which is that of being the servant to the sciences and arts." Photography should not, according to Baudelaire, encroach upon "the domain of the impalpable and the imaginary."[47] Nadar remained a stalwart friend right to Baudelaire's last days and wrote his obituary notice in Le Figaro.


Many of Baudelaire's philosophical proclamations were considered scandalous and intentionally provocative in his time. He wrote on a wide range of subjects, drawing criticism and outrage from many quarters.


"There is an invincible taste for prostitution in the heart of man, from which comes his horror of solitude. He wants to be 'two.' The man of genius wants to be 'one'... It is this horror of solitude, the need to lose oneself in the external flesh, that man nobly calls 'the need to love'." [48]


"Unable to suppress love, the Church wanted at least to disinfect it, and it created marriage." [48]

The artist

"The more a man cultivates the arts, the less randy he becomes... Only the brute is good at coupling, and copulation is the lyricism of the masses. To copulate is to enter into another–and the artist never emerges from himself." [48]

"Style is character"


"Personally, I think that the unique and supreme delight lies in the certainty of doing 'evil'–and men and women know from birth that all pleasure lies in evil." [48]


"I have no convictions, as they are understood by the men of my century, because I have no ambition... However, I have some convictions, in a nobler sense, which cannot be understood by the men of my time."[19]


Baudelaire's influence on the direction of modern French (and English) language literature was considerable. The most significant French writers to come after him were generous with tributes; four years after his death, Arthur Rimbaud praised him in a letter as 'the king of poets, a true God.'[49] In 1895, Stéphane Mallarmé published a sonnet in Baudelaire's memory, 'Le Tombeau de Charles Baudelaire.' Marcel Proust, in an essay published in 1922, stated that along with Alfred de Vigny, Baudelaire was 'the greatest poet of the nineteenth century.'[50]

In the English-speaking world, Edmund Wilson credited Baudelaire as providing an initial impetus for the Symbolist movement, by virtue of his translations of Poe.[51] In 1930, T. S. Eliot, while asserting that Baudelaire had not yet received a "just appreciation" even in France, claimed that the poet had "great genius" and asserted that his "technical mastery which can hardly be overpraised... has made his verse an inexhaustible study for later poets, not only in his own language."[52]

At the same time that Eliot was affirming Baudelaire's importance from a broadly conservative and explicitly Christian viewpoint,[53] left-wing critics such as Wilson and Walter Benjamin were able to do so from a dramatically different perspective. Benjamin translated Baudelaire's Tableaux Parisiens into German and published a major essay on translation[54] as the foreword.

In the late 1930s, Benjamin used Baudelaire as a starting point and focus for his monumental attempt at a materialist assessment of 19th century culture, Das Passagenwerk.[55] For Benjamin, Baudelaire's importance lay in his anatomies of the crowd, of the city and of modernity.[56]

In 1982, avant-garde performance artist and vocalist Diamanda Galás recorded an adaptation of his poem The Litanies of Satan (Les Litanies de Satan).

Currently, Vanderbilt University has "assembled one of the world’s most comprehensive research collections on...Baudelaire."[1]

In popular culture

In the popular Warner Bros television series Angel, it was indicated that Le Vampire was truly inspired by Baudelaire being stalked and toyed with by the notorious vampire Angelus.[57]
In Edward Albee's The Zoo Story Peter tells Jerry that compared to J.P. Marquand, Baudelaire is "by far the finer of the two."
Baudelaire's famous portrait also appears in the background of the closing sequence to the French film La Haine (1995) as a mural when Vinz (played by actor Vincent Cassell) is confronted by police officer Notre-Dame who then accidentally shoots him.
Baudelaire's poem Le Poison is recited several times in the 2004 movie Immortel (ad vitam). In the movie's final scene actress Linda Hardy is seen reading Baudelaire's book Les Fleurs Du Mal.
Baudelaire's poem "Paysage" was transposed into a song by Quebec group Les Colocs.
Baudelaire's poem "The Eyes of the Poor" (1869) has many similar lines and images with, and is widely regarded[who?] as the inspiration for, the song "How Beautiful You Are" (1987) by The Cure.

Dustin Hoffman recited Baudelaire's poem "Be Drunken" at the 22nd AFI (American Film Institute) Life Achievement Award ceremonies to the honoree, Jack Nicholson.

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events stars as the main characters the Baudelaire siblings, so named after Charles Baudelaire.
A short excerpt from Baudelaire's poem "Le Voyage" appears before "Chapter Fourteen," epilogue to Lemony Snicket's work.
Peter Laughner's song "Baudelaire" was named after the poet.[58][59]
AFI has the song Midnight Sun as a hidden track at the end of their album Black Sails in the Sunset. The lyrics are partly inspired in Baudelaire's poem De Profundis Clamavi, a translation of which is whispered in the song.
HIM's album Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice, Chapters 1–13 has a song called "Love, the Hardest Way" in which a line is "Baudelaire in Braille." The same is also the title of the second disc to the "Heartagram Edition" of the same album.


Salon de 1845, 1845
Salon de 1846, 1846
La Fanfarlo, 1847
Les Fleurs du mal, 1857
Les paradis artificiels, 1860
Réflexions sur Quelques-uns de mes Contemporains, 1861
Le Peintre de la Vie Moderne, 1863
Curiosités Esthétiques, 1868
L'art romantique, 1868
Le Spleen de Paris/Petits Poèmes en Prose, 1869
Oeuvres Posthumes et Correspondance Générale, 1887–1907
Fusées, 1897
Mon Coeur Mis à Nu, 1897
Oeuvres Complètes, 1922–53 (19 vols.)
Mirror of Art, 1955
The Essence of Laughter, 1956
Curiosités Esthétiques, 1962
The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays, 1964
Baudelaire as a Literary Critic, 1964
Arts in Paris 1845–1862, 1965
Selected Writings on Art and Artist, 1972
Selected Letters of Charles Baudelaire, 1986
Twenty Prose Poems, 1988
Critique d'art; Critique musicale, 1992

Monday, August 30, 2010

Deathday: Richard Mansfield 1857-1907 "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde"

Richard Mansfield (24 May 1857 - 30 August 1907) was an Anglo-American actor best known for his performances in Shakespeare plays, Gilbert and Sullivan operas and for his portrayal of the dual title roles in Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Life and career

Mansfield was born in Berlin and spent his early days on Helgoland, Germany, an island in the North Sea, then under British sovereignty. His mother was Madame Rudersdorff (1822-1882), the operatic soprano, and his father, Maurice Mansfield (died 1861), a British London-based wine merchant. He was educated at Derby School, England, and studied painting in London. He travelled to America with his mother, but returned to England at age 20 where his work as an artist would not support him. He was more successful as a drawing-room entertainer, and eventually drifted into acting.

Early career and D'Oyly Carte years

He first appeared on the stage at St. George's Hall, London, in the German Reed Entertainments and then turned to light opera, joining Richard D'Oyly Carte's Comedy Opera Company in 1879 to appear as Sir Joseph Porter in H.M.S. Pinafore on tour. He would play the leading Gilbert and Sullivan comic "patter" roles on tour in Britain until 1881. Mansfield created the role of Major General Stanley in the single copyright performance of The Pirates of Penzance in Paignton, England, in 1879. In addition to Sir Joseph and the Major General, he also played John Wellington Wells in The Sorcerer beginning in 1880.

He left the D'Oyly Carte company in 1881, returned to London, and soon made his London debut in Jacques Offenbach's La Boulange. After several further engagements in London and following the death of his mother in Boston, Mansfield travelled to America in 1882, where he made his New York stage debut as Dromez in a D'Oyly Carte production of Bucalossi's Les Manteaux Noirs. This was followed by the roles of Nick Vedder and Jan Vedder in Robert Planquette's Rip Van Winkle (1882), another D'Oyly Carte production.

Mansfield then appeared in Baltimore, Maryland as the Lord Chancellor in Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe in December 1882. Two days later, however, he suffered a disabling ankle sprain and had to leave the cast. Returning to New York, Mansfield began to focus on the legitimate stage. In 1883 he joined A. M. Palmer's Union Square theatre company in New York, and made a hit as Baron Chevrial in A Parisian Romance. He returned to Gilbert and Sullivan again to play the role of Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner in The Mikado, in Boston in 1886.

Later career

Mansfield was also a theatrical manager, producing the comedy Prince Karl and A Parisian Romance in Boston and New York in 1886. He appeared successfully in several plays adapted from well-known stories, and his 1887 rendering of the title-characters in T. Russell Sullivan's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, only a year after publication of Robert Lewis Stevenson's novella of the same name, created a profound impression. It was with this play that he made his London reputation during the 1888 season at the Lyceum Theatre, by invitation of Henry Irving.

Mansfield produced the play Richard III the next year, at the Globe Theatre. Among his other successes were Prince Karl, Cyrano de Bergerac and Monsieur Beaucaire. He was one of the earliest to produce George Bernard Shaw's plays in America, appearing in 1894 as Bluntschli in Arms and the Man, and as Dick Dudgeon in The Devil's Disciple in 1897. The latter production was the first Shaw production to turn a profit. As a manager and producer of plays, Mansfield was known for his lavish staging.

It is difficult to overstate Mansfield's popularity and the respect and admiration that he commanded as a Shakespearean actor. At the time of his death, The New York Times claimed that "As an interpreter of Shakespeare, he had no living equal in his later days, as witnessed by the princely grace, the tragic force of his Richard, his thrilling acting in the tent scene of "Caesar", the soldierly dignity and eloquence of his Prince Hal, and the pathos of the prayer in that play. He was the greatest actor of his hour, and one of the greatest of all times."

He continued to perform until his final year. One of his last performances, just a few months before his death, was the title role in a New York City production of Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt, the play's U.S. premiere.

Mansfield died in New London, Connecticut on August 30, 1907, from liver cancer.

Suspected in Jack the Ripper case

Mansfield was performing in the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in late summer – early autumn 1888 during the time that Jack the Ripper was murdering prostitutes in London. One frightened theatre-goer wrote to the police accusing Mansfield of the murders because he could not believe that any actor could make so convincing a stage transformation from a gentleman into a mad killer without being homicidal. Mansfield attempted to gain public favour and stem the criticism that he was receiving by offering a performance of Prince Karl for the benefit of the Suffragan Bishop of London's home and refuge fund.[1]

Mansfield was a character (and initial Ripper suspect) in the 1988 TV limited series Jack The Ripper. He was portrayed by Armand Assante.

Family life

Mansfield was married in 1892 to Beatrice Cameron (1868–1940),[2] an actress.[3] After their wedding, she was often referred to as Mrs Richard Mansfield by the press. In 1898 the couple had their only child, Richard Gibbs Mansfield (1898-1918). The younger Mansfield became an ambulance driver in France early during World War One. When America entered the war, he joined the U.S. Army and went to Texas to be part of an aviation unit. While in Texas, however, he contracted meningitis and died in 1918.[4]


1.^ Morley, Christopher J. Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide (2005)
2.^ Who's Who in New England by Albert Nelson Marquis, c. 1915, p. 719
3.^ Beatrice Cameron NYP Library
4.^ NY Times article announcing the death of Richard Gibbs Mansfield from meningitis at Army base Texas


Biography: Richard Mansfield: The Man and the Actor by Paul Wilstach (New York, Scribner's, 1908)
Biography: The Life and Art of Richard Mansfield in two volumes by William Winter (New York, Moffit, Yard and Co., 1910)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Deathday: Nathan Leopold 1904-1971 Child Killer

Nathan Freudenthal Leopold, Jr. (November 19, 1904 – August 29, 1971) and Richard Albert Loeb (June 11, 1905 – January 28, 1936), more commonly known as "Leopold and Loeb," were two wealthy University of Chicago students who murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks in 1924, and were sentenced to life imprisonment.[1]

The duo were motivated to murder Franks by their desire to commit a perfect crime. Once apprehended, Leopold and Loeb retained Clarence Darrow as counsel for the defense. Darrow’s summation in their trial is noted for its influential criticism of capital punishment and retributive, as opposed to rehabilitative, penal systems.

Leopold and Loeb have been the inspiration for many works in film, theater and fiction, such as the 1929 play Rope by Patrick Hamilton, and Alfred Hitchcock's 1948 film of the same name.


Leopold, age 19 at the time of the murder, and Loeb, 18, believed themselves to be Nietzschean supermen who could commit a "perfect crime" (in this case a kidnapping and murder).[2] Before the murder, Leopold had written to Loeb: "A superman ... is, on account of certain superior qualities inherent in him, exempted from the ordinary laws which govern men. He is not liable for anything he may do."[3]

The two were exceptionally intelligent. Nathan Leopold was an intellectual prodigy who spoke his first words at the age of four months; he reportedly had an IQ of 200.[4] Leopold had already completed college, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and was attending law school at the University of Chicago.[2] He claimed to have studied 15 languages though he spoke only four,[5] and was an expert ornithologist. Loeb was the youngest graduate in the history of the University of Michigan, and planned to enter the University of Chicago Law School after taking some post-graduate courses.[2] Leopold planned to transfer to Harvard Law School in September, after taking a trip to Europe.

Leopold, Loeb and Franks lived in Kenwood, which was at the time a wealthy Jewish neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. Loeb's father, Albert, began his career as a lawyer and became the vice president of Sears and Roebuck. Besides owning an impressive mansion in Kenwood, two blocks from the Leopold home, the Loeb family had a summer estate in Charlevoix, Michigan.

Leopold and Loeb met at the University of Chicago as teenagers. Leopold agreed to act as Loeb's accomplice.[6] Beginning with petty theft, the pair committed a series of more and more serious crimes, culminating in the murder.[2]


Leopold and Loeb spent seven months planning the murder, working out a way to get ransom money with little or no risk of being caught.[7] On Wednesday, May 21, 1924, they put their plot into motion. The pair finally decided upon Bobby Franks (above with his father), a neighbor and extended relative of Loeb. They lured him into the passenger seat of their rented car, while one of them drove, and the other one, armed with the murder weapon, sat in the back. Either Loeb or Leopold first struck Franks with a chisel.[8] Leopold or Loeb then stuffed a sock into his mouth, and Franks died soon thereafter.

Contrary to the rumor that the victim had been sexually assaulted by his killers, Judge Caverly would later state in his judgment that conclusive evidence convinced him that no abuse of that nature had been committed.[9]

The killers covered the body and drove to a remote area near Wolf Lake in Hammond, Indiana. They removed Franks' clothes and left them at the side of the road. Leopold and Loeb poured hydrochloric acid[10] on the body to make identification more difficult. They then had dinner at a hot dog stand. After finishing their meal, they concealed the body in a culvert at the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks near 118th street, north of Wolf Lake.

After returning to Chicago, they called Franks' mother and said her son had been kidnapped. They mailed the ransom note to the Frankses. The killers burned items of their own clothing that had been spotted with blood. They also attempted to clean blood stains from the upholstery of their rented automobile. The two then spent the rest of the evening playing cards.

Before the Frankses could pay the ransom, Tony Minke, a Polish immigrant, discovered the body.[7][8] When Leopold and Loeb learned that the body had been found, they destroyed the typewriter used to write the ransom note and burned the robe used to move the body.[7][8]

However, Detective Hugh Patrick Byrne while searching for evidence discovered a pair of eyeglasses found near the body, unremarkable except for a unique hinge mechanism. In Chicago, only three people had purchased glasses with such a mechanism, one of whom was Nathan Leopold.[11]

Upon being questioned, Leopold told police he had lost the glasses while birdwatching.[12] Loeb told the police that Leopold was with him the night of the murder. Leopold and Loeb claimed they had picked up two women in Leopold's car and had dropped them off near a golf course, never learning their last names. Unfortunately for Leopold and Loeb, Leopold's car was being repaired by his chauffeur that night. The chauffeur's wife also said the car was in the Leopold garage that night.

During police questioning, Leopold's and Loeb's alibis fell apart. Loeb confessed first, followed by Leopold.[13] Although their confessions corroborated most of the facts in the case, each blamed the other for the actual killing.[7][8] Most commentators believe that Loeb struck the blow that killed Franks.[6] However, which of the two actually wielded the weapon that killed Franks would never be known. Alienists at the trial, impressed by Leopold's genius, would agree that Loeb had struck the fatal blow. However, the circumstantial evidence in the case, including eye-witness testimony by Carl Ulvigh who saw Loeb driving with Leopold in the back seat minutes before the kidnapping, would indicate Leopold had been the killer.[14]

The ransom was not their primary motive; the young men's families provided them all the money that they needed. Both had admitted that they were driven by the thrill of the kill, and the desire to commit the "perfect crime."[2] While in jail, they basked in the public attention they received and regaled newspaper reporters with the crime's lurid details again and again.


The trial became a media spectacle. Held at Courthouse Place, it was one of the first cases in the U.S. to be dubbed the "Trial of the Century."[15] Loeb's family hired 67-year-old Clarence Darrow — a well-known opponent of capital punishment — to defend the men against the capital charges of murder and kidnapping.[16] While the media expected Leopold and Loeb to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, Darrow surprised everyone by having them both plead guilty. In this way, Darrow avoided a jury trial which he believed would most certainly have resulted in a conviction and perhaps even the death penalty.[16] Instead, he was able to make his case for his clients' lives before a single person, Cook County Circuit Court Judge John R. Caverly.

During the 12-hour hearing on the final day, Darrow gave a speech, which has been called the finest of his career. The speech included: "this terrible crime was inherent in his organism, and it came from some ancestor … Is any blame attached because somebody took Nietzsche's philosophy seriously and fashioned his life upon it? … it is hardly fair to hang a 19-year-old boy for the philosophy that was taught him at the university."[17]

In the end, Darrow succeeded. The judge sentenced Leopold and Loeb each to life imprisonment (for the murder), plus 99 years each (for the kidnapping).[16] This was mainly on the grounds that, being under 21, Leopold and Loeb were legal minors.

The outcome of this trial has had repercussions to this day, as Darrow popularized the notion that a defendant might not be guilty of his crime because of his inherited traits — to use Darrow's term, Leopold and Loeb were "broken machines." [18]

Prison and later life

Initially held at Joliet Prison, they were later transferred to Stateville Penitentiary, where Leopold and Loeb used their educations to teach classes in the prison school.[19]

On January 28, 1936, Loeb (below) was attacked by fellow prisoner James E. Day with a straight razor in a shower room, and died from his wounds.[2][19] Day claimed afterward that Loeb had attempted to sexually assault him. Day emerged without a scratch, while Loeb sustained more than 50 wounds from the attack, including numerous self-defense wounds on his arms and hands. Loeb's throat had also been slashed from behind.[20] Nevertheless, an inquiry accepted Day's testimony. The prison authorities, embarrassed by publicity sensationalizing alleged decadent behavior in the prison[21], ruled that Day's attack on Loeb was in self-defense.[2][19] According to one widely reported account, newsman Ed Lahey wrote this lead for the Chicago Daily News: "Richard Loeb, despite his erudition, today ended his sentence with a proposition."[22][23]

The actual motive for Loeb's murder was apparently over money. Both Leopold and Loeb had been receiving generous allowances from their families, enough to purchase tobacco and various other items for their cellmates and friends. After the warden reduced all prisoner allowances to only a few dollars per month, Day, a former cellmate of Loeb's, continued to demand the gifts he had been accustomed to receiving, which Loeb could no longer afford.[24]

There is no evidence that Richard Loeb was a sexual predator while in prison, however, Loeb's murderer was later caught on at least one occasion sodomizing a fellow inmate[25] as well as numerous other infractions. In his book "Life Plus 99 Years" Leopold referred to Day's claims that Loeb had attempted to sexually assault him as ridiculous and laughable. This is echoed in an interview with the Catholic chaplain at the prison, Father Eligius Weir, who had been a personal confidante of Richard Loeb. Weir stated that James Day had been the sexual predator, and had gone after Loeb because Loeb refused to have sexual relations with him.[26]

In 1944, Leopold (above) participated in the Stateville Penitentiary Malaria Study, in which he volunteered to be infected with malaria.[27] Early in 1958, after 33 years in prison, Leopold was released on parole.[2][5]

That year he wrote an autobiography entitled Life Plus 99 Years.[2][5][28] Leopold moved to Puerto Rico to avoid media attention, and married a widowed florist.[2][5] He was known as "Nate" to neighbors and co-workers at Castañer General Hospital in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico, where he worked as a lab and x-ray assistant.[29]

At one time after his release from prison, Leopold talked about his intention to write a book entitled, Snatch for a Halo, about his life following prison. He never did so. Later, Leopold tried to block the movie Compulsion on the grounds of invasion of privacy, defamation, and making money from his life story.[29]

He died of a diabetes-related heart attack on August 29, 1971 at the age of 66.[2][5] His corneas were donated.[2]

Impact on popular culture

Leopold and Loeb have been the inspiration for many works in film, theater and fiction, such as the 1929 play Rope by Patrick Hamilton, which served as the basis for a BBC television performance of this play in 1939,[30] and Alfred Hitchcock's film of the same name in 1948. In 1956, Meyer Levin revisited the case in his novel Compulsion, a fictionalized version of the actual events in which the names of the pair were changed to "Steiner and Strauss." Three years later, the novel was made into a film of the same name. Never the Sinner, a theatrical recreation of the Leopold and Loeb trial, was written by John Logan in 1988.

Other works inspired by the case include Tom Kalin's more openly gay-themed 1992 film Swoon; Michael Haneke's 1997 film Funny Games, with an American shot-for-shot remake produced in 2008; 1997's Kiss the Girls based on the 1995 bestselling novel of the same name by American writer James Patterson; Barbet Schroeder's Murder by Numbers (2002); and Stephen Dolginoff's 2005 off-Broadway musical Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story; and various TV episodes (including on Law and Order).

Nathan Leopold, Jr. is featured as a character in Nicky Silver's off-Broadway comedy The Agony & The Agony, despite the play's being set in 2006.

The Leopold and Loeb case is a theme in Daniel Clowes' 2005 graphic novel Ice Haven, which includes a short story about the criminal duo, as well as references to the incident in other stories.


1.^ Homicide in Chicago 1924 Leopold and Loeb Retrieved 26 March 2008.
2.^ The Leopold and Loeb Trial:A Brief Account by Douglas O. Linder. 1997. Retrieved 11 April 2007.
3.^ Simon Baatz, For the Thrill of It. New York: Harper, 2008.
4.^ The Biography Channel "Notorious Crime Profiles: Leopold and Loeb, Partners in Crime", Retrieved 5 January 2009.
5.^ Crime Library - "Freedom" by Marilyn Bardsley. Crime Library - Courtroom Television Network, LLC. Retrieved 11 April 2007.
6.^ Leopold and Loeb's Perfect Crime by Denise Noe. Retrieved 4 November 2007.
7.^ Statement of Nathan F. Leopold Northwestern University Retrieved 30 October 2007.
8.^ Statement of Richard Loeb Northwestern University Retrieved 30 October 2007.
9.^ Leopold, Loeb and The Crime of the Century, pg 265
10.^ Crime Library – Enter Clarence Darrow. Retrieved 26 March 2008.
11.^ The Glasses: The Key Link to Leopold and Loeb UMKC Law. Retrieved 11 April 2007.
12.^ Chicago Daily News, 2 June 1924
13.^ Chicago Daily News, 10 September 1924, pg.3
14.^ Leopold, Loeb and The Crime of the Century, by Hal Higdon, pg 319
15.^ JURIST - The Trial of Leopold and Loeb, Prof. Douglas Linder. Retrieved 1 November 2007.
16.^ Gilbert Geis and Leigh B. Bienen, Crimes of the Century (Boston, 1998).
17.^ John Thomas Scopes, World's greatest court trial. Cincinnati : National Book Co., 1925, pp. 178-179, 182.
18.^ Richard K. Gaither, "From Darwin to Darrow," Cleveland: Simon and Shuster, 1984, p. 227
19.^ Life and Death In Prison by Marilyn Bardsley. Crime Library - Courtroom Television Network, LLC. Retrieved 11 April 2007.
20.^ Leopold, Loeb and The Crime of the Century by Hal Higdon, pg 295
21.^ Leopold, Loeb and The Crime of the Century, pg 301
22.^ Dr. Ink (August 23, 2002). "Ask Dr. Ink". Poynter Online.
23.^ Murray, Jesse George (1965). The madhouse on Madison Street,. Follett Pub. Co. p. 344.
24.^ Leopold, Loeb and The Crime of the Century by Hal Higdon, pg 292
25.^ Leopold, Loeb and The Crime of the Century, pg 302
26.^ Leopold, Loeb and The Crime of the Century, pg 293
27.^ Leopold, Nathan F., Jr. Life Plus 99 Years. Lowe and Brydone (Printers) Limited, 1958.
28.^ Life Plus 99 Years. Intro. By Erle Stanley Gardner, by Leopold, Nathan Freudenthal. Publisher: Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, 1958.
29.^ e-mailed comment at www.law.umkc.edu
30.^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0418111


Leopold, Nathan F. Life plus 99 Years, 1958 (Introduction by Erle Stanley Gardner)
Baatz, Simon. For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb and the Murder that Shocked Chicago (HarperCollins, 2008).
Baatz, Simon. "Criminal Minds," Smithsonian Magazine 39 (August 2008): 70-79.
Higdon, Hal. Leopold and Loeb: The Crime of the Century, University of Illinois Press, 1999. (originally published in 1975) ISBN 0-252-06829-7
Kalin, Tom (director), Swoon. Film, 1990
Levin, Meyer. Compulsion, Carroll and Graf Publishers, 1996. (originally published in 1956). ISBN 0-7867-0319-9
Logan, John (author), Never the Sinner (play), Samuel French, Inc., 1987
Saul, John (author). In the Dark of the Night, 2006 ISBN 0-345-48701-X
Dolginoff, Stephen (author/composer). Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story (musical, published by Dramatists Play Service) ISBN 0-8222-2102-0
Galluzzo, Mark Anthony (director). R.S.V.P. Film, 2002
Vonnegut, Kurt (author). "Jailbird" (page 171) Published by Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence ISBN 0-440-05449-4
The Sopranos (Season 1, Episode 7) TV series distributed by HBO Pictures
"Yesterday" (Season 1, Episode 18), Law and Order: Criminal Intent. By Rene Balcer and Theresa Rebeck. Performed by Vincent D'Onofrio, Kathryn Erbe, Jamey Sheridan, Courtney B. Vance, Jim True-Frost, Danton Stone. NBC. WNBC, New York City. 14 April 2002

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Deathday: Lon Chaney, Sr. 1883-1930 "The Man of a Thousand Faces"

Lon Chaney (April 1, 1883 – August 26, 1930), nicknamed "The Man of a Thousand Faces," was an American actor during the age of silent films. He was one of the most versatile and powerful actors of early cinema. He is best remembered for his characterizations of tortured, often grotesque and afflicted characters, and his groundbreaking artistry with film makeup. [1]

Early life

Lon Chaney was born Leonidas Frank Chaney in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Frank H. Chaney and Emma Alice Kennedy; his father had mostly English and some French ancestry, and his mother was of Irish descent.[2] Both of Chaney's parents were deaf, and as a child of deaf adults Chaney became skilled in pantomime. He entered a stage career in 1902, and began traveling with popular Vaudeville and theater acts. In 1905, he met and married 16-year-old singer Cleva Creighton (Frances Cleveland Creighton) and in 1906, their first child and only son, Creighton Chaney (a.k.a. Lon Chaney, Jr.) was born. The Chaneys continued touring, settling in California in 1910.

Marital troubles developed and in April 1913, Cleva went to the Majestic Theater in downtown Los Angeles, where Lon was managing the Kolb and Dill show, and attempted suicide by swallowing mercury bichloride. The suicide attempt failed and ruined her singing career; the ensuing scandal and divorce forced Chaney out of the theater and into film.

The time spent there is not clearly known, but between the years 1912 and 1917, Chaney worked under contract for Universal Studios doing bit or character parts. His skill with makeup gained him many parts in the highly competitive casting atmosphere. During this time, Chaney befriended the husband-wife director team of Joe De Grasse and Ida May Park, who gave him substantial roles in their pictures, and further encouraged him to play macabre characters.

Chaney also married one of his former colleagues in the Kolb and Dill company tour, a chorus girl named Hazel Hastings. Little is known of Hazel, except that her marriage to Chaney was solid. Upon marrying, the new couple gained custody of Chaney's 10-year-old son Creighton, who had resided in various homes and boarding schools since Chaney's divorce in 1913.[3]


By 1917 Chaney was a prominent actor in the studio, but his salary did not reflect this status. When Chaney asked for a raise, studio executive William Sistrom replied, "You'll never be worth more than one hundred dollars a week."

After leaving the studio, Chaney struggled for the first year as a character actor. It was not until 1918 when playing a substantial role in William S. Hart's picture, Riddle Gawne, that Chaney's talents as a character actor were truly recognized by the industry.

In 1919, Chaney had a breakthrough performance as "The Frog" in George Loane Tucker's The Miracle Man. The film not only displayed Chaney's acting ability, but his talent as a master of makeup. Critical praise and a gross of over $2 million put Chaney on the map as America's foremost character actor.

Chaney is chiefly remembered as a pioneer in such silent horror films as The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera. His ability to transform himself using self-invented makeup techniques earned him the nickname of "Man of a Thousand Faces." In an autobiographical 1925 article published in Movie magazine, Chaney referred to his specialty as "extraordinary characterization."

He also exhibited this adaptability with makeup in more conventional crime and adventure films, such as The Penalty, in which he played an amputee gangster. Chaney appeared in 10 films directed by Tod Browning, often portraying disguised and/or mutilated characters, including carnival knife-thrower Alonzo the Armless in The Unknown (1927) opposite Joan Crawford. In 1927 Chaney co-starred with Conrad Nagel, Marceline Day, Henry B. Walthall and Polly Moran in the Tod Browning horror film, London After Midnight, considered one of the most legendary lost films. His final cinema role was a sound remake of his silent classic, The Unholy Three (1930), his only "talkie" and the only film in which Chaney displayed his versatile voice. The actor signed a sworn statement declaring that five of the key voices in the film (the ventriloquist, the old woman, a parrot, the dummy and the girl) were his own.

In Quasimodo, the bell ringer of Notre Dame, and Erik, the "phantom" of the Paris Opera House, Chaney created two of the most grotesquely deformed characters in film history. However, the portrayals sought to elicit a degree of sympathy and pathos among viewers not overwhelmingly terrified or repulsed by the monstrous disfigurements of the characters, who were victims of fate.

"I wanted to remind people that the lowest types of humanity may have within them the capacity for supreme self-sacrifice," Chaney wrote in Movie magazine. "The dwarfed, misshapen beggar of the streets may have the noblest ideals. Most of my roles since The Hunchback, such as The Phantom of the Opera, He Who Gets Slapped, The Unholy Three, etc., have carried the theme of self-sacrifice or renunciation. These are the stories which I wish to do."

"He was someone who acted out our psyches. He somehow got into the shadows inside our bodies; he was able to nail down some of our secret fears and put them on-screen," Ray Bradbury once explained. "The history of Lon Chaney is the history of unrequited loves. He brings that part of you out into the open, because you fear that you are not loved, you fear that you never will be loved, you fear there is some part of you that's grotesque, that the world will turn away from."

Chaney's talents extended beyond the horror genre and stage makeup. He was also a highly skilled dancer, singer and comedian. Many who did not know Chaney were surprised by his rich baritone voice and his sharp comedic skills.

Chaney and his second wife Hazel led a discreet private life distant from the Hollywood social scene. Chaney did minimal promotional work for his films and for MGM Studios, purposefully fostering a mysterious image, and he reportedly purposely avoided the social scene in Hollywood.

In the final five years of his film career (1925-1930), Chaney worked exclusively under contract to MGM, giving some of his most memorable performances. His portrayal of a tough-as-nails marine drill instructor in Tell It to the Marines (1926), one of his favorite films, earned him the affection of the US Marine Corps, who made him their first honorary member from the motion picture industry. He also earned the respect and admiration of numerous aspiring actors, to whom he offered mentoring assistance, and between takes on film sets he was always willing to share his professional observations with the cast and crew.


During the filming of Thunder in the winter of 1929, Chaney developed pneumonia. In late 1929 he was diagnosed with bronchial lung cancer. This was exacerbated when artificial snow, made out of cornflakes, lodged in his throat during filming and quickly created a serious infection.[4] Despite aggressive treatment, his condition gradually worsened, and seven weeks after the release of the remake of The Unholy Three, he died of a throat hemorrhage. His death was deeply mourned by his family, the film industry and by his fans. The US Marine Corps provided a chaplain and Honor Guard for his funeral. He was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, in Glendale, California, next to the crypt of his father. His wife Hazel was interred there upon her death in 1933. For unknown reasons, Chaney's crypt has remained unmarked.


In 1957, Chaney was the subject of a biopic titled Man of a Thousand Faces, and was portrayed by James Cagney (above). Though much of the plot was fictional, the film was a moving tribute to Chaney and helped boost his posthumous fame. During his lifetime, Chaney had boasted he would make it difficult for biographers to portray his life, saying that "between pictures, there is no Lon Chaney."[5] This was in line with the air of mystery he purposefully fostered around his makeup and performances.

Lon Chaney has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1994, he was honored by having his image designed by noted caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, placed on a United States postage stamp. The stage theater at the Colorado Springs Civic Auditorium is named after Lon Chaney.

In 1929, Chaney built an impressive stone cabin in the remote wilderness of the eastern Sierra Nevada, near Big Pine, California, as a retreat. The cabin (designed by architect Paul Williams) still stands, and is preserved by the Inyo National Forest Service.

Chaney's son Creighton, renamed Lon Chaney, Jr. (below), became a film actor after his father's death, and is best remembered for roles in horror films, especially The Wolf Man. The Chaneys appeared on US postage stamps as the Phantom of the Opera and the Wolf Man, with the set completed by Bela Lugosi as Dracula and Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's monster and The Mummy. He and his son are mentioned in the Warren Zevon song "Werewolves of London."

Many of Chaney's colleagues held him in high regard and he would often give advice and help actors who were just beginning their careers. He was also greatly respected by the film crews and studio employees with whom he worked.

Following his death, Chaney's famous makeup case was donated by his wife Hazel to the Los Angeles County Museum, where it is sometimes displayed for the public. Makeup artist and Chaney biographer Michael Blake considers Chaney's case the central artifact in the history of film makeup.

In 1978, Gene Simmons of the rock band KISS wrote a song about Lon Chaney called "Man of 1,000 Faces" for his first solo album. Simmons had been influenced by the old black and white classic horror movies growing up in New York City.

An episode of Scooby Doo Movies has a tribute to Lon Chaney as mysterious master of disguise actor "Lorne Chumley" and his butler "Otto" (as a tribute to Erich von Stroheim).


The Honor of the Family (1912) (uncredited)
The Ways of Fate (1913)
Suspense (1913) (unconfirmed)
Shon the Piper (1913)
The Blood Red Tape of Charity (1913)
The Restless Spirit (1913) (uncredited)
Poor Jake's Demise (1913)
The Sea Urchin (1913)
The Trap (1913)
Almost an Actress (1913)
An Elephant on His Hands (1913)
Back to Life (1913)
Red Margaret, Moonshiner (1913)
Bloodhounds of the North (1913)
The Lie (1914)
The Honor of the Mounted (1914)
Remember Mary Magdalen (1914)
Discord and Harmony (1914)
The Menace to Carlotta (1914)
The Embezzler (1914)
The Lamb, the Woman, the Wolf (1914)
The End of the Feud (1914)
The Tragedy of Whispering Creek (1914)
The Unlawful Trade (1914)
Heartstrings (1914)
The Forbidden Room (1914)
The Old Cobbler (1914)
The Hopes of Blind Alley (1914)
A Ranch Romance (1914)
Her Grave Mistake (1914)
By the Sun's Rays (1914)
The Oubliette (1914)
A Miner's Romance (1914)
Her Bounty (1914)
The Higher Law (1914)
Richelieu (1914)
The Pipes o' Pan (1914)
Virtue Is Its Own Reward (1914)
Her Life's Story (1914)
Lights and Shadows (1914)
The Lion, the Lamb, the Man (1914)
A Night of Thrills (1914)
Her Escape (1914)
The Sin of Olga Brandt (1915)
The Star of the Sea (1915)
A Small Town Girl (1915)
The Measure of a Man (1915)
The Threads of Fate (1915)
When the Gods Played a Badger Game (1915)
Such Is Life (1915)
Where the Forest Ends (1915)
Outside the Gates (1915)
All for Peggy (1915)
The Desert Breed (1915)
Maid of the Mist (1915)
The Grind (1915)
The Girl of the Night (1915)
The Stool Pigeon (1915 - also directed)
For Cash (1915 - directed only)
An Idyll of the Hills (1915)
The Stronger Mind (1915)
The Oyster Dredger (1915 - also directed)
Steady Company (1915)
The Violin Maker (1915 - also directed)
The Trust (1915 - also directed)
Bound on the Wheel (1915)
Mountain Justice (1915)
Quits (1915)
The Chimney's Secret (1915 - also directed)
The Pine's Revenge (1915)
The Fascination of the Fleur de Lis (1915)
Alas and Alack (1915)
A Mother's Atonement (1915)
Lon of Lone Mountain (1915)
The Millionaire Paupers (1915)
Under a Shadow (1915)
Father and the Boys (1915)
Stronger Than Death (1915)
Dolly's Scoop (1916)
The Grip of Jealousy (1916)
Tangled Hearts (1916)
The Gilded Spider (1916)
Bobbie of the Ballet (1916)
The Grasp of Greed (1916)
The Mark of Cain (1916)
If My Country Should Call (1916)
Felix on the Job (1916)
The Place Beyond the Winds (1916)
Accusing Evidence (1916)
The Price of Silence (1916)
The Piper's Price (1917)
Hell Morgan's Girl (1917)
The Mask of Love (1917)
The Girl in the Checkered Coat (1917)
The Flashlight (1917)
A Doll's House (1917)
Fires of Rebellion (1917)
The Rescue (1917)
Pay Me! (1917)
Triumph (1917)
The Empty Gun (1917)
Anything Once (1917)
The Scarlet Car (1917)
The Grand Passion (1918)
Broadway Love (1918)
The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin (1918)
Fast Company (1918)
A Broadway Scandal (1918)
Riddle Gawne (1918)
That Devil, Bateese (1918)
The Talk of the Town (1918)
Danger, Go Slow (1918)
The Wicked Darling (1919)
The False Faces (1919)
A Man's Country (1919)
Paid in Advance (1919)
The Miracle Man (1919)
When Bearcat Went Dry (1919)
Victory (1919)
Daredevil Jack (1920)
Treasure Island (1920)
The Gift Supreme (1920)
Nomads of the North (1920)
The Penalty (1920)
Outside the Law (1920)
For Those We Love (1921)
Bits of Life (1921)
The Ace of Hearts (1921)
The Trap (1922)
Voices of the City (1922)
Flesh and Blood (1922)
The Light in the Dark (1922)
Oliver Twist (1922)
Shadows (1922)
Quincy Adams Sawyer (1922)
A Blind Bargain (1922)
All the Brothers Were Valiant (1923)
While Paris Sleeps (1923)
The Shock (1923)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)
The Next Corner (1924)
He Who Gets Slapped (1924)
The Monster (1925)
The Unholy Three (1925)
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
The Tower of Lies (1925)
The Blackbird (1926)
The Road to Mandalay (1926)
Tell It to the Marines (1926)
Mr. Wu (1927)
The Unknown (1927)
Mockery (1927)
London After Midnight (1927)
The Big City (1928)
Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928)
While the City Sleeps (1928)
West of Zanzibar (1928)
Where East is East (1929)
Thunder (1929)
The Unholy Three (1930)


1.^ "Lon Chaney Dies After Brave Fight. On Road to Recovery, Screen Actor Is Stricken by Hemorrhage of the Throat. Was a Master of Makeup. Son of Deaf and Dumb Parents, He Began Career as Property Boy. Excelled in Vivid Personations. Acted as Pike's Peak Guide. Made Stage Debut at 17. Appeared in Slap-Stick Comedy. Wore Straitjacket as "Hunchback." New Disguise for Each Film." New York Times. August 27, 1930. "Although he was believed to be on the road to recovery, Lon Chaney, screen actor, who had been making a valiant fight against anemia and bronchial congestion, died at 12:55."
2.^ Ancestry of Lon Chaney
3.^ "Mrs. Lon Chaney Dies. Before Her Husband Entered the Movies She Was Well Known In Vaudeville." New York Times. November 1, 1933, Wednesday.
4.^ Schickel, Richard (1962). The Stars. New York: Bonanza Books, a division of Crown Publishers, Inc.. p. 133.
5.^ RootsWeb's WorldConnect Project: Anthony, Saunders and Associated Families at worldconnect.rootsweb.com

Further reading

Blake, Michael (1990). Lon Chaney: The Man Behind the Thousand Faces. New York: Vestal Press. ISBN 1-879511-09-6.
The First Male Stars: Men of the Silent Era by David W. Menefee. Albany: Bear Manor Media, 2007.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Execution Day: Sacco & Vanzetti 1927 Murderers?

Ferdinando Nicola Sacco (April 22, 1891-August 23, 1927) and Bartolomeo Vanzetti (June 11, 1888-August 23, 1927) were anarchists who were convicted of murdering two men during a 1920 armed robbery in Massachusetts. After a controversial trial and a series of appeals, the two Italian immigrants were executed on August 23, 1927.[1][2]

There is highly politicized dispute over their guilt or innocence, and regardless guilt or innocence, whether or not the trials were fair.[3][4] The dispute focuses on small details and contradictory evidence, and historians have not, as of 2010, reached consensus.


Sacco and Vanzetti were accused of the murders of Frederick Parmenter, a paymaster, and Alessandro Berardelli, a security guard, at the Slater-Morrill Shoe Company, on Pearl Street in Braintree, Massachusetts during the afternoon of April 15, 1920. Vanzetti was further charged with the theft of $15,776.51 from the company. [5]

Police suspicions regarding the Braintree robbery-murder and an earlier attempted robbery in Bridgewater, Massachusetts centered on local Italian anarchists.[6] While neither Sacco nor Vanzetti had a criminal record, the authorities knew them as radical militants and adherents of Luigi Galleani. Police speculated about a connection between the crimes and the recent activities of the Galleanist anarchist movement, thinking that the robberies were made to gain funds for a bombing campaign.

The two men were arrested in Brockton, Massachusetts on May 5, 1920, after appearing at a garage to pick up a car that police believed was used in the robberies. Both had pistols on them, along with anarchist literature, and Vanzetti was carrying shotgun shells similar to those used in the holdups.

Vanzetti was first tried for the armed robbery in Bridgewater and convicted. Both men were then tried for the Braintree crimes and convicted. After several failed appeals over six years, Sacco and Vanzetti were executed in the electric chair on August 23, 1927. Celestine Madeiros, who had confessed to the murders, was executed the same day.


Sacco was a shoe-maker born in Torremaggiore, Foggia, who emigrated to the United States at the age of seventeen.[7] Vanzetti was a fishmonger born in Villafalletto, Cuneo, who arrived in the United States at age twenty. Both men arrived in the U.S. in 1908, although they did not meet until the middle of 1917.

The men were followers of Luigi Galleani, an Italian anarchist who advocated revolutionary violence, including bombing and assassination. Galleani published Cronaca Sovversiva (Subversive Chronicle), a periodical that advocated violent revolution, and an explicit bomb-making manual called La Salute è in voi!. At the time, Italian anarchists ranked at the top of the United States government's list of dangerous enemies. Since 1914, they had been identified as suspects in several violent bombings and assassination attempts, including an attempted mass poisoning.[citation needed] Publication of Cronaca Sovversiva was suppressed in July 1918, and the government deported Galleani and eight of his closest associates on June 24, 1919.[8]

Remaining Galleanists either sought to avoid arrest by becoming inactive or going underground, or remained active. For three years, perhaps 60 Galleanists waged an intermittent campaign of violence against US politicians, judges, and other federal and local officials, especially those who had supported deportation of alien radicals. Among the dozen or more violent acts was the bombing of US Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer's home on June 2, 1919. In that incident, one Galleanist, Carlo Valdonoci, a former editor of Cronaca Sovversiva and an associate of Sacco and Vanzetti, was killed. The bomb intended for Attorney General Palmer exploded in Valdonoci's hands. Radical pamphlets entitled "Plain Words" signed "The Anarchist Fighters" were found at the scene of this and several other midnight bombings that night.[8]

Several Galleanist associates were suspected or interrogated about their roles in the bombing incidents. Two days before Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested, a Galleanist named Andrea Salsedo fell to his death from the Justice Department's Bureau of Investigation offices on 15 Park Row in New York City. People speculated that Salsedo may have been pushed out the window or dropped as he was held by his ankles during interrogation, a well-known "third-degree" technique. Roberto Elia, another Galleanist under arrest, was later deposed in the inquiry. He testified that Salsedo had committed suicide for fear of betraying the others.[9] Salsedo worked in the Canzani Printshop in Brooklyn, where federal agents traced the "Plain Words" leaflet.

The Galleanists knew that Salsedo had been held, and reportedly beaten, for two months, which led to rumors that Salsedo and his comrade Roberto Elia had made important disclosures concerning the bomb plot of June 2. The rumors about the confessions were later confirmed by Attorney General Palmer to encourage fear. The Galleanist plotters realized that they would have to go underground and dispose of any incriminating evidence. Sacco and Vanzetti were found to have correspondence with several Galleanists; one letter warned Sacco to destroy all mail after reading.


On April 16, one day after the robbery-murders, the Federal Immigration Service called local police chief Michael E. Stewart to discuss Galleanist anarchist Ferruccio Coacci, whom he had arrested on their behalf two years earlier. Coacci had succeeded in postponing his deportation until April 15, 1920, the day of the Braintree holdup. The FIS asked Stewart to investigate Coacci's excuse that he had failed to report for deportation because his wife had fallen ill. Stewart sent two policemen to Coacci's house on April 16.

They found Coacci's wife in good health. Coacci insisted on being arrested for immediate deportation. As he had an alibi for the robbery: his timecard showed he was at work on April 15, he was deported on April 18. Suspicious, Stewart returned to the Coacci residence on April 20, where he found "Mike Boda" (an alias of Mario Buda, the chief Galleanist bombmaker) renting the house. Buda volunteered that Coacci's wife had left in a hurry. Under questioning, Buda admitted owning a .32 caliber Spanish automatic pistol and possessing a diagram of a Savage automatic, such as the one used in the murders. Buda said he owned a 1914 Oakland, which was being repaired. Police thought two cars had been kept at the now empty Coacci garage, and believed a Buick and smaller car were used during the holdup.

When Stewart discovered that Coacci had worked for both the plants that had been robbed, he returned with the Bridgewater police, but Buda had disappeared, along with his possessions and furniture.

The police had instructed the Johnson garage, where the impounded cars were held, to notify them when the owners came to collect the 1914 Oakland. On May 5, 1920 Buda arrived at the garage with three other men, later identified as Sacco, Vanzetti and Riccardo Orciani. Police were alerted but the men sensed a trap and fled. Buda escaped on a motorcycle with Orciani. He later resurfaced in Italy in 1928. Tracked onto a streetcar, Sacco and Vanzetti were soon arrested. Vanzetti claimed that the revolver he was carrying was for protection. To avoid deportation, the pair denied being allied with anarchists.

A postcript to the arrests occurred in 1926, when a bomb destroyed the house of Samuel Johnson, the brother of the Simon Johnson who had called police the night of Sacco and Vanzetti's arrest.[10]

Following the indictment of Sacco and Vanzetti, anarchists in other countries began violent retaliation. In 1921, a booby trap bomb mailed to the American ambassador in Paris exploded, wounding his valet.[11] Other bombs sent to American embassies were defused.


First trial

Only Vanzetti was tried for the attempted robbery and attempted murder in Bridgewater. Others arrested produced ironclad alibis, like Sacco's time-card proving he was at work.[12] In 1927, advocates for Sacco and Vanzetti charged that this case was brought first because evidence against Vanzetti in the Braintree robbery was weak and a conviction for the Bridgewater crimes would help convict him for the Braintree crimes. The prosecution countered that the timing was driven by the schedules of different courts that handled the cases.[13]

On the recommendation of supporters, Vanzetti chose to be represented by John P. Vahey, an experienced defense attorney, rather than accept counsel appointed by the court.[14] Frederick Katzmann, Norfolk and Plymouth County District Attorney, prosecuted the case.[15] The presiding judge was Webster Thayer, who was already assigned to the court before this case was scheduled. A few weeks earlier he had given a speech to new American citizens decrying Bolshevism and anarchism's threat to American institutions. He supported the suppression of radical speech.[16]

The trial began on June 22, 1920. The prosecution presented several witnesses who put Vanzetti at the scene of the attempted robbery. Their descriptions varied, especially with respect to the shape and length of Vanzetti’s mustache.[17] Physical evidence included a shotgun shell retrieved at the scene of the crime and several shells found on Vanzetti when he was arrested.[18]

The defense produced sixteen witnesses—all Italians from Plymouth who claimed they had bought eels for the Christmas holiday from him in accordance with their Christmas traditions. Such details reinforced the difference between the Italians and the Yankee jurors. Some testified in imperfect English, others through an interpreter whose failure to speak the same dialect of Italian as the witnesses hampered their effectiveness. On cross examination, the prosecution found it easy to make the witnesses appear confused about dates. A boy who testified admitted rehearsing his testimony. "You learned it just like a piece at school?," the prosecutor asked. "Sure," he replied.[19] The defense tried to rebut the eyewitnesses with testimony that Vanzetti always wore his mustache in a distinctive long style, but the prosecution rebutted their testimony.[20]

Though the defense case went badly, Vanzetti did not testify in his own defense.[21] Vanzetti, in 1927, said his lawyers opposed putting him on the stand.[22] That same year, Vahey told the governor that Vanzetti had refused his advice to testify.[23] A lawyer who assisted Vahey in the defense, decades later, said that the defense attorneys left the choice to Vanzetti but warned that it would be difficult to prevent the prosecution from using cross examination to impeach his character based on his political beliefs and that Vanzetti chose not to testify after consulting with Sacco.[24] Herbert Ehrmann, who later joined the defense team, wrote many years later that the dangers of putting Vanzetti on the stand were very real.[25] Another legal analysis of the case concluded that the defense would have little to lose from Vanzetti's testimony, since his conviction looked certain given how poorly his alibi witnesses had performed under cross. That analysis deemed the defense overall "unconvincing" and "not closely argued or vigorously fought."[26][27]

On July 1, 1920, the jury deliberated for five hours and returned guilty verdicts on both counts, attempted robbery and attempted murder.[28] Before sentencing, Thayer learned that during deliberations the jury had tampered with the shells found on Vanzetti at the time of his arrest to determine if the shot they contained was of sufficient size to kill a man.[29] Since that prejudiced the jury's verdict on the attempted murder charge, Thayer ignored that conviction. On August 16, 1920, he sentenced Vanzetti for attempted robbery to a term of 12 to 15 years in prison, the maximum sentence allowed.[30] An assessment of Thayer’s conduct of the trial, while critical—"his stupid rulings as to the admissibility of conversations are about equally divided"—found little in the record to demonstrate partiality.[31]

The defense raised only minor objections in an appeal that was not accepted.[32] A few years later, Fahey joined Katzmann’s law firm.[33]

Second trial

Later Sacco and Vanzetti both stood trial for murder in Dedham, Massachusetts for the South Braintree killings, with Webster Thayer again presiding. He had asked to be assigned the trial. Well aware of the Galleanists' reputation for constructing dynamite bombs of extraordinary power, Massachusetts authorities took great pains to defend against a possible bombing attack. Workers outfitted the Dedham courtroom where the trial was to be held with cast-iron bomb shutters (painted to match the wooden ones fitted elsewhere in the building) and heavy, sliding steel doors that could protect that section of the courthouse from blast effect in the event of a bomb attack. Each day during the trial, Sacco and Vanzetti were escorted in and out of the courtroom under a heavy armed guard.

Vanzetti again claimed that he had been selling fish at the time of the Braintree robbery. Sacco claimed that he had been in Boston in order to gain a passport from the Italian consulate. He had claimed to have had lunch in Boston's North end with several friends, each of whom testified on his behalf. Prior to the trial, Sacco's lawyer, Fred Moore, went to great lengths to contact the consulate employee Sacco said he had talked with on the afternoon of the crime. Moore's friend found the man back in Italy. The clerk said he remembered Sacco because of the unusually large passport photo he presented. The clerk also remembered the date — April 15, 1920. Moore's friend tried to get the clerk to return to America to testify but the clerk, in ill health, refused. What could have been key alibi testimony by a reputable clerk was reduced to a sworn deposition read aloud in court and quickly questioned by the prosecution, which claimed Sacco's visit to the consulate could not be established with certainty. The prosecution also pointed out that Sacco's dinner companions were fellow anarchists.

Much of the trial focused on material evidence, notably bullets, guns, and a cap. Prosecution witnesses testified that the .32-caliber bullet that had killed Berardelli was of a brand so obsolete that the only bullets similar to it that anyone could locate to make comparisons were those in Sacco's pockets. Yet ballistics evidence, which was presented in exhaustive detail, was equivocal. Prosecutor Frederick Katzmann, after initially promising he would not try to link any fatal bullet with Sacco's gun, changed his mind after the defense arranged test firings of the gun. Sacco, claiming he had nothing to hide, had allowed his gun to be test-fired, with experts for both sides present, during the trial's second week. The prosecution then matched bullets fired through the gun to those taken from one of the slain guards. In court, two prosecution experts swore that one of the fatal bullets, quickly labeled Bullet III, matched one of those test-fired. Two defense experts said the bullet did not match.[citation needed] Years later, defense lawyers would suggest that the fatal bullet had been substituted by the prosecution. Noting that witnesses swore to seeing one gunman pump bullets into Berardelli, they asked how only one of four bullets found in the deceased could have come from Sacco's gun.

Even more doubt surrounded Vanzetti's gun. Since all of the bullets found at the scene were .32 caliber and Vanzetti's gun was .38 caliber, there was no direct evidence tying Vanzetti's gun to the crime scene.[34] The prosecution claimed it had originally belonged to the slain guard and that it had been stolen during the robbery. No one testified to seeing anyone take the gun, but the guard, while carrying $15,776.51 in cash through the street, had no gun on him when found dead. The prosecution traced the gun to a Boston repair shop where the guard had dropped it off a few weeks before the murder. The defense, however, was able to raise doubts, noting that the repair shop had no record of the gun ever being picked up and that the guard's widow had told a friend that he might not have been killed had he claimed his gun. Still, the jury believed this link as well.

The prosecution's final piece of material evidence was a flop-eared cap claimed to have been Sacco's. Sacco tried the cap on in court and, according to two newspaper sketch artists who ran cartoons the next day, it was too small, sitting high on his head. But Katzmann insisted the cap fitted Sacco and continued to refer to it as his.

Further controversy clouded the prosecution witnesses who identified Sacco at the scene of the crime. One, a bookkeeper named Mary Splaine, precisely described Sacco as the man she saw firing from the getaway car. Yet cross examination revealed that Splaine had refused to identify Sacco at the inquest and had seen the getaway car for only a second and from nearly a half-block away. While a few others singled out Sacco or Vanzetti as the men they had seen at the scene of the crime, far more witnesses, both prosecution and defense, refused to identify them.

After deliberating for only three hours, then breaking for dinner, the jury returned with a guilty verdict. Supporters later insisted Sacco and Vanzetti had been convicted for their anarchist views, yet every juror insisted anarchism had played no part in their decision. First degree murder in Massachusetts was a capital crime. Sacco and Vanzetti were therefore bound for the electric chair unless the defense could find new evidence.

Motions and appeals

Appeals and protests continued for the next six years. While the prosecution staunchly defended the verdict, the defense, led by radical attorney Fred Moore, continued to develop evidence that raised doubts. Three key prosecution witnesses stated that they had been coerced into identifying Sacco at the scene of the crime, but when confronted by District Attorney Katzmann they denied any coercion. One of them, Lola Andrews, a nurse, told authorities that she was forced to sign an affidavit stating she had wrongfully identified Sacco and Vanzetti. She signed a counter-affidavit the following day. Another, Lewis Pelser, described how he had submitted to alleged prosecutorial coercion while drunk and signed a counter-affidavit shortly thereafter.

In 1924, controversy continued when it was discovered that someone had switched the barrel of Sacco's gun with that of another Colt automatic used for comparison.[35] Other appeals focused on the jury foreman and a prosecution ballistics expert. In 1923, the defense filed an affidavit from a friend of the jury foreman who swore that prior to the trial, the man had said of Sacco and Vanzetti, "Damn them, they ought to hang them anyway!" That same year, a state police captain retracted his trial testimony linking Sacco's gun to the fatal bullet. Captain William Proctor claimed that he never meant to imply the connection and had repeatedly told Katzmann there was no such connection, but that the prosecution had crafted its trial questioning to disguise his true assessment.

The conduct of trial judge Webster Thayer also buttressed calls for a new trial. During the trial, many had noted how Thayer seemed to loathe defense attorney Fred Moore. Thayer frequently denied Moore's motions, lecturing the California-based lawyer on how law was conducted in Massachusetts. Once Thayer told astonished reporters that "No long-haired anarchist from California can run this court!" According to the sworn affidavits of eyewitnesses, Thayer also lectured members of his clubs, calling Sacco and Vanzetti "Bolsheviki!" and saying he would "get them good and proper." Following the verdict, Boston Globe reporter Frank Sibley, who had covered the trial, wrote a scathing protest to the Massachusetts attorney general condemning Thayer's blatant bias. The New York World attacked Thayer as "an agitated little man looking for publicity and utterly impervious to the ethical standards one has the right to expect of a man presiding in a capital case."[36]

In 1924, after denying all five motions for a new trial, Thayer confronted a Massachusetts lawyer at his alma mater of Dartmouth. "Did you see what I did with those anarchistic bastards the other day?" the judge said. "I guess that will hold them for a while! Let them go to the Supreme Court now and see what they can get out of them!" The outburst was not disclosed until 1927.

For their part, Sacco and Vanzetti seemed to alternate between moods of defiance, vengeance, resignation, and despair. The June 1926 issue of Protesta Umana published by their Defense Committee carried an article signed by Sacco and Vanzetti that appealed for retaliation by their colleagues. In the article, Vanzetti stated "I will try to see Thayer death [sic] before his pronunciation of our sentence" and asked fellow anarchists for "revenge, revenge in our names and the names of our living and dead."[37] In a reference to Luigi Galleani's bomb-making manual (covertly titled La Salute è in voi!), the article concluded "Remember, La Salute è in voi!". Both Sacco and Vanzetti wrote dozens of letters sincerely expressing their innocence. Sacco, in his awkward prose, and Vanzetti in his eloquent but flawed English, insisted they had been framed because they were anarchists.

While in Dedham prison, Sacco met a Portuguese convict named Celestino Madeiros. Late in 1925, Madeiros claimed to have committed the crime of which Sacco was accused. Medeiros, whose vague confession contained many anomalies, provided the defense with an alternative theory, that the Braintree murders were the work of a gang.

Prior to April 1920, gang leader Joe Morelli and his men had been robbing shoes from factories in Massachusetts, including the two in Braintree where the murders occurred. Investigators discovered that Morelli bore a striking resemblance to Sacco. Several witnesses for both the prosecution and defense mistook his mug shot for Sacco's. When questioned in prison in 1925, Morelli denied any involvement, but six years later he allegedly confessed to a New York lawyer.[38] Judge Thayer denied the appeal for a new trial based on the Madeiros confession; further appeals to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court were also denied.

Vanzetti said in his last speech to Judge Thayer on April 19, 1927:

"I would not wish to a dog or a snake, to the most low and misfortunate creature of the earth–I would not wish to any of them what I have had to suffer for things that I am not guilty of. But my conviction is that I have suffered for things that I am guilty of. I am suffering because I am a radical, and indeed I am a radical; I have suffered because I am an Italian, and indeed I am an Italian... If you could execute me two times, and if I could be reborn two other times, I would live again to do what I have done already."

Many famous socialists and intellectuals, including Dorothy Parker, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Bertrand Russell, John Dos Passos, Upton Sinclair, George Bernard Shaw and H. G. Wells, campaigned for a retrial, without success. Harvard law professor and future Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter also argued for a retrial for the two men, writing a scathing criticism of Thayer and the trial in the Atlantic Monthly in 1927. Chief Justice of the United States William Howard Taft and some others who believed the pair guilty considered Frankfurter’s article to be the foundation of most intellectuals' criticism of the Sacco and Vanzetti case.[39]

On April 8, 1927, their appeals exhausted, Sacco and Vanzetti were sentenced to death in the electric chair.

Governor’s Advisory Committee

Massachusetts Governor

In response to public protests that greeted the execution order, Massachusetts Governor Alvin T. Fuller faced last minute appeals to grant clemency to Sacco and Vanzetti. On June 1, 1927, he appointed an Advisory Committee of three: President Abbott Lawrence Lowell of Harvard, President Samuel Wesley Stratton of MIT, and Probate Judge Robert Grant. They were tasked with reviewing the trial to determine whether it had been fair. Lowell's appointment was generally well received, for though he had controversy in his past he had also at times demonstrated an independent streak. The defense attorneys considered resigning when they determined that the Committee was biased against the defendants, but some of the defendants' most prominent supporters, including Harvard Law Professor Felix Frankfurter and Judge Julian W. Mack of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, persuaded them to stay because Lowell "was not entirely hopeless."[40]

One of the defense attorneys, though ultimately very critical of the Committee's work, thought the Committee members were not really capable of the task the Governor set for them: "No member of the Committee had the essential sophistication that comes with experience in the trial of criminal cases....The high positions in the community held by the members of the Committee obscured the fact that they were not really qualified to perform the difficult task assigned to them." He also thought that the Committee, particularly Lowell, imagined it could use its fresh and more powerful analytical abilities to outperform the works of those who had worked on the case for years, even finding evidence of guilt that professional prosecutors had discarded.[41]

Grant was another establishment figure, a probate court judge from 1893 to 1923 and an Overseer of Harvard University from 1896 to 1921, and the author of a dozen popular novels.[42] Some criticized Grant's appointment to the Committee, with one defense lawyer saying he "had a black-tie class concept of life around him," but Harold Laski in a conversation at the time found him "moderate." Others cited evidence of xenophobia in some of his novels, references to "riff-raff" and a variety of racial slurs. His biographer allows that he was "not a good choice," not a legal scholar, and handicapped by age. Stratton, the one member who was not a Boston Brahmin, maintained the lowest public profile of the three and hardly spoke during its hearings.[43]

After two weeks of hearing witnesses and reviewing evidence, the trio determined that the trial had been fair and a new trial was not warranted. They assessed the charges against Thayer as well. Their criticism, using words provided by Judge Grant,[44] would hardly sound harsh to those outside the legal profession: "He ought not to have talked about the case off the bench, and doing so was a grave breach of judicial decorum." But they also found some of the charges about his statements unbelievable or exaggerated, and they determined that anything he might have said had no impact on the trial. The panel's reading of the trial transcript convinced them that Thayer "tried to be scrupulously fair." The Committee also reported that the trial jurors were almost unanimous in praising Thayer’s conduct of the trial.[45]

A defense attorney later noted ruefully that the release of the Committee's report "abruptly stilled the burgeoning doubts among the leaders of opinion in New England."[46] Supporters of the convicted men denounced the Committee. Harold Laski said the decision represented Lowell's "loyalty to his class."

Execution and aftermath

Both Sacco and Vanzetti refused a priest but both men went peacefully and proudly to their deaths. Sacco's final words were "Viva l'anarchia!" and "Farewell, mia madre." Vanzetti, in his final moments, gently shook hands with guards and thanked them for their kind treatment, read a statement proclaiming his innocence, and finally said, "I wish to forgive some people for what they are now doing to me." Their bodies were cremated. Sacco's ashes are in Torremaggiore, the town of his birth. The location of Vanzetti's ashes is unknown.[47] Fellow Galleanists did not take news of the executions with equanimity. At the funeral parlor in Hanover Street, a wreath announced Aspettando l'ora di vendetta (Awaiting the hour of vengeance).

A few days after the executions, Sacco's widow thanked Italian anarchist Severino Di Giovanni by letter for his support and added that the director of the tobacco firm Combinados had offered to produce a cigarette brand named "Sacco and Vanzetti."[48] On November 26, 1927, Di Giovanni and his comrades bombed a Combinados tobacco shop shortly afterwards.[48]

Di Giovanni, one of the most vocal supporters of Sacco and Vanzetti in Argentina, bombed the American embassy in Buenos Aires a few hours after Sacco and Vanzetti were condemned to death.[48] On December 24, 1927, Di Giovanni blew up the headquarters of the Citibank and of the Bank of Boston in Buenos Aires in apparent protest of the execution.[48] In December 1928, Di Giovanni and his comrades failed in an attempt to bomb the train in which President Herbert Hoover traveled during his visit to Argentina.[48]

Following the sentencing of Sacco and Vanzetti in 1927, a package bomb addressed to Governor Fuller was intercepted in the Boston post office. Three months later, bombs exploded in the New York subway, in a Philadelphia church, and at the home of the mayor of Baltimore. One of the jurors in the Dedham trial had his house bombed, throwing him and his family from their beds. Less than a year after the executions, a bomb destroyed the front porch of the home of executioner Robert Elliott. As late as 1932, Judge Thayer's home was wrecked and his wife and housekeeper injured in a bomb blast.[49] Afterward, Thayer lived permanently at his club in Boston, guarded 24 hours a day until his death.

Intellectual and literary supporters of Sacco and Vanzetti continued to speak out. In 1936, on the day when Harvard celebrated its 300th anniversary, 28 Harvard alumni issued a statement attacking the University's retired President Lowell for his role on the Governor's Advisory Committee in 1927. They included Heywood Broun, Malcolm Cowley, Granville Hicks, and John Dos Passos.[50]

Historical viewpoints

Many historians, especially legal historians, have concluded the Sacco and Vanzetti prosecution, trial, and aftermath constituted a blatant disregard for political civil liberties, especially Thayer's decision to deny a retrial. Judge Webster Thayer, who heard the case, allegedly described the two as "anarchist bastards."[51]

Both men had previously fled to Mexico, changing their names in order to evade draft registration required for citizenship application, a fact used against them by the prosecutor in their trial for murder. This implication of guilt by the commission of unrelated acts is one of the most persistent criticisms leveled against the trial. Sacco and Vanzetti's supporters would later argue that the men merely fled the country to avoid persecution and conscription, their critics, to escape detection and arrest for militant and seditious activities in the United States. But other anarchists who fled with them revealed the probable reason in a 1953 Book:

Several score Italian anarchists left the United States for Mexico. Some have suggested they did so because of cowardice. Nothing could be more false. The idea to go to Mexico arose in the minds of several comrades who were alarmed by the idea that, remaining in the United States, they would be forcibly restrained from leaving for Europe, where the revolution that had burst out in Russia that February promised to spread all over the continent.[52]

Some critics felt that the authorities and jurors were influenced by strong anti-Italian prejudice and prejudice against immigrants widely held at the time, especially in New England. Fred Moore compared the chances of an Italian getting a fair trial in Boston to a black person getting one in the American South. Against charges of racism and racial prejudice, others pointed out that both men were known anarchist members of a militant organization, members of which had been conducting a violent campaign of bombing and attempted assassinations, acts condemned by the Italian-American community and Americans of all backgrounds. Though in general anarchist groups did not finance their militant activities through bank robberies, a fact noted by the investigators of the Bureau of Investigation, this was not true of the Galleanist group, as Mario Buda readily admitted to an interviewer: "Andavamo a prenderli dove c'erano" ("We used to go and get it [money] where it was") — meaning factories and banks.[53]

Others believe that the government was really prosecuting Sacco and Vanzetti for the robbery-murders as a convenient excuse to put a stop to their militant activities as Galleanists, whose bombing campaign at the time posed a lethal threat, both to the government and to many Americans. Faced with a secretive underground group whose members resisted interrogation and believed in their cause, Federal and local officials using conventional law enforcement tactics had been repeatedly stymied in their efforts to identify all members of the group or to collect enough evidence for a prosecution.

Most historians believe that Sacco and Vanzetti were involved at some level in the Galleanist bombing campaign, although their precise roles have not been determined.[54] The Galleanists' bombmaker, Mario Buda, reportedly told a friend in 1955, "Sacco c'era" (Sacco was there).[55] Today, their case is seen as one of the earliest examples of using widespread protests and mass movements to try to win the release of convicted persons. The Sacco-Vanzetti case also exposed the inadequacies of both the legal and law enforcement system in investigating and prosecuting members and alleged members of secret societies and terrorist groups, and contributed to calls for the organization of national data collection and counterintelligence services.

When the letters Sacco and Vanzetti wrote appeared in print in 1929, journalist Walter Lippmann commented: "If Sacco and Vanzetti were professional bandits, then historians and biographers who attempt to deduce character from personal documents might as well shut up shop. By every test that I know of for judging character, these are the letters of innocent men."[56]

Later investigations

One additional piece of evidence supporting the possibility of Sacco's guilt arose in 1941 when anarchist leader Carlo Tresca, a member of the Sacco and Vanzetti Defense Committee, told Max Eastman, "Sacco was guilty but Vanzetti was innocent.." Eastman published an article recounting his conversation with Tresca in National Review in 1961. Later, others would confirm being told the same information by Tresca. Others pointed to an ongoing feud between Tresca and the Galleanisti, claiming the famous anarchist was just trying to get even.

In 1952, labor organizer Anthony Ramuglia admitted that a Boston anarchist group had asked him to be a false alibi witness for Sacco." Though he had agreed, he had then remembered that he had been in jail at that time, and his perjury could therefore be proven, so he was removed from the alibi list.

In addition, in October 1961, ballistics tests were run with improved technology using Sacco's Colt automatic. The results confirmed that the bullet that killed Berardelli in 1920 was fired from Sacco's pistol.[57] Subsequent investigations in 1983 also supported this finding. This resulted in some scholars of the case to conclude that Sacco may in fact be guilty.

The relevance of this evidence was challenged in 1988, when Charlie Whipple, a former Boston Globe editorial page editor, revealed a conversation that he had when he worked as a reporter with Sergeant Edward J. Seibolt in 1937. According to Whipple, Seibolt admitted that the police ballistics experts had switched the murder weapon, but Seibolt indicated that he would deny this if Whipple ever printed it. At the time, Whipple was unfamiliar with the specific facts of the case, and it is not known if Seibolt was actually recalling Albert Hamilton's testimony and behavior on the stand when Hamilton apparently switched Sacco's gun barrel with that of another Colt automatic.

Sacco's .32 Colt pistol is also claimed to have passed in and out of police custody, and to have been dismantled several times, both in 1924 prior to the gun barrel switch, and again between 1927 and 1961. The central problem with these charges is that the match to Sacco's gun was based not only on the 0.32 Colt pistol but also on the same-caliber bullet that killed Berardelli as well as spent casings found at the scene.

In addition to tampering with the pistol, the gun switcher/dismantler would have had also to access police evidence lockers and exchange the bullet from Berardelli's body and all spent casings retrieved by police, or else locate the actual murder weapon, then switch barrel, firing pin, ejector, and extractor, all before Goddard's examination in 1927 when the first match was made to Sacco's gun. However, doubters of Sacco's guilt have repeatedly pointed to a single anomaly — that several witnesses to the crime insisted the gunman, alleged to be Sacco, fired four bullets into Berardelli. "He shot at Berardelli probably four or five times," one witness said. "He stood guard over him." If this was true, many ask, how could only one of the fatal bullets be linked to Sacco's gun? In 1927, the defense raised the suggestion that the fatal bullet had been planted, calling attention to the awkward scratches on the base of the bullet that differed from those on other bullets. The Lowell Commission dismissed this claim as desperate but in 1985, historians William Kaiser and David Young made a compelling case for a switch in their book Postmortem: New Evidence in the Case of Sacco and Vanzetti.

Further evidence concerning the Morelli gang came to light in 1973 when a former mobster published a confession by Frank "Butsy" Morelli, Joe's brother. "We whacked them out, we killed those guys in the robbery," Butsy Morelli told Vincent Teresa. "These two greaseballs Sacco and Vanzetti took it on the chin."

Yet there are others who revealed different opinions, further muddling the case. In November, 1982 Francis Russell, author of a book on the case, received a letter from Ideale Gambera. Gambera revealed that his father, Giovanni Gambera, who had died in June 1982, was a member of the four-person team of anarchist leaders that met shortly after the arrest of Sacco and Vanzetti to plan for their defense. In his letter to Russell, Gambera claimed, "everyone [in the anarchist inner circle] knew that Sacco was guilty and that Vanzetti was innocent as far as the actual participation in killing."

Russell had originally written about the case, arguing that Sacco and Vanzetti were innocent, but further research led him to write a 1975 book, asserting that Sacco was, in fact, guilty. Russell used the Gambera revelation as the basis of a new book in 1986, in which he claims that the case is "solved," and presents his view that Sacco was one of the shooters, while Vanzetti was an accessory after the fact. While Russell's 1975 book was praised, even by those who disagreed with his conclusion, for being balanced and well-reasoned, his 1986 book was much more negatively received.

Months before he died, the distinguished jurist Charles E. Wyzanski, Jr., who had presided for 45 years on the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, wrote to Russell stating "I myself am persuaded by your writings that Sacco was guilty." The judge's assessment was significant, because he was one of Felix Frankfurter's "Hot Dogs," and Justice Frankfurter had advocated his appointment to the federal bench.[58]

Dukakis proclamation

In 1977, as the 50th anniversary of the executions approached, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis asked the Office of the Governor's Legal Counsel to report on "whether there are substantial grounds for believing–at least in the light of the legal standards of today–that Sacco and Vanzetti were unfairly convicted and executed" and to recommend appropriate action.[59] The resulting "Report to the Governor in the Matter of Sacco and Vanzetti" detailed grounds for doubting that the trial was conducted fairly in the first instance and argued as well that such doubts were only reinforced by "later-discovered or later-disclosed evidence."[60] The Report questioned prejudicial cross-examination that the trial judge allowed, the judge's hostility, the fragmentary nature of the evidence, and eyewitness testimony that came to light after the trial. It found the judge's charge to the jury troubling for the way it emphasized the defendants behavior at the time of their arrest and highlighted certain physical evidence that was later called into question.[61] The Report also dismissed the argument that the trial had been subject to judicial review, noting that "the system for reviewing murder cases at the time...failed to provide the safeguards now present."[62]

Based on recommendations of the Office of Legal Counsel, Dukakis declared August 23, 1977, the 50th anniversary of their execution, Nicola Sacco and Bartomomeo Vanzetti Memorial Day.[63] "Report to the Governor in the Matter of Sacco and Vanzetti," July 13, 1977, in Upton Sinclair, Boston: A Documentary Novel (Cambridge, MA: Robert Bentley, Inc., 1978), 757-90 His proclamation, issued in English and Italian, stated that Sacco and Vanzetti had been unfairly tried and convicted and that "any disgrace should be forever removed from their names." He did not pardon them, because that would imply they were guilty. Neither did he assert their innocence.[64][65][66] A resolution to censure the Governor failed in the Massachusetts Senate by a vote of 23 to 12.[67] Dukakis later expressed regret only for not reaching out to the families of the victims of the crime.[68]

The involvement of Upton Sinclair

Upton Sinclair maintained a consistent position in asserting the innocence of Sacco and Vanzetti. In 2005, a letter from Upton Sinclair to his attorney John Beardsley, Esq., became public. Some claimed[who?] that the contents of the letter were a new or "original" development, though everything in the letter was mentioned in a 1975 biography of Upton Sinclair.

Writing the letter in 1929, Sinclair revealed that he had talked to Fred Moore, one of Sacco and Vanzetti's attorneys, after the executions. "Alone in a hotel room with Fred, I begged him to tell me the full truth....He then told me that the men were guilty, and he told me in every detail how he had framed a set of alibis for them....I faced the most difficult ethical problem of my life at that point; I had come to Boston with the announcement that I was going to write the truth about the case." Sinclair also said he was "completely naïve about the case, having accepted the defense propaganda completely."[69]

In January 2006, more of the Sinclair-Beardsley letter became public. It showed that Sinclair doubted Moore: "I realized certain facts about Fred Moore. I had heard that he was using drugs. I knew that he had parted from the defense committee after the bitterest of quarrels....Moore admitted to me that the men themselves had never admitted their guilt to him, and I began to wonder whether his present attitude and conclusions might not be the result of his brooding on his wrongs."[70] Sinclair also spoke with Moore's former wife who assured him that her husband had never expressed doubts about his clients' innocence either during or after the trial.

Later tributes

A memorial committee attempted to present a plaster cast executed in the 1937 by Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor Mount Rushmore, to Massachusetts governors and Boston mayors in 1937, 1947, and 1957 without success. On August 23, 1997, on the 70th anniversary of the Sacco and Vanzetti executions, Boston's first Italian-American Mayor Thomas Menino and the Italian-American Acting Governor of Massachusetts Paul Cellucci unveiled the work at the Boston Public Library, where it remains on display. "The city's acceptance of this piece of artwork is not intended to reopen debate about the guilt or innocence of Sacco and Vanzetti," Menino said. "It is intended to remind us of the dangers of miscarried justice, and the right we all have to a fair trial."[71] The event occasioned a renewed debate about the fairness of the trial in the editorial pages of the Boston Herald.[72] There is also a mosaic mural of the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti on the main campus of Syracuse University.

The "Sacco and Vanzetti Century" was an American anarchist military unit in the Durruti Column that fought in the Spanish Civil War.[73]

There are many objects in the former USSR named after "Sacco and Vanzetti", for example a factory producing pencils in Moscow, a kolkhoz in Donetsk region, Ukraine, and a street in Yekaterinburg. There are also numerous towns that have streets named after Sacco and Vanzetti.

References in creative works

Plays, movies

The scenario of Maxwell Anderson's 1935 play Winterset was inspired by the case.
James Thurber and Elliot Nugent used Vanzetti's jailhouse letter their 1940 play The Male Animal. It was later a film.
In 1963, a play about the case, The Advocate, premiered on Broadway and was televised in the U.S.
In 1936, the third novel in John Dos Passos' U.S.A. trilogy, The Big Money, featured the character of Mary French working on the Sacco-Vanzetti trial, culminating with the mass demonstration on the night of the executions.
Sacco e Vanzetti, a 1971 film by Italian director Giuliano Montaldo covers the case.
In 2000, the play Voices on the Wind by Eric Paul Erickson centered around the final hours of the lives of Sacco and Vanzetti. Former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis recorded an audio clip of his pardon for the production.
Sacco and Vanzetti (2007) was an award-winning documentary film.
The trial of Sacco and Vanzetti is the subject of the eponymous play by Argentine playwright Mauricio Kartún.
Sacco and Vanzetti are characters in the feature film No God No Master.


In 1932, composer Ruth Crawford Seeger wrote the song "Sacco, Vanzetti" on commission from the Society of Contemporary Music in Philadelphia.
In 1960, Folkways Records released an LP titled The Ballads of Sacco and Vanzetti, which had eleven songs composed and sung by folksinger Woody Guthrie in 1946-1947 and one song sung by folksinger Pete Seeger using words by Nicola Sacco.
At the time of his murder in 1964, American composer Marc Blitzstein was working on an opera on Sacco and Vanzetti.
In 1971, Joan Baez performed the song "Here's To You" (music by Ennio Morricone, lyrics by Baez) for an Italian film Sacco e Vanzetti.
In 1972, Israeli actress and singer Daliah Lavi published a tri-lingual version of Baez's "Here's to you" in English, French and German.
In 1974, the French version of "The Ballad of Sacco E Vanzetti" appeared on Mireille Mathieu's album "Mireille Mathieu chante Ennio Morricone."
In 1977, folksinger Charlie King wrote a protest song called Two Good Arms that was based on Vanzetti's final speech.
In 1988, the folk group Patrick Street's included the song "Facing the Chair" on their album, No. 2 Patrick Street.
In 2001, Anton Coppola, uncle of Francis Ford Coppola, premiered his opera Sacco and Vanzetti.
In 2001, the ska punk band Against All Authority wrote a song titled Sacco and Vanzetti, which appears on their album Nothing New for Trash Like You.
In 2003, the album Focus, a collaboration of Ennio Morricone and Portuguese Fado singer Dulce Pontes, included a performance of "The Ballad of Sacco e Vanzetti."
Georges Moustaki, a Francophone singer and songwriter, translated Joan Baez's "Here's To You" into French and called it "Marche de Sacco et Vanzetti."

Written works, paintings

Sacco and Vanzetti mosaic by Ben Shahn at Syracuse University
Detail of mosaicIn 1927, editorial cartoonist Fred Ellis published The case of Sacco and Vanzetti in cartoons from the "Daily Worker."
Upton Sinclair's 1928 book, Boston: A Novel, is a fictional interpretation of the affair.[74]
In 1935, Maxwell Anderson's award-winning drama Winterset presented the story of a man who attempts to clear the name of his Italian immigrant father who has been executed for robbery and murder.[75] It became a feature film a year later.[76]
James T. Farrell's 1946 novel Bernard Clare uses the anti-Italian sentiment provoked by coverage of the case and the crowd scene in New York City's Union Square awaiting news of the executions as critical plot elements.[77]
Howard Fast published his novel The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti, based on the case, in 1954.
Mark Binelli presented the two as a Laurel-and-Hardy-like comedy team in the 2006 novel Sacco And Vanzetti Must Die![78]
Ben Shahn's produced a series of works related to the case. The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti, for example, consists of 3 panels. One depicts protesters. Another shows Sacco and Vanzetti as large figures dwarfing that of Governor Fuller. A third shows the members of the Governor's Advisory Commission standing over Sacco and Vanzetti in their coffins. It is owned by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.[79] A similar sixty-by-twelve-foot mural by Shahn executed in marble and enamel is found on the east wall of Crouse-Hinds Hall at Syracuse University.[80]


In his poem "America," Allen Ginsberg presents a catalog of slogans that includes the line: "Sacco and Vanzetti must not die."[81]
Carl Sandburg described the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti in his poem "Legal Midnight Hour."[82]
Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote a poem after the executions titled "Justice Denied In Massachusetts."[83]
William Carlos Williams wrote a poem entitled "Impromptu: The Suckers" in response to the trial.[84]
Turkish poet Nazım Hikmet's poem "Sacco ile Vanzetti" (Sacco and Vanzetti) hails the two as revolutionaries.


1.^ D'Attilio.
2.^ New York Times, 1927-08-23
3.^ Montgomery 1960 p. v.
4.^ Young and Kaiser 1985 preface.
5.^ D'Attilio, Robert. "The Sacco-Vanzetti Case (overview)". www.writing.upenn.edu. http://www.writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/88/sacvan.html. Retrieved 2008-09-20.
6.^ Avrich, Paul, Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America, Princeton: Princeton University Press (1996), Interview of Charles Poggi, 132-133
7.^ The New York Times, March 5, 1922
8.^ University of Pennsylvania
9.^ David Felix supported this idea. David Felix, Protest: Sacco-Vanzetti and the Intellectuals (1965), 75-76, 80.
10.^ Watson, 271
11.^ New York Times. "Bomb For Herrick Wounds His Valet In His Paris Home." October 19, 1921. Years later, the sender of the bomb was revealed to be May Picqueray (1893-1983), a militant anarchist and editor of Le Réfractaire.
12.^ Watson, 65-6
13.^ Joughin, 9
14.^ Watson, 66; Ehrmann, 73-4
15.^ Watson, 59-60; Sacco and Vanzetti, Letters, 225n
16.^ Watson 116-8; Ehrmann, 460; Young and Kaiser, 21-3
17.^ Joughin, 34-8
18.^ Joughin, 39
19.^ Joughin, 42-3, 45-6; Ehrmann, 115ff.
20.^ Joughin, 43, 46
21.^ Joughin, 46
22.^ Watson, 74
23.^ Joughin, 300, 304
24.^ Watson, 74
25.^ Ehrmann, 114-5
26.^ Joughin, 10, 47
27.^ Vanzetti complained during his sentencing on April 9, 1927, for the Braintree crimes that Fahey "sold me for thirty golden money like Judas sold Jesus Christ" and charged that Vahey conspired with the prosecutor "to agitate still more the passion of the juror, the prejudice of the juror" towards "people of our principles, against the foreigner, against slackers." Quoted in part, Watson, 74, 292; quoted in full Amerika-Institut: Last Statements (1927), Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, accessed June 22, 2010. "Slacker" was the contemporary term for "draft dodger."
28.^ Watson, 74-5
29.^ Watson, 75; Joughin, 56
30.^ Watson, 76; Joughin, 56; Ehrmann, 114-5
31.^ Joughin, 47
32.^ Joughin, 47-8
33.^ Ehrmann, 151; Sacco and Vanzetti, Letters, 225n
34.^ Russell, Francis (June 1962). "Sacco Guilty, Vanzetti Innocent?". American Heritage 13 (4): 111. "About the gun found on Vanzetti there is too much uncertainty to come to any conclusion. Being of .38 caliber, it was obviously not used at South Braintree, where all the bullets fired were .32's".
35.^ Russell, Francis (June 1962). "Sacco Guilty, Vanzetti Innocent?". American Heritage 13 (4): 107. "At the conclusion of the investigation Thayer passed no judgment as to who had switched the barrels but merely noted that the rusty barrel in the new pistol had come from Sacco's Colt.".
36.^ New York Times: "Judge Thayer Dies in Boston at 75," April 19, 1933, accessed Dec 20, 2009
37.^ Watson, Bruce. Sacco and Vanzetti: The Men, the Murders, and the Judgment of Mankind (NY: Viking Press, 2007, ISBN 0670063533, 9780670063536, p. 264
38.^ In 1973, further evidence against the Morelli gang emerged. A mobster's memoir quoted Morelli's brother Frank as confessing to the Braintree murders.
39.^ Robert Grant, Fourscore: An Autobiography (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1934), 366-74
40.^ Herbert B. Ehrmann, The Case That Will Not Die: Commonwealth vs. Sacco and Vanzetti (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1969), 485
41.^ Ehrmann, 255-6, 375, 512, 525ff.
42.^ New York Times: "Ex-Judge Grant, Boston Novelist," May 20, 1940, accessed Dec. 20, 2009
43.^ Bruce Watson, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Men, the Murders, and the Judgment of Mankind (NY: Viking, 2007), 311-3
44.^ Robert Grant, Fourscore: An Autobiography (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1934), 372
45.^ New York Times: "Advisers Hold Guilt Shown," Aug. 7, 1927, accessed Dec. 20, 2009; Later Grant allowed that he was "amazed and incensed" at the biased comments Judge Thayer made outside the courtroom.
46.^ Ehrmann, 539;
47.^ Findagrave: Nicola Sacco, accessed June 2, 2010; Bartolomeo Vanzetti, accessed June 2, 2010
48.^ Felipe Pigna, Los Mitos de la historia argentina, ed. Planeta, 2006, chapter IV "Expropriando al Capital", esp. 105-114
49.^ New York Times: "Bomb Menaces Life of Sacco Case Judge," September 27, 1932, accessed Dec. 20, 2009
50.^ Bruce Watson, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Men, the Murders, and the Judgment of Mankind (NY: Viking, 2007), 311-5, 325-7, 356; New York Times: "Lowell's Papers on Sacco and Vanzetti Are Released," Feb. 1, 1978, accessed Dec. 28, 2009; New York Times: "Assail Dr. Lowell on Sacco Decision," Sept. 19, 1936, accessed Dec. 28, 2009
51.^ Joe Nickell, John F. Fischer. Crime Science: Methods of Forensic Detection. University Press of Kentucky (December 17, 1998), ISBN 0813120918, ISBN 978-0813120911, p. 103. google books
52.^ Un Trentennio di Attivita Anarchica (1914-1945) (Thirty Years of Anarchist Activities) Cesena, Italy, 1953
53.^ Avrich, Paul. Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America. Princeton: Princeton University Press (1996), Interview of Charles Poggi, pp. 132-133
54.^ Avrich, Paul. Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America. Princeton: Princeton University Press (1996)
55.^ Avrich, Paul. Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America. Princeton: Princeton University Press (1996), pp. 132-133 ("Interview of Charles Poggi")
56.^ Marion Denman Frankfurter and Gardner Jackson, eds., The Letters of Sacco and Vanzetti (NY: Vanguard Press, 1929), xi
57.^ Russell, Francis (June 1962). "Sacco Guilty, Vanzetti Innocent?" American Heritage 13 (4): 110. "Making independent examinations, Jury and Weller both concluded that 'the bullet marked III was fired in Sacco's pistol and in no other.'"
58.^ Newby, Richard. "Judge Wyzanski Makes History: Sacco and Vanzetti Reconvicted." August 29, 1999. Accessed July 31, 2008.
59.^ "Report to the Governor" (1977), 757
60.^ "Report to the Governor" (1977), 761
61.^ "Report to the Governor" (1977), 761-9
62.^ "Report to the Governor" (1977), 768-73
63.^ "Proclamation by the Governor" (1977), 797-9
64.^ New York Times: "Massachusetts Admits Sacco-Vanzetti Injustice," July 19, 1977, accessed June 2, 2010
65.^ iCue: "Governor Dukakis Discusses Impending Exoneration of Sacco and Vanzetti," interview transcript, August 23, 1977, accessed June 2, 2010
66.^ New York Times: "Editorial: The Case That Will Not Die," May 22, 1977, accessed June 2, 2010, an editorial on the occasion of the publication of Katherine Anne Porter's The Never-Ending Wrong, urging Dukakis "to concede that Massachusetts justice did not acquit itself well in this case and to acknowledge the enduring doubts about it."
67.^ New York Times: "Sacco-Vanzetti Vote Reversed," August 16, 1977, accessed June 2, 2010
68.^ Patriot Ledger: Rick Collins, "Forgotten victims: Descendants say both were hard-working family men," June 2, 2010, accessed July 31, 2008
69.^ "Upton Sinclair at Boston", CBC January 28, 2006. Additional papers in Sinclair's archives at Indiana University show the ethical quandary he confronted. Pasco, Jean (2005-12-24). "Sinclair Letter Turns Out to Be Another Exposé: Note found by an O.C. man says The Jungle author got the lowdown on Sacco and Vanzetti". Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2005/dec/24/local/me-sinclair24.
70.^ History News Network: "Roundup: Talking About History", accessed June 9, 2010; republication of Greg Mitchell "Sliming a Famous Muckraker: The Untold Story," Editor & Publisher, January 30, 2006
71.^ Evie Gelastopoulos, "Sacco, Vanzetti memorial unveiled," in Boston Herald, August 24, 1997.
72.^ "Editorial: Sacco, Vanzetti skepticism," in Boston Herald, August 21, 1997; Peter B. Agnes Jr., presiding judge of the Charlestown District Court, "Op Ed:Sacco and Vanzetti: Another view" in Boston Herald, August 27, 1992; Stephanie Schorow, "70 years later, jury remains out on Sacco and Vanzetti" in Boston Herald, August 22, 1997
73.^ Beevor, Antony, The Battle for Spain (Penguin Books, 2006),127
74.^ Upton Sinclair, Boston: A Novel (NY: Albert & Charles Boni, 1928). Reissued as Boston: A Documentary Novel of the Sacco-Vanzetti Case (Cambridge, MA: R. Bentley, 1978)
75.^ New York Times: Brooks Atkinson, "'Winterset' and Mr. Anderson," October 6, 1935, accessed July 2, 2010
76.^ Internet Movie Database: "Winterset (1936)", accessed July 2, 2010
77.^ New York Times: F. O. Matthiessen, "James T. Farrell's Human Comedy," May 12, 1946, accessed July 2, 2010
78.^ Mark Binelli, Sacco And Vanzetti Must Die! (Chicago: Dalkey Archive Press, 2006)
79.^ Whitney Museum of American Art: "Ben Shahn, 1898-1969: The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti, 1931-32", accessed July 3, 2010
80.^ Ali Shehad Zaidi, "Powerful Compassion: The Strike At Syracuse" in Monthly Review, September, 1999
81.^ Allen Ginsberg, Howl and Other Poems (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1956), 42
82.^ Carl Sandburg, Selected poems, edited by George Hendrick and Willene Hendrick (San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1996), 63. View
83.^ PoemHunter: "Justice Denied In Massachusetts", accessed June 2, 2010
84.^ William Carlos William, Collected Poems 1921-1931 (NY: The Objectivist Press, 1934)


Avrich, Paul (1996). Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691034126.
D'Attilio, Robert. "The Sacco-Vanzetti Case (overview)". University of Pennsylvania. http://www.writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/88/sacvan.html. Retrieved 2008-09-20.
Herbert B. Ehrmann, The Case That Will Not Die: Commonwealth vs. Sacco and Vanzetti (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1969)
Frankfurter, Felix (March 1927). "The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti". Atlantic Monthly. http://www.theatlantic.com/unbound/flashbks/oj/frankff.htm. ; reprinted in book form as The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti: A Critical Analysisfor Lawyers and Laymen (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1927)
G. Louis Joughin and Edmund M. Morgan, The Legacy of Sacco and Vanzetti (NY: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1948)
Montgomery, Robert (1960). Sacco-Vanzetti: The Murder and the Myth. NY: Devin-Adair.
John Neville, Twentieth-Century Cause Cèlébre [sic]: Sacco, Vanzetti, and the Press, 1920-1927 (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004), ISBN 0275977838. Accents are incorrect in the original.
"Sacco and Vanzetti Put to Death Early This Morning". New York Times. 1927-08-23. http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/big/0823.html#article. Retrieved 2008-09-20.
"Proclamation by the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts," July 19, 1977, in Upton Sinclair, Boston: A Documentary Novel (Cambridge, MA: Robert Bentley, Inc., 1978), 797-9
"Report to the Governor in the Matter of Sacco and Vanzetti," July 13, 1977, in Upton Sinclair, Boston: A Documentary Novel (Cambridge, MA: Robert Bentley, Inc., 1978), 757-90
Russell, Francis (1962). Tragedy in Dedham: The Story of the Sacco-Vanzetti Case. NY: McGraw Hill.
Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, The Letters of Sacco and Vanzetti, Marion Denman Frankfurter and Gardner Jackson, eds. (NY: Penguin Books 2007); various editions, first published 1928
William Young and David E. Kaiser, Postmortem: New Evidence in the Case of Sacco and Vanzetti (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1985)
Watson, Bruce (2007). Sacco and Vanzetti: The Men, the Murders, and the Judgment of Mankind. New York, NY: Viking Press. ISBN 0670063533.

Further reading

Paul Avrich, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Anarchist Background, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991, ISBN 0691026041
Paul Avrich, Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996
Eli Bortman, Sacco and Vanzetti (New England Remembers), Commonwealth Editions, 2005 ISBN 1889833762
Herbert B. Ehrmann, The Case That Will Not Die: Commonwealth vs. Sacco and Vanzetti, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1969
Howard Fast, The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti, A New England Legend ISBN 0837155843
David Felix, Protest: Sacco-Vanzetti and the Intellectuals, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1965
Roberta Strauss Feuerlicht, Justice Crucified, The Story of Sacco and Vanzetti, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1977
James Grossman, "The Sacco-Vanzetti Case Reconsidered," in Commentary, January 1962
Brian Jackson, The Black Flag: A Look Back at the Strange Case of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981
Joseph B. Kadane and David A. Schum, A Probabilistic Analysis of the Sacco and Vanzetti Evidence, Wiley Series in Probability and Mathematical Statistics, 1996
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling denying new trial at Case citation 255 Mass. 369, decided May 12, 1926
Robert H. Montgomery, Sacco-Vanzetti: The Murder and the Myth, New York: Devin-Adair, 1960
Richard Newby, Kill Now, Talk Forever: Debating Sacco and Vanzetti, 2002, ISBN 0759607923
Katherine Anne Porter, The Never-Ending Wrong, Boston: Little, Brown, 1977
Report to the Governor in the matter of Sacco and Vanzetti, Boston: Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1977
Francis Russell, Tragedy in Dedham: The Story of the Sacco-Vanzetti Case, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1962
Francis Russell, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Case Resolved, New York: Harper & Row, 1986
Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, The Letters of Sacco and Vanzetti, New York: Octagon Books, 1928
Nicola Sacco, The Sacco-Vanzetti Case, New York: Russell & Russell, 1931
Sacco-Vanzetti: Developments and Reconsiderations - 1979, Conference Proceedings, Boston: Trustees of the Public Library of the City of Boston, 1979, ISBN 0890730679
The Sacco-Vanzetti Case: Transcript of the Record of the Trial of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti in the Courts of Massachusetts, 6 vols., NY: Henry Holt & Co., 1928-9
Upton Sinclair, Boston: A Documentary Novel of the Sacco-Vanzetti Case, Cambridge: R. Bentley, 1978
James E. Starrs, "Once More Unto the Breech: The Firearms Evidence in the Sacco and Vanzetti Case Revisited," in Journal of Forensic Sciences, 1986, 630–54, 1050–78
Moshik Temkin, The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair: America on Trial, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009
Lorenzo Tibaldo, Sotto un cielo stellato. Vita e morte di Nicola Sacco e Bartolomeo Vanzetti, Turin: Claudiana, 2008
Bruce Watson, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Men, The Murders, and the Judgment of Mankind, New York, Viking, 2007
Robert P. Weeks, Commonwealth vs. Sacco and Vanzetti, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1958
William Young and David E. Kaiser, Postmortem: New Evidence in the Case of Sacco and Vanzetti, Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1985