Sunday, March 29, 2009

Uptown Crime Entertains A Worldwide Audience

Maybe it was the distrust of government and blatant political corruption. Maybe it was the bad economy or that the politically connected criminals appeared somewhat respectable, but Uptown Chicago crimes kept a worldwide audience rapt by the daily “Updates” in the news outlets of the 1920’s and '30’s.

People all over the world wondered just how far the gangsters and mobsters would go, if these public figures would ever be caught and if the Justice System and the FBI would finally prevail. Uptown Chicago criminals quickly became legends.

Uptown History Tidbit – Jun Fujita, who was employed as a Chicago Daily News Photojournalist, “was the only photographer to photograph the Chicago St. Valentine’s Day massacre and was known by Al Capone.” (St. Valentine’s Day Massacre photo, Al Capone photo)

Jun Fujita was also “a silent film actor at the old Essanay Studios Chicago and worked his way up from minor roles to later star in a two reel movie in 1915 called "Otherwise Bill Harrison," before the movie industry moved from Chicago to Hollywood.”

“Jun Fujita's contribution to American society was recognized by the United States Government by an act of Congress. Then Senator from Illinois, James Hamilton Lewis, introduced a Senate Bill which was passed granting Fujita honorary American citizenship at a time when Asians were denied American citizenship by naturalization due to their race.”

“Fujita was cremated and his remains were interned in an unknown plot in Chicago's famous Graceland Cemetery, probably in the Japanese section.” Link to quotes above.

Capone’s Chicago,” another exhibit of History TV, an online history museum of the Uptown Chicago neighborhood, has just been uploaded to YouTube: Part 1 of 3, Part 2 of 3, Part 3 of 3

Is crime entertainment? Just check out some of these Uptown related Movie Trailers:

- Love Me or Leave Me – This movie is about Ruth Etting (Doris Day), who was a regular performer at the Moulin Rouge Gardens and Rainbo Gardens on Clark Street. Ruth was married to a reputed mobster, Marty “Moe The Gimp” Snyder (James Cagney). Scenes in this movie take place in a Hollywood recreation of Uptown’s Rainbo Gardens Ballroom.

- Incendiary Blonde – Starring Betty Hutton, this movie is about Texas Guinan’s life. “Party fun girl Texas Guinan (real name Mary Louise Cecile Guinan) came to the Green Mill. In the spring of 1930, her agent had rented out the Green Mill for a couple of weeks.” In her Prohibition Era comedy show, Texas would claim that she was running illegal booze. The not yet released Madonna song, Is This Love (Bon D'Accord) is from “Hello Suckers,” a new movie about Texas Guinan.

- The Three Stooges Go Around The World in a DazeIt was at the Rainbo Gardens that vaudevillians Ted Healy and Moe Howard asked Larry Fine to join their comedy act eventually to become “The Three Stooges."

“MGM and the Farrelly brothers are finally slapping together their high-profile cast for “The Three Stooges,” a comedy project the filmmakers have been developing for years. Sean Penn is set to play Larry, and Jim Carrey is in negotiations to play Curly. Benicio del Toro is a rumored possibility for the leader, Moe.”

- Around The World In 80 Days – This “Best Picture” Oscar-Winning film was produced by Michael Todd, who was owner of Uptown’s “Theater Cafe”. Todd’s backers, who may have been members of the Nitti Gang, lead to the closing of this Clark Street venue.

- The Joker is Wild – Frank Sinatra movie about crooner Joe E. Lewis, who was a regular performer at the Green Mill when Al Capone’s right hand man, “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn, was part owner. Joe left the Green Mill gig to work in Ravenswood. "Three days after he left, McGurn is also said to have ordered his henchmen to exact revenge on Lewis." This movie opens on a Hollywood recreation of Uptown Streets and the inside of the Green Mill.

- Dillinger – Starring Cloris Leachman as Anna Sage, (The Lady in Red) this 1973 movie chronicles the crime spree of one of Uptown’s most notorious gangsters, John Dillinger.

- Public Enemies – Scenes from this soon to be released Johnny Depp movie about Uptown gangster, John Dillinger, were filmed in the Uptown Bank building and Uptown’s Aragon Ballroom.

- The Public Enemy – This James Cagney and Jean Harlow is a film adaptation of Louie “Two Gun” Alterie’s trail of crime. “On the morning of July 18, 1935, when gangster Louie "Two-Gun" Alterie and his wife Irma were getting out of their car in front of their apartment here at 926 Eastland Terrace, shots rang out from a flat across the street at 927. Alterie fell to the sidewalk with a dozen slugs in his head, neck, and shoulder. He died a half hour later in Lakeview Hospital. Dion O'Bannion's principle killer gunman, "Two-Gun Louie" was shot down by the same technique he himself had used to perfection - by snipers with automatic guns from a flat across the street from his victim.”

- Roger Touhy, Gangster – This movie is about Uptown gangster, Roger “The Terrible” Touhy. “When gangsters Roger "The Terrible“ Touhy, Basil ”The Owl“ Banghart, and Edward Darlak, escaped from the Joliet prison in December of 1942, they moved into an apartment here at 5116 Kenmore. When the FBI learned they were here, J. Edgar Hoover himself stood in the alley in back of the building with a portable public-address system and demanded that they come out with their hands up. Minutes later, the three fugitives meekly surrendered.”

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