Schulenberg’s Page: Mobbed up and made to order

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Cliff Robertson as JFK and Ty Hardin in PT 109 (1963).

August, 1976: On August 9th, the decomposed and mutilated body of mobster John “Handsome Johnny” Roselli was found floating in a Miami bay by a fisherman. It was compressed into a steel oil drum.

Roselli was born Filippo Sacco in Italy and at a very early age immigrated to Boston where he soon became involved in illegal narcotics. He then adopted the name, John Roselli, moved to New York and joined the mob!

The 55-gallon oil drum found floating in Biscayne Bay, containing the body of John Roselli.

In 1924 he moved to Los Angeles and became a friend of movie producer, Bryan Foy, one of the famous “Seven Little Foys” who were the subjects of a 1955 movie starring Bob Hope as Bryan’s father, Eddie Foy.

Foy brought Roselli into the movie business where Roselli became a producer himself of movies with a subject about which he knew a lot: gangsters!

Possibly coincidentally, Foy’s last movie was PT 109, a 1963 biopic of John F. Kennedy.

The CIA had contacted Roselli about a plot to assassinate Fidel Castro, but with the subsequent Bay of Pigs debacle this plan was abandoned.

There is a lot of evidence that would imply that the Castro plan was adapted to President Kennedy and that Roselli played a large role in the plot!

In any event in late 1975, The Church Committee, headed by Senator Frank Church, was formed to investigate the attempt to kill Castro. Roselli was called to testify. Sam Giancana was also called to testify, but he was killed in his own home by an unknown assassin.

The investigation was expanded to include the assassination of JFK; and Roselli was again requested to appear. But after the death of Giancana, he quickly moved from Los Angeles to Miami and subsequently disappeared.

John “Handsome Johnny” Roselli.

Some time later his body was discovered.

In subsequent decades, there are still questions to be answered but more evidence keeps appearing as to government CIA/Mafia connections to the JFK assassination!

Who else would have enough influence to control the narrative?

Sam Giancana.

Just as relevant today, on August 27th, famous transsexual Renee Richards was banned from competing in the US Tennis Open in Forest Hills, New York.

But my life was changing in a totally different way.

As well as making appointments to see magazine art directors, I was now tasked with making appointments and seeing magazine fashion editors!

I’d learned that Mimi Russell Judson was opening a boutique at 801 Madison Avenue and was looking for new designers, so I made an appointment to show her my fabric jewelry.

Lady Sarah Churchill.

I knew the name, Mimi Russell, and had read somewhere that her mother was Lady Sarah Churchill, the sister of the Duke of Marlborough, so I was thinking that the boutique might attract a prominent clientele.

There was a startling story about Sarah Churchill previously. She had an art gallery, The Churchill Gallery, with her then husband Guy Burgos whom I’d met during the unhappy rainy summer of 1967 at The Pines of Fire island! He had left Sarah Churchill for Philip Farran and it had been publicly written about.

Guy Burgos.

Philip Farran.

On the road again …

I went down to Chelsea to see Ric Mendez who was sharing an apartment with Bruce Patterson. Bruce was also a friend of Beth Rudin’s from their days at the University of California at Santa Barbara. I wanted to tell him that our fabric jewelry adventure was expanding and to share some ideas with him.

So I was out shopping for fabrics again.

Mimi Russell, having suggested we expand a bit, suggested we make fabric purses and sports bags for the beach or pool.

I designed a small satin evening version which Mimi said was all that was needed and “just big enough to hold a comb and lipstick!”

I was invited to dinner at the impressive Upper Fifth Avenue apartment of a family friend who owned a company that copied high end couture handbags so I took one of my evening samples to show him. I had the thought, the hope that he might establish a Junior Line with me. He was encouraging, but nothing else.

A few weeks later he invited me to lunch and I was again hopeful. Meeting him at his office he showed me a fabric evening bag he was putting into production. As he said, it was “just big enough to hold a comb and a lipstick” and he asked me if I liked it?

I should have said, “like it? I already designed it! But being respectfully polite I just smiled a little and said something vaguely positive.

At least he paid for lunch!

A friend of mine from Fresno High came to New York. He had been a close friend but was one of those kids who loved marching around in ROTC! Nevertheless, I was surprised when after he graduated from University of California at Berkeley he decided to make the army his career. I wondered what I could show him in the city. We ended up in Greenwich Village sitting on the terrace of The Riviera on Sheridan Square and reminiscing about our high school days. He didn’t appear to have much else to share but appeared to be surprised and even a bit shocked by seeing everything that passed. It was somewhat amusing but also tiresome and I began to wonder what our friendship had been about!

Finally it was time to leave and, frankly, I was relieved. I guess my living in Paris and Manhattan had created a void between us that I wasn’t interested in investigating.

Ric and Bruce introduced me to another of their California friends. Interesting that almost none of my (older than them) school friends had moved away from familiar locations while they appeared to have many that did just that!

It’s probable that the Kennedy administration’s encouraging youthful investigations and travel made the move more conceivable whereas we, the Eisenhower Generation, languished in familiar surroundings with familiar foods and a seeming avoidance of change!

Auntie Mame’s encouraging chant of “life is a banquet and most poor bastards are starving to death” was a novel thought during the mid-’50s and the ’50’s Broadway play and then movie of it even had Rosalind Russell having to say “suckers” instead of “bastards”!

The 1950s. Typical.

I do think it marked a whole generation. We had Conservatives attacking Progressives with Red-Baiting and the fear of imminent Communism!

Thank you, Allen Dulles and the nascent CIA!

I decided if I was going to do anything with my life I’d best be discreet about everything!

Moving to Manhattan modified that and then living in Paris blew it all to Hell!

But that’s another story, isn’t it!

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