November 2, 2007
100 Years Ago In the Forward
For the second time, Yiddish theater director Jacob Gordin was denied all rights to the play “God, Man, and Devil” in New York’s Supreme Court. The judge also barred director David Kessler from casting actor Jacob Adler in the starring role. Gordin, who bought the play from Kessler in 1901, published it in 1904 and claimed that it is now in the public domain. Kessler argued that Gordin had no right to publish the play in book form. The judge agreed and issued an injunction on the Grand Theatre, stating that neither Gordin nor Adler can produce the play there.
75 Years Ago In the Forward
Rabbi Jacob Katz, the chaplain at Sing Sing prison, says “Cockeye” Benny Gordon is a good boy. Gordon says he was framed; many people think otherwise. In 1929, Gordon was found to be involved in the holdup and murder of a Bronx taxi driver. During the trial, a witness positively identified him as the shooter, and so he was sentenced to death by the electric chair. After a number of failed appeals, Gordon said goodbye to his relatives and took his final steps to the chair. But he got a reprieve: The district attorney needed him to testify in the trial of gangster Jack Zaroff. Gordon’s execution was rescheduled, but then one of the witnesses in the original trial recanted his testimony and Gordon got another reprieve. After another reschedule, he was set to go to the chair. On the way, he told the guard: “Wait, call the DA. I have important information to tell him.” The district attorney was called; Gordon ratted out a murderer, and his execution was again postponed. All told, “Cockeye” Benny Gordon has been saved from death nine times.
50 Years Ago In the Forward
State Representative A.A. Fowler Jr., head of the American Resettlement Foundation (an organization that finds new homes for African Americans who are disenfranchised in the South), has announced that attempts to purchase homes for African Americans in Vice President Nixon’s neighborhood have been fruitless, since no one in that neighborhood will sell to either blacks or Jews. It has also been reported that someone recently purchased a home on Nixon’s block. The buyer is unknown, but insiders are fairly sure that it is not the American Resettlement Foundation.