Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Deep Politics in Dallas

An excerpt from Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK:

No one has yet documented the rumors one hears in Dallas that Ruby's relationship to the wealthy oilmen and "high rollers" of the Del Charro derived from his practice of supplying girls for them, their parties, and their private clubs.
What remains unexplained is the story of Ruby's relationship in 1963 to Candy Barr, a nationally known stripper and protegee of Mickey Cohen in Los Angeles. In 1957, Barr had been arrested and convicted on trumped-up marijuana charges, by the same players (prosecutor Bill Alexander and Judge Joe B. Brown) who in 1964 would convict Ruby on evidence that led to a reversal; Barr's defense attorneys, Joe Tonahill and Mel Belli, also represented Ruby. 27
In 1963 Ruby was regularly in telephone contact with Candy Barr, who was then out on parole but not permitted to visit Dallas. The rumor persists that the phone calls related to the stripper's attempt to blackmail someone of prominence. The rumor is reinforced by the knowledge that sexual blackmail was a practice for which Mickey Cohen was famous. 28
For some reason the Barr case also drew the attention of Gordon McLendon, who was one of those who told me in 1977 that she [Barr] had been framed on the marijuana charge (by members of the Dallas Police Narcotics Squad). McLendon's brother-in-law Lester May became her first attorney. McLendon told me this when I asked him for information about his friend Bedford Wynne.

While not giving me the answers I was hoping for, he volunteered the detail, which seemed trivial at the time, that Wynne's intimate friend George Owen, later the first [sic] husband of Maureen Dean, had been the man present at Candy Barr's arrest who may have helped set it up. 29

He also volunteered to me the detail, which at the time seemed unrelated, that when Bobby Baker emerged in 1972 from his time in prison for tax evasion and fraud, he went to stay with McLendon at his Cielo Ranch north of Dallas. I thought later that McLendon here was possibly standing in for Bedford Wynne and Clint Murchison, Jr., two of McLendon's friends who had been mentioned in the Bobby Baker hearings and were now unwilling to be publicly associated with Baker.

Since recent revelations about Watergate, I now wonder if the real link was not George Owen. Owen was extremely close to Bedford Wynne, and would party with him in Mexico, or even in his law office, where William McKenzie (of whom more in Chapter 18) was a partner.

George Owen also introduced to Bedford Wynne (the friend of Bobby Baker and member of his Quorum Club) to the woman Owen would later marry: Maureen Biner, who played a much-underestimated role in Watergate as the girlfriend, and then the wife, of John Dean.

27. Gary Mills and Ovid Demaris, Jack Ruby (New American Library, 1968), 64-68.

28. Davis, Mafia Kingfish, 262, where it is asserted that Marilyn Monroe knew both Mickey Cohen and John Roselli.

29. Mills and Demaris, Jack Ruby, 66.

A second excerpt from Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (1993), p. 236:
White House Call Girl
The most important of these [scandals in Washington involving politicians, call girls, and assignations recorded by intelligence experts for intelligence purposes] is Heidi Rikan's call-girl operation, a few doors from the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Watergate, which two separate and well-researched books have now seen as the key to the 1972 Watergate break-in and scandal.
According to both books, the phone line inside the DNC which was supposed to be tapped by Howard Hunt's Watergate burglar (including Frank Sturgis) was a special line (not going through the central switchboard), which DNC staffers and friends used to phone the Heidi Rikan call-girl operation. 37 Jim Hougan adds that the phone line was already being tapped by a stringer for Jack Anderson, Lou Russell. 38

Lou Russell was a former FBI agent who had helped Nixon with the Hiss case when he was both HUAC's committee counsel and also Hoover's informant on the Committee. 39 An employee in 1963 of Watergate burglar James McCord, Russell was close to Heidi Rikan's call girls whose line was the target of the Watergate burglars. Russell also had an unexplained financial relationship to McCord's attorney, Bernard Fensterwald (a longtime backer of the Garrison and other investigations of the John F. Kennedy assassination) and may have been working for Fensterwald as well.
Bernard Fensterwald

At this point it should be pointed out that Fensterwald, as early as 1957 was employed as an aide to Democratic Senator Thomas Hennings of Missouri, who became John Dean's father-in-law in February 1962 when Dean married Karla Hennings. An attorney from Nashville, Tennessee, where his father was manager of a clothing store, Fensterwald became an administrative assistant to the Senate subcommittee on Constitutional Rights chaired by Hennings, resigning in January 1959 to become the top aide of Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee.

Sen. Kefauver's subcommittee had conducted an investigation into the professional sport of boxing and proposed legislation creating a national boxing commissioner with "power to clean  up the fight game by withholding licenses from boxers, managers and promoters in interstate bouts," a bill not supported by Attorney General Robert Kennedy. Soon after that Fensterwald was fired by Kefauver, and soon found a job working for Democratic Senator from Missouri--Senator Edward V. Long, a defender of Jimmy Hoffa.

Fensterwald would also show considerable animosity against RFK in March 1965 over the Jimmy Hoffa case:

MARCH 3, 1965
WASHINGTON (UPI) — Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, D - N.Y , clashed with a Senate subcommittee today over its airing of charges that he mishandled an investigation of Teamster boss James R. Hoffa while he was attorney general. Kennedy appeared before the judiciary subcommittee to protest what he called the "implication that I handled myself in some shocking manner while I was attorney general." The former cabinet member made no attempt to hide his irritation over the way the sub-committee handled the charge leveled against him by New York attorney Thomas A. Bolan, a witness at Tuesday's hearing.
Bolan said Kennedy had tried to influence public opinion against Hoffa by instigating unavorable publicity while the Teamster boss was under indictment. 
Makes Special Appearance
Kennedy, who denied the charge Tuesday, made a special appearance before the subcommittee today to repeat his denial and object to this handling of the matter.
He told the subcommittee he believed it was improper for Chairman Edward V. Long, D-Mo., to make statements about the matter "after hearing only one side of the story. After hearing Bolan's charge Tuesday, Long said he considered it a "shocking matter." The chairman said he would refer the testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee for whatever action that group might want to take. Kennedy, a former chief counsel for a Senate investigation subcommittee, said he believed it was standard practice —when it was known a matter was coming up — to try to present both sides of a story.
Bolan had said that Kennedy arranged in March, 1961, to have Life magazine publish a story based on an interview with Sam Baron, a disgruntled Teamster Union official, at a time when Hoffa was under indictment.
Definition Of 'Fink'
In an exchange today with subcommittee counsel Bernard Fensterwald Jr., Kennedy said he saw nothing wrong with his actions as attorney general. Fensterwald asked Kennedy if he believed it was proper for a government official to "act as an intermediary between the press and a fink."
"What's your definition of a fink?" Kennedy demanded. "A person who is a stool pigeon." Fensterwald  retorted. "That's your definition," Kennedy snapped. "I consider Mr. Baron as a public spirited person who was doing his duty."
Fensterwald asked if Kennedy thought it was proper for a public official to arrange for publicity unfavorable to a person under indictment. "I never did anything like that and that is the implication of the testimony and remarks made by the subcommittee yesterday," Kennedy said heatedly.
At Tuesday's hearing, Kennedy's methods in prosecuting New York attorney Roy M. Cohn also were questioned. Bolan represented Cohn in New York last year when the former McCarthy committee counsel was tried and acquitted of charges of attempting to bribe a U.S. attorney. Cohn, who also testified Tuesday, made only indirect references to Kennedy. But Bolan told the subcommittee that Kennedy planted an article about a dissatisfied Teamster official in Life magazine. 
Denies Charge
Kennedy denied the charge, the New York Democrat said the Teamster official—Sam Baron—came to him "in fear of his life." According to Kennedy, Baron said he wanted to get in touch with some non-governmental official to tell his story. Kennedy said he set up a meeting with Life magazine with the understanding that nothing would be published until something happened to Baron. At the same time, Hoffa was under indictment, and Baron was "cooperating with the FBI." Kennedy said. Bolan was testifying before the subcommittee about a mail over placed on him. Bolan said he came across the information about Kennedy's involvement in the Life story while investigating the circumstances surrounding a similar story on Cohn.
Senator Ed Long, for whom Fensterwald worked for several years as counsel for his committees and subcommittees, would later be accused of business relationships with Hoffa's attorney, Morris Shenker of St. Louis. Shenker's 1989 obituary stated:
Shenker, a Russian immigrant who grew up in north St. Louis, first made a name for himself as a young lawyer by doing free legal work for the poor and getting involved in Democratic politics.
He had been recurrently in the national spotlight since representing gambling figures before the Estes Kefauver hearings on organized crime in the early 1950s.
Hoffa, his most famous client, had links to organized crime and disappeared in 1975. He is presumed dead.
Because of his Teamsters connection, Shenker, who operated the Dunes Hotel and Casino in the 1970s, ran afoul of the Nevada Gaming Commission. (Shenker's name had also surfaced often in connection with loans from the Teamsters Pension Fund.)
Despite state and federal investigations, however, Shenker escaped indictment until this year. In February, a federal grand jury accused him of conspiring to conceal hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Internal Revenue Service and bankruptcy creditors. The money supposedly was diverted from a California partnership owned by his children to individuals in Canada and then back to Shenker's secretary in Las Vegas in an elaborate scheme to avoid creditors. Shenker denied any wrongdoing.
Shenker had filed for bankruptcy in 1984 after a $34-million court verdict against him for money he borrowed from the Culinary Workers Pension Fund for resorts in Southern California and other projects. He had been involved in court battles over his finances ever since.

Off the Boards

Former Mrs. George Owen
 Maureen "Mo" Kane Biner Owen (then future-wife of John Dean) was married to George Washington Owen, Jr. for a few months in 1967, but she had known him off and on since 1965. The were, allegedly, introduced by "Heidi Rikan," possibly the alias of her friend Cathy Dieter. Two years before Mo's marriage to Watergate counsel John Dean, Time Magazine wrote about another friend of George Owen--Gilbert Lee Beckley, then presumed dead:
Gilbert Lee Beckley is—or was—a valuable man to the Cosa Nostra. He helped the mob flourish in the green field of betting on college and professional athletics. Handling as much as $250,000 worth of bets daily, Beckley, 58, mastered all the tricks of his arcane trade:
  • wangling information from locker rooms,
  • computing odds in his head,
  • occasionally bribing athletes.
Gilbert Lee Beckley
Once Beckley was discovered behind a scheme to fix college basketball games by bribing the referees. On another occasion, word flashed along his betting network that bookies need not worry about the outcome of a football game, because "the coach is betting."
Nothing if not systematic, Beckley kept his fellow bookies' identities secret. He assigned each a number, then recorded their figures in library books. Beckley, No. 11, kept his own accounts next to page 11 of the New Dictionary of Thoughts.
Two Sides. Beckley's value was not limited to the Cosa Nostra; he also worked the legitimate side of the street. He had a deal with National Football League investigators to tip them about point spreads, possible fixes and tampering with games (TIME, Aug. 22). More recently, he may have been tempted to cooperate with Government agents. Such a double life can be dangerous —even fatal. Last month, old No. 11 vanished. His lawyers have not heard from him, and he is "off the boards," or out of the play, in the betting world. Two weeks ago he forfeited a $10,000 bond by failing to appear for his trial on forgery charges in Atlanta. Some associates believe that Beckley may have fled to Belgium or Israel to escape jail. Others fear a more ominous answer. Beckley's mob associates were mindful that the N.F.L. investigators include former Government prosecutors. The mob has been worried that Beckley might try to wiggle out of his trouble by passing information to the Government. In that event, Gil Beckley would be distinctly more valuable to his friends dead than alive.
Colodny Interview of George Owen, Jr.

George Owen, Jr.
Whether it was actual fact or invention (perhaps we shall never really know), George Owen told Len Colodny, co-author of Silent Coup: The Removal of a President, in an interview in 1988 or thereabouts, that he first met Maureen Kane in 1965, and that he was introduced to her by another girl named Heidi whom he had met in Antigua. At the time he was on the island with his "running mate," Bedford Wynne, one of the co-founders of the Dallas Cowboys, and they were thinking of buying a hotel-casino owned by "Gil Beckley -- who was a world renowned gambler." This interview was transcribed and parts of it submitted as evidentiary proof in a lawsuit that would later be filed by John and Maureen Dean against the book's publisher and authors for defamation and libel, a case eventually settled.

The Portland Free Press publisher, Ace Hayes, acquired a copy of the public documents filed in the lawsuit and shared them with others. They have since been passed around digitally and have become fair use. In Colodny's book, he had made statements about Maureen "Mo" Kane (who married George Owen in 1967 and had their marriage annulled the same year) -- conclusionary statements arrived at based on dozens of interviews with people who had known Mo both before and after she married President Nixon's White House Counsel John Dean in September of 1972.

Since truth is an absolute defense to the claim of libel, Colodny submitted the interview transcripts to the court in order to show that the conclusions he made about Mo were true. We don't know whether they were true or not, and, unfortunately, George Owen is no longer alive to verify the facts. Part of his interview by Len Colodny is contained below:
OWEN: And he [Gil Beckley] was a friend of Bedford's and mine and we were going, you know, try to buy the hotel. And I walked out of my room and it was raining. And they had a little tent to walk under to the casino and there to the dining room. And I saw this girl walking a dog, a little white poodle, and this was the prettiest damn girl you ever saw in your life.
COLODNY: I'll say one thing, everybody that's ever seen this woman uses those exact words.
OWEN:"Built like a brick shit house." I said, "God damn," I said "man," and I just sat down in the mud.
COLODNY: [Laughing]
OWEN: I said, "I've never seen a son of a bitch as pretty as you and if you jump on my back I'll take you around the world barefooted." And she said, [Laughing] and I said "come on, I'll buy you dinner." She said, "Well, I want to tell you something, that is the most profound statement that I've ever seen a man do to get a date with me."
COLODNY: [Laughing]
OWEN: Yes, sir, I'll accept and so we went to dinner, drank some wine, had a good time and everything and she was going to stay there a couple of before she meets Mo, there, she's up in Washington and then she meets this guy from Texas and then she goes back to Washington and she seems to be tied pretty much to this guy.
OWEN: Oh yeah.
COLODNY: And, and now, now Mo meets you in '67 and then they go to Tahoe together. Now, what was the point of them going to Tahoe together?
OWEN: Maureen, ah, went with a guy who was a dealer up there. And she fell in love with this guy, and you know, they lost a lot of weight and a whole bunch of...
COLODNY: Yeah, she, this is the story she tells: "I chose Tahoe with, with my new and good friend who I'd met through George, Heidi Rikan, I skied, swam, gambled, played tennis, and hiked. I lost weight going from one fifteen to ninety eight pounds, to [from?] a size six to a three, George saw me once during this period and handed me two hundred dollars and said, 'My god, you're starving, go fatten yourself up.' "
OWEN: [Laughing] That's about right, that's about the size of it.
COLODNY: "And after several months with Heidi I finally decided I had to strike, straighten out my marital situation so I sought and got an annulment from my marriage to George Owen." Is that accurate? Is, as best...
OWEN: Oh, it could have been, I didn't know. I had a divorce, I didn't need a, anything like this.
OWEN: Well if you know, if you analyze the whole situation. I wasn't with Maureen very long. Well, I met her in late '65 and in '66 we, she left and out, in, and out, in, and then in '67 we got married. I went and got a Mexican divorce before we got married.
COLODNY: All right so in other words, Diane Wisdom was gone by the time?
OWEN: Oh yeah. Diane had been gone a long time. She traveled with Frank Sinatra's...
COLODNY: Right so, so she's gone and, and you had a Mexican Divorce and now you're...
OWEN: A Mexican Divorce and ah, this friend of mine, this, this guy we talked about, ah, you know, signed one of, as one of the witnesses or something like that. But any way I had the divorce and then we got married and then, then everything else happened.
The Miramar Hotel Casino in Antigua

So, George told Len Colodny he met Heidi Rikan in Antigua at a hotel/casino in which Gilbert Lee Beckley was an owner/manager before George met Heidi's friend Mo in 1965. The newspapers in 1959 were full of reports that Beckley lived in Surfside, Florida and was being questioned by a grand jury about the fixing of a boxing match, but nothing came of it until John Kennedy was elected and made his brother Robert the Attorney General. Six months after the inauguration, we read:
WASHINGTON (AP)—The Justice Department today announced indictments against 13 men for using illegal long-distance telephone hookups to conceal a nationwide horse race betting system. Atty. Gen. Robert F. Kennedy said a 20-count indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in New Orleans, grew out of illegal calls to or from these 10 cities: New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La., New York, City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Miami, Biloxi, Miss., and Newport, Ky.
The indictment charged that the defendants, described unofficially as including some of the biggest names in horse race lay-off gambling operations, paid telephone company employes to fix switchboards so that wagering calls went through free and unauthorized. The indictment charges them with conspiring to defraud the government of taxes and to cheat the American Telephone & Telegraph Co. of toll charges. The Internal Revenue Service investigated the case. Bench warrants have been issued by U.S. District Judge Herbert W. Christenberry for the arrest of the 13. Bond was fixed at $25,000 each.
The defendants are: Benjamin Lassoff, 53, and his brother Robert Lassoff, 41, and Myron Deckelbaum, 57, all of Cincinnati, Ohio. Gilbert Lee Beckley, 49. Surfside, Fla., and Alfred Mones, 57, Miami Beach. Sam Di Piazza, 35, and Louis E. Bagneris, 60, Arabi. La.; Eugene A. Nolan, 31, Baton Rouge; Charles A. Perez, 44, Harold Brouphy, 52, and Anthony Glorioso, 45, all of New Orleans. Alfred Reyn, 52, New York City and Peter Joseph Martino, 37, Biloxi Miss.
Part of the records released by the FBI relating to the Kennedy Assassinations includes the following document at Mary Ferrell website.

Miramar Hotel Casino in Antigua, British West Indies

Charlie "The Blade" Tourine
Gil Beckley in Antigua at Tourine's Casino
We are told that this group of mobsters was part of the Vito Genevese Family, about whom Drew Pearson in an October column in 1950 had this to say: 
Vito Genovese of New York and New Jersey — Genovese was Lucky Luciano's gunman. He gained notoriety helping Luciano terrorize tributes from New York's brothels, fled from New York to New Jersey and now is an important cog in the New Jersey Mafia. His criminal history dates back to April 15, 1917, when he was arrested in New York city for possessing a revolver and got 60 days Since then his power has grown. He has been arrested for carrying a concealed weapon, felonious assault, homicide, disorderly conduct, burglary, petty larceny, and first-degree murder. Miraculously, however, he was acquitted on the murder charge.
If we return to the beginning of this essay, the interview between Colodny and George Owen, we must understand that Colodny started his research on Watergate to follow up on some of the information revealed in a book by Jim Hougan, published in 1984, called Secret Agenda: Watergate, Deep Throat, and the CIA. Hougan himself has continued his own research, which has been published in an essay online, in which he muses about the friend George Owens first met in Antigua, whom he called Heidi:
But what about "Cathy Dieter"? Who was she? According to Gordon Liddy, Dieter's real name was Heidi Rikan. Liddy testified that he learned this from a seemingly authoritative source: Walter "Buster" Riggin, [see Watergate Exposed for more information] a sometime pimp and associate of Joe Nesline, himself an organized crime figure in the Washington area.
Formerly a stripper at a seedy Washington nightclub called the Blue Mirror, the late Erica "Heidi" Rikan was a friend of Nesline's and, more to the point, of John Dean and his then-fiancee, later wife, Maureen. Indeed, Rikan's photograph appears in the memoir that "Mo" wrote about Watergate. [23]

While admitting their friendship with Rikan, the Deans deny that she ran a call-girl ring, or that she used "Cathy Dieter" as an alias. Beyond Buster Riggin's assertion to Liddy, evidence on the issue is slim or ambiguous. One writer who attempted to verify the identification is Anthony Summers. As the Irish investigative reporter wrote in his massive biography of President Nixon:
Excellent book by Phil Stanford
Before her death in 1990, Rikan said in a conversation with her maid that she had once been a call girl. Explaining that a call girl was 'a lady that meets men, and men pay them'---the maid had grown up in the country and knew nothing of big-city sins---she added, tantalizingly:
'I was a call girl at the White House." [24]
This would appear to confirm assertions that Rikan was a prostitute. But Summers undercuts the confirmation by reporting in that same book---strangely, and in a footnote---that he "found no evidence" of Rikan working as a call-girl. [25]

23. Maureen Dean (with Hays Gorey) Mo: A Woman's View of Watergate, Simon & Schuster (1975).
24. Anthony Summers, The Arrogance of Power (Viking, 2000), p. 422.
25. Summers, p. 530.
But then, Anthony Summers couldn't see evidence of an inside job in Venice, Florida, after spending weeks with Daniel Hopsicker.

See all posts tagged WYNNE FAMILY

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Big Bust

George Washington Owen, Jr. started life on August 14, 1925 as the son of a Texas couple near the Corsicana oil fields in small town Emhouse. They moved to the big city of Dallas while he was in high school, graduating from Crozier Tech, formerly Oak Cliff High, in the historic downtown area in 1947. At that point he moved up to playing college basketball for Southern Methodist University, also in Dallas, from 1948 through 1951. As the photo below indicates, his basketball team was successful, taking him all the way to New York to play in Madison Square Garden in his junior year. A guard, he was often there on the rebound and sometimes saved the game, at least according to the newspapers reporting the game results.

At least George was enough of a star at SMU to catch the eye, and for a time the heart, of Nell McGrew, country girl from Rotan, near Abilene. Perhaps she was impressed by the fact he was six years older when they married in their junior year in college; he had taken several years after high school to serve in the war. But the newspaper photos would not have impressed her. She already had a huge portfolio of her own.

They appeared to be the perfect couple by the time Candy Barr appeared on the scene in Dallas. The story we hear from all the reporters who talked to Owen is that he was a young, innocent boy when Pat Gannaway's men showed up at Candy's place and were about to haul George off to jail. They say he was the reason Candy took the bottle of weed out of her bra, for which she was later incarcerated after she lost all her appeals. But we have to realize this so-called innocent boy was every bit of 32 years old, a married man with two sons, creator of a chemical business in Dallas, although what type of chemicals he manufactured remains a mystery.

Capt. W. Pat Gannaway in charge of CI unit on narcotics matters. He had been busting Dallas' underworld for over ten years by the time he got Candy Barr for possession of marijuana in 1957. Eleven years earlier he was written up in Texas newspapers for arresting a preacher who was luring young girls up to his hotel room to take nude pictures of them.

Gannaway had gone from being a lieutenant in 1955 to a captain in 1959. In between those years was his arrest of Candy Barr. It was that big bust (no pun intended) which may have made the difference.

Candy Barr, who danced at the Weinstein brothers' high-class joint next door to Jack Ruby's Carousel Club, was the big time for Gannaway. He liked high-profile arrests. Every cop does, if the truth be known. Big arrests mean better pay, more power. Gary Cartwright's story was posted previously on this blog, but it is worth repeating.

Copyright 1976 by Gary Cartwright 
Texas Monthly (December 1976)

Juanita Dale Slusher encountered the joy of sex at age five with the aid and comfort of an eighteen-year-old neighbor named Ernest. She remembers that he was gentle, and not at all unpleasant. It wasn’t until she encountered the Dallas police force some years later that Juanita Dale associated sex with guilt. When she was nine her mother died and her father remarried: Doc Slusher, brick mason and handyman, a whiskey-drinking harmonica player and all-around rowdy, already had five kids, and right away there were four more, then two more after that. With all those Slushers around, you’d think the work would get done, but it never seemed to…. At age thirteen and painfully confused, Juanita Dale took her baby-sitting money and grabbed a bus out of Edna, an independent decision that would become socially acceptable, even laudable, to future generations, but an act worse than rebellion in those days: it was the act of a bad girl. For a while she lived with an older sister in Oklahoma City, then a year or so later moved to live with another sister in Dallas. The Dallas sister soon hooked up with a man, and Juanita Dale was on her own….

To be technically correct, it was the old Liquor Control Board (LCB) that first discovered the girl who would become Candy Barr. They discovered her posing as an eighteen-year-old cocktail waitress—the minimum legal age. She wouldn’t be eighteen for another four years, but girls from tough backgrounds develop early, or they don’t develop at all. She kept changing jobs, and the LCB kept discovering her. Once they sent her home to Edna, but she caught the next bus back to Dallas…. Candy’s first husband, Billy Debbs, was a graduate of Shorty’s academy. Billy was a good lover but a poor student. He went to the pen, got out, then got shot to death. Somewhere in there—she can’t fix the exact time—a pimp spotted her jitterbugging in a joint called the Round-Up Club and launched Candy’s movie career. She must have been about fifteen when Smart Aleck was filmed. The thousands (perhaps millions) who have seen this American classic will recall that she was a brunette then. Smart Aleck was America’s first blue movie, the Deep Throat of its era, only infinitely more erotic and less pretentious. It was just straight old motel room sex; the audience supplied its own sounds….

One of the fringe benefits of being in films was that Candy got invited to all the best stag parties. Several prominent and wealthy Dallas business and professional men, on my oath that their names would not be revealed, recalled a Junior Chamber of Commerce stag where Candy was the star attraction. One auto dealer told me, “She went for two hundred, three hundred, even five hundred bucks. There was a banker who paid five hundred every time he put a hand on Candy.” … The Colony was the Stork Club of Dallas, the Cocoanut Grove, the butterfly of the Commerce Street neon patch where Jack Ruby ran the sleazy Carousel and conventioneers intermingled with cops and hustlers and drug merchants.

…Nobody in the Dallas Police Department wanted to talk about a marijuana case from twenty years ago, and Pat Gannaway, who retired a few years ago to join the Texas Criminal Justice Division, wasn’t available for an interview. But I know this: Pat Gannaway spent a lot of man-hours bringing one stripper to justice. The confluence of these two forces—Candy Barr, desecrater of all that is decent, and Pat Gannaway, the terrible swift sword—is surely the quintessence of a morality frozen in time.

Captain Pat Gannaway was referred to in newspaper accounts of the time as “Mr. Narcotics.” As a lad he had been so eager to join the Dallas Police Department that he lied about his age. For twelve years, until he was kicked upstairs (he was put in charge of rearranging the Property Room) in the 1968 department shake-up, he ran the special services bureau as his private fiefdom. He reported only to the chief. “His passion,” reporter James Ewell wrote in the Dallas Morning News on the occasion of Gannaway’s retirement, “was police work, down on the streets with his men.”

He loved the Army, too. He served in Army intelligence and was an expert wiretapper. When he wasn’t swooping down on the vermin that afflicted his city, Gannaway and his entire force were making speeches to civic clubs, warning of the peril. Those recent 1,000-year sentences that made Dallas juries such a novelty may have been the direct result of Pat Gannaway’s tireless crusade. Gannaway told James Ewell: “It was always a good feeling to see someone on those juries you recalled being at one of those talks. We always told our audiences if you got rid of an addict or pusher, you were also getting rid of a burglar, a thief, or a robber.”

In the autumn of 1957 Gannaway assigned Red Souter (now an assistant chief) and another of his agents, Harvey Totten (now retired), to rent an apartment near Candy Barr’s apartment and establish surveillance. A telephone repairman would testify later that he discovered a “jumper tie-up” connecting Candy’s telephone to the telephone in the apartment occupied by Souter and Totten, but the jury either ignored this or didn’t believe it. A few days after the surveillance began, Candy received a visit from a friend, a stripper named Helen Kay Smith, who laid out a story about her mother coming to visit and asked Candy Barr to hide her stash—the Alka-Seltzer bottle of marijuana. Candy agreed and slipped the bottle inside her bra, next to her big heart. Two hours later, as Candy was talking on the telephone to a gentleman friend (and therefore obviously at home, in case anyone with a search warrant wanted to drop in), there was a knock at the door. Candy’s defense attorneys claimed the search warrant was a blank that Gannaway filled in after the arrest, but the court didn’t buy that either.

Candy’s gentleman friend, who asked to not be identified, told me what happened next: “Candy said hold on, someone is knocking at the door. I heard some noises and someone hung up the phone. All I could think of was she’s in some kind of trouble. I got over to her place. When I walked in I saw Gannaway, Totten, Red Souter, Jack Revill, and I think one other narcotics officer.

Gannaway picked up a chair and said something like, ‘Well, well, that looks like a joint on the floor.’ I swear to you, it was the first marijuana cigarette I ever saw. That’s when Candy, God bless her, said to Gannaway, ‘He’s just a square john kid. He doesn’t know anything about this. If you let him go, I’ll give you what you came for.’ She reached in and pulled out the bottle. Gannaway decided he would take me in anyway, and that’s when Jack Revill said, ‘Captain, if you do that, I’m turning in my badge.’ So they took her away.”

Candy’s four-day trial the following February was a farce, which didn’t prevent it from also being a sensation. 

In its year-end review the Dallas Morning News headline read: Candy’s Trial Led ‘58 Scene.
Judge Joe B. Brown, who would later make his mark as the buffoon judge in the Jack Ruby trial, borrowed a camera and during one of the recesses snapped pictures of “the shapely defendant.” Defense attorneys Bill Braecklein and Lester May realized from the beginning that their problem was much larger than a bottle of marijuana, although, as May explained, “In those days marijuana was worse than cancer.”

“It was a time when the pendulum had swung far to the right,” May told me. “If the police decided you were guilty of something, they made a case and you were found guilty. It was just that simple. Candy’s real crime was she wouldn’t cooperate with the vice squad.”

No, the real problem wasn’t the marijuana, it was Candy Barr herself. It wasn’t merely her reputation, though God knows that was strong enough to kill a rogue elephant, it was that combative stubbornness, that unwillingness to throw herself at the feet of the jury and beg forgiveness. Chief prosecutor James Allen offered her two years for a guilty plea, and if Les May hadn’t got her out of the room she would have spit in his eye, or worse.

They decided not to put her on the stand; without her testimony, of course, it would be almost impossible to challenge state witnesses: she was in possession of marijuana, regardless of Helen Kay Smith’s testimony. That mysterious cigarette on the floor, though, was something else entirely. The attorneys worked out a way to let Candy make a statement to the jury without actually testifying, which meant that she could not be cross-examined. No one remembers Candy’s exact words, but it must have been a stirring oration. When she had finished, the jury just retired and voted her fifteen years in the Big Rodeo. It was Valentine’s day 1958.
“She was a very naive young lady,” Braecklein recalled. “While we were waiting to come to trial, she was out in Las Vegas, doing her act. Just one week before we came to trial, I got word that she was going to be a bridesmaid in Sammy Davis, Jr.’s wedding [to a white actress]. Anyone who grew up in Texas knew …

Although they didn’t anticipate anything approaching fifteen years, the defense team had braced itself for a verdict of guilty. They had already drafted a list of reversible errors that would have choked the Star Chamber. The real shock came when they lost a 2—1 decision in the State Court of Criminal Appeals. In the eleven months that separated the trial from the appeals verdict, Candy had reinforced her public image by moving in with hoodlum Mickey Cohen: one assumes justice is blind, but just how blind is an open question.

… I offered her one of my cigarettes and asked about Mickey Cohen. Cohen had personally guaranteed her $15,000 bond while the marijuana appeal ran its course. In a cruel way, those were the peak years for Candy Barr. She lived in a villa in the notorious Garden of Allah on Sunset Boulevard in L.A. and earned up to $2000 a week stripping there and in Vegas. Simultaneously, a pack of lawmen and profiteers howled like hungry dogs in her shadow—FBI agents, CIA agents, treasury agents, IRS agents, L.A. cops, Vegas cops, Dallas cops. The pressure was so enormous that the El Rancho Vegas had her replaced with Nelson Eddy. She was also in and out of the hospital with hepatitis. Candy recalled that the first time she ever heard of Mickey Cohen was when he sent an orchid in a champagne glass to her hospital room in L.A., along with this note: “Don’t worry, little girl, you got a friend.”

I had heard from good sources that the reason that Cohen got rid of Candy was she was giving him a bad press. The vast majority of those agents were interested in Mickey Cohen, not his girl friend. Word came down from “the Eastern organization” that if Cohen didn’t drop Candy, they would. Somewhere between Catalina Island and Hawaii….


Aug 14, 1925 - Jul 20, 2000
Age 74. Born in Emhouse, TX, August 14, 1925 and passed away July 20, 2000. After graduation from Crozier Tech High School, Dallas, he served three years U.S. Army, First Infantry Division, including the Battle of the Bulge in WWII. He attended Arlington State, before transferring to SMU where he played varsity basketball and was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha. After graduation, he started Mustang Chemical and other business ventures. During the mid '60s, he was the Player Relations Director for the startup franchise, New Orleans Saints. Later, he was a commercial and residential builder in North Dallas before retiring.
He is survived by children: Mitchell Owen and wife Suzzane, of Dallas; Bart Owen and wife Sheron of Garland, Kyle Owen, Wynne Owen and Mark Owen all of Dallas, and grandchildren: Haley Owen, Jenna Owen, and Scott Owen.
SERVICES: Restland Memorial Chapel at 10:00 AM, Sat, July 22, 2000. Interment to follow in Restland Memorial Park. Family will receive friends from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM Friday, July 21, 2000 at Restland Funeral Home, located on Greenville Avenue, 1/2 mile North of L.B.J.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

From Candy Barr to Maureen Dean, and lots of gambling in between

In a previous edition of this blog it was mentioned that Lyndon Johnson's longtime mistress, Madeleine Duncan Brown had stated that a friend of hers (she called him George Owens) had been at the social event thrown by Clint W. Murchison, Jr. on the night of November 21, 1963, and that George had admitted to her that he had actually driven to the airport and picked up J. Edgar Hoover that afternoon. 

If that is true (and George can't say since he dropped dead on the spot, Madeleine said, just as he was about to make his public confession), then that would just possibly connect Lyndon Johnson's mob-loving friends not only to the killing of JFK, but also to the plot that triggered Watergate. Madeleine was actually making reference to George Washington Owen, Jr., the subject of 
Doug Bedell's 1986 story below:
(Copyright 1986) By Doug Bedell
The Dallas Morning News 7 December 1986
George Washington Owen Jr. has escaped unscathed from more than his share of scrapes in the course of his 61 years. In the late 1950s, Owen was the mysterious boyfriend of Candy Barr and narrowly avoided going to jail when Dallas police arrested the famed stripper for possession of marijuana. 

In the '60s, the former SMU athlete survived the acrimonious crash of his marriage to a stewardess named Maureen Kane, who would later become Maureen Dean, wife of Watergate defendant John Dean. "Mo' would essentially come to accuse Owen of bigamy. 
And in the '70s, there was an inconclusive federal grand jury investigation into a Dallas-Las Vegas gambling link about which Owen was questioned. In August 1985, George Owen was banned by the NCAA from any involvement with SMU athletics. Last month, The Dallas Morning News reported that Owen had provided a rent-free apartment
to Albert Reese, a current SMU football player. 

"I guess I've had a pretty interesting life," Owen says in typical understatement. But today, George Owen doesn't want to discuss too many of those parts of that "pretty interesting life." Fidgeting incessantly with a sterling silver letter opener, he sits behind a desk in his Addison office and gazes around the dark-paneled room at the symbols of his latest journey into the limelight: 
  • SMU game balls meticulously arranged in a glass display case; 
  • a proud Pony helmet, mounted and framed; 
  • autographed photographs from players.
"I just don't want to do anything that would cause SMU any embarrassment or any problems," he says in low tones. "I've done enough of that already."

"He's so, so enthusiastic about sports," says one of Owen's former wives, Dallas nightclub singer Diane Wisdom. "He's a booster in the truest sense of the word."

Owen professes to feel pain at having been forever banned from associating with his alma mater's athletic programs. Owen, a real-estate developer, was one of nine SMU boosters singled out by the NCAA last year for suspect recruiting activities. 

But along with the November reports in The News that linked him to a rent-free apartment provided for starting tight end Albert Reese has come even more discomfort for Owen and his beloved institution. Should NCAA investigators find Owen was involved with Reese, SMU's football team could be disbanded for up to two years for repeated violations. 

"I understand you got to have free press and all, but this kid Reese, what they did to him was just terrible," he says. "Wait until it all comes out. We got a backup on all that."

His voice rises with a trace of anger. "The thing I really do hate is that everybody picks on SMU," he says. "Everybody's guilty of something. I've been out there recruiting, hoss, I know what I'm talking about. But they always come back to SMU."

That Owen finds himself once again in a defensive posture is, many of his friends say, the product of a pair of Owen traits:
First and foremost, Owen -- a former SMU and Crozier Tech basketball player of limited distinction -- always has been a sports fanatic who loved associating with athletes. That part of the Owen personality could be seen in the late '50s as he became a confidant of Dallas Cowboys co-founders Clint Murchison Jr. and Bedford S. Wynne. 

Owen's boyish face and dark, wavy locks became a common sight at the social functions of the Murchison coterie, known around the NFL as "The Rover Boys." And to this day, the affable Owen counts among his dearest friends former Washington Redskins quarterback Billy Kilmer and former Green Bay Packers running back Paul Hornung
Says a longtime acquaintance who asked to remain anonymous: "George has always wanted to be in the limelight while existing on the fringes. He's really always longed to be of higher profile."

The second trait -- common to his friend, car dealer W.O. Bankston -- is that Owen prides himself on being quick to help any acquaintance in need. 

"He'd give you the shirt off his back," says Henry Lee Parker, SMU football recruiting coordinator, who came to know Owen 20 years ago while both worked for the New Orleans Saints. "He's a very, very generous person. To a fault, I'd have to say."

Those characteristics may provide some insight into what has been the motivating force behind Owen's activities the past five years. But to fully understand George Owen, one must go back much, much further, back to the pre-World War II days when he was growing up in East Dallas, an only child being raised by his divorced mother. Back to when Owen -- a youngster of slight stature and admittedly sluggish academic drive -- yearned for his own share of athletic stardom. 

At Crozier Tech during the '40s, coach Doc Hayes was building a reputation as he was building tough, aggressive basketball teams. His teams won easily and with regularity. And one of Hayes' scrappiest guards during the latter stages of that decade was Owen. Under 6 feet, quick and muscular, Owen showed himself to be a floor leader although never a prominent scorer. 

After high school and a stint in the service during World War II, Owen returned to Dallas with hopes of entering Southern Methodist University, where Hayes had become varsity coach. "My grades just weren't good enough," he recalls. "At Crozier Tech, I had taken basket-weaving and auto shop and things of that nature. I never did really apply myself."

Disappointed but undaunted, Owen entered what was then Arlington State, a junior college that is now the University of Texas at Arlington. His grade average improved, and soon his old high school coach summoned him to SMU, where he was offered a basketball scholarship. 

For Owen, life at SMU from 1948 to 1951 was heaven. On the football field, Doak Walker, Kyle Rote and former Dallas Mayor Robert Folsom were dominant. SMU school spirit may never have run higher than in those post-war days. 

"It was just like Mardi Gras every day," he says. "Great school. Great fun."

If he was admired for his basketball skills, Owen -- a physical education major -- also was recognized off the court for his penchant for partying and fraternity life. But it was through his socializing that Owen would cement tight friendships with the likes of Murchison and Bankston. And those men would have a profound influence on the future of Owen the businessman. In many ways, Owen says he has tried to emulate his friends -- especially Bankston.

"I was kind of raised up by W.O.," Owen says as he leans back at his desk, which is flanked by portraits of his two friends/mentors. 

"He helped me when I was in school. And he helped me out of school by putting me in business . . . W.O. is the kind of guy who gets people out of trouble. Ninety percent of his day is taken up with other people and their problems. I try to take after him in some small way."

Like many college athletes today, Owen faced trouble upon graduation. "When I finished my last day of eligibility and the basketball season was over, I realized that I didn't have any formal educational tools to trade on at all," he says. 

Owen and a friend opened a maintenance supply company, Mustang Chemical. Meanwhile, his social contacts broadened at downtown night spots such as Benny Bickers University Club on Commerce Street

Owen ingratiated himself with nearly everyone he met. "He knew the entire spectrum of people in those days," says Wisdom, his ex-wife. "He knew the janitor in every building and the president of the company. He was chums with and knew everybody."

In social settings, Owen has always been a marvel. Friends say his memory for faces, names and events is nothing short of remarkable.
Many of his acquaintances were of the opposite sex. "Yes, he has always been a ladies man because he's charming and fun to be with," says Wisdom. "Certainly, ladies like that in him."

One of the females attracted to Owen nearly proved to be his downfall. Owen declines to discuss any of his previous marriages or his relationship with stripper Candy Barr. "That's all behind me," he says. 

But certainly the events of Oct. 27, 1957, would be hard to forget. That night, Dallas police had staked out Barr's apartment. Officers burst in and, they testified, they found a marijuana cigarette on the floor. They also found George Washington Owen. 

"If you'll let George Owen go, I'll give you the rest of the marijuana," one of the detectives quoted Barr as saying. The officers freed Owen. Then, from her cleavage, Barr pulled a bottle filled with the illegal substance, an act that would ultimately land her in prison.

In 1960, three years after the incident in Barr's room, Murchison and Wynne negotiated the birth of the Dallas Cowboys. And when they needed someone to help sign players, Owen was their man.

By 1963, Owen had two sons with one wife, then divorced and married Wisdom, a Highland Park woman who scooted around Dallas on a motorbike when she wasn't in Las Vegas for singing engagements.

This was the era when the Rover Boys were in full swing. At NFL games both home and away, Murchison, Owen, Gordon McLendon, Mitch Lewis, Bob Thompson and others made names for themselves with raucous, late-night carousing, practical joking, and fabulous spending sprees. 

Owen's marriage to Wisdom deteriorated into separation during that period, although she says she has no regrets. "He's an extremely nice man," says Wisdom, who still sings at Dallas clubs. " . . . I have no ill words for him."

During the mid-'60s, as Owen approached 40, another friendly association resulted in a new, full-time sports job. Oilman John Mecom had acquired a pro football franchise for New Orleans. He invited Owen to work in his front office, signing players. Running back Paul Hornung, finishing out his career with the fledgling team, became Owen's roommate.
About the same time [early to mid 1960's], a new woman entered Owen's life: a blonde American Airlines stewardess named Maureen Kane, a woman whose face would eventually become familiar to millions of Americans as that of the wife of embattled White House counsel John Dean. 

Click to enlarge.
Writes Mrs. Dean in her book, 'Mo': Woman's View of Watergate: "He (Owen) was great fun and we got along famously. And then we got very serious -- very serious . . . We had no major problems for six weeks, and then we had a really major problem: I learned that George was still married to singer Diane Wisdom . . . I moved out immediately and flew back to mother."

Actually, court records indicate Owen and Wisdom had obtained a Mexican divorce by that time. The particular type of divorce proceeding, however, was not recognized as legal within the United States. Mrs. Dean eventually succeeded in having her marriage to Owen annulled.
Owen stayed on with the Saints until 1969. During his last year, he was joined in the front office by a new director of player personnel, Henry Lee Parker. Parker is now SMU's football recruiting coordinator, an aide to athletic director Bob Hitch until the latter's resignation on Friday. It is Parker whom former SMU player David Stanley said mailed cash to his family, even after SMU was put on probation in 1985.
Dallas, 1974. Owen ran into more trouble, but once again he wriggled free with little more than a brief mention in local newspapers. A federal grand jury subpoenaed Owen -- along with restaurant owner Joseph Campisi, millionaire builder James L. Williams and two police officers -- during an investigation of local bookmaking operations. 

The grand jury had been looking into the Las Vegas-to-Dallas transmission of wagering information. In part, the investigation was prompted by the 1972 discovery of an envelope containing $10,000 during a raid on the home of a known gambler, Bobby Joe Chapman. 

The envelope had the words "Dallas Cowboys Football Club" written on it. But nothing ever became of the grand jury investigation, and the cash -- all in $100 bills -- was eventually returned to Chapman. 

During that period, Owen says his friend W.O. Bankston was busy helping him set up in several ill-fated businesses. Owen gradually began gaining a big hand in the building of office and residential projects across northern Dallas and southern Denton counties. Sometimes, county records show, his partners have been fellow SMU boosters like Sherwood Blount, who has acted as an agent for numerous athletes.

[Note: This article was written in 1986. In 1991, Blount would be tried and found not guilty on criminal fraud charges involving a Kansas savings and loan that failed in 1989 as part of the savings and loan scandal.]

Over the years, Owen has managed to accumulate a sumptuous, deep-red brick home that backs up to the golf course at Bent Tree Country Club, where he is a member. And the paneled offices of Owen's First Dallas Realty firm occupy prime land hard by the Addison Airport control tower.

SMU, 1976. With the arrival of Ron Meyer as head football coach, Owen said he became more and more involved in recruiting and booster activity. Meyer knew Blount. Blount knew Owen. And the three would work together with other boosters and coaches to bring the best talent to SMU's campus. 

Owen's workplace became a regular stop for SMU's top football players, says a woman who used to work for one of Owen's companies. "Football players came in all the time," she says. "It just seemed to be a big part of his life."

Large amounts of cash were also a common sight in the office. Sometimes, workers would be ordered to deliver "huge rolls of bills" to Owen or other associates. 

Meyer left SMU in 1981, but Owen continued to recruit under the new administration, headed by athletic director Bob Hitch and coach Bobby Collins, who both resigned Friday. Sometimes, the telephone work Owen did as part of his recruiting efforts was alleged to have involved more than innocent booster pitches. In 1982, Owen's involvement in the recruitment of Angleton linebacker David Stanley came under scrutiny. Published reports linked Owen to a trip to Lake Tahoe that Stanley supposedly made before turning down the University of Texas in favor of SMU.

"I was supposed to have sent him to Billy Kilmer's hotel in Lake Tahoe and then fixed the wheels so that he could win money," Owen says. "Now, how ridiculous is that?"

In fall 1983, Henry Lee Parker arrived at SMU to take over as recruiting coordinator. As a result, the two men renewed a friendship that had been born in New Orleans during the '60s. Meanwhile, the NCAA began looking into SMU's recruitment of the entire freshman football crop of 1983, a class that included an unprecedented four Parade magazine high school All-Americas and six All-State selections. 

Finally, in August 1985, the NCAA announced it was ordering one of the toughest set of sanctions ever for SMU recruiting violations. The banning of Owen from contact with athletes for life was included. 

"Why, certainly, it hurt me," he says. "I got some good friends out there. Great friends. Henry Lee is one of my best friends. Bobby Collins, and his wife, Lynn . . . "

Owen maintains that there are explanations for Albert Reese's living in what leasing agents remember as a "comp" apartment provided by Owen. Reese, however, was suspended for the last two games of his college career, even after SMU officials heard Owen's explanation.

Owen does acknowledge giving Stanley a rent-free deal at the same Surrey Highlands complex in Carrollton. Stanley had already left SMU at the time, but Owen says he was trying to help the troubled linebacker get into North Texas State University's program. And, because of that, Owen says he may have unintentionally violated the NCAA's prohibition against extra benefits for athletes.

"Everybody bends the rules a little," he says. "I was trying to help him. I wasn't trying to hurt him." 

And, for all the trouble that he seems to have created, Owen today takes solace in supportive messages from acquaintances. "I know there's going to be a lot of SMU people possibly down because of all this," he says. "But I've had maybe 200 calls -- all positive calls. Maybe I've had two negative calls. And I'm in sympathy with those two. All I can tell them is, 'Wait until the judges give you a decision. It'll be a little more clarified.' But for me to get ridiculed and get pounded on for what I've done . . . "

The strong voice of George Washington Owen trails off. He clears his throat, as if he is swallowing back any trace of self-pity. "I like to think about one call I've gotten since this happened. It's what I really appreciate. The guy said, 'George, you've helped a thousand kids. One football player's not going to get in front of you. Is there anything I can do for you?' "

"That makes me feel good. That's what I like to think I'm all about."

PHOTOS IN ORIGINAL (not available) 1.George Owen (No credit given) 2.George Owen ... here in a 1951 yearbook photo, says his years at SMU were "just like Mardi Gras every day. (No credit given) 3.Real-estate developer George Owen says he feels pain at having been forever banned from associating with his alma mater's athletic programs. (Credit: DMN-Clint Grant) 4.- 
5.Stripper Candy Barr (left) and Maureen "Mo" Kane, later Mrs. John Dean, were two of the women in Owen's life. (No credits given); LOCATION: 1. Owen, George Washington Jr. (ran color, bw filed). 2. - 3. Owen, George Washington Jr. 4. Barr, Candy. 5. Dean, John.