Saturday, January 7, 2012

Gene Tunney's Schick/Eversharp and Yale Connections


Previously in this blog, we have researched a man named Patrick Joseph Frawley, long-time chairman of the Schick and Eversharp corporations, who, more than any other individual, was the primary bankroller of INCA (Information Council of the Americas).  At this point it becomes necessary to examine other persons involved in the same corporations Frawley controlled for a time to determine who other major (but hidden) shareholders may have been. 
The overriding PURPOSE of this exercise is the determination of who was the primary supporter of Dr. Alton Ochsner in New Orleans, the surgeon who was training doctors to go to countries in the southern hemisphere of the Americas and provide medical care to dictators beholden to their wealthy neighbors in the United States. 

After pieces of this puzzle are collected, this blog will have more to say about what it all means in terms of American history. Readers' thoughts and comments are appreciated and welcomed if relevant in achieving this purpose.

Lawrence Cowen, Former Schick Chairman

This blog first noted a connection between Schick, Inc. and the family of Robert Kennedy's nemesis, Roy Cohn. Roy Cohn's mother, Dora Marcus Cohn, was the daughter of Joseph S. Marcus, a man of Russian ancestry, but born in Germany. He had married Rachel Celia Cohen, a sister of Joseph Lionel Cowen (who had changed his name from Cohen). His sister, Rachel Cohen, was born in England before her marriage to Joseph S. Marcus. Their daughter, Dora Marcus Cohn, mother of Roy Marcus Cohn, was thus the niece of Joshua Lionel Cowen and first cousin of his son Lawrence Cowen. 

Lawrence Cowen was involved with the Schick company before Cohn took over the Lionel train empire in 1960, as previously noted:
Lawrence Cowen, 52, president of Lionel Corp. from 1946 until last fall, was named chairman and chief executive officer of Schick Inc., makers of electric shavers. Cowen, who bought a seat on the New York Stock Exchange at the age of 21, was ousted from Lionel when a new group led by Lawyer Roy M. Cohn took control of the company founded by Cowen's father (who gave his middle name, Lionel, to the toy electric trains he created).

Gene Tunney of Connecticut
A Tool of British Intelligence?

Gene and Polly Lauder Tunney
Before discussing what role boxer Gene Tunney had in the corporations, it is first mandatory that we understand how important Tunney was during the decades from the late 1920's until well into World War II. Anthony Summers, in his book Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover reveals the following information about Tunney's involvement as liaison between British and American intelligence in pre-CIA days:
For Edgar [Hoover], the war really began nearly two years before Pearl Harbor, with a letter from a retired boxer. Gene Tunney, the undefeated world heavyweight champion of the twenties, had often met Edgar and Clyde [Tolson] on their frequent visits to Yankee Stadium. Now, in early 1940, he found himself passing on a discreet message from a man he had first met at military boxing events in his youth, a man who had since become a top-level British secret agent.

Head of "BSC Cabal,' Code Name Intrepid
This was William Stephenson, known to millions today as the protagonist of A Man Called Intrepid, the best-selling book about his achievements in World War II. Stephenson, a Canadian the same age as Edgar, was an extraordinary figure...[whose] mission, when he asked Tunney to make contact with Edgar, was under the personal command of Winston Churchill ... [then the] First Lord of the Admiralty, [who] had been engaged in secret correspondence with President Roosevelt for months. 
So it seems that, leading up to WWII, Tunney was being used by British Intelligence to make contact with the man who then headed FDR's primary medium of civilian intelligence--both foreign and domestic--with regard to either getting help with Britain's need for weapons to fight the Nazis or with regard to getting the Americans into the war. The question is whether Tunney was interested for patriotic or financial reasons. To answer this questions requires more insight into his personal as well as business relationships. 

Sam Pryor's Role

The British were--at that time when Tunney was being used (1940) to carry messages to J. Edgar Hoover--fighting for their life, hoping to draw the United States into the war against Germany.

The excerpt which follows appeared in an article entitled "The 'miracle man' of 1940: a look at the behind-the-scenes intrigue that catapulted unknown Wendell Willkie to head the Republican ticket in 1940--and guaranteed FDR an unprecedented third term," published by The New American, a bi-weekly magazine associated with the John Birch Society, one of the first purveyors of what is now commonly known as "conspiracy theories". It serves to clarify how the British saw their role in the war vis a vis the United States government:
British agent Bickham Escott, who said that when he was recruited he was told: "If you join us, you mustn't be afraid of forgery, and you mustn't be afraid of murder." In light of these admissions, is it outlandish to ask if some of the unexplained and "convenient" deaths of the period may have been "assisted" by the BSC's [British Security Coordination] operatives? In the context of the Willkie nomination, the sudden death of convention manager Ralph Williams (a Taft man) and his replacement by Sam Pryor (a Willkie-Rockefeller-FDR-BSC man) [also Tunney's best friend] now looks suspiciously propitious. Wild speculation? Perhaps. But, perhaps not.

"Clearly," writes Prof. Mahl, in Desperate Deception, "the major purpose of BSC was to conduct aggressive offensive operations against those it saw as enemies of Britain." However, he notes, this "included not only Hitler's agents in the United States, but those who simply wished to remain uninvolved in the European war." That included American citizens, especially prominent politicians, who were tagged with the pejorative label of "isolationist."

This false label grotesquely implied that Americans who adhered to the traditional view of our Founding Fathers against foreign intervention and entanglement were somehow trying to retreat into a fantasy world in which our country would be sealed off from all intercourse with foreign nations. Even worse, the BSC cabal did everything possible to associate the isolationist tag with Naziism and fascism.

James Joseph ("Gene") Tunney is a New York City boy who became one of the great celebrities of the years between the wars.... Gene Tunney made several million dollars in the ring, and after he quit, he put it [the money$] to work for him. He is a director of such companies as the Schick Safety Razor Company, Independent Bank of Commerce, Quaker City Life Insurance, Technicolor, and Eversharp, Inc., as well as others. Gene commutes to his New York office from his Stamford, Connecticut, home daily. [Source: "My Fights With Jack Dempsey," a chapter in The Aspirin Age 1919-1941, (1949).]
Tunney's office, like Candy Jones', in Yale Club
Tunney's New York office was mentioned in a book written by Donald Bain (hardback published by Playboy Press in 1976) called The Control of Candy Jones. Candy, a beautiful model for the Conover Agency (where Gerald Ford, incidentally, had worked as a male model after his days as a football hero), married Harry Conover and then took over as owner of the agency after their divorce in 1959.
Located on the 8th floor at 52 Vanderbilt Avenue in Manhattan, the office was directly opposite Tunney's. The address was a 22-story office building located at the southwest corner of 45th Street and Vanderbilt Avenue, opposite Grand Central Terminal, and in the same building as the Yale Club, which gave its address as 50 Vanderbilt. It's an old trick used by FBI spy types, including former FBI man Guy Banister, who helped to set up Lee Harvey Oswald as a "Communist" patsy, to use alternative addresses for the same location.
According to Candy Jones, "Tunney was a very private man, and all the years they spent across the hall from each other resulted in little more than casual pleasantries. Tunney did not seem to be conducting a business from the office, and Candy surmised that he used it as a convenient location from which to handle his personal investments." [page 55] It would not be a surprise to find that Tunney had links to the Yale Club, since he had played golf in Palm Beach with Prof. William Lyon Phelps in January 1928 and addressed his Yale lit class one month later.

Prof. W. L. Phelps
Since Candy always kept her office door open when she was there, on several occasions she noticed activity across the hall which she reported to Tunney--and later the FBI man ("Ted") who questioned her--as suspicious. Thus began a relationship with the FBI which included lending "Ted" her state-of-the-art microphone recorder as well as allowing the FBI to use her address as a mail drop. At about that time, Tunney relocated his office to 200 Park Avenue, and within a few months (in November 1960), Candy was recruited in  by the CIA. The real subject of the book concerns her work as a covert operative in the Far East. According to author Bain: "What she didn't bargain for, however, was becoming a human guinea pig in a secret CIA scientific project in which mind control was the goal," involving a "Dr. Gilbert Jensen" of Oakland, California. But that's another story best told by reading The Control of Candy Jones.
"A Comparison by One Who Knew Him - Now and Then"

by Paul Gallico, Sports Editor and Sports Columnist 
of The News (New York)
Feb 18, 1931

Best Buddy with Sam F. Pryor, Jr.
...He lives with [Josephine] Polly Lauder Tunney in a wandering white Colonial farmhouse perched on a glacial ridge in the woods many miles back of Stamford. The road runs back country, scenic-railway style, over the giant furrows plowed by the last visit of the great ice cap, through wild stretches where, if you go quietly, you will suddenly come upon a white signal tail raised in alarm and then see its owner, a young buck or fawn, bound stiff-legged away. If you have no one to show you the way you won't find it.
The road runs past lovely old houses and glimpses of hidden waters; it is companion to a brook for a mile or so and then leaves it to begin a climb that carries it along the face of a crest, and here, a little back from the narrow path, sits the old farmhouse. It is a temporary residence. Behind it the ridge still rises, thickly wooded, and there, deep, sequestered, and high, the Tunneys will some day build their permanent home. From it they will look over the wood as it falls away to the blue Sound, and the Sound itself, and on clear days to a distant haze that will be Long Island.
The present dwelling is in the delightful haphazard manner of the early American farmer, who built himself and his family a white house in which to live, and then as the family grew and prospered thrust out a wing here, added a room there, another upstairs, another offshooting from the second story, until treading the aging floors many years later you may almost trace the arrival of the first- and second-born, the advent of the hired man, the strong rooting and spreading of the American family.
And, as in old houses near the sea, you will find in Tunney's home, scattered here and there among the plain, lovely lines of the austere Colonial furniture, rich and clashing objects brought from the other side of the world by wooden ships.
The living room is in two wings that fold themselves around a double fireplace. Over the fire mantel are lustrous pewter dishes and candlesticks. The fireplace is made of three single slabs of stone, likely enough quarried out of the ridgeside by the original builder. 
The wallpaper is the Anne Hathaway design, gentle scenes about Stratford-on-Avon -- Polly picked it. And one of the fireside seats is a monstrous red-leather marshmallow of a cushion from Morocco. It is so big you could perch on it with your legs curled up under you. Upstairs, too, in the library -- you see, it is just that quaint, rambling type of house where the library could be put upstairs. 
Oriental trophies mingle with Colonial pieces, and there are a lovely reclining porcelain hunting dog and a large, powerful sculptured head suggestive, but not replica, of Tunney. There are more enormous cushions from Morocco and two Berber guns, their gas-pipe barrels richly chased with silver, and silver to the end of the stock, silver inlaid curved daggers, a rich red rug, and the whole long side of the wall lined from floor to ceiling with books, books with fine, exhilarating titles, books that I wished greedily and enviously that I owned. On the walls are fine hunting prints in red, white, and black, and pictures of ships in full sail. Too, there is a curious dark statue, a slim figure rising four feet high from lotus petals, strange and disproportionate. 
"It doesn't mean anything to me," says Polly. 
"It does to me," says Gene. "I . . . I . . . can see what the fellow meant when he made it. . . ."
The dining room is tiny and dark and made to reflect candlelight and old silver. There is a fireplace in it, and a fireplace in the huge bathroom built next to the bedroom that faces the northeast and the rising sun. Did you ever soak in a warm tub with a good book and an open fire crackling and blazing in the room? Or rub down after a cold shower with the heat licking out at you, and the smell of burning pine mingling with the steam? Then you have never lived as Gene Tunney does now -- and as I mean to some day.
It is a house through which you can hear an outside storm, the rain rushing against the roof and down the eaves, and the wind down the chimney, and that is something most people deny themselves in their dwellings of brick, stone, steel, and concrete. They shut out the weather and miss the sense of peace and contentment that comes when the elements are wild outside the window and the rain sluices over the panes, fragrant smoke from the fireplace blows into the room, and inside all is snug and sheltered and warm and dry, and the logs burn brightly and throw off yellow and blue shoots of flame.
Here dwells the grown Tunney. Freshman and sophomore years are past. He has entered upon the junior's estate, still unsettled, but calmer, better educated, ready for the final assault upon life....
For the first time in his life, I suspect, he is enjoying himself. 
Fine days are given over to tramping the countryside, the woods and the farm country, with Polly. Both love to hike, to walk, nowhere in particular, finding strange and unused paths, scrambling over the low stone walls of New England from beneath which the chipmunks scurry - well, one could write a book about the delights of such aimless, friendly wanderings.
Too, there are his friends,
  • the Gimbels,
  • the Pryors,
  • the Dick Byrds [Adm. Richard Byrd],
  • the Jim Bushes, 
pleasant, cultured people, men like William Lyon Phelps [the Yale professor Tunney met in 1928, whose genealogy dates back many generations in New Haven] to stimulate him, to develop his mind. Who can now in good faith criticize him for preferring this company to the frowsy crew from which he tore himself? Life is too short to spend a second of it with unpleasant people, the rewards for such sacrifice too uncertain. Years and advancing discretion have taught me to admire Gene Tunney very much for the people he avoids and the thoroughness with which he does the job of avoiding them.
Tunney's mind and education have leaped ahead since his groping days of the training camps. He no longer fumbles for words, he no longer lets fly a gem from the dictionary in the manner of Little Jack Horner producing the plum from the Christmas pie, he no longer as a matter of fact speaks written English, which is the more formal and stilted language that one reserves for letter paper or the thesis. His gesture with a cocktail shaker is facile and natural, and he has the inborn gentleman's instinct against the wearing of the sly expression that has become habitual with this normal function in American circles.
  • Charles V. Bob was, according to an online biography of DEAN IVAN LAMB, an aircraft promotion entrepreneur and stock market financier, involved in a fraudulent stock market and mining scam that fleeced members of New York society and also many small investors of their money. Bob had been one of the biggest contributors to Admiral Richard Byrd's expedition to Antarctica.
  • James Irving Bush was vice president of the Equitable Trust Company and lived in the penthouse at 885 Park Avenue in New York City when he gave Tunney an engagement party for members of the Madison Square Garden Sporting Club.
  • Bernard F. Gimbel was largest shareholder and chairman of Gimbel Bros. Inc. department stores. He and his wife, Alva, lived in a mansion on 96 acres in Greenwich, Connecticut. The Wilton, Conn. Bulletin of April 21, 1954 informs us that there was a Garden Tour to be held in May of that year and that:
The gardens to be shown will be those of [Sam Pryor's sister and brother-in-law, who was in the Yale class of 1926] Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Verner Reed, Quaker Ridge Road, Greenwich; Mr. and Mrs. Edward J. Beinecke, Ciff Dale Road, Greenwich; Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Gimbel, King Street and Sherwood Avenue, Greenwich; Mr. and Mrs. Whitelaw Reid, Mr. and Mrs. Horace C. Flanigan, and Mrs. Arthur Lehman, all on Anderson Hill Road, Purchase.
"Boxing and Wrestling" magazine article
"Gene Tunney-the fighter who quit with a million"

Sept. 1956 or 57

by Oscar Fraley


The handsome, six foot plus ex-champion is a director of many successful companies, perhaps more than he can recall off-hand. Among other things, he is chairman of the board of the Denham Tire and Rubber Company of New York. He is a director in the famous Eversharp, Inc., the Clinchfield Coal Company and the Brown Paper Company. Gene also is president of the Stamford, Connecticut, Building Company and has holdings in various other concerns.

Tunney's career is a complete Horatio Alger story. It's a tale of a poor boy born in New York's Greenwich Village section who rose to become heavyweight champion of the world, retired undefeated with two million dollars and married a beautiful heiress.

Born James Joseph Tunney on May 25, 1898, Tunney was a spindly youth but began sparring while attending various public and parochial schools. He boxed at neighborhood clubs up to the time he enlisted in the U. S. Marines at the outbreak of World War I. The war gave Gene his big push into the prize ring.

Tunney proved so successful boxing his fellow marines he was put forward to fight for the A.E.F. light heavyweight championship, which he won in Colmbes Stadium at Paris. After the war, jobs of the right type were scarce and he elected to make boxing his business with cold-blooded approach never equalled before or since.Gene still was unimpressive, physically. Yet he realized he had to build both his body and temperament to succeed. By driving himself, Tunney developed into a beautiful fighting machine and often he has said that during these times he even discovered that courage is a force that can be learned.

In 1922, Tunney won his first title, winning the American light heavyweight crown from Battling Levinsky. Four months later, Harry Greb lifted it in the only fight Tunney ever lost but Gene won it right back in 1923....

Thereafter, Tunney picked up just one more big purse by flattening Heeney a year later and called it quits. For his last three fights, twice with Dempsey and then Heeney, Tunney collected a sum said to have been $1,700,000!

Once out of the ring, Gene turned to the finer things he had been pursuing all through his career -- books, art, travel. He set out on a walking trip through Europe with author Thornton Wilder and visited such literary lights as George Bernard Shaw and H. G. Wells. In Rome, the tour came to an end on October 3, 1928, when he married Miss Polly Lauder of Greenwich, Connecticut, one of the heirs to Carnegie steel millions.

The Tunney's now have four children, three strapping sons and the youngest child a daughter, Joan, aged 12. Gene, the oldest son, is in the army. The others are Varick and Jonathon. Although Tunney had little success in certain public crusades. he prospered in business. He became an executive of the American Distilling company and the Morris Plan bank, connections he later relinquished. His ventures spread to many fields and still do.

Alcohol Corporation (American Distilling Company) - 1928

The company became American Distilling Company in 1942. This certificate was printed in the 1928 and has the names William S. Kies, Richard H. Grimm and Philip Publicker imprinted on it. 1928 - American Commercial Alcohol Corporation is formed with the merger of American Distilling Co., David Berg Industrial Alcohol Co. (Founded 1911 in Philadelphia), and the S. M. Mayer Alcohol Co. (founded 1926 in Gretna, Louisiana).


 "Was Gene Tunney the finest boxer who ever lived?"

in "The Complete Book of World Heavyweight Champions
From John L. Sullivan to Larry Holmes"
Clay Communications Group: Spring, 1981

*** On August 1, 1928 Tunney announced his retirement at New York's Biltmore Hotel, quickly sailed off to Europe, where he was to meet his fiancee Polly Lauder, grandniece of billionaire Andrew Carnegie. They were married in October.
In many ways, Tunney didn't fit into the boxing world. He was a handsome, clean-living man, self educated, who could write poetry, read Shakespeare, pontificate on all worldly subjects -- didn't even curse.

"Let's have fighters with more wallop and less Shakespeare," laughed humorist Will Rogers, echoing the sentiment of fight people who labelled Gene as "uppity", "a snob". They found it unsettling that a prominent fighter would carry a book of poetry in his equipment bag along with his jockstrap and gloves. Neither did they like the fact that Tunney used "front men" as managers.

"The state says I need to have a manager," Tunney scoffed. "Otherwise, I wouldn't use one."

But Tunney won their grudging respect through the years with his slashing fists and giant fighting heart. Some experts feel he was the best pure boxer in heavyweight history. Gene was a successful businessman -- and a close friend of Jack Dempsey's -- till he died....


Polly Lauder Tunney, 100, Fighter’s Widow, Dies

Published: April 15, 2008
The New York Times
Polly Lauder Tunney, a Connecticut socialite and Carnegie heiress whose secret romance and subsequent marriage to the former heavyweight champion Gene Tunney was one of the most sensational love stories of the 1920s, died Saturday at her home in Stamford, Conn. She was 100.

Her death was confirmed Monday by her son John V. Tunney, the former United States Senator from California. His mother had had several strokes in recent years, including one about a week ago, he said.

For Mrs. Tunney, who had grown up in a world of wealth and privilege reaching from Greenwich, Conn., to Versailles, meeting and falling in love with a prizefighter, even a famous one, seemed unlikely. But Gene Tunney was no ordinary prizefighter.

Though he had grown up relatively poor in Greenwich Village as the son of Irish immigrants — his father was a longshoreman — Tunney, a high school dropout, had developed an insatiable appetite for classical literature, especially the works of Shakespeare. Handsome and articulate, he lectured on Shakespeare at Yale and befriended George Bernard Shaw, Thornton Wilder and other writers, earning the scorn of the boxing establishment and many boxing fans.

Polly Lauder, a striking beauty, met Tunney shortly before he won the heavyweight title from Jack Dempsey in one of the most stunning upsets in boxing history on Sept. 23, 1926. Tunney had originally been introduced to Miss Lauder’s older sister, Katherine Dewing, by a longtime friend, Samuel Pryor Jr., who also lived in Greenwich.

Katherine Dewing in turn arranged for Tunney and her sister to meet at a dinner party that Mrs. Dewing and her husband gave at their Manhattan apartment. Over the next two years, a romance blossomed, though only a few close friends and relatives knew about it.
In August 1928 — less than a month after the last fight of Tunney’s career, a technical knockout of the New Zealander Tom Heeney — Polly’s mother, Katherine Lauder, announced from the family’s summer home on Johns Island, off the coast of Maine, that Polly and Tunney had become engaged. (Tunney had promised Miss Lauder that he would quit boxing after fulfilling his contractual obligations, which included the Heeney fight and, earlier, a rematch with Dempsey, a fight that became memorable as Tunney’s “long-count” victory.)

The engagement was front-page news across the country and touched off a frenzy by reporters and photographers eager to interview the couple. “Wedding Gong Calls Gene,” declared a headline in The Los Angeles Times. But the couple remained out of public view.
In September they went to Europe, separately, and were married in a small ceremony in a hotel in Rome on Oct. 3, 1928. She was 21 when they wed. The New York Times said the scene after the wedding “looked mighty like a riot” as clothes were torn and cameras smashed in a melee of photographers jostling to capture images of the couple.

After spending 14 months traveling in Europe, the Tunneys returned to the United States and moved into a house in North Stamford built in 1742 and began restoring it. Known as Star Meadow Farm, the house sits on 200 acres, where the Tunneys raised Hereford cattle and sheep.

Tunney, who had little to do with boxing after he retired as the undefeated heavyweight champion July 31, 1928, became a successful businessman in New York. He died in 1978 at 81.

Born Mary Josephine Lauder in Greenwich on April 24, 1907, and known since childhood as Polly, Mrs. Tunney was the granddaughter of George Lauder, a first cousin of Andrew Carnegie, with whom he had grown up in Scotland. An engineer, Lauder became, in his 30s, a confidential adviser to Carnegie and a director and shareholder of the Carnegie Steel Company in Pittsburgh shortly after Carnegie founded it in the 1870s.

Lauder’s son, George Jr., inherited much of his father’s fortune and became a well-known yachtsman, owning a 136-foot two-masted schooner. He was a director of Presbyterian Hospital and the Manhattan Ear and Eye Hospital in New York and died of influenza at 37, leaving a fortune estimated at $50 million to his wife and to his children, Polly, Katherine and George III.

After attending private schools in Greenwich, Polly Lauder graduated from the Lenox School in New York and the Finch School in New York and Versailles. She was an accomplished equestrian, sailor and swimmer and remained vigorous into her 90s, driving a car until age 93. A patron of the arts, she was a former vice president of the Metropolitan Opera Guild and a major benefactor of the Audubon Society and the Wildlife Federation.

In addition to her son John, of New York, Mrs. Tunney is survived by two other sons, Gene, of Hawaii, and Jonathan, of New York and Roxbury, Conn.; a daughter, Joan Tunney Cook, of Omaha, Ark.; 10 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren.
Greenwich, Conn., July 28, 1928.—(AP)—Gene Tunney, who successfully defended his heavyweight title against Tom Heeney at the Yankee stadium in New York on Thursday night, will make announcement "of the greatest importance" next week, according to Sam F. Pryor, Jr., one of the champion's closest friends. Although Tunney is known to be in Greenwich and is undoubtedly staying at his friend's home, Pryor declared today that the champion preferred to remain in seclusion until such time as he makes his announcement. Pryor intimated that Tunney's announcement will be to the effect that he has retired from the ring and will not again defend the title which he won from Jack Dempsey on Sept. 23, 1926, at Philadelphia. Pryor said that the champion was fully aware of the rumors and reports that he would retire and leave the heavyweight title open, and that his announcement of next week will answer these reports. The champion recently purchased a farmhouse and several acres of land in Stamford and will take occupancy when alterations which he ordered are completed. It is reported that he will open a gymnasium on his property for the training of boxers and will give his personal attention to it. Tunney's immediate plans call for a tour of Europe with Thorton Wilder, the novelist, after which he will probably go south for the winter, and then return to his Stamford place which he intends to make his permanent home .

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