|Hollywoodland | Mondo Bizarro||May 5 2023|
We've been seeing this photo online of late labeled as an ice cube mask meant to cure hangovers circa 1947. That seemed unlikely to us, because why would ice cubes on your chin help with a hangover? The only thing that helps a hangover is a sustained interval of unconsciousness. So we dug around and discovered that this is in reality a beauty aid. It was created by Polish inventor and beautician Macksymillian Faktorowizc, who would later become globally famous as Max Factor, and it was specifically made for use by actresses to cool and refresh their faces after being under the hot lights of Hollywood movie sets. Back then (and even today for all we know) actresses constantly washed their faces with cold water, but this required fresh applications of make-up after every rinse. So Factor's mask theoretically was both a time and labor saver. Believe it or not, it wasn't the craziest contraption he invented. In any case—not a hangover cure, but another small internet mystery solved.
|Vintage Pulp||Feb 1 2019|
Is Toriel going to be tough to kill? Oh, you betcha. This contract is more trouble than Claude is prepared for by orders of magnitude, not least because two temporary sidekicks he's working with for this important job are distrustful of his methods, and the target has police protection. Getting to her is going to require creativity. Which may be just what this otherwise confident character lacks. With its no frills style, quirky humor, and Django Reinhardt-esque score by Perry Botkin Sr., Murder by Contract is not film noir, but the disaffected killer that's its subject makes it a good choice for the Noir City festival. Recommended stuff.
|Vintage Pulp | Politique Diabolique||Nov 25 2010|
How times have changed. Could one of the most brutal killers in the world openly hobnob with the Hollywood set today? We doubt it. But back in the day, a few rumors of murder only bolstered a man’s adventurous reputation, as proved by this November 1958 Whisper showing Rafael “Ramfis” Trujillo, Jr. charming Zsa Zsa Gabor and Kim Novak. One or both women, you may notice, actually appear courtesy an X-acto knife and glue, but what self-respecting tabloid has time to locate a legit photo when paste-up will do the job almost as well? Trujillo did date and bed both Gabor and Novak in real life, which makes this cover technically accurate, and makes him the second most enviable Dominican jet-setter in history.
Ramfis Trujillo reportedly gave most women that frisson some find irresistible, but his life wasn’t all starlets and champagne. Though he wanted nothing more than to be a playboy, there was an obstacle in the form of family baggage. Specifically, his father was a sadistic military dictator who had been put in power in the Dominican Republic by the CIA. Trujillo, Sr. expected his son to continue in the family business. This had been abundantly clear to Ramfis since the day his father made him a full general—with full pay—at age nine. For this and other reasons, he grew up with a warped sense of power and by the time of this Whisper cover had already ordered several murders and indulged in the occasional gang rape. He might have been considered a classic chip off the old block, save for rumors that Ramfis’s father was actually a Cuban named Rafael Dominicis—hence the “illegitimate dastard” tag in the banner. But the story about Ramfis being illegitimate was strongly denied by everyone involved (except Dominicis, who “disappeared”).
In any case, through the late fifties Ramfis tomcatted his way from Hollywood to Paris, and only occasionally let his urbane manner slip to reveal someone considerably less charming beneath. He seemed to have settled into his chosen lifestyle permanently when he married an actress named Lita Milan, below, who had starred opposite Paul Newman inThe Left-Handed Gun. But back in the Dominican, the impulsive Rafael Trujillo, Sr. was behaving less and less like the good lap dog the CIA had put in charge three decades earlier. Eventually, his U.S. benefactors turned against him and he died in a fusillade of possibly CIA-arranged bullets.
Junior succumbed to the pull of familial duty, as well as the desire for revenge, and flew back to the Dominican to restore order. This involved personally killing some of the participants in his father’s assassination. While this must have given him great satisfaction, it did little to stabilize the country. Under pressure from both internal enemies and the U.S., Ramfis Trujillo fled to Spain less than a year later with a casket containing millions in cash, jewels, bonds, and his father. By 1969 he was dead too, due to complications stemming from an automobile accident. In the end he presents an interesting question of nature versus nurture, i.e. was he meant to be a ladykiller, a real killer, or both?
|The Naked City||Jan 8 2009|
Thanks to court papers filed this week in Brooklyn, New York, we finally know what happened to John Favara. Mr. Favara was the unlucky soul who accidentally killed John Gotti, Sr.’s twelve-year old son Frankie in an auto accident back in March 1980. Frankie rode in front of Favara’s car on a borrowed motorbike at the exact moment when Favara was briefly blinded by the setting sun. Police quickly cleared Favara of any wrongdoing, but John Gotti, Sr., aka The Dapper Don, wasn’t having it.
Favara knew he was in trouble, and went to the Gotti home to apologize, but was chased away by a baseball bat-brandishing Victoria Gotti. John Gotti suggested that Favara leave town, but he had a wife, two kids and a job in New Hyde Park, which made moving impractical. Parties unknown left Frankie Gotti’s funeral card in Favara’s mailbox, and yet more unknowns spraypainted the word “murderer” on his car, but still he didn’t hightail it. Maybe he thought it would all blow over. It didn’t. Favara finally disappeared that July. Witnesses saw a man assaulting him with a board outside his workplace that day, and several others heard the squealing of tires, but Favara’s body was never found.
This week’s court papers, containing testimony by Charles Carneglia, aka Charlie Canig, reveal that he and several other Gotti associates beat Favara, forced him into a van, and shot him in the legs. Favara was then driven to a secret Brooklyn location where he was killed and stuffed into a 55-gallon drum of acid, which dissolved his body. The moral of the story is twofold: first, when a Gotti “suggests” you leave town, think “Uruguay”; and second, now that we know from an insider how the Mafia operates, I guess we can stop hoping Jimmy Hoffa’s body turns up.