Jack Ruby

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Image:Jack Ruby mugshot.jpg
Dallas Police Department mugshot of Ruby

Jack Leon Ruby (born Jacob Rubenstein on March 25?, 1911January 3, 1967) was a Dallas nightclub owner, who murdered Lee Harvey Oswald on November 24, 1963, two days after Oswald was arrested for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He changed his name to Jack Leon Ruby in December 1947.


[edit] Family and early life

Jack Ruby was born Jacob Rubenstein to Joseph Rubenstein (1871–1958) and Fannie Turek Rutkowski or Rokowsky in Chicago, in 1911. His Polish-born parents were Orthodox Jews.

Joseph Rubenstein was born in the town of Sokołów Podlaski, Poland, then part of Imperial Russia. He was a carpenter as was his father. He joined the Russian army in 1893, serving in the artillery. He married while in military service. Joseph later was assigned to forces positioned in China, Korea and Siberia. He grew to detest army life and reportedly "walked away" from it in 1898. The Rubensteins left the Russian Empire about four years later. They briefly lived in the United Kingdom and then Canada. They entered the United States in 1903, and the following year they settled in the heavily Jewish 24th Ward on Chicago's West Side.

Conflicting birth dates for Jacob Rubenstein, ranging March to June of 1911, were quoted by various sources and given by Ruby at various times; March 25, 1911 is the date he most commonly gave for his own birthdate. (Births in Chicago in 1911 were not mandatorily recorded, so there is no official record to consult.) The fifth of his parents' eight living children, he had a troubled childhood and adolescence, marked by juvenile delinquency and time spent in foster homes. Young Ruby sold horse-racing tip sheets and various other novelties, then acted as business agent for a local refuse collectors union that later became part of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Ruby briefly came to public attention in December 1939 when he was implicated in the fatal shooting of the union's president, attorney Leon Cooke, but was cleared of any wrongdoing. In memory of Cooke, Ruby later adopted "Leon" as his middle name.

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[edit] Organized crime links

As a youngster, Ruby was rumoured to have run errands for Al Capone's Mafia organization. [citation needed] During the 1940s, he frequented race tracks in Illinois and California. Ruby was drafted in 1943 and served in the Army Air Forces during World War II, working as an aircraft mechanic at bases in the US until 1946. Upon discharge, Ruby returned to Chicago.

In 1947, Ruby moved to Dallas, where he and his brothers soon afterward shortened their surnames from Rubenstein to Ruby. The stated reason for changing the family name had been that Jack and his brothers had opened up a mail order business and feared that some customers would refuse to do business with Jews. Jack later went on to manage various nightclubs, strip clubs, and dancehalls. Among the strippers Ruby befriended was Candy Barr.

He developed close ties to many Dallas police officers, who frequented his nightclubs where Ruby showered them with large quantities of liquor and other favors. Ruby went to Cuba in 1959 to visit a Mafia-connected friend, influential Dallas gambler Lewis McWillie, whom Fidel Castro had briefly imprisoned. McWillie was also connected to leading mobsters Meyer Lansky, Carlos Marcello and Santo Trafficante Jr. [citation needed]

The Report issued by the House Select Committee on Assassinations said that Jack Ruby knew Sam and Joe Campisi since 1947, and had been seen with them on many occasions. [1]

A PBS investigation into the connections between Ruby and Dallas organized crime figures resulted in it reporting following:

Jack Ruby knew Sam and Joe Campisi and in 1963, Campisi's were leading figures in the Dallas underworld. The Campisi Brothers were lieutenants of Carlos Marcello, the Mafia boss who had reportedly talked of killing the President. [2]

A day before President Kennedy was murdered, Ruby went to Joe Campisi's restaurant. HSCA Appendix to Hearings - Volume IX Page 344 para 919

At the time of the Kennedy assassination, Ruby was close enough to the Campisi's to ask them to come see Ruby once he was arrested for shooting Lee Oswald. [3]

[edit] Public assassination

Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald

Ruby (also known as "Sparky," reportedly because of his short temper) frequently carried a handgun, and witnesses saw him with a handgun in the halls of the Dallas police headquarters on several occasions after President Kennedy's assassination and arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald on November 22, 1963. In addition, it is known that Ruby impersonated a newspaper reporter and was at the police station on the night of November 22, though the reason he went there is unknown.

Ruby received international attention when he shot and fatally wounded the 24-year-old Oswald on Sunday, November 24, 1963, at 11:21 AM CST while authorities were preparing to transfer Oswald by car from police headquarters to a nearby jail. Millions of viewers saw the shooting on television. It marked the first live broadcast of a homicide in television history.

When Ruby was arrested immediately after the shooting, he told several witnesses that his killing of Oswald would show the world that "Jews have guts," that he helped the city of Dallas "redeem" itself in the eyes of the public, and that Oswald's death would spare Jacqueline Kennedy the ordeal of appearing at Oswald's trial. Later, however, he claimed he shot Oswald on the spur of the moment when the opportunity presented itself, without considering any reason for doing so. The weapon used by Ruby was a snub-nosed Colt Cobra .38 with the serial number 2744 LW.

[edit] Motivation

Ruby's motives have been debated. Some believe that Ruby carried out Mafia orders with a "hit," because he was actually part of a conspiracy to assassinate the president. According to this theory, Ruby silenced Oswald to prevent Oswald from testifying at his upcoming trial. Suspicion was aroused by the fact that Ruby was able to freely enter a supposedly secure area, armed with a loaded, concealed revolver. Others have suggested that Ruby was an emotionally unstable, obsessive publicity-seeker who revered Kennedy and was seeking vengeance on his own.

Shortly before Ruby's death from a pulmonary embolism on January 3, 1967 (although by the fall of 1966 Ruby was also suffering from rapidly spreading lung cancer, with which he believed he had been deliberately infected), a friend insisted that Ruby tell the truth before he died. Ruby replied, "Listen, you know me well, and you know I'm a reasonable businessman. I wouldn't have done it if I did not have to do it." In spite of rambling comments that might be interpreted differently,[4] to the end Ruby insisted that he had not been part of any assassination conspiracy. As his mental condition deteriorated, however, Ruby claimed that Jews were being slaughtered in the building where he was awaiting a new trial, as part of a second Holocaust.

[edit] Prosecution and conviction

Prominent San Francisco defense attorney Melvin Belli agreed to represent Ruby free of charge.. Some observers thought that the case could have been disposed of as a "murder without malice" charge (roughly equivalent to manslaughter), with a maximum prison sentence of five years. Ruby himself initially appeared not to be very concerned about the proceedings (which has led some researchers to believe that Ruby thought his Mafia associates would secretly help him win an acquittal or be given a reduced sentence[citation needed].) Instead, Belli attempted to prove that Ruby was legally insane and had a history of mental illness in his family (the latter being true, as his mother had been committed to a mental hospital years before). On March 14, 1964, Ruby was convicted of murder with malice, for which he received a death sentence.

During the six months following the Kennedy assassination, Ruby repeatedly asked, orally and in writing, to speak to the members of the Warren Commission. Only after Ruby's sister Eileen wrote letters to the Warren Commission (and after her writing letters to the commission became publicly reported) did the commission agree to talk to Ruby. In June 1964, Chief Justice Earl Warren, then-Representative Gerald R. Ford of Michigan and other commission members went to Dallas and met with Ruby. Ruby begged Warren several times to take him to Washington D.C.<ref name="history">Warren Commission Hearings, Volume V page 194 history-matters.com</ref>, because he feared for his life and those of his family members, claiming among other things that "a whole new form of government is going to take over this country, and I know I won't live to see you another time." Warren refused Ruby's request. According to a record of Ruby's testimony, Warren declared that the Commission would have no way of providing protection to him, since it had no police powers. Ruby said he wanted to convince President Johnson that he was no part of any conspiracy to kill JFK.

Following Ruby's March 1964 conviction for murder with malice, Ruby's lawyers, led by Sam Houston Clinton, appealed to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest criminal court in Texas. Ruby's lawyers argued that he could not have received a fair trial in the city of Dallas because of the excessive publicity surrounding the case. A year after his conviction, in March 1965, Ruby conducted a brief televised news conference in which he stated that "everything pertaining to what's happening has never come to the surface. The world will never know the true facts of what occurred, my motives. The people who had so much to gain, and had such an ulterior motive for putting me in the position I'm in, will never let the true facts come aboveboard to the world."<ref name="ntl">Jack Ruby (Oswald's assassin) makes a statement to reporters after his trial, admitting to a conspiracy ntlworld</ref>

Eventually, the appellate court agreed with Ruby's lawyers for a new trial, and in November 1966 ruled that his motion for a change of venue before the original trial court should have been granted. Ruby's conviction and death sentence were overturned. Arrangements were underway for a new trial in February 1967, in Wichita Falls, Texas, when, on December 9, 1966, Ruby was admitted to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, apparently suffering from pneumonia. Ruby died of a pulmonary embolism on January 3, 1967 at Parkland Hospital where, coincidentally, both President Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald had died.

He is buried in the Westlawn Cemetery in Chicago.

[edit] Film portrayals

Ruby's shooting of Oswald, and the mystery surrounding his behavior both before and after the Kennedy assassination, have been the topic of three films.

[edit] Ruby and Oswald

A 1977 made-for-television movie, "Ruby and Oswald", generally supported the Warren Commission conclusions.

[edit] Ruby

The 1992 feature film Ruby, which speculated on Ruby's (played by Danny Aiello) more complex motivations. Among the impulses explored by the film that might have propelled Ruby into shooting Oswald were Ruby's reputation among family and friends as an assiduous, emotionally volatile publicity-seeker; the influence of his longtime organized crime and Dallas police connections; and the little-known fact that, over the years, Ruby had been an occasional FBI informant.

[edit] JFK

In Oliver Stone's 1991 film JFK, Ruby was portrayed by Brian Doyle-Murray. Stone's perspective on events draws heavily from conspiracy theory researchers such as Jim Marrs and L. Fletcher Prouty.

[edit] Music Portrayals

Camper Van Beethoven wrote a song called "Jack Ruby" on their album Key Lime Pie.

Deep Purple wrote a song called "Jack Ruby" on their album Abandon.

Billy Bragg made reference to Jack Ruby in his song "Wishing The Days Away" on the album "Talking With the Taxman About Poetry."

In Martin Scorsese's 1978 musical documentary "The Last Waltz," members of The Band tell the story of visiting the Carousel and witnessing a fight; only years later did they find out the Carousel was Ruby's club.

[edit] Trivia

  • In the Battlestar Galactica episode "Resistance", Cally Henderson shoots Sharon "Boomer" Valerii in a assassination similar to Jack Ruby's, preventing the Fleet from interrogating her further.
  • In "The Killing Box", an episode of the television series Prison Break, Agent Kim tells Agent Mahone that Agent Kellerman will be their "Lee Harvey Oswald". Mahone protests, saying, "Then, that makes me your Jack Ruby."
  • In the Seinfeld episode The Little Kicks, George asks Jerry, "How could I interfere?" Jerry then says, "I think that's what Jack Ruby said".

[edit] Books

  1. Breach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why (ISBN 0-7006-1390-0), by Gerald D. McKnight, University of Kansas Press, 2005.
  2. Not in Your Lifetime: The Definitive Book on the JFK Assassination (ISBN 1-56924-739-0), by Anthony Summers, Marlowe & Com., 1998.
  3. The Last Investigation, by Gaeton Fonzi (ISBN 1-56025-052-6), Thunder's Mouth Press, 1993.
  4. Oswald and the CIA, by John Newman (ISBN 0-7867-0131-5), Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1995.
  5. All American Mafioso, by Charles Rappleye and Ed Becker (ISBN 0-385-26676-6), Doubleday, 1991.
  6. The Death of a President: November 20-November 25, by William Manchester (ISBN 0-88365-956-5), BBS Publishing Corporation, 1967/1996.
  7. Report of the Warren Commission on the assassination of President Kennedy : with additional material prepared by the New York Times especially for this edition, McGraw-Hill, 1964.

[edit] References


[edit] External links

de:Jack Ruby es:Jack Ruby fr:Jack Ruby it:Jack Ruby he:ג'ק רובי nl:Jack Ruby ja:ジャック・ルビー pl:Jack Ruby pt:Jack Ruby ru:Руби, Джек sr:Џек Руби fi:Jack Ruby sv:Jack Ruby

Jack Ruby

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