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Sale 38 Lot 731A

An historic set of eight never-before released reel-to-reel magnetic tapes recorded by journalist William R. "Billy" Woodfield during his research for his writing of Jack Ruby's "My Story", all but three recorded prior to Jack Ruby's trial in Dallas in February and March, 1964. These tapes were crucial primary material for Woodfield's story, and contain a vast amount of material not included in his final work. The tapes also include recordings of defense sessions, mainly centering on findings of the defense team's lead investigator, and lengthy interviews with Ruby's siblings. These tapes are consigned by Woodfield's widow, who advises us that they have never before been released. All but one of the tapes is boxed and numbered, and our description will refer to the numbers printed on the boxes. The most revealing tape is Tape #2, marked "#2 12/24/63", 1 hour 47 min. in length, recorded by Woodfield during his telephone conversation with Ruby defense lawyer JOE TONAHILL (1913-2001) in either late November or early December, 1963. Immediately prior to the call Tonahill had spent several hours with Ruby in his cell at the Dallas Police Department, intensely questioning Ruby, relaying Woodfield's further questions, and taking copious notes. This tape is the basis for "My Story" (see Lot 731B in this sale), with many of Ruby's quotes, the chronology of his movements, and his thought processes used in Woodfield's finished work drawn directly from the back-and forth on this tape. Of particular note is Tonahill quoting Ruby as saying: "I guess I intended..", a statement conveniently excised from Wodfield's story as it would have implied malice aforethought and collapsed Melvin Belli's "irresistable impulse defense". Tape #3 & #3A has two tracks, each about one hour in length, and also bears a wealth of information. Track 3A opens with a report by the defense team's chief investigator ROBERT B. DENSON. Denson was employed by Belli from December 1963 to March 1964, during which time he interviewed more than one hundred Ruby acquaintances and contacts. Denson was heavily involved with defense preparations and sat behind Ruby during the course of the trial. At the start of the tape, Denson dryly sets forth facts he has gleaned from an interview of Lynn Bennett, a 19 year-old stripper known as "Little Lynn" who had contacted Ruby the night before the Oswald shooting seeking money. It was Bennett to whom Ruby wired $25.00 in the minutes before he shot Oswald. Denson relates that Bennett had worked for Ruby for several months and had no criminal record. She had been regularly beaten by her husband, and had at times cooperated with the police in undercover narcotics investigations. Bennett had also stated she had never slept with Ruby, never fought with him, and had never seen him intoxicated. In the hours before Oswald's murder, Bennett related to Denson that she had urgently asked Ruby to wire her money, and she had received it minutes after the shooting. She had spoken with Ruby the morning of the shooting, and she stated that he had been crying and was worried about her baby. She also mentioned that Ruby had complained of headaches, that he had never mentioned Cuba and that she had never seen Oswald at Ruby's club. At this point, it appears the recording begins anew, this time with Woodfield and other members of the defense team present. Denson relates findings from his interview of Ruby's rabbi, Hillel Silverman. According to Denson, Ruby told Silverman that he was "proud" to have shot Oswald, adding that it was a "patriotic thing to have done". He "was not sorry...anyone would have done the same thing if they had the opportunity" and apparently never considered injury his shots may have caused to bystanders. Denson then states that on the day he shot Oswald, Ruby had become very upset after watching Rabbi Seligman in New York eulogize Kennedy: it contributed to the "build-up" in Ruby's mind and "brought it home" to him [cataloger's note: does this also imply forethought on Ruby's part?]. An unknown voice on the tape says: "This is exactly what we want". Denson then quotes Dr. Coleman Jacobson whom Ruby called on Nov. 22nd. Jacobson had been very busy, but Ruby insisted on describing the assassination: "terrible, it's terrible". Denson notes: "[The] build-up started at about this point." Denson states he will further interview Silverman, noting that the rabbi had had many more sittings with Ruby, more even than the accused's attorneys. Denson then describes conversations with Ruby's sister, Eva Grant, largely surrounding the Weissman advertisement that so irritated Ruby, Ruby buying newspapers and "getting drunk" on kosher food after the assassination, etc. At this point, Denson's report becomes particularly interesting, describing Ruby's personal life and psychology. In part: "...I can put him [Ruby] in bed with six, eight different girls...It burns him up to be referred to as a queer...Jack is preoccupied with death...He goes to great efforts to attend funerals of friends, particularly if killed by violence...". He notes that Ruby had closed his club and taken all of his employees, "including a colored man", to attend the funeral of a policeman. He adds: "Jack Ruby...feels a compulsion to do something about violence...when it [falls] upon him or somebody else...he wants to get out on the street and do something...". The investigator then briefly discusses a host of characters in Ruby's life, including Earl Ruby (noting his bad temper), other family members, strippers, Will Fritz ("not a friend of anybody"), and a doctor (who described Ruby as "loud...boisterous...hyperactive"). Denson adds that he can't help but feel that the family is holding out some information. The end of Track 3A is most fascinating. A voice asks: "Who's [involved?] in the Hoffa thing?" to which Denson replies that he has yet to conduct any related interviews. Then Denson volunteers that he has interviewed a Dr. [Cary?] Gold, a friend or associate of Ruby's. He relates: "Jack bragged to him about a racketeering Cuba. His saved this man's life. A real wheel, a big shot. And 'he owed his life to me, and a hell of a lot...of other things too'...Before Castro came to power...He was going to Cuba to get some money from this guy...Got his ass kicked out and came back here with a guy named McWillie...". Denson also relates how Ruby and McWillie got into a brawl with a fellow airline passenger while returning from Cuba when the passenger expressed support for Castro. The tape concludes with Denson describing a bizarre tale of one Sam Gordon being employed by an Air Force Capt. Summers to write "cover letters...about communism...the whole deal sounds confusing to me...". Lewis McWillie was an infamous Dallas based gambler with ties to the Florida mafia boss Santos Trafficante. Ruby visited McWillie while McWillie was working in Cuba on at least one occasion in 1959 and may have visited him multiple times. Although Ruby claimed that his visit to McWillie had been social in nature, he may have met with Trafficante himself or members of his organization. Allegedly, Ruby even tried to get Trafficante out of Cuba where he was being held in jail by the Castro government. Track 3 begins with another Denson interview, mentioning Dallas Judge Joe B. Brown (who would try Ruby) and Ruby's first attorney, Tom Howard. We believe that Denson then again quotes another doctor, perhaps a defense psychiatrist, stating that Ruby always "talks out of the corner of his mouth...[he] always has a gimmick". Denson notes that Ruby "always has a gun" and discusses Ruby's early business ventures "living hand to mouth", selling punch cards, "Remember Pearl Harbor" flags, etc. The group the delves into Oswald, Ruby and the shooting. Denson comments: "Oswald was a loner in a way Jack never was...Jack always wanted to be around people...[to] impress them...brags about fights he got into...". The conversation here narrows into "the money argument" in which the parties discuss exactly what Ruby did upon leaving his car to go to the Western Union office immediately prior to shooting Oswald. They debate what Ruby could have removed from the trunk, with Denson noting it likely was not cash: "[He kept a] blue bank bag...under his [car] seat...[he] always had fifteen hundred bucks in his pocket...". Someone in the room seems to lead Denson, saying: "...and he put a gun in his pocket...". Incredibly, Denson replies: "I've been trying to put that goddamn gun in his can believe I have...". We hear a long sigh and a voice saying: "It's gotta match...[before] we bring him to court...". Of course, if Ruby already had a gun in his pocket when leaving the car, his "irresistible impulse" defense could be more easily made. If he intentionally removed the gun from his trunk, [and also knew that Oswald was about to be moved], that would point to premeditation. Here, Denson's recording ends (or is taped-over) be a lengthy interview by Woodfield of Eva Grant and (we believe) Jack's brother Hyman Rubinstein. Eva describes in great detail the Ruby children's upbringing, their father, family history, anecdotes, and so on, much of which is already covered in Ruby biographies. Tape #4 contains an interview between Woodfield and Eva. The discussion is centered around the Dallas newspaper (Weissman) ad that so irritated Ruby and the "Impeach Earl Warren" billboard advertisement. She states: "[Jack] was so drummed up, and spoke to [his personal attorney] Stanley Kaufman...". She notes Ruby had taken pictures of the billboard, and that they had been seized by the police. She describes her thoughts and actions on the day of Kennedy's killing: "...I have no use for nothin'...I don't know what [Jack] was thinking...". They then delve into why Jack was so determined to find the source of the Weissman ad and the billboard's sponsor. A new session with Eva has her put herself into Jack's shoes in the hours before the Oswald shooting. She postulates that he left his home at 10:30 AM, adding: "as a rule, the dog stayed in the car". He checked on another dog at a friend's house, then passed by the Dallas P.D. She thinks for Jackas he walks by the police department: "Let's see what's doin'...they're still talking about Oswald", and notes: "Jack's a very quick thinker". It seems Eva then apparently softly reads some of Woodfield's notes, with the words: "girl...hotel...get some rest" discernible (This part of the tape requires enhancement). The session ends with the next session including an open interview of Eva, Earl and Hyman Rubinstein. Eva's is the most prominent voice, and she mainly reminisces about the family's early days, also offering anecdotes about Jacks' early business ventures and mentioning his friend, boxer Barney Ross. Much of this section of the tape also requires more "tweaking" to bring out the participants' voices. Tape #5 contains four tracks, all recorded prior to Woodfield's Ruby interviews and largely concern Woodfield's attempts to have the Rubys agree to contract with him to write "My Story". In the first track, an unknown party (Woodfield himself?) pitches Eva Grant, saying that Woodfield would give Jack's story a "sympathetic facade". He stresses that none of the Rubys should speak to the press as their comments could "devalue" Jack's story. Eva describes other offers she has received, including one from Life magazine, and emphatically states: "My brother doesn't think I know what I'm doing...Get as much as the market will bear...I want to get my brother out...[but] I want to get the most I can...". She also mentions Jack's early legal representation, including Tom Howard ("Tom Howard is a very fine fellow...he stands in front of the press...he is not the lawyer to handle this") and Stanley Kaufman. In the next track, the negotiator speaks with Earl, mentioning a $25,000 offer from Life, and reiterates the need for silence from the family: "The minute somebody says something, you don't have a story". He confidently closes: "It [the story] can make Jack the most famous prisoner since Napoleon...Shut everyone up...I'll wait till the offers are in". The next is a call between Woodfield and Ruby's defense attorney, MELVIN BELLI. This call may have preceded Belli being hired. It seems that Woodfield mentions lukewarm interest in a trial story, with the Saturday Evening Post involved. In another call, an unknown party states: "We decided what to do - he called me from San Francisco. What did you decide about Belli?...still an out-of-towner...Belli wants [Joe] Tonahill in there...I told him to hold off on anyone else...I'm going to meet Dallas". The final track on the tape is a call between Belli and Woodfield. Belli has been hired, and Woodfield compliments him. Belli says that Ruby must raise funds to pay the cost of his defense, and Woodfield despairs in the fact that Howard is already selling Ruby's story: "How can you deal with Earl Ruby?". Belli responds that Howard asked that Woodfield come to Dallas. Tape #7 bears four tracks, only one of which concerns Ruby (the balance are totally unrelated). Track One is a very lengthy, urgent telephone call between an unknown party, possibly a member of the defense team or Woodfield's attorney, with Earl Ruby. Both parties are appalled that Melvin Belli had been quoted in Newsweek as saying that Woodfield had never interviewed Ruby while in jail and that the story was not "authorized" (Actually, it was Belli himself who had smuggled Woodfield into the Dallas jail to meet and interview Jack for "My Story"). The exchange includes the following quotes, in part: "..I just know what Belli told the Newsweek people...that Billy [Woodfield] never saw Jack...I think it's being forced on him [Belli]...If money [from the story] is supposed to be given's [from] you [Earl], not Belli...Is Belli trying to make this a conspiracy between you [Earl] and Billy?..Billy asked me to come to L.A. and he introduced me to Belli..." They also mention that Belli had approved the writing of the story, that Woodfield never concealed the fact that he had made tapes, and that Eva confirmed that Woodfield had met with Jack. They continue: "...Belli is lying now and you know it...Why?...probably worried about his own skin...he protected the whole pocket...Billy saw Jack? Yeah, he saw him, he was there..." Finally, the attorney dictates a statement to be issued in Jack's name, stating that "My Story" was Jack's own, "as I told it", with the implication being that he had told the story to Eva, Belli, Woodfield and others. Earl was to sign the statement on Jack's behalf and send a copy to Eva and another copy to the attorney. We believe that Belli's motivation lay either in the fact that he intended to write his own book on the trial and desired all of the credit for eliciting Jack's "story", or more likely had come under pressure from the California bar for sneaking Woodfield into the Dallas jail to interview Ruby. Tape 1 is a commercial radio broadcast of the Ruby verdict. One tape is marked as being a reading of "My Story" by Woodfield, and a second tape is marked as being a panel discussion of "My Story". One tape is unrelated. None of the preceding three tapes have been heard by us. materials and are deserving of the most attentive investigation. IMPORTANT NOTE: These tapes are now nearly 45 years old and their sound quality, in every case, has diminished substantially. In many places, sound quality is muddy at best, with voices nearly inaudible and/or with excessive brief feedback at times. We are, however, very confident that with an investment in a competent sound engineer, time, and of course some money, these recordings can be brought up to a much higher level of quality. All tapes have been professionally dubbed onto compact discs, with some enhancement of sound quality, with the exception of the panel discussion and reading tapes mentioned above. Tape 2 (Tonahill/Woodfield) bears some feedback but virtually all conversation is easily distinguishable. Tapes 3 and 3A have been "tweaked" further, the balance of the tapes have only had sound levels adjusted to enhance the human voice. The tapes have been played by us only once and we have listened to the discs once or twice each. Buyers should also be aware that while we guarantee our eyes for autographs, we can't guarantee our ears - we have tried to record exactly what was said, but there may be a few slight errors in our transcriptions. Finally, we can supply serious bidders with a few sound clips, but full discs will be given to the winning bidder only.
Estimate $ 5,000-7,000

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