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“The Most Scandalous Scandal Magazine in the History of the World” 
Robert Harrison & Confidential

3,209 words

Legendary Hollywood scandal magazine Confidential existed for only six years (1952–1958) before it was destroyed. But during that brief span it shook the mainstays of Jewish society: Hollywood, sexual deviance, homosexuality, Communism, organized crime, and miscegenation.

The Jews feared and loathed Confidential, resorting to every trick in their playbook to destroy it, from outright violence and terroristic threats to the devious manipulation of corrupt apparatchiks in the political-legal-media system.

As journalist Tom Wolfe observed in 1964:

All during the mid-fifties, the sales were going up to more than four million at the newsstands per issue, the record for newsstand sales, and everybody was wondering, outraged, how such a phenomenon could crop up in the middle of the twentieth century after the lessons of the war [the Holocaust], hate and all, and what kind of creature could be producing Confidential.

The magazine was universally maligned in the trademarked rhetoric of invective—”hate,” “venom,” “smut peddling,” “scandal mongering”—richly ironic epithets coming from Jews. The practice has continued ever since. Jews not even born at the time unquestioningly assimilate the collective outlook, quacking out the party line like ducks: “repulsive,” “vicious,” “peephole,” “Reds hiding under every bed,” “venal chatter,” “poisonous little rag,” “scandal sheet,” “mud.”

Purveyor of the Public Life

Despite his Anglo-Saxon-sounding name, Robert Harrison (1905–1978), the New York publisher of Confidential, was an Ashkenazi Jew. At sixteen he went to work for an ad agency, then as copy boy for the New York Evening Graphic, a sensationalist tabloid famed for its scandal and crime stories. At the Graphic Harrison made the acquaintance of fellow Jew Walter Winchell, who was churning out a gossip column, “Broadway Hearsay.”

Harrison was next employed by Martin Quigley, the Irish Catholic publisher of Motion Picture Daily and Motion Picture Herald. Quigley originated the Hays Code, an attempt to restrain Hollywood Jews from undermining the morals of the American people. Among other things, the Code forbade the promotion of miscegenation via the motion picture medium.

While employed by Quigley, Harrison launched a series of girlie magazines (what else?): Beauty Parade (1941), Eyeful (1942) (“The models were all either fully or at least partially clothed. This was not just to pass the censors, Harrison himself found nudity offensive”), Wink (featuring whips, chains, bondage, and spanking), Flirt (1947), Titter, and Whisper (1946). With a circulation of 600,000, Whisper was the smallest of the six. Harrison later reprinted many Confidential stories in Whisper.

When Quigley learned that Harrison was using his office, after-hours, to put out Beauty Parade, he was fired.

All of Harrison’s businesses, including Confidential later, employed his sisters and their families, along with numerous other relatives. At the Confidential trial in 1957 the prosecution produced a genealogical chart demonstrating this.

In 1952 Harrison received a call from his accountant. “He informs me that I am broke,” the publisher later recalled.

Broke! After making all that money! I couldn’t believe it! I think the thing was, we had six magazines, and if six magazines start losing money for a few months, you can lose hundreds of thousands of dollars and not even know what happened. That same week I thought up Confidential.

The first issue (250,000 copies) hit the newsstands six months later, in December 1952.

The second issue criticized bisexual Negro stripper Josephine Baker, who gained her greatest fame in France, where she married a French Jew. The article, entitled “Winchell Was Right About Josephine Baker,” took Winchell’s side in a petty dispute between the two.

The powerful broadcaster held up Harrison’s magazine on his television show, boosting sales enormously. Thereafter the publisher made sure to run a piece about someone Winchell disliked in every issue. The gossip king’s continued enthusiastic support brought the magazine national prominence.

At its peak, Confidential’s circulation hit five million—each issue of which was read by as many as five to ten people.

“Turncoat of Many Colors”

It was Winchell who suggested that Harrison hire Howard Rushmore, the combative, 6’5″ crack anti-Communist investigative reporter for William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal-American, who traced his ancestry to the Pilgrims. Rushmore, who came aboard in 1954, became the magazine’s best-known editor.

Prior to his employment with Hearst, Rushmore had been a member of the Communist Party and movie reviewer for the Daily Worker. He was fired by the Worker in 1939 for refusing to condemn Gone With the Wind. Later he was fired from the Journal-American for publicly criticizing Senator Joseph McCarthy’s (R.-Wis.) Jewish homosexual aides, Roy Cohn and G. David Schine, with whom he’d worked as special investigator on McCarthy’s subcommittee.

Rushmore had also been a key figure in the 1947 U.S. House Committee on Un-American Activities hearings into Communist influence in Hollywood. It was he who named actors Edward G. Robinson and Charlie Chaplin (both Jews) as fellow travelers, and playwright Clifford Odets (Jewish) and screenwriters Dalton Trumbo (white) and John Henry Lawson (Jewish) as Communists.

After two years, Rushmore resigned as editor and chief writer when Harrison decided to hire two leftist authors to offset his editor’s anti-Communist views.

Rushmore testified for the prosecution in Confidential’s 1957 trial.

L. A. Confidential

A standard Jewish attack then and now is the allegation that Confidential fabricated its stories. This is a lie. Confidential was in no position to do so even if it wanted to. Everything was of necessity meticulously documented.

Harrison established Hollywood Research, Inc., a Los Angeles corporation, to coordinate his investigations. The firm was run by his niece Marjorie Meade and her husband.

The New York publisher established a network of informants—well-paid tipsters ranging from journalists and bellhops to call-girls. Private investigators on both coasts and in London developed stories and verified tips furnished by others.

State-of-the-art audio and visual surveillance equipment, including tiny recorders hidden in wristwatches, infrared and ultra-rapid film, and high-powered telephoto lenses, was employed.

Stories were backed by film and audio recordings, a minimum of two affidavits under oath, the work of private investigators, and careful review by attorneys. Decades later, defense attorney Arthur Crowley said, “I know of no other magazine so careful to make sure they weren’t libeling.”

Harrison also followed his attorneys’ advice to print less than Confidential knew so that the remainder would come out in court if the magazine was sued. According to private investigator Fred Otash, what Confidential actually published was “pretty thin stuff” compared to what he and others actually turned up.

Jewish newspaper columnist Lee Mortimer (Ukraine-born Mortimer Lieberman) was among the prominent individuals who furnished Harrison information on the sly, as was Jewish movie director Mike Todd, who supplied facts about powerful but hated Columbia Studios boss Harry Cohn.

A Definite Style

Confidential was written in a distinctive style. Harrison noted, “Nothing was just thrown together. Sometimes we would work on a layout for days. And those stories were beautifully written. They were superb! We were asked by many schools of journalism to come and lecture. They wanted to know how we did it.”

Harrison hired a reader “with a voice like Sir Ralph Richardson,” “great diction, great resonance,” to read each story aloud prior to publication. He believed that if the stories were read aloud weak spots would stand out.

A taste of Confidential’s prose style can be sampled here: “Why Liberace’s theme song should be . . . ‘Mad About the Boy.'”

Many stories were written under pseudonyms because of threats to the authors’ lives or physical safety. Staff members included former Police Gazette employees Edythe Farrell and A. P. Govani, and Jay Breen, who had written for the United Press. Breen wrote about half of the articles.

One Confidential staple was exposing interracial couplings that Hollywood’s bosses wanted concealed.

For example, Confidential printed the names of white actresses (Ava Gardner, Meg Myles) who’d had sex with Sammy Davis, Jr. (Davis converted to Judaism in 1954. In 1960 he married Swedish actress May Britt, with whom he had a child.)

The magazine also revealed Illinois-born Czech-Bohemian actress Kim Novak’s coupling with Davis. Novak, under contract to Columbia Studios, was being built into a star. The Jewish head of Columbia, Harry Cohn, knew that Confidential’s revelation could destroy his property’s value.

Cohn contacted Chicago mobster Johnny Roselli, whose men kidnapped Davis and drove him into the Nevada desert. There they threatened to blind him unless he ended his affair with Novak. Davis was ordered to marry a black girl within twenty-four hours, which he did. (The marriage to a Las Vegas showgirl was never consummated and ended in divorce.)

In a separate story, Confidential revealed that Novak was at one time the kept mistress of a wealthy New York Jew.

Confidential also disclosed tobacco heiress Doris Duke’s affairs with her Negro chauffeur, Prince David Madupe Mudge Paris, Negro ballet dancer Claude Marchand, and other blacks; New York real estate heir Robert Goelet’s affair with a black beautician; Maureen O’Hara’s dalliance with a Mexican; and black cabaret singer Billie Daniels’ interracial affair with a blonde woman.

“Mae West’s Open Door Policy” discussed her sexual relationship with Negro ex-featherweight boxing champion Chalky Wright. (The Brooklyn-born sex bomb possibly had both a German Jewish mother and a paternal Negro grandfather who passed for white.)

Homosexuality was the focus of such stories as “The Lavender Skeletons in TV’s Closet” and “Hollywood—Where Men Are Men, and Women, Too!” (written by Howard Rushmore under the pseudonym Juan Morales).

As Sam Kashner and Jennifer MacNair note, for Harrison, “homosexuality was a kind of sexual equivalent of Communism, a dirty little secret that it was the magazine’s duty to expose.”

Confidential outed homosexuals long before homosexuals made outing popular, exposing the sexual proclivities of actor Van Johnson, singer Johnnie Ray, Sweden’s King Gustav V, Lizabeth Scott, Tab Hunter, New Deal apparatchik Sumner Welles, Vanderbilt heir Peter Orton, tennis star Bill Tilden (who favored underage boys), Marlene Dietrich, Dan Dailey (a transvestite), and automobile heir Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.

The magazine spiked its story on Rock Hudson after studio bosses supplied information about the boyhood criminal record of Rory Calhoun as a substitute to save Hudson’s career.

The Empire Strikes Back

The Jews lashed out savagely at Harrison.

Film studios threatened to break the legs of anyone found leaking information to the magazine.

Press coverage worldwide was monotonously uniform, not only in condemnation, but in tone and the selection of buzzwords used.

From 1955 to 1958, powerful Time magazine repeatedly spat epithets, its favorite being “sewer.”

Mike Wallace grilled Confidential’s private investigator, Fred Otash, on his television program The Mike Wallace Interview in 1957. Wallace, a Jew, mirrored the System’s hatred of Confidential. The video of the half-hour interview, together with a transcript, can be viewed here. Wallace says, “Let’s talk about morality, not legality” (since everything was legal)—pretty rich coming from a Jew. Robert Harrison appeared on another episode of the program.

In London the Daily Sketch, an Associated News tabloid, went to war against Confidential on behalf of Hollywood’s moguls. It sought dirt against indefatigable fact checker Michael Mordaunt-Smith, head of the magazine’s European operations, through an informer, Lee Benson, who was frightened for his life after being threatened with physical violence.

Hollywood even churned out an anti-Confidential propaganda film, Slander (1956). At movie’s end the publisher is killed by his own mother, who declares him “unfit to live,” and the hero takes to TV to proselytize against consumers’ purchase of scandal magazines.

The movie starred none other than Swedish- and German-American (Pennsylvania Dutch) Van Johnson, the subject of a Confidential expose who, like Rock Hudson, had been forced by the studios into a heterosexual marriage. Johnson’s wife later declared that Jewish MGM chief Louis B. Mayer was “a dictator with the ethics and morals of a cockroach. I was young and stupid enough to let Mayer manipulate me [into the marriage].”

Nor did Hollywood Jews scruple at violence, contemptuous of a justice system that routinely indulges, indeed facilitates, Semitic terrorism.

Insurance companies canceled the life insurance policies of everyone who worked for Confidential, claiming they were “poor risks.”

There were a number of reported suicides. “Suicides” and “accidents” under such circumstances must be regarded skeptically, since they could be murders.

A trial defendant (Confidential was brought to trial in 1957) accused of collecting gossip on a wrist microphone committed suicide in Mexico, and Mae West’s black chauffeur, a subpoenaed witness, died mysteriously right before the proceedings began.

Polly Gould, a member of Confidential’s editorial staff, killed herself the night before she was to testify. It was subsequently revealed that she was selling secrets about the magazine to the prosecution while simultaneously informing Harrison of the maneuvers of the police.

After leaving Confidential, Rushmore could not find work, a victim of this nation’s real blacklist. He was convinced that both he and his wife were being persecuted, boycotted everywhere. He reportedly carried a 7-inch commando army knife tucked into his waistband for protection.

According to published reports, Rushmore shot his attractive second wife, a former model and cover girl, and then himself, in a New York taxicab on the night of January 3, 1958. Apparently the only witness to the double shooting was the 37-year-old night shift driver of the cab, a resident of the Bronx with the unlikely name Edward Pearlman. He turned up at a police station with the bodies in the back seat of the cab.

“Howard Rushmore went through life seeking truth and justice,” his friend Martin Richmond said after his death. “His disappointments were constant, almost daily.”

Confidential also ran stories exposing the jukebox rackets, the garment rackets, gambling, and other aspects of organized crime. The premiere issue featured a report on Hot Springs, Arkansas as a haven for gangsters, and a piece linking a Brooklyn prosecutor to Murder, Inc., the Jewish killers-for-hire outfit.

During the Confidential years both Harrison and Rushmore received numerous death threats and visits from thugs employed by the powerful. During a trip to the Dominican Republic an attempt was made on Harrison’s life. He was shot, but recovered.

Because Confidential’s stories were so thoroughly vetted, prior to 1957 Harrison never settled a lawsuit, and issued only one retraction He took back Confidential’s allegation that Italian-American singer Tony Bennett’s manager was a mobster. The “retraction” was issued after Harrison was hung out of his office window by his heels, upside down.

Government to the Rescue

In 1955 Eisenhower’s Postmaster General, Arthur Summerfield, barred Confidential from the mails. Time magazine and similar outfits chortled joyously over this development.

In coordinated fashion multiple stars simultaneously filed multimillion dollar libel suits against Confidential in 1957, straining the magazine’s financial and legal resources.

Ambitious prosecutors and state attorneys general around the country sought to have Confidential banned as “obscene” and threatened distributors, further cutting into circulation.

Hollywood studio bosses approached California Governor Goodwin Knight (R.) and California attorney general (later governor), half-Irish, half-German Edmund G. “Pat” Brown (D.), father of current California governor Jerry Brown.

Knight obligingly condemned scandal magazines, calling for a ban in violation of the First Amendment, while Brown effectively shut down sales of the magazine in California by threatening distributors with prosecution.

In early 1957 Hollywood bosses established a secret half-million dollar slush fund for Attorney General Brown, who was planning to run for governor. He was instructed to destroy Confidential at all costs.

This Brown set out to do with alacrity. Knowing how to win his betters’ favor, he selected an anti-white pretext for the show trial, prosecuting Confidential for its story about Negro actress Dorothy Dandridge’s sexual liaison in the woods with white band leader Dan Terry.

The Trial of a Hundred Stars

Connoisseurs of American sleaze can relish newsreel footage of Brown sanctimoniously lying to the public:

You can take my sworn [sic] word for it that the motion picture industry had nothing to do with this prosecution. It was a judgment that I made on my personal knowledge of Dorothy Dandridge, and what I considered and knew to be a fine human being. I thought the prosecution would be good for California and the country as a whole.

So rare are prosecutions for criminal libel that Brown subsequently boasted that the proceeding was the only criminal libel trial ever conducted in California, before or since.

Instead of charging Confidential with substantive crimes, Brown alleged “conspiracy”: conspiracy to commit criminal libel, conspiracy to publish obscene and indecent material, conspiracy to disseminate information about abortion, and conspiracy to disseminate material about male rejuvenation. (The last two counts were addressed to these short articles.)

Conspiracy, known as “the prosecutor’s darling,” is broadly construed by courts and particularly onerous for defendants. Although the potential consequences are as grave as a charge for a substantive crime, no criminal act need be proven in order to win a conviction.

Unsurprisingly, in May 1957 a California grand jury indicted Confidential and its subsidiaries on the conspiracy counts. The Attorney General’s office promised prison terms for the defendants, telling the press: “The jail doors are clanging for these people.”

Harrison chose his New York lawyer, Albert DeStefano, and prominent California criminal defense attorney Arthur Crowley as lead counsel.

On the eve of the trial Robert Harrison editorialized in “Hollywood vs. Confidential“:

This magazine is under assault in the California courts. A California Assistant Attorney General has stated to the press: “In my opinion Confidential is finished.” This is a determined effort, initiated by a segment of the motion picture industry, to get this magazine. “Hollywood” is in the business of lying. Falsehood is a stock in trade. We do not underestimate this effort to “get” us. We concede that those who want to “finish” us are powerful and resourceful. They have some tricky arguments; they are artists in the old three-shell game. But we expect to survive.

After six weeks of testimony and the expenditure of one million dollars of the public’s money to suppress freedom of speech for the benefit of the Jewish moguls in violation of the Constitution, California’s corrupt politicians lost their case due to a hung jury. Judge Herbert V. Walker immediately announced a new trial.

But the anti-Harrison lynch mob was now in full cry. In November 1957 the embattled publisher agreed to print no more articles revealing the truth about West Coast celebrities. This effectively killed the magazine. Circulation plummeted, and in May 1958 Confidential was sold to a Jew, Hy Steirman. It survived in greatly altered form under successive owners until 1978.

Conclusion

Shortly after the trial Confidential’s private investigator Fred Otash was himself convicted of “conspiracy”—”conspiring” to dope a race horse at Santa Anita. Although the felony conviction was subsequently downgraded to a misdemeanor and expunged from his record, his license was revoked, making it impossible for him to work as a private investigator in California. He was compelled to leave the state.

Robert Harrison never succeeded in making the comeback he hoped for. In April 1964 he resurfaced briefly as the subject of a profile in Esquire magazine by journalist Tom Wolfe.

Harrison lived until 1978 under an assumed name in a Manhattan hotel.

His tabloid newspaper Inside News, founded in 1963, folded—but not until Harrison had “dreamed up his last big cover story, set a burst of red and worthy of Confidential.”

Its title: “Who Really Killed Howard Rushmore?”

Here’s freedom to them that wad read,
Here’s freedom to them that wad write,

There’s nane ever fear’d that the truth should be heard,
But they whom the truth would indite.

Robert Burns (1792)

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11 Comments

  1. Posted August 12, 2015 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Great site ! I LOVE OLD HOLLYWOOD STORIES. I collect the magazines too.

  2. Posted April 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    New book of possible relevance/interest:

    Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood: Celebrity Gossip and American Conservatism (American History and Culture281) [Hardcover]
    Jennifer Frost

    http://www.amazon.com/Hedda-Hoppers-Hollywood-Conservatism-Culture281/dp/0814728235/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1303418550&sr=1-1

  3. Harry
    Posted April 20, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this deeply interesting piece.

  4. Andrew Hamilton
    Posted April 19, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    In reply to a question, I do not believe that there is any website hosting back issues of Confidential. It would be fun if there were. The only full reprint even of a single article I found was the Liberace piece.

    As for Robert Harrison’s Jewish identity and motivations for behaving as he did:

    This would be difficult to determine with exactitude, because there is not a lot of information available about him. He’s vanished down the memory hole.

    I’m sure run-of-the-mill Jews would suggest that he was a self-hating Jew. But, as in most cases where this charge is leveled, there is no evidence to suggest to an objective observer that this is the case. It is simply a way to bully rare Jewish nonconformists who pop up from time to time.

    One Jew critical of Harrison criticized his external dress and behavior from the perspective that he acted white. But this seems to be reaching. For example, I once saw a Jewish criticism of Nobel Prize-winning physicist A. A. Michelson from this point of view. However, in Michelson’s case the evidence for the charge was more persuasive than in Harrison’s.

    Another Jewish criticism would no doubt be that Harrison was in it for the money–i.e., he let his greed override his racism. I don’t doubt that this was a major factor.

    However, given the unbelievably vicious backlash he was subjected to–the truly incredible hatred–there is no doubt that something else was involved besides an eye for the main chance. The realities of power forced Harrison to surrender his magazine, but he never crawled, never apologized, never sought favor or acceptance from the evildoers. Indeed, his Rushmore story suggests that he was defiant to the end.

    It seems pretty certain that he ultimately believed in the righteousness of what he’d done–exposing the seamy underside of Hollywood, the rackets, Communism.

  5. Posted April 19, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    I share the same concern as Ed Connelly. Could someone answer this metaphysical query ? Please.

  6. Curious Reader
    Posted April 19, 2011 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Is there some on-line site hosting back numbers of this magazine?

  7. Posted April 19, 2011 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Mr. Hamilton wrote: “Despite his Anglo-Saxon-sounding name, Robert Harrison (1905–1978), the New York publisher of Confidential, was an Ashkenazi Jew.”

    I’d like to hear more on how his identity as a Jew fit into all of this. Why would he work so diligently against the interests of part of the Tribe (Hollywood)? Surely he must have received generous financial offers to go into a different line of work. I wonder why he remained such a thorn in Hollywood’s side? Just a contrarian nature?

  8. Andrew Hamilton
    Posted April 19, 2011 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Private investigator Fred Otash’s book Investigation Hollywood! (1976) was published by conservative German-American publisher Henry Regnery. The foreward was written by novelist Mickey Spillane, creator of fictional detective Mike Hammer.

  9. Posted April 18, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Very interesting indeed…

  10. Barbara
    Posted April 18, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    How are jews able to get insurance companies to do their bidding? How do they do it? Why does everyone jump to do their bidding.

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