Posted ByGerry O. on January 25, 2002 at 23:18:55:
In Reply to: Re: Jack Benny a smuggler??? posted byKurt on January 24, 2002 at 01:50:48:
: Both Jack and George Burns were charged with "smuggling" (actually, bringing jewelry purchsed for their wives without paying import duty) They had been brought into the country in 1938 from Europe by Albert Chaperau, a professional criminal and confidence man who masqueraded as a diplomat and offered to bring them through Customs duty-free in his diplomatic pouch.
: George and Jack were not the only two implicated in the case, which involved others in Southern California, but they were by far the most famous. Both of them pleaded guilty in April 1939 in federal court in New York. Jack was fined $10,000 and given a 6-month suspended sentence. George was fined $15,000 and given a year and a day's suspended sentence.
: The case had absolutely no effect on their radio careers, since the public believed that both men had been duped. More details about the case are in George Burns' FBI file. The most outrageous detail of the case: The person who went to the authorities and spilled the beans about the smuggling was someone's pro-Nazi maid!
: The FBI file does not have kind things to say about Mary Livingstone, but that's the problem with hearsay in such files.
: As you also will see from riffling through the FBI file online, Benny and Burns' careers were in no way affected, but every single time after that when either one of them would appear at the White House, there would be the usual security clearance investigation, and every single time, the matter would pop up. Very stupid.
In browsing through those old FBI files, I couldn't help but be amazed (and somewhat appalled) at the rather gossipy heresay tone of many of the reports and memos.
Much of the info is of the "He heard from someone who heard that someone said..." variety.
Most disturbing was a memo in George Burns' FBI file. Someone reported that a jailed drug dealer claimed to have sold narcotics to George Burns and Gracie Allen, and that Gracie was a "shooter"...that's why she always wore long sleeves.
It was common knowledge among those who knew Burns & Allen that Gracie had been severely injured in a kerosene fire when she was a young girl, and that mishap left her with a badly scarred arm. She was always very self-conscious of that arm, and that's why she wore long sleeves.
Those who were close to Gracie (including her children) had seen the scarred arm. This situation was even confirmed by Martin Gottfried in his biography of George Burns...and Gottfried didn't pull any punches on ANYTHING in that book! (He went so far as to delve into the extra-marital affairs of both George Burns and Jack Benny!).
Please excuse my rambling here, but I just had to comment on those FBI files...I found the "National Enquirer" tone of many of the reports and memos to be most disturbing.