Biography of Famous Practical Joker Hugh Troy Part 3

About the famous American practical joker Hugh Troy, history and biography of the man.

HUGH TROY (1906-1964). Practical joker.

Hugh Troy's pranks were never vindictive, but once, when irked by the operator of a Greenwich Village movie theater, he got the last laugh. One evening he took a jar full of moths into the theater and released them during the show. The moths flew directly for the light from the projector and made it impossible for anyone to see the picture. While the manager tried to appease the angry moviegoers, Hugh looked on with satisfaction.

To protest the tremendous amount of paperwork in the army during W.W. II, Troy invented the special "flypaper report." Each day he sent this report to Washington to account for the number of flies trapped on the variously coded flypaper ribbons hanging in the company's mess hall. Soon the Pentagon, as might be expected, was asking other units for their flypaper reports. Troy was also responsible for "Operation Folklore." While stationed in the South Pacific, he and two other intelligence officers coached an island youngster in fantastic Troy-devised folktales, which the child then told to a gullible visiting anthropologist.

While some of his practical jokes were pure fun, many were designed to expose the smugness and gullibility of the American public. Annoyed by a recently announced course in ghostwriting at American University, Troy placed the following ad in the Washington Post: "Too Busy to Paint? Call on The Ghost Artists. We Paint It--You Sign It!! Why Not Give an Exhibition?" The response was more than he had bargained for. The hundreds of letters and phone calls only highlighted the fact that Americans' pretentiousness about art and their attempts to buy their way into "arty circles" had not waned since the Van Gogh escapade.

Whether questioning the values of American society or simply relieving the monotony of daily life, Hugh Troy always managed to put a little bit of himself into each of his stunts. One day he attached a plaster hand to his shirt sleeve and took a trip through the Holland Tunnel. As he approached the tollbooth, with his toll ticket between the fingers of the artificial hand, Troy left both ticket and hand in the grasp of the stunned tollbooth attendant and sped away.

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