Controversy Was Jack Ruby Murdered? Part 1

About the controversy surrounding the death of Jack Ruby, history and exploration of whether or not his death was murder.




Victim: Jacob Rubenstein was born in Chicago in 1911, the son of immigrant Polish Jews. Young Jacob grew up in an explosive family atmosphere in which his carousing father often beat up his mentally unstable wife until the couple separated in 1921. At that time 10-year-old Jacob and his seven siblings were placed in foster homes. He quit school at 16 to hustle a living on the streets of Chicago. Nicknamed Sparky for his feisty temperament, he scalped sports tickets, sold pirated sheet music, and reportedly ran messages for Al Capone. In 1937 he was hired as an organizer for the newly formed Scrap Iron and Junk Handlers' Union for $22.50 a week. Drafted in 1943, he spent the war in the U.S. as an aircraft mechanic. He changed his name to Jack Ruby in 1947 while setting up a small-time business partnership with his brothers--a venture that failed. Later that year he moved to Dallas because, as he often boasted later, the Chicago crime syndicate had assigned him there. For the next 16 years he operated a number of sleazy nightclubs, the last being the Carousel, a walk-up strip joint at 13121/2 Commerce Street, which he opened in 1960. His anemic profit margin there relied on such rip-offs as selling $1.60-a-bottle champagne for $17.50. Ruby relished serving as his own bouncer, since he enjoyed pistol-whipping rowdy drunks. In one club brawl, the tip of Ruby's right index finger was bitten off. Although arrested nine times in 16 years on a variety of charges, including assaulting a police officer, he never was convicted of a crime. For the most part, he maintained friendly relations with the Dallas police, who got their drinks free or at a cut rate when they visited Ruby's clubs. On Nov. 24, 1963, he somehow slipped into the basement of the Dallas jail, where TV cameramen were awaiting the appearance of Lee Harvey Oswald, who two days before allegedly had assassinated President John F. Kennedy. In what is still television's most chilling live spectacle, Ruby stepped forward to fire one fatal shot from a snub-nosed .38 caliber revolver into Oswald's left side. Convicted of murder on Mar. 14, 1964, Ruby was sentenced to death, but on Oct. 5, 1966, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned his conviction, citing judicial error. Before he could be tried a second time, Ruby died suddenly on Jan. 3, 1967.

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