from the University's true crime files!
A secret, new bombshell has been revealed—U of C alumni have taken
a role in some of the greatest scandals and crime stories of the
The O. J. Simpson case might have passed the University by, but
a Chicago Enquirer investigation has learned that it was one of
the few sensational trials without a U of C connection:
•Easily the most famous U of C attorney for the defense is Elmer
Gertz, AB’29, JD’30. Gertz—who was a Camelot footnote, the lawyer
who saved Jack Ruby from the death penalty—was also the attorney
for one member of that deadly duo, Leopold and Loeb!
color's Chicago Connection!!!
Because of a University of Chicago study, most taxicabs
The Chicago Tribune reported that, in the early 1900s,
John Hertz painted his fleet of taxicabs—and then his
rental trucks—bright yellow, because a University study
found that “yellow is the easiest color to spot from
But the study is missing in action, and a cab company
spokeswoman says it’s probably just another urban legend.
•On May 24, 1924, Nathan Freudenthal Leopold Jr., PhB’23, and
Richard Loeb—both U of C graduate students at the time—murdered
a 14-year-old Kenwood boy named Bobby Franks. The motive? They wanted
to commit the “perfect murder.” Eight days later, they were apprehended
for the less-thanperfect crime. Even the legendary Clarence Darrow
couldn’t get them off, and both were sentenced to life in prison.
Loeb was murdered by another inmate in 1936. With the help of Gertz,
Leopold was paroled in 1958 and lived in Puerto Rico until his death
•Not long after Leopold and Loeb did wrong, Eliot Ness, AB’25,
did good. Ness, a Prohibition agent, helped end the career of notorious
gangster Al Capone (photo below). Though Ness and co-author Oscar
Fraley may have exaggerated Ness’s escapades in gangland in their
book The Untouchables, that didn’t stop Hollywood. After his death,
Ness was the subject of two TV series and a film.
•Then there’s John T. Scopes, X’31. In 1925, the then 24-year-old
Scopes touched off the infamous “Scopes Monkey Trial” when he taught
Darwin’s theory of evolution in a Tennessee high school. Scopes
was defended by Clarence Darrow and prosecuted by William Jennings
Bryan. Public opinion—and the court—went against Scopes, who came
to the U of C to study geology after he was convicted and fined
$100. His trial became the basis for the play and movie Inherit
•And in a recent case that made lots of headlines—though it barely
made it to court—Quin Denvir, JD’69, a federal public defender in
Sacramento, California, defended Theodore Kaczynski, born in the
U of C’s Wyler Hospital and otherwise known as the Unabomber.
and Jane's Long-lost Dad!!!
Secrets of the Quads!!!
In the the pink: From lunch meat to limericks
Take Spam. Please! No, seriously, Spam has saturated the
pop-culture world. One can buy Spam hats, Spam T-shirts, and,
of course, Spam itself.
George A. Hormel founded George A. Hormel & Co.—proud makers
of Spam—in 1891, the same year John D. Rockefeller became
the Founder of the University. Coincidence? You be the judge!
First introduced in 1937, Spam quickly became the world’s
largest-selling canned meat. Over the years, the U of C connection
has continued: James D. Hormel, JD’58, has served as dean
of students in the Law School and as chair of the Law School’s
According to the official (there are unofficial ones, too)
Spam Web site timeline, “to spam” became an Internet term—meaning
the flooding of e-mailboxes with junk mail—in the 1990s. The
origin? A Monty Python skit focusing on the meat-product Spam
featured the word “Spam” said over and over again. Computer
types thought this was funny.
For meaty details about the luncheon loaf that’s inspired
haiku, limericks, and sonnets, go to www.spam.com.
Inventor gives cooks amazing “grease”!
Marion Trozzolo, PhB’47, MBA’50, was the first U.S. manufacturer
to apply the non-stick material Teflon to cookware—changing
forever the way Americans cook and fry food!
You don’t believe us when we tell you what an impact Trozzolo
had? Try this: The Smithsonian has one of his 1961 “Happy
Pans” in its collection.
There’s more! During the Reagan presidency, Trozzolo, who
died in 1992, cashed in on Reagan’s “Teflon President” nickname,
selling Teflon-coated silver dollars.
A story too good to be true has turned out to be just that.
In recent years, undergraduate lore has included tales of
a U of C prof who supposedly invented NutraSweet.
Unfortunately, a little basic research (i.e., an Enquirer
staffer’s call to the Crerar reference librarian) reveals
that the accidental discovery of the sweetener aspartame—the
stuff of both NutraSweet and Equal—was made in 1965 by James
Schlatter, a researcher at G. D. Searle & Co.
Sweet deal? Selling off frozen assets!
James Zacharias, PhB’33, JD’35, and his late brother, Richard
Zacharias, X’36, were the financiers behind Dove Bar International.
Richard got the first taste of success when he first tried
a Dove Bar at his Deerfield, Illinois, country club.
“Here was a confectioner that really knew chocolate,” Richard
once told a reporter. An investor who knew a good thing when
he ate it, Richard contacted the creators, the Stefanos family
on Chicago’s South Side.
He joined with the Stefanoses to develop Dove for national
distribution, sharing with James one-half of the company while
the Stefanoses owned the rest.
To introduce the ice-cream bar to New York City, the Zachariases
and Stefanoses released a flock of 50 real-life doves outside
the United Nations building—and wheeled 60 refrigerated carts
stocked with Dove Bars around Manhattan.
Dove Bar was so successful that the company was bought by
Mars, which owns M&Ms, in 1986.
of U.S. schoolchildren learned to read with sentences like “Oh,
Spot. Look at Dick. Look at Jane. Oh, oh, oh.” But how many of those
children knew the name of Dick, Jane, and little-sister Sally’s
The Dick and
Jane books, taught from the 1930s through the 1970s, revolutionized
the way children learned to read. Before William S. Gray, PhB’13,
PhD’16, signed on, Zerna Sharp, a kindergarten teacher, could not
sell Scott, Foresman & Co. on the idea of a series of books with
illustrated text and simple words mimicking children’s speech. But
Gray, an authority on education and reading methods, took up the
cause, becoming co-author of the first series in 1927. At the height
of the books’popularity, 85 percent of U.S. schools used Dick and
Jane. In the 1960s, their use declined amid charges of racism and
sexism. The series struggled to changes with the times, publishing
a multiethnic edition dotted with black, Asian, and Hispanic families—but
to no avail. Thirty years later, Dick and Jane have made a comeback.
Not only are there countless Web parodies, but you can buy a set
of Dick and Jane magnets for your refrigerator.
There are no eggs! Oh! Oh!”
Conspiracy theorists have discovered that Chicago alumni have quietly—but
effectively—infiltrated the film and television industry, producing
some of the biggest names in the business. Don’t believe us? Take
a look at the list:
•Ed Asner, X’48, winner of seven Emmy Awards, portrayed
the heavy-drinking city editor Lou Grant in The Mary Tyler Moore
Show and Lou Grant. Asner also lent his voice to such
animated series as Spiderman, Superman, Freakazoid,
•Marilu Henner—a U of C student in the early 1970s and
a cast member of TV sitcoms Taxi and Evening Shade—starred
in L.A. Story (1991) with Steve Martin, Noises Off (1992),
and the 1984 cult classic Johnny Dangerously.
•David Rasche, AM’67, starred as the title character in
the 1980s dramedy Sledge Hammer!—a “satire with a bludgeon
built on the premise of a dolt as a detective who is trigger happy
to the point of hysteria.” Rasche also guest starred on Kate
and Allie and Miami Vice.
•Philip Kaufman, AB’58, directed the 1978 classic Invasion
of the Body Snatchers, called the “American movie of the year”
by the New Yorker. He also directed The Right Stuff (1983),
Rising Sun (1993), The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988),
and Henry and June (1990). In addition, Kaufman helped George
Lucas write Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), and it has been
rumored that Indiana Jones was based on one of his U of C anthropology
•Celeste Holm, X’34—star of the CBS series Promised Land—had
her first big hit as Ado Annie in the original Broadway production
of Oklahoma! She earned two Academy Award nominations (for
Come to the Stable and All About Eve) and won 1947’s
best supporting actress Oscar for her role in Gentleman’s Agreement.
•Philip Glass, AB’56, is not only “the most important living
composer” according to Rolling Stone magazine, but he has
also composed over a dozen film scores, including Martin Scorsese’s
Kundun (1997), 1997’s Bent, and the 1998 hit The
•Elaine May and Mike Nichols, X’53, comic partners in the
1950s and 1960s, renewed their collaboration—which began on campus
when both were students in the 1950s—with the 1994 movie Wolf
and continued with 1996’s The Birdcage and 1998’s Primary
Colors. One of Broadway’s dominant directors—Barefoot in
the Park, The Odd Couple, and Plaza Suite—Nichols
has directed hit films from The Graduate to Working Girl.
•Jules Stein, PhB’15, MD’21, built the show-business empire
MCA Inc. He founded the Music Corporation of America in 1924 as
a talent agency, booking musical acts such as Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey,
Glen Miller, and Guy Lombardo. How big a player was he? Attending
his 1981 memorial service—with music by a Big Band–era orchestra
conducted by Henry Mancini—were more than 1,000 friends and Hollywood
luminaries, including George Burns, Charlton Heston, Robert Stack,
Danny Kaye, Dennis Hopper, Gene Kelly, and Jimmy Stewart.