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Tropicana Nights


William Kelly
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I just got a new book "Tropicana Nights - The Life and Times of the Legendary Cuban Nightclub (A Harvest Book - Harcourt, Inc. 2005).

When Jack Ruby testified before the Warren Commission he said when he went to Cuba he visited his good friends the Fox brothers, who he said were very important casino owners. While early investigators thought the Fox brothers was an alias for more well known casino owners to protect their identity, Lewis McWillie told the HSCA the Fox brothers owned the Tropicana.

And indeed they did, as now we have a picture packed history of the famed Havana club and casino by Rosa Lowinger and Ofelia Fox, daughter of Martin Fox and niece of Pedro Fox, the Jewish Cuban owners of Trop, "the only Havana casino not owned by the mob."

Ha. While the late Ofelia, of Southern California, repeatedly makes that contention, we thank journalist Rosa Lowinger for bringing out the fact Martin let Meyer Lansky pick his accountant, and the Havana police chief pick the hat check concession, etc.

McWillie, who they called "Mack," was one good friend, casino manager, who often flew suitcases of cash to Miami for deposit in the Fox brother's account, and had his pal Jack Ruby do that too.

It's a shame Ofelia just passed away (2006), but its nice she put together this nice book about the jucy Havana history, and kept the good parts in.

BK

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Good stuff, Bill.

It will be interesting to see if the episode with Dallas man John Kirby McDonough is included. McDonough was the President of the Murray Company and a Major in the Army Ordinance Reserve. He was also supposedly associated with Jack Ruby.

McDonough found himself seriously in debt at the Tropicana Nights where a series of physical beatings and subsequent law suits followed. It ended up in the courts where McDonough was orderd to pay the money owed.

Pedro Fox Zamora below.

James

Edited by James Richards
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Good stuff, Bill.

It will be interesting to see if the episode with Dallas man John Kirby McDonough is included. McDonough was the President of the Murray Company and a Major in the Army Ordinance Reserve. He was also supposedly associated with Jack Ruby.

McDonough found himself seriously in debt at the Tropicana Nights where a series of physical beatings and subsequent law suits followed. It ended up in the courts where McDonough was orderd to pay the money owed.

Pedro Fox Zamora below.

James

Hi James,

I knew you would be interested in this, and there's a bunch of cool pix you will want to soak up, but I lost a ( 4 - 1 against) bet that Sid would be the first to respond to this post because of the Jewish/Zionist conspiracy.

Thanks for the heads up on McDonald, as he indeed is a player in Ofelia's book.

(p. 347): "There is no reason for Ofelia to think they were living off illegal gaming because Martin then had a legal source of income. In 1956, Tropicana had sued Dallas resident Kerby McDonald in a Texas court for loses he incurrred while playing roulette. ("We'd nicknamed the guy Chupeta [Lollipop] because he was always smoking these big cigars and he sucked on them like a lollipop," said Valentin, in his inimmitable fashion). The judgement against McDonald, which came through in 1961, delivered an initial $92,000 lump sum payment to the Tropicana partners. Divided according to the usual percentages, this gave Martin $40,480 - eqilvanent to $250,000 today. Martin also began sending money back to Cuba so that he would have cash on hand in Havana in case things changed suddenly and he could return to the Tropicana...."

More juice to come.

BK

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  • 4 years later...

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