Arnold Rothstein. History remembers
Arnold Rothstein as the man who fixed
the 1919 World Series, the underworld
genius, who as F. Scott Fitzgerald
observed, played "with the faith of fifty
million people" with the single-mindedness
of a burglar blowing a safe." A.R. was so
much more--and less. Loan Shark. Pool
Shark. Gambler. Bookmaker. Operator
of Illegal Gambling Houses. Thief. Fence
of Stolen Property. Perjurer and Suborner
of Perjury. Political Fixer. Wall Street
Swindler. Real Estate Speculator. Labor
Racketeer. Rum-runner. Mastermind of
the Modern Drug Trade.
Nicky Arnstein. Debonair international
con man. Multimillion-dollar bond thief.
Wandering husband of Fanny Brice.
Arnold Rothstein's admirer, partner, and
Fanny Brice. Broadway's "Funny Lady"
found husband Nicky Arnstein's illegal
schemes with A.R. no laughing matter, nor
the collateral he demanded to provide bail
for her incarcerated spouse.
Excerpt from Rothstein:
Charming, dapper, 6'6" Jules W. "Nicky"
Arnstein (alias Nick Arnold; alias Nicholas
Arnold; alias Wallace Ames; alias John
Adams; alias J. Willard Adair) was the
husband of musical comedy star, the 5'7"
Fanny Brice. When Fanny sang her heart-
wrenching "My Man" in the 1921 edition of
Flo Ziegfeld's Follies, she emoted about her
troubles with Nicky —and all America knew
Nicky didn't rob with a gun. He used his wits,
and made victims befriend him while fleecing
them at cards or confidence games. Like
Arnold Rothstein, Arnstein came from good
stock. Like Carolyn Rothstein, he came from
mixed stock. Nicky's father, Berlin-born Jew
Moses Arndstein, fought with distinction in the
Franco-Prussian War. His mother, Thekla
Van Shaw, was Dutch, and they raised Nicky
as an Episcopalian. "No boy could have been
brought up with more love and care than was
I," he recalled. "and I always have loved the
beautiful things of life--beautiful pictures, good
books, and birds and flowers. My fondness
for gambling, however, led me to live a life
rather apart from my family. It is one of the
penalties I have paid for my fondness for the
cards, the dice, and the horses."
"Nicky" was short for nickel plate, a sobriquet
bestowed in the 1890s, when Arnstein raced
a gleaming nickel-plated bicycle, in the then-
popular bike racing craze. However, he spent
more time throwing races than winning them.
Before long he fell in with the legendary
Gondorf brothers, Fred and Charley, master
con-men who specialized in fleecing rich
suckers in elegant settings. Arnstein graduated
to gambling on transatlantic liners and in
European casinos, eventually being arrested in
all the best places: London, Brussels, Monte
By 1912, he met Arnold Rothstein. "I knew
him," Arnstein gushed in admiration. "not only
as the king of the gamblers, but as the whitest
[most honorable] of them all! . . .
"He was interested in everything involving
chance, to the point of a passion. Racing
thrilled him . . . He never gave one a wrong
tip in his life."
After A.R.'s death, when others uniformly
derided him as a cheat and welsher, Arnstein
|Arnold Rothstein, Nicky Arnstein, and Fanny Brice
What an exceptional man! Can you
picture or imagine a gambler with
higher instincts? [He was] a real man
and a human gentleman to the
fingertips. I termed him a gambler. I
guess he would not have denied it, but
he was a shrewd businessman as well.
I know that much will be said about
him now that will not be pleasant with
his memory. But to me he was an
honest man, with an outstanding
integrity. He had daredevil courage.
I have seen him lose a cool half million
dollars in one night, a fortune that
would dwarf any of them at Monte
Carlo. Rothstein lost this money one
night without batting an eyelash,
without flinching or showing any signs
of being disturbed. . . .
I know that he earned millions as a
builder, in the insurance business and
with a stable . . . of the finest race
horses in the country. He was one of
the most tireless workers I have ever
known, for sixteen hours at work
when I knew him was his average day.
And in those sixteen hours he helped
many people. I do not believe he ever
said "No" to a friend.
1882 - A.R. born, East 47th Street,
New York City (Jan. 17).
1886 - Attorney William Joseph Fallon
born—will represent Fallon on bond
robbery charges (Jan. 23).
1891 - Fanny Brice (Fanny Borach)
born (Oct. 29).
1904 - Nicky Arnstein marries Carrie
Greenthal (May 5).
1910 - Fannie Brice marries barber
Frank White (Feb. 4).
Fanny Brice first appears in Ziegfeld
1913 - Fannie Brice divorces Frank
Fannie Brice stars in The Honeymoon
1915 - Arnstein sentenced to prison on
swindling charges (June 28).
1916 - Arnstein arrives at Sing Sing
1918 - Mrs. Arnstein sues Fannie
Brice (July 31).
Arnstein and Brice marry (Oct.).
1919 - Arnold Rothstein fixed 1919
1920- Liberty Bond robberies; Joe
Gluck fingers Nicky Arnstein (Feb.).
Arnstein in hiding (Feb-May)
Arnstein surrenders to Police;
Rothstein furnishes bail; Lower East
Side hoodlum Monk Eastman steals
Fanny Brice's car but returns it on the
mention of Rothstein's name (May 16).
Fallon represents Arnstein in first bond
robbery trial (Dec.).
1921 - Federal Judge Gould drops
dead on day he is to sentence Arnstein
Fanny Brice sings "My Man" in
Ziegfeld Follies in honor of Arnstein:
"But whatever my man is, I am his—
1924 - Arnstein enters Leavenworth
1927 - Arnstein released from prison.
- Fanny Brice divorces Nicky Arnstein
1929 - Fanny Brice marries showman
1940 - Fanny Brice settles Rose of
Washington Square lawsuit (Dec.).
1951 - Fanny Brice dies of a cerebral
hemorrhage (May 29).
1964 - Funny Girl, story of Fanny
Brice and Nicky Arnstein, opens on
Broadway; produced by Brice's son-in-
law Ray Stark (March 26)
1965 - Nicky Arnstein dies (Oct. 2).
1966 - Billy Rose dies in Jamaica,
West Indies (Feb. 10).
1968 - Funny Girl (film) opens.