|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 it.
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 Carlo.
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 held firm:
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.
|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.