“I figured my entry point into a JFK assassination book would be Jack Ruby, given my interest in offbeat — to say the least — American Jews.”
With the 60th anniversary of the assassinations of JFK & Lee Harvey Oswald, Danny Fingeroth brings us the new biography, JACK RUBY: The Many Faces of Oswald’s Assassin (Chicago Review Press). Danny & I talk about what drew him to tell Ruby’s story, how many JFK conspiracy rabbit-holes he had to avoid, the challenges of separating Ruby’s life from myth & speculation, and how the bio began as a graphic novel collaboration with Rick Geary (!) before its prose incarnation (although he’s still hoping for an adaptation). We get into what he learned from talking to Ruby’s rabbi, Hillel Silverstein, the figures he would have loved to interview for this book, what Ruby’s siblings & their kids went through in the aftermath of Jack’s moment of infamy, the circus of Ruby’s murder trial and Melvin Belli‘s failed epilepsy defense, and the danger of treating Ruby’s life like a sitcom. We also discuss Danny’s dizzying résumé, including his 20-year run as a writer & editor at Marvel Comics, discovering himself as a biographer with Stan Lee: A Marvelous Life, the complexity of the (working) relationships of Lee, Jack Kirby & Steve Ditko, the surreal of experience of meeting Gabe Kaplan while promoting JACK RUBY, and more. Give it a listen! And go read JACK RUBY: The Many Faces of Oswald’s Assassin!
“Every conspiracy needed some kind of patch to make their theory work, and a lot of them depended on an astonishing quantity of coincidences or luck.”
“As research goes on, we find that there was more that other people that Stan Lee took credit for, but I think he still did a hell of a lot. And there’s no Marvel without Stan, Jack or Steve.”
“I get dizzy looking at my résumé.”
About our Guest
Danny Fingeroth is a biographer and cultural historian/commentator, specializing in the intersection of Jewish and American cultures. He’s the author of Superman on the Couch and Disguised as Clark Kent. His acclaimed 2019 biography, Stan Lee: A Marvelous Life, is a laser-sharp look at this innovative figure—the inventor of Marvel Comics. Fingeroth has spoken at venues including the Smithsonian Institution and Columbia University, as well as on NBC’s Today Show and NPR’s All Things Considered. He has written commentaries for publications including The Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal. Danny was born, raised, and lives in New York City.
Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely via Zencastr. I used a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Zoom PodTrak P4. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Danny by someone else. It’s on my instagram.