The wonder and glory of information that we have at our fingertips thanks to men like Tim Berners-Lee never ceases to amaze me and I experienced yet another magical moment when the simple act of watching an advertisement led me to what I’m going to write about today. My point today is that what is important about a person is not his or her religion (or lack thereof), race, sexuality, or any other superficial factor. What’s important is what he or she does with his or her life. Today I look at the amazing story of how Sidney Frank and Roy Cohn crossed paths.
I’d never heard of either until while watching cricket on ESPN3 I saw a commercial about Grey Goose Vodka. I thought, hmm. Let’s look up this Francois Thibault. He is certainly an interesting fellow but that led me to look up Grey Goose vodka. That led to the remarkable story of a great man named Sidney Frank. Frank was born to a Jewish family of no particular distinction or wealth and managed to save enough money to attend Brown University for one year. After that he had no money left and so went to work as an aircraft mechanic for Pratt and Whitney servicing engines in the South Pacific during World War II.
He married well and rose quickly in the ranks of his wife’s family distillery business. He was eventually forced out of the company in a family dispute and after his wife died started his own company. Through hard work and promotional genius he turned Jagermeister into a huge success and made himself a lot of money. That is when he approached Thibault about producing a fine French vodka made with the best ingredients. Grey Goose. He turned the company into a huge success and eventually sold it to Bacardi for a tidy $2 billion. He became a tremendous philanthropist who gave money to, among many others, Brown University so that no student would ever have to leave because of lack of funds again. He gave all the employees of his company large bonuses.
He had a heart attack at the age of 86 and as he lay dying on his bed a man named Roy Cohn came to visit him.
Roy Cohn was also born to a Jewish family but the similarities to Frank end there. Cohn gained a law degree and used his family influence to get a good job immediately upon being granted his license. He gained prominence prosecuting accused Soviet spies during the Red Scare years using whatever methods necessary to gain convictions. He helped secure the conviction and execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg apparently having convinced the brother of Julius to lie on stand, this done to prevent his and his wife’s reputations from being destroyed.
This bit of skulduggery got the attention of Eugene McCarthy and Cohn played a rather slimy roll in the McCarthy hearings that ended in disgrace for McCarthy largely because of the tactics used by Cohn against the army. Later in life Cohn was accused of professional misconduct several times. He engineered a hostile take-over his grand-uncle’s Lionel Model Train company and ran the company into the ground before he was eventually removed.
He was involved in an extremely shady political deal that allowed John B. Anderson to get the New York nomination in the 1980 Presidential race. This was designed to split opposition to Reagan although the results allowed Anderson to become the last Independent Candidate for President to have a solid chance of winning. Still, it involved passing along money in an illegal fashion.
This is the man who walked into Frank’s hospital room on that fateful day. Both Jews. Both white men. In the eyes of many much the same.
Cohn took the hand of the comatose Frank and forced it into signing a will that named Cohn as one of the primary beneficiaries. A despicable act by a disgusting man.
Roger Stone, a friend of Cohn, said that the man’s final goal was to die absolutely bankrupt and owing millions of dollars to the IRS. He succeeded.
The next time you think something about someone because of the color of their skin, their religious beliefs, their sexual habits, their sex, their race, or any other superficial features; I’d like you to think about Frank and Cohn.