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On February 15, 1956, the social spotlight flashed into General Sessions Court where a habitue of Bank Account Alley appeared before Judge John A. Mullen and pleaded guilty to two counts covering a $170,000 swindle. Originally, playboy Robert H. Schlesinger had been charged with eight counts totaling $330,00 gained by his fraud.  Schlesinger is Park Avenue with a gilt-edged P. His mother, now married to Count Albert Edward Bismarck, is known as one of the world’s best-dressed women— and the sole owner of some 12 million dollars. Who wouldn’t listen to the business propositions of a man with that much cash backing?

Schlesinger’s proposition was oil— Louisiana oil that admittedly was never in the ground. He sold three businessmen that is was, however, simply by confiding that his very mother was putting up a million bucks to get the oily ball rolling. What moneys the convinced trio chipped in, Schlesinger scattered casually about the swank chophouses and dance clubs that cater to the social register tipplers. Along the way he draped $132,000 worth of gems upon the gorgeous personage of motion picture actress Linda Christian. The oil field was flowing, all right, but gushing from the lips of Schlesinger, not the alleged Louisiana oil fields. There had been, of course, no million dollar investment by Schlesinger’s mother. — from “Park Avenue Unveiled!” by Nelson Claymore, Police Dragnet Cases, July 1956

Toni Schlesinger is almost too desirable to be real. Her forthcoming play, “When The World Broke In Two— A Visit With Willa Cather,” written perhaps for Louisiana oil money (but probably not), proves it. Set keel to breakers, forth on the godly sea and see for yourself at the Metropolitan Playhouse on January 22, 23, 24 or 25. Bring your mom, bring Linda Christian (is still alive and  hopefully well in Mexico), bring  Uncle Vanya too!— Kenny Wisdom

WWIB Fiction Editor Kenny Wisdom, once a playwright, is the author of Iphighenie auf Brownsville, after both Goethe and Aeschylus, numerous other dramatic works, and one musical, The Devil’s Hand Went Down To Georgia. He lives with his partner, the composer Dorothy Arnold, in Flatbush, and Treasure Island, Florida.

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