IRON ORE IN THEIR VEINS (or "Boy's from the Hood")

These personages, whether they care to acknowledge it or not, do in fact hail from da' Region (Gary, Indiana area).  Consequently, each qualifies as a "Home Boy":

  • Col. Charles E. McGee (Tuskegee Airman)
  • Frank Borman (Astronaut)
  • Paul A. Samuelson (1st American to win Nobel Prize in Economics, 1970)

    Gary Native, Nobel Laureate, Dead at 94
    Compiled from an AP Report by Polly Anderson
    [13 Dec 2009]

    NEW YORK - Economist Paul Samuelson, who was Born in Gary in 1915 and later won a Nobel prize for his effort to bring mathematical analysis into economics, died Sunday. He was 94.

    In 1970, Samuelson became just the second person, and first American, to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, created in 1968 by the Central Bank of Sweden. The other Nobels have been awarded since 1901. The award citation said Samuelson "has done more than any other contemporary economist to raise the level of scientific analysis in economic theory."

    He was among a circle of JFK advisers, who also included John Kenneth Galbraith and Walter Heller, who led Kennedy to recommend the historic income tax cut that Congress eventually passed in early 1964, three months after the president was assassinated.

    "A temporary reduction in tax rates on individual incomes can be a powerful weapon against recession," Samuelson had written in a report to Kennedy in early 1961. The cut was widely credited with helping foster the 1960s economic boom.

  • Joseph E. Stiglitz (Winner of Nobel Prize for Economics,  2001)

  • Karl Malden (Actor) [Real name is Mladen Sekulovich] Emerson H.S. Class of '31

  • George Molchan (Advertising - "Little Oscar")

  • Jean Shepherd (Author, A Christmas Story) Hammond

  • John A. Bushemi (Post-Tribune and WW II Combat Photographer)

  • Frank Reynolds (ABC News) East Chicago  [Began broadcast career on WWCA-AM]

  • Richard G. Hatcher, Mayor (First Black to be elected mayor of a major metropolitan ciy)

  • Jackson Five (Music)
  • Janet Jackson (Music/Wardrobe Malfunction
  • Michael Jackson (Music)

  • Rodney Taylor (Music) [One of The Essex of "Easier Said Than Done" fame]

  • The Spaniels (Recording Artists)

  • Deniece Williams (Recording Artist)

  • Vee-Jay Records (Once had The Beatles under contract!)

  • Of Note:

    March 1 (1915):  the birthday of Gary's first major league baseball player, Nick Strincevich; nickname "Jumbo."  Nick grew up in Glen Park.  He began working for Gary Sheet & Tin at age 16.  He is also the oldest living former major league baseball player.

    In a 10-season career, Strincevich posted a 46-49 record with a 4.05 ERA in 889.2 innings pitched.  In 1945, he won 16 games.  He also pitched 18 complete games that year.  No modern era player could, or would, even attempt such a feat.

  • Charlie O. Finley (Baseball Owner)

  • Milt May (Baseball)

  • Ron Kittle (Baseball) Wirt H.S. 

  • Lloyd McClendon (Baseball) Roosevelt H.S. 

  • Dan Plesac (Baseball) Crown Point H.S. 

  • Tom Harmon (College Football) Horace Mann H.S. Class of '37

  • Alex Karras (NFL) Emerson H.S.

  • Hank Stram (NFL) [Real Name:  Wilczek] Lew Wallace H.S. Class of '41 

  • Bob Kuechenberg (NFL) Hobart H.S.

  • Fred "The Hammer" Williamson (NFL, Actor) Froebel H.S.
  • Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson (NBA) Roosevelt H.S. 
  • Dick Barnett (NBA) Roosevelt H.S.

  • Tony Zale   Tony Zale [Real Name:  Anthony Zaleski] Froebel H.S.
                                    Born:  May 29, 1913 - Died:  March 20, 1997
    Total Bouts:  87   Won:  67   Lost:  18   Draws:  2   KO's:  45
    Boxing Hall of Fame Induction:  1991

    Known as "The Man of Steel," middleweight champion Tony Zale is best remembered for his thrilling three-fight series with fellow Hall-of-Famer Rocky Graziano.  Born Anthony Florian Zaleski, in Gary, Indiana, Zale opted for a boxing career rather than a lifetime spent working in Gary's steel mills.  He worked the mills throughout his amateur career but turned to boxing fulltime when he entered the pro ranks in 1934.  By 1939, Zale was considered a top-10 middleweight by virtue of splitting a four-fight series with contender Nate Bolden.  He was considered impervious to pain.  He managed to endure endless punishment and time and again would snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.  In 1940, he decisioned NBA middleweight champ Al Hostak in a non-title fight.  That win earned him a return match with Hostak.  This time, with the belt on the line, Zale knocked Hostak out in the 13th to win the title.  Zale remained busy, splitting a pair of non-title fights with Billy Soose and Fred Apostoli to close out the 1940 campaign.  In 1941, he defended the NBA title with knockout victories over Steve Mamakos and Hostak.  Then he gained universal recognition as middleweight champion by decisioning New York State king Georgie Abrams.  In 1942, Zale dropped a 12-round decision to former light heavy king Billy Conn and then joined the Navy, serving until the end of World War II.

    Zale, now 33, was still recognized as champion when the war ended and thus began his series with Graziano.  In the first match, at Yankee Stadium, each fighter went down in the first two rounds.  Then Graziano assumed control of the fight, battering Zale through the fifth round.  But somehow, Zale came out and knocked Graziano out in the sixth.  That win earned Zale Fighter of the Year honors from Ring Magazine and the Boxing Writers Association of America.

    The rematch in 1947 was just as brutal as the first fight, with Graziano winning this time by sixth-round knockout.  In the third and final match, later in '47, Zale knocked out Graziano in three to regain the crown.

    Three months later, Zale lost the title to Marcel Cerdan and retired from boxing.  So exciting were Zale's fights that two of the Graizano contests and the Cerdan fight were named Fight of The Year by Ring Magazine.

  •     Walter Hellman (World Champion Checkers Player)

  •    Robert Kearns (Inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper)
    The Gary native earned his first patent from the creation in 1967 and displayed his windshield wiper to executives at Ford -- only to see Ford  introduce it in 1969 without giving Kearns any royalties or credit.

    Kearns, who died of brain cancer complicated by Alzheimer's disease in 2005, spent much of his life fighting for damages, all the way to the Supreme Court.  He eventually got $30 million from Ford and Chrysler in the early 1990s.

    But before that victory came, Kearns suffered a mental breakdown and his marriage ended in divorce in 1989.

    Chicago Picasso  The "Chicago Picasso" (Manufactured at U.S. Steel-Gary Works)
  • John Dillinger   John Dillinger, posing on arrest with the Prosecutor Robert "Fighting Bob" Estill and Sheriff Lillian Holley.  Not the typical mugshot!
     (Not from Gary.  Rather, Escapee from the Lake County Jail in Crown Point, IN - 1934.)

    Dillinger Escape 'Humiliated' Sheriff
    March 27, 2008
    By Piet Levy Post-Tribune staff writer

    Valparaiso -- Thousands of people are tickled pink "Public Enemies," the John Dillinger biopic, is being filmed in Crown Point.  But there's one lady who, if alive, would "try to get as far away from that movie as she could."  That lady is Lillian Holley.

    Lake County's first female sheriff at the time of John Dillinger's famous 1934 escape from Lake County Jail, wouldn't talk about it, even around her family, said her 90-year-old niece, LaVanche West.  "I just think she wanted that terrifying part of her life to be over," West said.  "It made her feel humiliated, to think that he could get out of that jail when she was so sure that he wouldn't escape."  Adding insult to injury was the getaway vehicle Dillinger used -- a brand new V-8 Ford owned by Holley herself.

    Holley proclaimed the Lake County Jail the strongest in Indiana, according to Bryan Burrough's book "Public Enemies," on which the movie is based.

    West said her aunt faced a lot of scrutiny, "just because she was a woman."  That only increased after Dillinger broke free.  People speculated she was afraid of Dillinger, and intended to let him escape, but Holley was cleared of involvement.  The staunch Democrat also upset people with her theory that town Republicans had smuggled a gun to Dillinger, West said.

    "She didn't like to be sheriff and didn't want to be in that position," West said.  "She was a homebody and I think she always wanted to stay in Hammond in her beautiful home and just be a social lady."  Her husband, Roy "Doc" Holley, preceded her as Lake County sheriff.  But he was shot and killed in 1933 trying to solve a dispute between a pair of farmers in Ross Township.  Lillian Holley agreed to finish his term.  West said Holley primarily accepted the position so she could pay for her twin daughters' college education.

    After Dillinger broke out, West said, Holley's daughters had to be protected by bodyguards, in case the outlaw wanted to take revenge.  West herself was in Terre Haute at the time, but she was still afraid.  "I didn't think anything like that would ever happen in our family," West said.  "I feared they would be harmed by the fellow who escaped."

    Holley didn't seem too scared when she spoke to reporters after Dillinger's escape.  Her words to the Post-Tribune are famous:  "If I ever get John Dillinger back in the Lake County Jail, I'll shoot him in the head with my own gun."  Holley never had the chance, not that she would really take it, West said.  "She would have never shot a gun at anyone," West said.  "She was a little, petite person.  I'm sure that was just bravado."

    Holley dreaded media recaps of the Dillinger escape, all the way until 1994, when she died at age 103.  But West herself is eager to see "Public Enemies," and thinks actress Lili Taylor ("The Haunting," "Six Feet Under"), who plays Holley in the film, bears a resemblance to her.


  • Walt Bogdanich


      Grew up in Gary, Indiana.

      Graduated from Lew Wallace High School (1968).

      Won three Pulitzer Prizes for his investigative journalism.

                  - For Specialized Reporting for reporting about faulty testing in American medical laboratories (1988)

                  - For National Reporting for a series of reports about corporate cover-ups of fatal accidents at railway 
                    crossings (2005)

                  - For Investigative Reporting for reporting on toxic substances that were discovered in products
                    imported from China (2008)


     He is now a member The New York Times' investigations desk after previously working as an investigative  producer for "60 Minutes"    and ABC News and as a reporter for The Wall Street




  • Anna Sage, the "Lady in Red" who accompanied Dillinger to the Biograph the
     night of his death.  Prior to being paid off by J. Edgar Hoover, Ms. Sage was
                     the Madam of a house of ill repute in da' Region.  Her real name was Ana Cumpanas.

  • Octave Chanute (Not from Gary.  Did his early flight experiments there - 1896)

    "The only people who voluntarily travel to Gary are duty-bound realatives." - Time Magazine
    "The best way to see Gary, through the rear-view mirror!" - New City

  • See additional info on:  Little Oscar, Tom Harmon, John "One Shot" Bushemi, the Spaniels and Vee Jay Records

    If you know of others omitted from this "auspicious" list, do let me know via  EMail

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    Created 25 Aug 1999 - 07:19:37 Hrs.
    Updated 14 Jan 2014 - 15:18:11 Hrs.

    2010 - 2014, G. David Yaros.  All rights reserved.