DARK VICTORY: Ronald Reagan, MCA, and the Mob by Dan E. Moldea

DARK VICTORY: Ronald Reagan, MCA, and the Mob

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Moldea kicks off with this 1970 statement by a New York City police official: ""Organized crime will put a man in the White House someday--and he won't know it until they hand him the bill."" Wow! Readers looking for an exposÉ of Ronald Reagan's ties to organized crime, however, will be disappointed. Moldea is actually writing about the rise of MCA, the $2-billion entertainment conglomerate, plus--as a sub-theme--mob infiltration of Hollywood. There, however, appears to be only tenuous ties between MCA and organized crime. MCA was Ronald Reagan's talent agency, and both benefited considerably from this association. In 1952, when Reagan was president of the Screen Actors Guild, MCA was granted a waiver of the Guild role that prohibited talent agencies from producing TV shows. This sweetheart deal made MCA a power in TV production and paved the way for its movie-making operations. The company blatantly employed its own talent in TV shows, and shut out other producers. Inevitably, if belatedly, the Justice Department ended the monopoly. Questioned by an antitrust attorney during the investigation, Reagan was afflicted with acute amnesia concerning the MCA-SAG deal. MCA was born in Chicago as a band-booking agency in the days when the speak-easies and clubs were controlled by crime figures. Founder Jules Stein inevitably had to deal with--and fend off--mobsters. In later years, MCA executives along with Reagan were moderately palsy-walsy with Sidney Korshak, a lawyer whose name pops up in almost every investigation of organized crime. Reagan was also backed by the crime-tainted Teamsters in his presidential bid and even appointed Teamsters' head Jackie Presser to screen personnel for the Labor Department. Other Reagan buddies rumored to have mob ties include the ill-starred Labor Department secretary, Raymond Donovan, Senator Paul Laxalt and--of course--Frank Sinatra. There's much, much more--chiefly a jumble of information distilled from hitherto-secret government documents, news clips and books. The result will probably interest show business people, business analysts and organized crime buffs. Ordinary readers, however, will find themselves trying to get a toehold on a mountain of jellybeans.

Pub Date: Oct. 7th, 1986
Publisher: Viking