Thursday, December 1, 2016

Keefe Brasselle, Jim Aubrey and How the Mafia Seized Control of CBS Primetime

I have composed a brand new article, but here's the rub. It's only available in exchange for a private donation. So click the top right yellow donate button.You can contribute any amount and I'll provide you with a copy of this 8000 word piece which took two years to research and four months to write. If you're on your mobile phone, scroll down and click "web version" and then you'll see the yellow donate button in the top right.

The story is that of Keefe Brasselle, a lousy nightclub singer with connections to the Mob. The one-time star of The Eddie Cantor Story knew how to cozy up to power and it paid off. He was close with the head of CBS Television, Jim Aubrey. When Aubrey got in trouble with the Mob, Brasselle saved his life. In exchange, Brasselle received three separate television series on CBS primetime in the fall of 1964. Along the way Brasselle was sued, shot at, wrote a tell-all book and had his nightclub burned to the ground. He was arrested for attempted murder when he tried to kill a sitcom writer in the early 1970s - and that's only scratching the surface! There's a lot to this story and it's all yours today for a private donation. Hit the yellow donate button in the top right corner to receive a copy and thanks for your continued support.


Trivial Tony said...

Hi Kliph, I shared this preview with the Facebook classic TV group. Please let me know how many takers you get for it. May not be a bad idea to sit in and discuss it; it is an active page.

greg6363 said...

I just read the piece. Fantastic work, Kliph.

Brian Nelson said...

Five stars plus! If you haven't ordered this, do so now!

KING OF JAZZ said...

Brasselle. What a piece of work.

2packs4sure said...

I'd seen interviews with Jim Aubrey over the years and he just seemed like a typical suit.
Good read.

E. Yarber said...

I first heard of this story through a blind item in a collection of Harlan Ellison's television columns, and managed to pick up bits and pieces of the story over the years since then. It's great to see an article that sets the whole story in order.

At the risk of sounding like a know-it-all, I'd like to add a few extra nuggets to the account.

Teenage Keefe Brasselle made his film debut in 1942's "The Story of De 733," a government health film. He plays a sailor who picks up a bad case of VD on shore leave. This picture is highly recommended for those who enjoy lingering close-ups of horribly diseased genitalia.

His last film appearance was in an unsexy unfunny 1975 sex comedy he also co-directed and produced called "If You Don't Stop It... You'll Go Blind." Billed as himself, he performs a godawful lounge number supposedly funny because he says "fuck" a lot (the audience on screen chants it as well). He was not involved with the sequel, "Can I Do It... Until I Need Glasses," which got a little more attention when someone noticed the then-unknown Robin Williams appeared in a couple of scenes.

Groucho Marx was particularly pained to be a target in "The CaniBalS." He'd just gotten through the "Skidoo" debacle and felt his career was over. Suddenly a book appeared painting "Mr. Ad Lib" as a senile has-been with a much younger wife who eagerly beds Joey Bertelle while "Moustache" is asleep in another room. Groucho confronted his wife Eden with the book. When she denied any such encounter, he thew the book in a roaring fireplace and never mentioned it again. (The story is on page 421 of Hector Arce's Groucho bio, and 371-2 of Stefan Kanfer's).

And speaking of roman a clefs... "The Love Machine," Jacqueline Susann's 1969 follow-up to "Valley of the Dolls," was supposedly based in part on James Aubrey's sex life.

These aren't central to the main scandal, but it just goes to show that pretty much any detail about Brasselle and Aubrey gets into the gutter pretty quickly.

Anonymous said...

Kliph, I've read in the Johnny Carson bio by Henry Bushkin that in the late 1960s Keefe Brasselle sent an enforcer to threaten Carson because Carson had a running joke in which Brasselle was the punch line.

Anonymous said...

I may just buy your book instead. Is this story in it as well?


Anonymous said...

Just found this story on your site and headed to donated now, but interestingly Ann B. Davis mentions the "strange vibes" when working on the Brasselle show... and then later clarifies it a little more... starts around 12:08

FelixRay said...

Keef Braselle's Wikipedia page doesn't mention that HE SHOT A GUY! I'll send you some money as soon as I can afford it!