Monday, May 20, 2024
Heroes and Villains

Dutch Schultz

The gangster Arthur Flegenheimer, more commonly known as “Dutch Schultz,” came to Bridgeport April 30, 1935.

Schultz and his bodyguard, Lulu Rosenkrantz, occupied the fourth floor suite at the Stratfield Hotel on Main Street downtown.

Schultz was interviewed by local reporters in the suite.  One reporter said that Schultz gave the interview “more gracefully and with more poise than some of the persons in less exciting professions than his.”

Dutch Schultz had a long criminal history, including overseeing a successful bootlegging operation.  During the Prohibition years, his selling of illegal liquor was widespread.

Even in 1933 at the end of Prohibition, his control of the crime racket in New York City was notorious.

Schultz was indicted in 1933 for tax evasion.  He was accused of not filing tax returns for 1929,1930 and 1931.  By this time FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover named Schultz “Public Enemy No. 1.”

In November 1934, Schultz surrendered to authorities, and although he tried to pay his taxes, the government put him on trial on April 16, 1935 in Syracruse, New York.  A judge dismissed the jury on April 29 when they became hopelessly deadlocked.

Schultz showed up in Bridgeport two days later.  While city residents might have had visions of gangland street fights in front of the Stratfield Hotel, Schultz told reporters that “He was resting here, and he “Had no worry.”

Although Schultz was not known for his wardrobe, and was once described by Lucky Luciano as a “guy with a couple of million bucks who dressed like a pig,” a Bridgeport reporter said Schultz was tastefully dressed in “various shades of blue, except for his shoes.”

One socialite told the New York Sun that “My dear Arthur was the answer to a hostess’ prayer.  When it became known that he was invited to your party, you had nothing to worry about.  Everyone came…and really, he was charming.  It was hard to believe all those horrid stories.”

Schultz rode horseback in Fairfield, went to the movies, and hung around in front of the Stratfield Hotel watching passerbys with his friends.

The Bridgeport Herald reported that he would often invite women upstairs to his suite to have a drink with him.  One young lady told a reporter that “if news leaked out that I even talked to Schultz, my family would kill me. And my boyfriend would break my neck.  I just wanted to see him for the thrill of it.”

“I was convinced that he was just a bum who made a lot of money easy,” the woman continued. “We never did anything out of the way,” she said. “There was always a lot of people around when I saw him.  We kidded a lot. He was plenty funny. Never nasty although he liked to slap me in the darndest places.”

Schultz said of his stay in Bridgeport, “I’ve been treated very kindly, and have met some very lovely people.”

Then Mayor, Jasper McLevy said, “As long as Schultz behaves him self, he won’t be bothered in Bridgeport.”

On September 24, 1935, Schultz left Bridgeport.  One month later, Dutch Schultz was gunned down in a tavern in Newark, New Jersey.  He died 22 hours later.










Mary Witkowski
Mary K. Witkowski is the former Bridgeport City Historian and the Department Head of the Bridgeport History Center, Emeritus. She is the author of Bridgeport at Work, and the co-author with Bruce Williams of Bridgeport on the Sound. Mary has had a newspaper column in the Bridgeport News, a blog for the Connecticut Post, and a weekly spot on WICC. She continues to be involved in many community based activities and initiatives on local history and historic preservation.