ROBERT LEUCI, GRAFT-FIGHTING NYPD COP
Robert Leuci, a former New York City police detective whose undercover whistleblower work in the early 1970s led to the indictment of dozens of NYPD narcotics detectives, died on Monday at the age of 75.
By Post Staff
October 14, 2015 | 1:40am
For nearly two years, Leuci wore a wire and secretly recorded meetings with mobsters and corrupt cops, lawyers and judges for the Knapp Commission, a five-member investigative committee appointed by then-New York City Mayor John Lindsay in the wake of revelations about NYPD corruption brought by another New York City cop, Frank Serpico.
Serpico was among those who urged Leuci — who at the time was a corrupt young cop himself — to begin cooperating with Knapp Commission investigators.
“He was a guy who was on the wrong side of the law and desperately wanted to be on the right side, and he literally risked his life to do that,” said Nicholas Scoppetta, a former New York City fire commissioner and assistant US attorney who worked closely with Leuci on the investigation, adding that Leuci’s undercover work was fraught with risk.
“Frank was kind of a first, but he was talking about gambling corruption,” Scoppetta said. “Bob was in the special-investigations unit of the narcotics division. There was a lot of organized-crime influence, so what Bob did was far more dangerous — as an investigation — and I think produced tremendous developments that made a huge difference in narcotics enforcement. He was enormously productive, creative and resourceful.”
Twice during his undercover work, Leuci’s wire was discovered, yet both times he was able to talk his way out of trouble, said Scoppetta.
Leuci’s life was the subject of Robert Daley’s nonfiction book “Prince of the City.” He was played by actor Treat Williams in the movie version, which was directed by Sidney Lumet.
Leuci went on to author six novels, a memoir and numerous short stories and television episodes and lectured at dozens of colleges and law schools on police ethics.
He is survived by his wife, Kathy, and ex-wife Regina Leuci, with whom he had two children, Anthony and Santina.
PAT WOODELL, ACTRESS BEST KNOWN FOR 1960S SITCOM ‘PETTICOAT JUNCTION
By David Colker
October 17, 2015, 5:46 PM
Actress Pat Woodell, who starred as one of a trio of sisters in the wholesome 1960s sitcom “Petticoat Junction” before she went on to be featured in a series of not-so-wholesome exploitation films, died Sept. 29 at her home in Fallbrook, Calif. She was 71.
Known as Patricia McDade off screen, she had battled cancer for more than 20 years, said her husband, Vern McDade.
She was born July 12, 1944, in Winthrop, Mass. Her initial aim in show business was to be a singer, and she had early gigs at resorts in the Catskills. In 1962, gossip columnist Harrison Carroll wrote, “Everybody wants to hear 18-year-old singer Pat Woodell.”
Woodell, a statuesque brunette, was signed to a contract by Warner Bros., and her first network TV credit was on a 1962 episode of the western series “Cheyenne.” She followed that up with appearances on “Hawaiian Eye” and “77 Sunset Strip,” and had a role in a government-sponsored anti-communism drama, “Red Nightmare,” narrated by Jack Webb.
Her best-known role came in the hit series “Petticoat Junction,” set near the bucolic town of Hooterville. Many of the plots revolved around the misadventures of the three teenage daughters of widow Kate Bradley, played by veteran TV actress Bea Benaderet, as they tried to keep the slightly run-down Shady Rest Hotel afloat.
The show made its debut in 1963 on CBS, with Woodell playing Bobbie Jo, the smart, studious daughter. (The trio was rounded out by Linda Kaye Henning, who portrayed tomboy Betty Jo, and Jeannine Riley, who was boy-crazy Billie Jo.)
One of the better-known episodes that featured Woodell had her falling for a traveling-through beatnik type, played by Dennis Hopper. He spews over-the-top, angry verse that insults the townspeople. Yet a smitten Bobbie Jo tells him, “I think that was one of the most exciting poems I’ve ever heard.” In the end, with her mother’s help, she realizes he’s more insane than artistic.
“The show has such a nostalgic note that it hits for so many people,” Woodell said in an interview in the mid-2000s for a DVD compilation of the series. “Even today, after so many decades, I can be doing anything, anywhere in the world, by the way, and people will remember ‘Petticoat Junction.'”
Woodell did some singing on the show — including in a Beatles parody group, the Ladybugs — with her on-screen sisters and the addition of actress Sheila Kuehl, now a Los Angeles County supervisor.
But Woodell grew tired of playing Bobbie Jo and left after two seasons of “Petticoat Junction,” which ran until April 1970.
She had some success as a singer, including touring with comedian Jack Benny and recording an album, but stardom remained out of reach.
In the early 1970s she began appearing in low-budget exploitation films that thrived on nudity and violence, long before those were amply available on cable. Perhaps the best known of those films was the 1971 women’s prison flick “The Big Doll House,” which exclaimed in its trailer: “Their bodies were caged, but not their desires!”
“I have no delusions about this movie,” Woodell said in a 1971 Chicago Tribune interview. But she didn’t break through to more mainstream fare, and in 1973 gave up acting after attending a seminar developed by the controversial Werner Erhard. His est human potential programs were in vogue at the time, and Woodell went to work for his organization. She later co-founded a business consulting firm, retiring in 2013.
In addition to her husband — they were married in 1978 — she is survived by her stepfather, Joe Saveriano.
KEN TAYLOR, CANADIAN ENVOY WHO HELPED AMERICANS ESCAPE IRAN
Ken Taylor, Canada’s ambassador to Iran who sheltered Americans at his residence during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis has died. He was 81.
Taylor’s wife, Pat, said Ken died Thursday after a two-month battle with colon cancer.
Taylor kept the Americans hidden at his residence and at the home of his deputy, John Sheardown, in Tehran for three months. Taylor facilitated their escape by arranging plane tickets and persuading the Ottawa government to issue fake passports.
He was heralded as a hero in both the U.S. and Canada for helping save the Americans in the clandestine operation.
Some of Taylor’s exploits in Iran formed the narrative line of the 2012 Hollywood film, “Argo.” But Taylor and others, including former-U.S. President Jimmy Carter, felt the film minimized his role and that of Canada in the operation.
Taylor’s wife said he was diagnosed with cancer in August and that friends from Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere visited him at New York Presbyterian hospital where he was being treated.
She said Taylor, born in 1934 in Calgary, has a legacy of generosity.
“He did all sorts of things for everyone without any expectation of something coming back,” she said in a telephone interview.
“It’s why that incident in Iran happened,” she said. “There was no second thought about it. He just went ahead and did it.”
The six U.S. diplomats had managed to slip away when their embassy was overrun in 1979. They spent five days on the move, then took refuge at the Canadian Embassy for the next three months.
The CIA consulted with Canadian officials on how to organize a rescue, and Canada gave permission for the diplomats to be issued fake Canadian passports.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he was sad to learn of Taylor’s deatj
“As Canada’s Ambassador to Iran during the Iranian Revolution, Taylor valiantly risked his own life by shielding a group of American diplomats from capture,” Harper said. “Ken Taylor represented the very best that Canada’s foreign service has to offer.”
Although Taylor’s actions were made famous again in the movie “Argo,” which won the 2013 Oscar for best picture, Taylor said it made Canada look like a meek observer to CIA heroics. Friends of Taylor were outraged when “Argo” debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2012.
The original postscript of the movie said that Taylor received 112 citations and awards for his work in freeing the hostages and suggested Taylor didn’t deserve them because the movie ends with the CIA deciding to let Canada have the credit for helping the Americans escape.
In 2013, Taylor’s story was told once more at the Toronto International Film Festival, which debuted the documentary, “Our Man in Tehran.”
Taylor is also survived by his son, Douglas, and his wife Dana and two grandchildren.