A Broadway chorus girl gets away with murder

Of course, Nan Patterson, a pretty chorus girl in the 1900 smash Broadway hit Florodora and daughter of a Treasury Department bigwig, insisted she didn’t kill her married boyfriend, gambler Caesar Young.

But the evidence against her was strong.

On the morning of June 4, 1904, Nan and Caesar were taking a hansom cab to a Hudson River pier where Caesar and his wife were to board a transatlantic ship.

At West Broadway and Franklin Street, a shot rang out from the cab. Caesar lay dying in Nan’s lap, a bullet in his chest.

Nan told police Caesar shot himself, upset that she was leaving him. The cops said no way: the bullet entered Caesar from an angle not compatible with suicide. And anyway, Caesar’s gun was found in his pocket.

Arrested for murder, Nan’s sensational trial attracted a ton of media interest and resulted in two hung juries. In the end, she went free.

“The prosecutor concluded that no jury would unanimously believe that such a sweet young thing could commit so brutal a crime,” writes Patrick M. Wall in The Annals of Manhattan Crime.

[Photo: Bain News Service; Floradora program cover, 1900]

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3 Responses to “A Broadway chorus girl gets away with murder”

  1. T.J. Connick Says:

    Young by default goes in the books as a suicide, but his wife, his friends, and his fellow horsemen never bought it. He campaigned horses in California, St. Louis, New Orleans, and – at the time of his death – in New York.

    Patterson swore out details of the fateful day while in police custody. Among the highlights is an eerie connection with your Flatiron post: Young bought a hat at a store in the Fifth Avenue Hotel on their way downtown. Same place built by Eno of Flatiron Building fame.

    Young might be the only suicide in history to buy a new hat for the occasion. (Fascinating tidbit drawn from extensive coverage in June 5, 1904 edition of the San Francisco Call.)

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    I love the new hat detail. At least he went out in style.

  3. Somebuddy Says:

    Interestingly enough, Evelyn Nesbit was also a chorus girl in Floradora in 1901, when famous architect Stanley White met and seduced her (or rather, met, raped, then seduced her). In June 1906 (two years after the Nan scandal), Evelyn’s insane new husband, the obscenely wealthy Harry Thaw, murdered Stanley White at the rooftop theatre of Madison Square Garden. Something about those Floradora girls….

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