Posts Tagged ‘New York World Telegram and Star’

Izzy and Moe: New York’s top Prohibition cops

July 18, 2012

After Prohibition was ratified in 1919, a new career opportunity was born: Prohibition agent. An army of men were needed to enforce the law by raiding speakeasies and busting bootleggers.

Two men who took up this line of work were New Yorkers Izzy Einstein and Moe Smith (left, as a rabbi and in drag).

Friends (and Masons) before they got the gig, they quickly became famous for the astounding 4,932 arrests they made citywide—and the outrageous lengths they went to pull each one off.

“Moe, although somewhat in the role of straight man, was a highly effective agent, but Izzy (the human chameleon), with his numberless disguises, was the color and front man,” states this Mason newsletter.

“He was, in turn, a traveling salesman, a street cleaner, a banker, a bartender, a grave digger, a streetcar conductor, a Texas cattleman and, in Hollywood, a movie extra.”

Izzy and Moe were hugely popular with the public and the press, and they loved the attention, allowing reporters to cover their raids.

They also loved alcohol, reports one source. “After a busy day arresting Prohibition offenders, Izzy and Moe enjoyed sitting back and enjoying their favorite beverages, which were beer and cocktails.”

In 1925, their D.C. bosses had enough of the Izzy and Moe show and discharged them.

Both became successful insurance agents. Izzy died in 1937, and Moe passed on in 1960.

[Above photo: posing in 1935 for the New York World Telegram and Star]