1939 Fifty Years Ago

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The Packard Motor Company introduced the first air-conditioned automobile at a Chicago car show on November 4.

Life with Father , one of the most beloved plays in American theatrical history, opened on November 8 at Broadway’s Empire Theater. Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse’s play was based on Clarence Day’s stories about his boyhood in Victorian-era New York City. It played for eight years and 3,224 performances, the longest run for a nonmusical production in Broadway history.

After serving eight years of an eleven-year sentence for income-tax evasion, the Chicago crime czar Al Capone was released from Alcatraz Prison on November 16. A virulent case of syphilis that Capone had picked up during his heyday in the 1920s had left him a physical wreck, and he was judged no longer to be a threat to society. The man who had ordered the deaths of more than five hundred men in Chicago retired to a secluded Miami mansion, his mind clouded by paresis of the brain. Capone died a powerless recluse in 1947 at the age of forty-eight.