Friday, January 6, 2017

John Armstrong and His Evolving Landesberg Theory

Note: This article first appeared on the Internet in 2015 and has been rewritten.

On June 23, 2015, Jim Hargrove, an associate of double Oswald theorist John Armstrong, posted an article on his “Harvey & Lee” website that represents Armstrong’s latest version of his seemingly ever evolving theory of Lee Harvey Oswald (one of two Oswalds per Armstrong) in New York City in 1961-62.

Armstrong’s thesis emerged from the allegations of a mentally troubled young man and sometime student named Stephen Harris Landesberg who was arrested by the FBI for providing false information after the 1963 assassination of JFK. Landesberg, a diagnosed schizophrenic, told the Bureau (using the alias James Rizzuto) that he knew a man named Stephen L’Eandes who was an associate of Lee Harvey Oswald and the pair had disrupted political rallies in NYC in 1961-62. When cornered by the FBI, Landesberg admitted posing as L’Eandes and that the political activities he described were his own.

Armstrong called this revised piece The Story of Two “Steven Landesbergs” because he has now added the late actor Steve Landesberg of Barney Miller fame to his literary lunacy. I am sorry to admit that his work was essentially inspired by my article The Hoaxster and the Conspiracy Theorists which was published at my website in April of 2015 and criticizes Armstrong and a group of like-minded individuals for their treatment of the Landesberg affair through a research period of about 10 years.

My article criticized Armstrong’s ambiguous approach to the Landesberg matter and the sloppy and sometimes non-existent sourcing in his 2003 book Harvey & Lee: How the CIA Framed Oswald, and provided a fact-based chronology of the real events of the student Landesberg’s life. Unfortunately for the legacy of the actor Landesberg, a talented man who was admired by millions, Armstrong realized my criticism was on the money and started working on a new theory to rectify the situation.

On June 15, 2015, David Josephs, another Armstrong associate, posted an untitled document that was ostensibly Armstrong’s “most recent” work on the Landesberg case. I immediately began working on a response but, when Hargrove mentioned that Armstrong was again revising his work, I decided to hold off until the dust settled. In the meantime, something apparently clicked in Armstrong’s mind.

A clue to what had changed for Armstrong came from a June 16, 2015 post at the Education Forum by Hargrove that stated:

In a book called The Glories of the Early ’60s, author Ed Sanders provides information that shows that the actor Steve Landesberg and the agitator Steve Landesberg were both working together as a team. Here is a summary of the information from the book:

Al Fowler was a National Merit Scholar in High School, and later a poet. In the early 1960s, Fowler knew and associated with Steve Landesberg, and saw him cause disruptions at various liberal rallies using a strong Southern accent. On one occasion, Landesberg talked at length about Castro, Cuba, and the FPCC. He discussed his family, life in New Orleans, and talked in detail about the French Quarter.

A couple of years later, Fowler saw Landesberg again, now wearing a nice suit but no longer sporting a Southern accent. Landesberg offered Fowler $600 to fly to Montreal and bring back a small package, contents unknown. Fowler refused the offer, and clearly stated that the man he knew creating disturbances at liberal rallies was Steve Landesberg, the actor.

This post by Hargrove mostly flew under my radar. I had mentioned Fowler in my original article, but only in an endnote and then only at the urging of an expert on sixties radical politics who offered me helpful advice during the writing process. The expert, who uses the pseudonym “Hylozoic Hedgehog”, argued that since Fowler’s story had appeared in the book Fug You by Ed Sanders (and other writings by Sanders) that it was technically a documented account of L’Eandes (Landesberg’s alter ego) and therefore should be included in my article. I agreed, but was unaware of the full context of what Sanders was saying-that Fowler believed L’Eandes was the actor Landesberg rather than the student as the record clearly shows. Apparently, Armstrong (probably from a careful reading of my article) had now become aware of Fowler and realized he could use him in support of a revised theory. I will discuss the allegations of Sanders and Fowler later in this article.

In his book, Armstrong had only hinted at the involvement of the actor Landesberg and there was good reason for that. In 1993, Armstrong contacted Mr. Landesberg and asked him to respond to various allegations and provide personal information, ostensibly to clarify matters. Understandably, Landesberg responded by having his head of security contact both Armstrong and the late Jack White (who assisted Armstrong in creating and promoting the Harvey & Lee theory) and tell them to cease and desist, which they did. But now that the actor Landesberg is conveniently deceased, Armstrong has seen the opportunity to update his tale and include him as an active participant in his double Oswald fantasy. The following quote from the article summarizes his thesis as it currently exists:

In the 1960s there were two young men living in and around Greenwich Village (in New York City) named “Steve Landesberg.” Although they were similar in age and appearance, there were distinct differences between them. One boy, Stephen Harris Landesberg (the student), was from Queens. He was quiet, introverted, kept to himself, a bookworm, and an honor student. He had black hair, a life-long speech impediment, stuttered profusely when excited, never wore glasses, and had no southern accent. The other boy, Stephen Richard Landesberg (a future actor), from the Bronx, was outgoing, likable and gregarious. He had reddish brown hair, occasionally wore rimless eyeglasses, enjoyed being around people, had no speech impediment, and acquired a Southern accent that he could use or not use at will. In late 1961 and early 1962 Stephen Richard Landesberg became entangled in activities involving the harassment of liberal and minority-oriented political groups that were active in and around the Village.

In this article, I will offer my response to what I see as Armstrong’s false, irresponsible and self-serving allegations. Before doing that, I will list the cast of characters to help the reader maintain sanity during this confusing story. I will then summarize the incontrovertible evidence that shows the overall Harvey & Lee theory to be a fabrication. This evidence has never been properly addressed by Armstrong and his associates because they can’t refute it so they mostly ignore it. Finally, I will briefly recap the Landesberg incident and explain why the allegations concerning the actor Landesberg are completely without merit.

Cast of Characters

Stephen Harris Landesberg
The student who lied to the FBI about Oswald in New York City and other matters, hereafter referred to as “Landesberg the student” or just “the student”.

Stephen Richard Landesberg
The actor of Barney Miller fame who Armstrong is now claiming was the political agitator L’Eandes, hereafter referred to as “Landesberg the actor” or “the actor”. I maintain, as the record clearly shows, that this man was not involved in the JFK assassination or as a political agitator in any way.

Stephen Yves L’Eandes
Right-wing political agitator in Greenwich Village in late 1961 through early 1962. Stephen Landesberg, the student, admitted to the FBI that he was L’Eandes.

James F. Rizzuto
Alias used by Landesberg, the student, to make his various claims to the FBI. Even Armstrong admits that Rizzuto was Landesberg the student.

Stephen Landes
Alias used by Landesberg the student to enter the Marine Corps that he possibly continued to use in ensuing years. This alias will not be used in this article for the sake of clarity.

The Proof That Armstrong’s Theory of “Harvey & Lee” is False

The most compelling evidence is the 1981 exhumation of Lee Harvey Oswald which was done to refute a similar conspiracy theory from author Michael Eddowes. According to Armstrong’s theory, “Harvey” is supposed to be buried in the Fort Worth grave while “Lee” may be “very much alive”. Unfortunately, “Harvey” has a mastoid operation from 1946 that “Lee” was supposed to have (Norton Report). A document from “Harvey’s” medical treatment (CE 985, 18 H 455) in the Soviet Union again shows he had the mastoid scar. Another document that mentions the scar is found in “Harvey’s” Marine Corps enlistment papers (WC Donabedian Exhibit No. 1).

Another powerful argument for rebutting the Armstrong theory is made by the HSCA handwriting analysis. The HSCA panel examined 63 handwriting samples when conducting their study. I reasoned that, by classifying these samples as “Harvey” and “Lee”, I could check for any discrepancies. I found many such discrepancies and selected six samples (three of each man) as the basis for my article Harvey & Lee: The Handwriting is on the Wall which was published in the Kennedy Assassination Chronicles in 2001.

Jim Hargrove has maintained that the HSCA study was flawed because some of the documents used were copies and that forensic document examiners prefer originals. While it is true that document examiners prefer to work with originals, it is a fact that most of the documents reviewed by the forensic panel were indeed originals. All the documents that I selected for my article were originals as well. The bottom line is that the handwriting experts found that the same individual wrote most of the samples that should be either “Harvey” or “Lee”.

A comprehensive photo analysis, also done by the HSCA, is another solid proof that the Armstrong theory is bogus. Unfortunately, most of the photos selected for analysis by the committee were of “Harvey” since their work was not done to specifically refute Armstrong. However, a December, 1956, photo which is supposed to be “Lee”, per Armstrong, was compared with several photos of “Harvey” and the HSCA photo panel proved using morphological data that the photos were of the same individual. (HSCA Photo Analysis)

The Proof That Armstrong’s Theory Regarding the Late Actor Steve Landesberg is False

The most convincing evidence comes from the student Landesberg and has been known since 1963. That evidence is his own allegations and the eventual recantation of those allegations which is documented in CD 1396; the FBI Gemberling Report which documents the FBI’s extensive investigation.

For those new to the subject, the student Landesberg (posing as James Rizzuto) initially spun a fantastic tale. He said he had known Oswald and a man named Stephen L’Eandes while serving in the Marine Corps and had kept in touch with L’Eandes through correspondence. According to information given to Landesberg by L’Eandes, he and Oswald and another man named Earl Perry had disrupted political rallies in 1961-62 when Oswald was supposed to be in the Soviet Union. L’Eandes also was allegedly being paid to disrupt the rallies by a man named Regan who was an extreme right-winger. Of course, none of this information jibed with the official version of events.

After an intensive investigation, which did not confirm Rizzuto’s allegations, the FBI came to realize that “Rizzuto” was actually the student Stephen Landesberg. A key piece of evidence that led to this revelation was a photo taken of L’Eandes by a man named David Heath at one of the political rallies. When this photo was shown to Michael Dunn, who had been a roommate of L’Eandes in late 1961 and early 1962, he identified the man as L’Eandes. The photograph was then shown to Bureau Agents McCoy and Moore, who had conducted the original interview with “Rizzuto”, and they identified the man in the photo as the man they had interviewed-James F. Rizzuto. At least six people saw the photo of L’Eandes. Three said that Rizzuto was identical to L’Eandes and three said the photo showed the man they knew as L’Eandes. The FBI now knew that they were apparently the victims of an elaborate hoax and that Landesberg the student, L’Eandes and Rizzuto were the same individual.

On December 5, 1963, Agents finally located “Rizzuto” in an apartment at 66 West 10th Street, where the nameplate on the door read “Stephen H. Landes”. “Rizzuto” readily admitted that his real name was Stephen Harris Landesberg and that he had appeared at his previous FBI interview under the name James Rizzuto. He also admitted that he never met L’Eandes or Earl Perry in the summer of 1956 at Camp Lejeune nor had he received any cards from them. Perhaps most importantly, Landesberg confirmed that the actions that he had attributed to L’Eandes were in fact his own actions using the name Stephen Yves L’Eandes.

How does Armstrong answer the fact that Landesberg admitted he was L’Eandes? He now conveniently refers to Landesberg’s admissions as “alleged admissions”. Even though he uses FBI interviews and documents as sources throughout his book, Armstrong accuses the Bureau of falsifying evidence whenever it suits his purposes.

For those who would like a more detailed discussion of Landesberg’s allegations, see my previous article The Hoaxster and the Conspiracy Theorists.

A final point that moves us away from Landesberg the actor being L’Eandes is the many people who came in touch with him from the Village Voice reporters to the people at the political rallies. The Voice reporters knew L’Eandes very well both from their reporting of his antics and from his frequent visits to their offices. Since there is no physical similarity between the student and the actor as photographs clearly show, why didn’t these reporters come forward when they saw the photo of Landesberg in the newspapers and say that it did not represent the man they knew? And why did the Voice reporters make no mention of anyone (Oswald or Perry) assisting L’Eandes or taking photographs?

The same question applies to what was likely hundreds of people who attended the political rallies that L’Eandes disrupted. How is it that no one could see the difference between the actor and the man whose photograph was published? And since Landesberg the actor became a worldwide celebrity by the early seventies, what was to stop anyone from coming forward then and saying that the actor was the man they remembered from political rallies a decade earlier? Especially when the peak of Landesberg’s fame coincided with the formation of the HSCA in the late seventies and a renewal of interest in the JFK case.

Discussion of “The Story of Two Steven Landesbergs”

Note: Armstrong’s assertions are block quoted.

Al Fowler

To begin my detailed rebuttal, I will look at the allegations of Al Fowler as reported by Ed Sanders in his book The Poetry and Life of Al Fowler since these allegations are really the impetus for Armstrong’s latest theory. Note that Sanders told the same basic story in The Poetry and Life of Al Fowler as in the work Armstrong cites, The Glories of the Early ’60s, which is actually the first chapter of a book called Fug You: An Informal History of the Peace Eye Bookstore, the F*** You Press, the Fugs, and Counterculture in the Lower East Side.

A National Merit Scholar in High School, and later a poet, Fowler first saw L’eandes (the actor) when he caused disruptions at various liberal rallies. Fowler befriended L’eandes and the two young men attended liberal rallies and hung out together at various coffee houses in the Village. Fowler said, “I liked him. He was amusing.”

Since Fowler is the primary source for Armstrong’s latest theory and his allegations are unsubstantiated, it is fair to judge any factors which could affect Fowler’s ability as a witness. Armstrong describes Fowler as “A National Merit Scholar in High School and later a poet.” That may be true, but Al Fowler was also a heroin addict and an amphetamine dealer at about the same time he “knew” L’Eandes, which is probably not a coincidence. Sanders writes in detail about Fowler’s troubled life and describes the effort to get Fowler off heroin, the fact that he committed robberies to support his habit and the years he spent in prison. Fowler started having seizures in 1971 after a head injury and in 1976 described his memory by saying, “It’s got patches, you know? And after each seizure, of course, I don’t even know my name.” Fowler was killed in 1980 when he was hit by a subway train. I believe it is safe to conclude that a heroin addict with memory problems is not the most reliable witness.

At a diner on Sheridan Square, vividly recalled by Fowler, L’eandes talked for a long time about Castro, Cuba, and the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC), in a deep southern accent.

Fowler could be simply reporting facts that were by then common knowledge.

Al Fowler soon learned that Bureau agents were asking people in the Village about his friend, Steve L’eandes (the actor). Fowler knew L’eandes (the actor) well, and was likely familiar with Lee Oswald because he had attended political rallies in the Village.

There is no evidence that Fowler ever included Oswald in his story so there is no basis for Armstrong saying he was “likely familiar” with Oswald. It is very clear that although Sanders apparently accepts Fowler’s story, he doesn’t think “L’Eandes” knew Oswald either-he simply believes the actor Landesberg was “L’Eandes”. On page eleven of his book, Sanders states “why he (the actor Landesberg) claimed that Oswald had disrupted political meetings in Greenwich Village remains a mystery.”

Fowler decided to contact the FBI and tell them what he knew about his friend, Steve L’Eandes (the actor). He called the FBI and agreed to meet with agents at Stanley’s bar that evening. But this was only one day after the hated and despised Oswald was murdered by Jack Ruby. Fowler, probably because of what he knew about L’eandes’ (the actor) relationship with Oswald, got cold feet and never showed up for the meeting.

Fowler allegedly canceled his meeting with the FBI even though he felt his information was important. Fowler could have contacted the FBI, the Warren Commission or any government entity or media outlet at any point in time to relate his story. A logical time for him to do that would have been in the late seventies when the HSCA was reinvestigating the JFK case and the actor was at the height of his fame. But Al Fowler apparently never told anyone his story that the actor Landesberg was “L’Eandes” except his friend Ed Sanders.

The Village Voice reported that several people insisted they knew Oswald, and spoke with Bureau agents on the telephone. But there is no indication either from the Village Voice, Newsday, or from a single FBI report that federal agents attempted to interview anyone who either knew, associated, or spoke with Oswald in the Village in 1961-62. The Bureau not only ignored Oswald, but FBI agents were assigned leads that senior officials surely knew were false. They just wanted the sightings of Oswald to go away.

As usual, the facts are not quite as Armstrong presents them. the Voice reported the situation as follows:

Several people insist they knew Oswald, but informants present their story via the telephone and have generally avoided direct contact with the FBI and the newspapers.

There would be no reason to avoid the newspapers and direct contact with the FBI if an individual felt they had important information, other than fear of prosecution for providing false information. The fact that the reports “snowballed” is indicative of people coming forward with information only after hearing of other reports. Besides, what was to stop these people who claimed they saw Oswald from coming forward at any point in time?

Years later, in the 1970s, Fowler saw his former friend on television in the Barney Miller TV show. In June, 2015 I spoke at length with poet, author, and historian Ed Sanders, who was a close personal friend of Al Fowler for nearly 20 years. Mr. Sanders said that Fowler insisted, repeatedly, that it was his friend Steve L’eandes (the actor) who had participated in disruptions at various liberal rallies in the Village.

Again, Fowler saw Landesberg on TV and didn’t tell anyone except his friend Sanders about his allegations. It doesn’t seem that he considered them to be very important despite their colorful nature. The fact that Armstrong spoke “at length” with Sanders and only came away with the fact that Fowler said L’Eandes was the actor indicates to me that Sanders didn’t have anything else to offer that would help Armstrong’s theory.

The Red Bearded Man

Another of Armstrong’s main points is the allegation that L’Eandes had a red or reddish beard. This is an attempt to tie L’Eandes to the actor Landesberg, since he indeed had reddish-brown hair and this would be potentially significant if true. The following quote from Armstrong illustrates the issue:

On Nov. 30, 1963 the Long Island newspaper Newsday reported that L’eandes (the actor) was living either on 8th Street or MacDougal Street in the heart of the Village. From a photograph taken at one of the rallies in the Village, two years earlier, the FBI located a former roommate of L’eandes (the actor), Michael Dunn. Dunn identified the red-bearded man in the photo as his former roommate, Steven L’eandes (Stephen Richard Landesberg, the actor, who had red hair). But the man in the photo was not Stephen Landes, the clean-shaven, black/brown haired student. The same photo was then shown to the two FBI agents who had originally interviewed Rizzuto (Stephen Landes, the student) on Nov 23, 1963. Both agents conveniently identified the man in the two-year-old photo, with a full reddish beard, as James Rizzuto (but Rizzuto, whose real name was Stephen Harris Landesberg, the student, had dark brown/black hair and was never known to wear a beard).

After much research, I was unable to find a source for the “red beard” statement. The closest was the November 30 Newsday article that Armstrong mentions, but it said only that the individual was a “dark haired bearded man” and this was obviously a second-hand report from a source who had seen the photo or knew someone who had. Since several other firsthand sources say L’Eandes was dark haired with a moustache and Newsday’s source had only seen (or heard of) a photo of L’Eandes, it is obvious that Newsday’s report is the odd man out. And the FBI report of Dunn says nothing about a description of L’Eandes at all, only that Dunn identified the photo as the man he knew as L’Eandes (who was actually Landesberg the student).

To get to the bottom of the issue, on July 6, 2015, I posted my concerns at The Spartacus Education Forum where I frequently communicate with Armstrong supporters. Jim Hargrove responded with a quote from Joachim Joesten’s The Case Against J. Edgar Hoover:

Several bars and coffee-houses in the Village that cater to the college crowd reported that FBI agents had been around and showed a color snapshot of a dark-haired, red-bearded man in his early or mid-20s. The man was dressed in a blue coat and wore a red scarf.

The quote was attributed by Joesten to the same familiar Newsday article and was accurate with one important exception-the inclusion of the word “red” in front of “bearded”. Joesten simply made a typo and probably picked up the word “red” from the following sentence that says “red scarf”. Armstrong should have been aware that this was just a typo by Joesten since he has the Newsday article in its original form at his Baylor files.

So, it appears that Armstrong chose to use a secondary source instead of a primary one simply because it supported his theory. Armstrong supporters should be gravely concerned by this type of manipulation of the facts. In any case, the “Red Bearded Man” is dead as is any attempt to tie L’Eandes to the actor Landesberg through this allegation.

UPDATE: Armstrong has changed the “Red Bearded Man” to “dark-haired man with a full beard.”

Barry Gray, L’Eandes and Rizzuto

In the first version of his article, Armstrong constructed an elaborate but false scenario concerning the talk show host Barry Gray of WMCA and his involvement with the L’Eandes/Rizzuto story. Armstrong postulated the following chronology:

· November 17, 1961: Gray interviews L’Eandes on WMCA radio

· November 22, 1963, 8:30 PM: Rizzuto calls Gray who schedules an on-air interview

· November 23, 1963, 1:30 AM: Gray calls the FBI and tells them about Rizzuto

· November 23, 1963, 3:00 AM: Gray interviews Rizzuto as the FBI listens

· November 23, 1963: The FBI interviews Rizzuto

Notice that in this version, Gray has taken over the situation and the FBI are reduced to passive observers who simply leave at the end of the interview. Also, according to Armstrong, Gray unbelievably waits five hours to call the FBI and later interviews Rizzuto on air. But the source for the 3 am interview of Rizzuto, according to Jim Hargrove, is Stan Weeber’s article “Stephen H. Landesberg and the Greenwich Village Hoax” which was published in the Fourth Decade in 1995.

But I knew that unless Weeber had some secret document, that his statements concerning Gray and Rizzuto could not be correct. Indeed, according to the article endnotes, Weeber’s source was Edith Asbury’s New York Times piece of November 30, 1963. That article contains absolutely nothing about Barry Gray at all and certainly nothing about him interviewing Rizzuto at 3:00 am. But even without knowing the source how could Weeber, who was getting most of his documents from Armstrong at the time, have anything that anyone else didn’t have? So, the 3 am interview of Rizzuto by Gray never happened.

UPDATE: Armstrong has removed all references to the “3 am Interview.”

However, because of an FBI document located by researcher Tom Scully, we now have a detailed chronology of the facts in this matter. The document shows that not only did the FBI agents who interviewed Rizzuto say that he and L’Eandes were the same person, but Roger Turner of WMCA radio did as well. Gray also saw the photo of L’Eandes and fingered him as the man he had originally interviewed in person in 1961.

According to the new document, Gray received a call from a man who identified himself as James Rizzuto sometime before 1:30 am on the 23rd of November. Rizzuto reminded Gray of the appearance of L’Eandes on his program in 1961, and added that L’Eandes knew Oswald and then promised to call back. Gray called the FBI at about 1:30 am and related the information about Rizzuto. Sometime before 2:00 am the FBI arrived at the WMCA station and interviewed Gray. At about 2:00 am Rizzuto called back while the FBI agents were there. “Under pretext with the assistance” of Roger Turner, the FBI persuaded Rizzuto to meet with them at a restaurant on 42nd Street. Turner apparently accompanied the agents to the meeting and saw Rizzuto there.

The agents met with Rizzuto and took him to the FBI offices for an interview where he related the now well-known story of Oswald, L’Eandes and Perry in New York in 1961-62. What is new here is that Rizzuto said he could not give out his home address because of “wife trouble”. He was also “evasive and secretive” about any other personal details. Rizzuto said he could be contacted at the Figaro Bar, but when agents inquired there nobody had ever heard of the fictitious Rizzuto. On November 27, Rizzuto called the FBI offices and said he had no further details to give them and again refused to provide his location.

On November 29, a photo of L’Eandes from one of the protest rallies was obtained by the FBI. The agents who interviewed Rizzuto identified the man in the photo as none other than Rizzuto. Turner likewise identified the L’Eandes photo as Rizzuto. Finally, Barry Gray identified the L’Eandes photo as the man he had interviewed in 1961. The agents now knew that Rizzuto was L’Eandes but were still unaware of Rizzuto’s true identity. The FBI report summarizes the situation perfectly:

It appears L’Eandes assumed identity of Rizzuto and furnished information for the sole purpose of artfully involving himself in the captioned matter (JFK assassination) and thus securing desired publicity.

Another interesting piece of information from the report says that the FBI assumed L’Eandes (using yet another alias) might be the source of some of the information that was being circulated in newspapers at the time.

As mentioned previously, FBI agents eventually located Rizzuto who admitted that his real name was Stephen Harris Landesberg and he was charged with providing false information to the FBI.

The actual chronology of the Barry Gray/Rizzuto affair is as follows:

· November 17, 1961: Barry Gray interviews L’Eandes on air and in person at WMCA radio

· Time Unknown (probably about 1:00 AM): James Rizzuto calls Gray and reminds him of L’Eandes’ appearance on WMCA

· November 23, 1963, 1:30 AM: Gray calls the FBI and tells them about Rizzuto

· November 23, 1963, Time Unknown: FBI agents interview Barry Gray at WMCA

· November 23, 1963, 2:00 AM: Rizzuto calls WMCA and is persuaded to meet with FBI under pretext

· November 23, 1963, Time Unknown: The FBI and Turner meet with Rizzuto at a restaurant on 42nd Street and he is taken to FBI offices for questioning

· November 23, 1963, Time Unknown: The FBI interviews Rizzuto who is evasive with his personal details

· November 29, 1963: A photo of L’Eandes is obtained and the FBI agents identify Rizzuto as L’Eandes

· November 29, 1963: Roger Turner identifies photo of L’Eandes as Rizzuto

· November 29, 1963: Barry Gray identifies photo of L’Eandes as man he interviewed in 1961

· December 5, 1963: FBI agents locate Rizzuto and learn he is Stephen Harris Landesberg

With the discovery of this new document by an alert researcher, the allegation that the actor Steve Landesberg was L’Eandes has been disproved for all reasonable people. No doubt the Armstrong supporters will look for a way to spin this into a new yarn, but the facts are now very clear.

The Roosevelt Hotel

So, what did the FBI do? On Nov. 25, they sent SA James E. Schmidt to the Roosevelt Hotel and asked the night manager to check registration cards from 1961 for James F. Rizzuto, Yves L’eandez, Earl Perry, (FNU) Regan, and Lee Harvey Oswald. No registration cards were located, because SA Schmidt checked registration cards for the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, LA., instead of the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. The FBI’s cover-up relating to L’eandes (the actor) had begun.

Wrong. The FBI simply did something that Armstrong doesn’t believe ever happens in the real world-they made a mistake and sent agents to the wrong Roosevelt Hotel. However, I located a document at the Mary Ferrell website that reveals why they went to New Orleans. One FBI report of the Rizzuto interview clearly says the hotel was in New York. But another report doesn’t mention the location although “NYC” was written in sometime later. Because “Regan” was ostensibly from Memphis, someone at the FBI, apparently working from the second document without the New York reference, assumed that the Roosevelt Hotel was in Memphis as well. So, they checked Memphis first.

The document goes on to say that no Roosevelt Hotel was in Memphis and then states the following:

Believe Rizzuto may have meant New Orleans. New Orleans division requested to check records Roosevelt Hotel in effort to identify Regan and to check other logical sources.

So, although careful work by the FBI could have avoided this mistake, there certainly is a reasonable explanation behind it. More reasonable than believing the FBI went to New Orleans because they were trying to avoid a proper investigation when the record shows an extensive investigation up until the point Rizzuto was exposed.

Earl Perry

On Nov 25 SA J. Richard Nichols contacted Major Robert C. Whitebread of the USMC in an attempt to locate Earl Perry, who knew L’eandes (the actor) and Oswald. Nichols learned that the only Earl Perry on active duty was assigned to the Marine Supply Center in Barstow, CA., and was from El Paso, TX.

The Armstrong team has been trying to sell the idea for some time that when the FBI found Earl Eugene Perry, who they say was from El Paso, Texas, they should have immediately focused in on him to the exclusion of all others. First, they mention that this Perry was the only one on “active duty”. But that is meaningless in this instance since the “Perry” that Rizzuto claimed to know was from 1956 and could be out of the service by 1963. And there would be no reason to limit the search to active duty personnel.

Secondly, there is no evidence that Earl Eugene Perry was from El Paso. When I asked Armstrong’s supporters for their source on this, I was referred again and again to the statement by agent J. Richard Nichols who contacted Major Robert Whitebread. But that report says absolutely nothing about Perry being from El Paso, Texas, and only says he was stationed at Barstow, California. The only person who said Perry was from El Paso was Rizzuto and he never said it was Earl Eugene Perry, only Earl Perry.

The claims by Armstrong and his supporters that the FBI was trying to shut down their investigation regarding El Paso are false as well. The FBI called every “Perry” in the 1963 El Paso phone book attempting to find information. They located a Colonel James Perry who indeed had a brother named Earl. But Colonel Perry’s brother had never lived in El Paso. Once again, Armstrong and his supporters have attempted to twist the evidence but the facts are clear-there was no Earl Perry from El Paso and the FBI conducted a complete investigation.

Other Allegations

In the 1960s there were two young men living in and around Greenwich Village (in New York City) named “Steve Landesberg.” Although they were similar in age and appearance, there were distinct differences between them.

There was four years’ difference between the two men, if you want to call that “similar”. As for appearance, you only have to look at photos of the men to see that there was absolutely no similarity whatsoever. As can be seen in their photos, Landesberg the student had dark brown hair and a dark complexion while the actor had reddish-brown hair and light skin.

In late 1961 and early 1962 Stephen Richard Landesberg became entangled in activities involving the harassment of liberal and minority-oriented political groups that were active in and around the Village. During this time he befriended and became involved with American-born Lee Oswald, while at the same time Harvey Oswald and Marina were living in Russia.

The only evidence that the actor Landesberg was involved in radical politics in the 1961-62 timeframe comes from the assertions of Al Fowler, which have been discussed. The evidence that Lee Harvey Oswald was involved in these activities is absolutely zero outside of the student Landeberg’s recanted allegations.

According to Carol Hewitt, whose legal practice was limited to Social Security, Landes/Landesberg received Social Security number 126-30-3500 between 1955 and 1957. This number was subsequently used by former German national Joseph Wiersch, who was born in 1900, lived in NYC, and died in 1985. Landes/Landesberg then began using SS number 126-30-3503–only one number (“3”) different from his original SS number.

As I pointed out in my original article, what exactly Hewitt’s analysis consisted of remains a mystery and Armstrong apparently doesn’t intend to share that information. Landesberg’s social security number was listed in one FBI document as 126-30-3503. In another document, it was listed as 126-30-3503 or 126-30-2503. Wiersch is apparently mentioned in an attempt to tie Landesberg to someone on the right since Wiersch is a German national. None of this means anything until such a time as Armstrong reveals the basis for these claims and I don’t intend to take his or Carol Hewitt’s word for it. If Landesberg ever used a different social security number, it may have simply been another manifestation of his illness.

Landes joined the marines (serial #1893702). He was asked to read and sign a statement that he had read and understood the Uniform Military Code of Justice. Who, but lawyers, would have the desire to read and understand this very large manual? Landes (the student) refused to sign the statement, and was taken to the Provost Marshall.

This is one of the most easily refuted of Armstrong’s assertions. This is from the website:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

Before you raise your right hand, make sure you understand what you are swearing or attesting to. The oath of enlistment should not be taken lightly, you will be bound by it for the next 4 to 6 years at a minimum.

So unsurprisingly, the military expects people who enlist to understand what they are attesting to. Since this is a requirement and Landesberg refused, it is not too difficult to see why he was sent to the Provost Marshall.

As he answered questions relating to his refusal to sign the statement Landes began to stammer and stutter. The Provost Marshall ended the interview and referred him to the Psychiatric Unit. During his initial interview Landes was very wary of the psychiatrists and their questions. He told them, “I don’t take stimulants or depressants. I don’t believe in drugs, they are not right. You don’t have to use me for a guinea pig.” Guinea Pig? Landes was observed to be “suspicious of the physician’s motivations and extremely apprehensive.” The doctors sedated him with Thorazine, diagnosed him with numerous psychiatric issues, and had him committed to the US Naval Hospital in Philadelphia. Seven months later, in June, 1961 he received an honorable discharge (for physical disability, diagnosed as a schizophrenic reaction, paranoid type, chronic) and returned home where he was treated by another Park Ave psychiatrist, Dr. Kalmanoff.

Here, Armstrong attempts to minimize Landesberg’s illness and emphasize the allegation that his rights were somehow being violated. What Armstrong leaves out is that right after saying “you don’t have to use me for a guinea pig”, Landesberg “began to threaten the examining physician.” And the fact that Landesberg was described as “suspicious of the physician’s motivations and extremely apprehensive” proves that he was indeed suffering the type of paranoia associated with his illness. My original article, The Hoaxster and the Conspiracy Theorists details the severity of his condition and the true chronology of events so there is no need to repeat it here. I strongly urge everyone to read the original documents and decide for yourself:

In the fall of 1961 Landes (the student) moved into an apartment on East 84th St. In October he got together with Steve L’eandes (the actor).

There is absolutely no evidence that the student and the actor were ever together and this statement in Armstrong’s unsourced article provides an opportunity to discuss the non-existent, sloppy and incorrect use of citations in all of his work. I have already discussed one example of this in the “Red Bearded Man” section of this article. Another example comes from his book Harvey & Lee where Armstrong cites a December 18, 1962 Village Voice article as a source for his assertion that L’Eandes was with Oswald and Earl Perry and that Oswald was taking photos. When you go to the article, there is nothing about Oswald or Earl Perry or about anyone taking photos or assisting L’Eandes in any way.

Barry Gray was an announcer for WMCA radio in NYC. On November 17, 1961 Gray interviewed a man on his program who identified himself as “Steve L’eandes.” The subject of discussion was “CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) Activities in the South.” Somehow this unknown man with a pronounced southern drawl, with no history of recent political activity, was able to appear on a New York radio program. During the interview L’eandes (the actor) expressed his support for segregation in a deep southern drawl.

As to how Landesberg was able to appear on Gray’s show, he probably simply called Gray and provided him with some phony credentials as a right-winger and impressed Gray with his intellect and ability to express himself. After Landesberg appeared on Gray’s program, he was apparently emboldened and decided to take his act public which resulted in the now infamous rally disruptions in 1961 and early ’62.

During the meeting, Lee Oswald, who was thought to be sharing an apartment with L’eandes on 8th St, was standing nearby and took photos of the assault, one of which was allegedly given to the National States Rights Party to be published in “Thunderbolt” magazine. The disruptive behavior of these men at liberal rallies was reported by the Village Voice.

Armstrong’s source for Oswald and L’Eandes sharing an apartment is a November 30, 1963 article from the New York Times by Edith Asbury. This report is obviously mistaken on this point since even Landesberg the student never claimed that “L’Eandes” shared a room with Oswald in his detailed accounts to the FBI. The information probably came from a second-hand source and the information became muddled. Even though there is no confirmation for this statement, Armstrong is quick to use it to support his theory. And there is absolutely no evidence that Oswald was ever at a rally taking pictures other than Landesberg’s recanted allegations.

As for the photo that was “to be” published in the Thunderbolt, the FBI found no such photo:

But the Village Voice reporters could not understand why L’eandes, who they believed was Jewish, would want to create havoc among Jews in NYC while posing as a southern bigot from Mississippi.

His mental problems notwithstanding, why would Landesberg the student, who his mother had said was “always fighting for causes and saw himself as an idealist” and had rebelled against his parents’ presumably conservative values, choose to pose as a right winger? One explanation is that he created an extreme caricature of a person on the right to demonstrate the absurdity, as he saw it, of those beliefs.

L’eandes (the actor) soon visited the offices of the Village Voice and wanted to place an ad commemorating Robert E. Lee’s birthday (January 19). He gave Village Voice reporter J.R. Goddard a business card that read, “Stephen L’Eandes Your Man on Campus,” with a PO Box at Grand Central Station. L’eandes then discussed his association with a right-wing group in Mississippi called the “Magnolia Rifles.”

Indeed, L’Eandes was reported to have been a frequent visitor to the weekly publication. Again, it defies logic that L’Eandes could have been the actor Landesberg since he became a national figure by 1974 when he appeared in the TV series Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers and Barney Miller soon after. Surely the reporters and other employees at the Voice would have come forward at some point in time to say that the man they knew as L’Eandes was the famous actor and TV star. Nothing of the kind ever happened because L’Eandes was the student Landesberg. By the way, there is no evidence that the “Magnolia Rifles” ever existed outside Landesberg’s imagination. This is more confirmation that Landesberg’s story was indeed false as he eventually admitted.

In 1961 Rizzuto saw L’eandes (the actor) at the Hotel Tamiana, in Florida, who was then looking for hotel work in south Florida (in 1961 Landesberg, the student was in Florida; prior to his acting career, the actor worked in hotels).

Although he worked in hotels, I am aware of no evidence that the actor Landesberg worked at hotels in Florida.

Rizzuto then gave the Bureau names and addresses of 9 people who knew Steve L’eandes (the actor), including a former roommate, Michael Dunn, of 169 East 49th St. apt 5C.

Actually, Rizzuto gave the name “Maurice Dunn” not Michael. It is obvious that Landesberg the student was caught off guard by some of the FBI’s questions so he gave the name of someone who knew L’Eandes but changed it slightly in hopes that the agents would be thrown off the trail.

Bureau agents soon arrived at Stephen Harris Landesberg’s (the student) apartment at 66 W. 10th St., where the name plate on his apartment door read “Stephen H. Landes.” So, who was the L’eandes living on either 8th Street or MacDougal as reported by Newsday? Was this Stephen Richard Landesberg (the actor) who indeed had red hair? This lead was ignored, because the FBI had already decided that Stephen Harris Landesberg’s (the student) was to take blame for the activities of the paid agitator, Steve L’eandes (Stephen Richard Landesberg, the actor).

Here we have an example of more attempts at misdirection and confusion of the facts by Armstrong. There was no L’Eandes living at 8th or MacDougal Street. It is a fact that early reports are often incorrect and Newsday’s information undoubtedly came from a source familiar with the FBI investigation but a secondary source nonetheless. There are no documented sources outside of Newsday (and a New York Times report that probably used the same source) that state that Landesberg the student lived anywhere other than the following addresses:

· E. 84th (where his mother reported he lived for a time)

· 165 E. 49th (where he lived with Dunn)

· W. 113th Street (FBI interview)

· 66 W. 10th (where the FBI finally found him)

As for Landesberg the actor, Armstrong conducted an extensive background investigation in the early nineties and you can bet that if he turned up evidence that the actor had ever lived on 8th or MacDougal Streets, he would have made that information readily available.

But Barry Gray, Al Fowler, Michael Dunn, Ann Legget, Village Voice reporters and many people in the Village who knew red-headed Stephen L’eandes (the actor) could have told the FBI that their friend was not “Jim Rizzuto,” the quiet, introverted, black/brown headed young man the FBI had committed to Bellevue (Stephen Harris Landesberg, the student). After merging the identities of these two young men into one “Steve Landesberg”, and then committing Stephen Harris Landesberg (the student) to a Bellevue (a psychiatric hospital), the FBI was able end its investigation of “Steve L’eandes” (the actor and paid agitator) and any relationship he may have had with Oswald in 1961-62.

The idea that simply committing Landesberg the student to Bellevue would immediately stop all potential inquiry in this matter is ludicrous. For example, Barry Gray was a man with a popular radio show in New York that often explored controversial topics. As a person who needed to be aware of current events, he undoubtedly read several newspapers and saw the photo of Landesberg the student. If he had seen Landesberg the actor, as Armstrong asserts, it defies all common sense and logic that he would remain silent. The same goes for the other people Armstrong mentions. One of them would have come forward, either at the time or years later when Landesberg the actor became a household name and the JFK case was in the news because of the HSCA. Also, notice how L’Eandes has now become “red-headed” as if it is a fact? Even Newsday didn’t say L’Eandes was red-headed. As for merging identities, that sounds like the overall Harvey & Lee theory.

Stephen Harris Landesberg (the student) never recanted his story about Oswald and L’eandes’ (the actor) activities in 1961-62, and there is no indication the Bureau asked him anything about Oswald, which was the reason for their investigation. But Landesberg (the student) did tell the Bureau that he, L’eandes (the actor), and Oswald were paid agitators, and said the information about Oswald and Perry was furnished to him by someone else.

Landesberg the student specifically stated that he was L’Eandes and obviously recanted all of his allegations in spite of the poor wording in the FBI reports. As for the statement that Landesberg was trying to alert the Bureau to someone else that had given him the information, this was an obvious attempt by Landesberg to minimize the consequences of his actions and “pass the buck” after realizing that he was in trouble with the FBI.

Being locked up for providing false information to the FBI is understandable. But what is not understandable is the FBI’s reluctance to question Landesberg (the student) about the identity of the people who provided him with information about Oswald in late 1961 or 1962, and who paid him to support right-wing causes.

What is not understandable to me is why Armstrong claims not to comprehend the reason why the FBI was unwilling to waste any more time on the Landesberg fiction. They spent about 2 weeks and wasted a great deal of resources on the story. When they discovered they were being lied to and that Landesberg had a history of mental problems and were unable to verify the “facts” he provided, they wisely suspended any further investigation.

Steven Harris Landesberg’s (the student) 10 day commitment to Bellevue makes it appear as though he was mentally unstable, just as the FBI tried to do with numerous troublesome JFK witnesses.

In the case of Landesberg, the evidence shows he was mentally unstable and the government was completely justified in committing him to Bellevue. A reading of the eleven page document describing his mental health history makes this clear.

With the alleged admission from Stephen Harris Landesberg (the student) that he had used the name “Steven Yves L’Eandes,” the Bureau was able to claim these two people were one and the same. In doing so they were able to avoid interviewing people who knew Oswald in NYC in 1961-62 and thereby exposing the two Oswalds.

Notice that despite all the evidence to the contrary, Armstrong now simply refers to Landesberg’s admission that he was L’Eandes as “alleged.” Armstrong believes that the FBI falsified and lied about nearly everything in this case. Everything except the dozens and dozens of instances in his book where he relies on facts provided by the “lying” FBI because they fit his theory.

The FBI had Stephen Harris Landesberg (the student) placed in confinement at Bellevue for 10 days, but one year later all charges against him were dropped.

I think in this case the conspirators made a mistake. Why not keep Landesberg confined instead of letting him out and later dropping the charges? Obviously, the truth was the government saw no need in this case to prosecute a mentally ill man.

The disappearance of all the court records covering the Stephen Richard Landesberg (the actor) and Oswald affair speaks volumes about the degree to which the government would go to suppress the true story of Steve Richard Landesberg (the actor) and Lee Harvey Oswald.

First, the records had nothing to do with Landesberg the actor. They were about the government’s case against Landesberg the student for lying to the FBI. But I can think of a few reasons why the records were allegedly not there. They could have been misplaced or routinely or accidentally destroyed. Perhaps Ms. Fugnetti didn’t want to bother finding them, especially if she became aware of the nature of Armstrong’s interest. Of course, Armstrong hopes that the reader will draw the most sinister meaning possible from his allegation that the records are missing.

If Stephen Richard Landesberg (the actor) was a paid FBI/government agitator in 1961-62, which is likely, then the FBI’s reluctance to locate and interview him, and instead frame Stephen Harris Landesberg (the student), is understandable.

It probably would be. But there is no evidence that Landesberg the actor was an FBI informant or had anything at all to do with this case.

It is also worth remembering that Stephen Harris Landesberg, the student, told the FBI that he met L’eandes (the actor) when he was in the Marines in 1956.

It is not worth remembering if Landesberg did no such thing. He was not in the Marines in 1956 and could not have known any of the people he said he did. He enlisted in November, 1960 and spent most of his time in a psychiatric unit. This is just one more example of the lies he told and later admitted.

During a television interview in the 1990s Steve Landesberg (the actor) made a comment that could explain his reluctance to provide information about his past. During the interview, which was seen by Dallas reporter Earl Golz, Landesberg said that “he was sorry he ever got mixed up with Oswald.”

As Armstrong tells it, Golz was relating something that he thought he heard Landesberg the actor say on a TV program, although he couldn’t remember the name of the show or anything else about the situation. But how likely is it that Landesberg, who was “reluctant to provide information about his past” and was presumably using this TV appearance to tell jokes or promote a personal project, would suddenly use this opportunity to disclose his previously secret involvement with Lee Harvey Oswald? And if this “admission” was such an amazing revelation, where was the media coverage? A rational person would assume Golz simply misheard Landesberg or that Landesberg was attempting to make a joke. He was, after all, a comedian.

But to John Armstrong, this was evidence that the actor Steve Landesberg was somehow involved in the L’Eandes/Oswald incidents, even though Stephen H. Landesberg admitted to the FBI that he was L’Eandes and that he had committed the acts attributed to L’Eandes. Armstrong did the same thing with Golz’s statement that he did with Mrs. Jack Tippit, Palmer McBride, and Aline Mosby. He found a small inconsistency or oddity and created an entire theory out of it.

We may never know the extent of Landesberg’s (the actor) involvement with Oswald in NYC in 1961-62, or the likelihood that he was a paid FBI/government agitator. But his friendship with Oswald, and their involvement with subversive activities in the Village in the early 1960s, is probably the reason why the actor withheld information about his life from 1954-1969.

Complete nonsense. Landesberg the actor was a private person and preferred to keep personal details to himself. There is absolutely no evidence that Landesberg the actor was a paid government informer and Armstrong or anyone else stating it without proof doesn’t make it a fact.

In 1993 I wrote to the actor (address obtained thru voter registration in Calif), identified myself and my interests, and asked him for a response. I (and fellow researcher Jack White) soon received phone calls from a man who identified himself as Tom Walker, who said that he was head of security for Mr. Landesberg. Mr. Walker, or whoever made the call (could have been the actor Landesberg), told me and fellow researcher Jack White to stop researching Steve Landesberg “or else.” “OR Else?” Something about Steve Landesberg’s past was important enough to threaten JFK researchers to stop investigating the actor’s background.

I can only imagine the shock when Landesberg discovered he was being pursued by JFK conspiracy researchers. Personally, I don’t find Landesberg’s reaction suspicious or unusual at all and I would characterize it as completely justified. Armstrong’s letter to Landesberg can be found in his Baylor files. Armstrong also accused Landesberg of calling the FBI (as Rizzuto) so again, it is little wonder Landesberg was not eager to communicate with him and feed his fantasies.

Stephen Harris Landesberg (the student), Stephen Richard Landesberg (the actor), and LEE Oswald were together in 1961-62 (while HARVEY Oswald was in the Soviet Union). What remains unknown is the extent of their involvement. But the past 50 years have allowed us to recognize the remarkable similarities between the political careers and actions of Steven Richard Landesberg and Lee HARVEY Oswald:

Complete nonsense and totally unproven. If the actor Landesberg were alive today, Armstrong most certainly would not be making these false allegations.


· The theory of Harvey & Lee has been disproven scientifically by the 1981 exhumation of Oswald, the HSCA handwriting analysis and the HSCA photographic panel.

· Stephen H. Landesberg admitted to the FBI that the activities of Stephen L’Eandes were in fact his own using that alias.

· At least six different people saw the photo of L’Eandes taken at a political rally. Three of those people said that L’Eandes was identical to James Rizzuto who was actually Steven Harris Landesberg. The other three people said that the photo represented the L’Eandes they knew.

· Hubert Humphrey, Mark Lane, Barry Gray, Michael Dunn, David Heath, JR Goddard or any one of hundreds of other people could have come forward at any time to say that the man they knew as L’Eandes was in fact the world-famous actor Steve Landesberg. Not one did except Al Fowler.

· Al Fowler was a heroin addict and amphetamine dealer who says that L’Eandes was the actor Landesberg. Fowler suffered a head injury and admitted to severe memory problems.

· Armstrong’s “Red Bearded Man” who was ostensibly L’Eandes never existed and was created by using an incorrect secondary source rather than a primary one.

· After an extensive investigation, the FBI found that there was no Earl Perry from El Paso, Texas.

With this article, John Armstrong has cast aspersions on the memory of a talented man who was admired by millions worldwide in the furtherance of his disproven theory. I hope this article has done something to rectify that situation.


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