Kefauver Report

Four times during Diamonds Are Forever Ian Fleming references the Kefauver Report.

First, the Chief of Staff is trying to convince James Bond to take American criminal activity seriously.

These are big operations. Do you realize gambling’s the biggest single industry in America? Bigger than steel. Bigger than motor cars? And they take damn good care to keep it running smoothly. Get a hold of a copy of the Kefauver Report if you don’t believe me.

Then while preparing to go undercover as Peter Franks, Bond receives a communication from headquarters via a messenger.

‘Washington’, said the memorandum, ‘reports that “Rufus B. Saye” is an alias for Jack Spang, a suspected gangster who was mentioned in the Kefauver Report but who has no criminal record.

Later, while with Felix Leiter and headed to Saratoga Springs, Bond is reading the column from Jimmy Cannon that Leiter has clipped for him to read.

The village of Saratoga Springs [he read beneath the photograph of an attractive young man with wide, straight eyes and a rather thin-lipped smile] was the Coney Island of the underworld until the Kefauvers put their show on the television. It frightened the hicks and chased the hoodlums to Las Vegas.

Finally, as Leiter is saying goodbye to Bond as the latter prepares to head out to Las Vegas, it is mentioned again.

The gangs didn’t go out with Capone. Look at Murder Inc. Look at the Kefauver Report.

In 1950, the United States Senate set out to investigate the world of organized crime in America, specifically when it came to government corruption. Senator Estes T. Kefauver of Tennessee was the first Chairman of the Senate Committee to Investigate Crime and Interstate Commerce, as it was officially named, but it quickly became known as the Kefauver hearings and eventually the Kefauver report.

During the 15-month investigation, witnesses in over 14 major U.S. cities were interviewed, many on live television, which really gave that relatively new medium a huge push. This was the first major event to be covered live on national television and millions tuned in to watch the live proceedings.

From the United States Senate Website:

The broadcasts made the Kefauver committee a household name; in March 1951, 72 percent of Americans were familiar with the Kefauver committee’s work. Schools dismissed students to watch the hearings. Housewives neglected housework. Blood banks ran low on donations, prompting one Brooklyn Center to install a television and tune in to the hearings and donations shot up 100 percent. “Never before had the attention of the nation been riveted so completely on a single matter,” explained Life magazine. “The Senate investigation into interstate crime,” it concluded, “was almost the sole subject of national conversation.”

The reports that the committee ultimately put together were 11,000 pages long. The Final Report, which is what was most widely read was a little more than 200 pages.

Mob Museum Exhibit On The Kefauver Hearings
Mob Museum Exhibit On The Kefauver Hearings

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