‘Dr. Feelgood’ starts at 1 hr 20 min
Host: George Knapp
Guests: Oscar Goodman, William J. Birnes
In the first half of the program, George Knapp was joined by popular former Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman, who discussed his career as a mob attorney, representing everyone from Meyer Lansky to Lefty Rosenthal, as well as how this led to him becoming the mayor of Las Vegas. Goodman recalled that a serendipitous recommendation to a mobster needing a lawyer and a “very, very lucky” court win resulted in his gaining the attention of the mafia. His reputation grew due to court victories in the first wiretap trial as well as representing Lanksy in a high profile case where everyone was found guilty except him. From that point forward, Goodman marveled, “I was the mob’s lawyer.” Regarding the argument that Goodman helped ‘bad guys’ get away with their crimes, he responded that if the government cannot do its job without committing misconduct, then “they’re not entitled to putting anybody away.”
On how Goodman made the transition from mob lawyer to mayor of Las Vegas, he explained that the cases had begun to become repetitive and he grew dissatisfied that his “primary goal” revolved around how much money he could make. Additionally, he noted that his life had become boring because he focused intensely on his work and was “very concerned that the government would rather have me than my client,” so he led an extremely private life. Ultimately, he decided that he wanted to “try and keep the system honest from the inside” and successfully ran for mayor of the city. Known for his outspoken nature, such as suggesting that graffiti ‘artists’ have their thumbs cut off, Goodman mused that “you only go around once” in life and, thus, he rebuked his critics who want him to be more politically correct, declaring that they can “drop dead.”
In the latter half, author Bill Birnes talked about Dr. Max Jacobson, who developed a unique “energy formula” that altered the paths of some of the twentieth century’s most iconic figures, including President and Jackie Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis. Birnes detailed how Jacobson was an internal medicine specialist who was trying to find a cure for diseases using blood serum. Over the course of his research, he developed a treatment which was so powerful that it made people very sick, so he added methamphetamines to the formula to make them feel better. Via his friendship with film director Billy Wilder, Jacobson developed a clientele amongst the New York entertainment community which sought out his “special vitamin shots,” as they were called.
Jacobson’s most prominent ‘patient,’ was President John F. Kennedy, who turned to the doctor’s formula as a means of relieving a variety of crippling ailments. According to Birnes, Kennedy began receiving the treatments when he was a Senator and utilized the formula prior to the infamous first Presidential debate with Richard Nixon which swung the momentum of 1960 election. Following his victory, Kennedy became increasingly reliant on Jacobson’s drug cocktail, Birnes said, and even tried to get the doctor to move into the White House. As a result of his drug dependence, JFK became so erratic that the Vienna Summit with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev became a diplomatic disaster and Kennedy later had a “psychotic break” during a visit to New York. Birnes theorized that the CIA’s weariness over Kennedy’s drug habit, and the reckless behavior it caused, ultimately led to his assassination.