Thursday, June 18, 2009

Steve Brody Jumps Off The Brooklyn Bridge: 1886

Steve Brodie (1863–1901) was an American bookmaker from Brooklyn who claimed to have jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge and survived on July 23, 1886. The newspaper reports at the time gave Brodie lots of publicity, and the New York City tavern he opened shortly afterward was a success.
Hoax or not, Brodie became famous, and his name for a time became slang; to "pull a Brodie" or "do a Steve Brodie" came to be understood to do something flamboyant and dangerous.
In 1933, Brodie was portrayed by George Raft in Raoul Walsh's film The Bowery. He also appears as a character in the June 4, 1949 Warner Bros. cartoon short Bowery Bugs, starring Bugs Bunny, directed by Arthur "Art" Davis and presenting a fictionalized account of why Brodie wished to jump from the bridge in the first place. Brodie (misspelled "Brody" in the cartoon) is portrayed as a cigar-chomping, hard-drinking, gambling-addicted, thieving lout who seeks a rabbit's foot to change his bad luck; Bugs' subsequent antics eventually drive him to jump from the bridge out of pure madness.
In Samuel Fuller's paean to the fourth estate, Park Row (1952), the character Steve Brodie is prepped to make the leap, and then becomes the primary focus for the first edition of The Globe newspaper.
"Doing a Brodie" is referred to in David Foster Wallace's "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" essay.
The "spinning knobs" once commonly bolted to the steering wheels of farm implements and trucks prior to the advent of power steering were referred to as "suicide knobs," and, by association, "Brodie knobs," as their misuse could lead to loss of control of the vehicle.

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