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Dark Victory: Ronald Reagan, MCA and the Mob Paperback – June 16, 1987

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 390 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin, Inc. (June 16, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014010478X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140104783
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,272,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Moldea's investigatory report, ostensibly a history of MCA, the $2-billion Hollywood conglomerate (Universal Pictures, etc.), is especially concerned with the firm's long-standing and, claims Moldea, questionable ties with President Reagan. The resulting tale of "power and manipulation" is so complex, involving Hollywood, mob and political figures as well as government investigations, that it may try the patience of many readers. Recounting MCA's 62-year rise from Chicago dance-band booking agents into the "General Motors of Hollywood," Moldea (The Hoffa Wars charges that Reagan, while Screen Actors Guild president in the early 1950s, helped create the unprecedented deal that made MCA a powerful force in TV. While wrongdoing has never been proven, Reagan has since benefited financially and politically from close links with MCA heads Jules Stein and Lew Wasserman, he charges. Moldea uses government documents to raise serious questions. 50,000 first printing; author tour.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

A smoldering indictment of the Hollywood entertainment industry's guilt-by-association ties to organized crime. Using previously classified documents, crime reporter Moldea spins several tales in this extraordinary book, principally the rise of Music Corporation of America (MCA) from a fledgling band-booking company in 1924 to Hollywood's most powerful TV, film, and recording conglomerate, and the entwined journey of MCA client Reagan from mediocre actor to U.S. President. Moldea's story is no easy read, with its plethora of characters, facts, and footnotes. The sad conclusion is that although, for the most part, MCA and Reagan have done nothing technically illegal (i.e., indictable) in their ruthless quest for power and success, they have used every means available, including mobsters and corrupt politicians and union officials. Sure to be controversial. David Bartholomew, NYPL
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By William Hare on January 25, 2004
Format: Paperback
At the time Ronald Reagan assumed the presidency of the Screen Actors Guild he was a Warner Brothers contact player known as "the Errol Flynn of B's," in short, a lower echelon leading man who performed in feature roles for certain Warners A products. His rise up the success ladder is interesting to observe from this key juncture, and Dan Moldea is there with the roadmap explaining much about Reagan's professional and political behavior.
In Reagan's early days as SAG president the bitterly divisive House Un-American Activities Committee investigations into the motion picture industry began. Reagan appeared as a friendly witness, blaming the industry's labor strifes strictly on the American Communist Party.
Moldea's compelling account fills in important blanks. For instance, the motion picture industry began with heavy influence and control generated by the Chicago Mafia. He reveals that the conflict Reagan and other corporate spokespersons laid at the doorstep of Communists was not as simple as described, and that mob influence surrounded much of what was happening. A blacklist was launched to ostensibly destroy Communist influence in the industry while that of the Mafia was not even a subject for discussion. All strikes were blamed on unpatriotic hotheads parroting the Moscow line.
Later,in 1954, when Reagan's career was in worse shape than in the late forties, and when he struggled amid a shrinking bank account to make ends meet, he was in a position to assist the powerful Music Corporation of America, a powerful agency seeking to launch into film production. Reagan as SAG president led the fight to provide MCA with an exemption that others in the industry were denied.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Doepke on June 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
Anyone looking for the smoking gun on Ronald Reagan and organized crime will be disappointed. The future president emerges from these pages as the affably forgetful frontman for big business that the knowledgable public has long known him to be. Moldea traces the actor's well-known forgetfulness back to 1952 and investigations into sweetheart deals between Reagan's Screen Actor's Guild and Jules Stein's sinister conglomerate, MCA. What emerges from this is an apprenticeship period in which the future president hones his frontman skills and practices selective memory, while big business comes to appreciate certain show business talents. Not exactly news bulletin material.
On a more newsworthy note, Moldea documents a series of protracted associations between such mob frontmen as Sidney Korshak, Hollywood tycoons like Lew Wasserman, union leaders of many stripes, and political insiders such as Reagan's William French Smith and Paul Laxalt, the Democrat's Paul Ziffren, and even the political left's Jerry Brown who seems peculiarly proud of Korshak's friendship and support. This is not a pretty picture, and while no criminal disclosures are made, there appears no doubt that such high echelon representatives of big business, the mob, and politics intersect at critical junctures far from public knowledge and scrutiny. This is not conspiracy theory, as some apologists would have it. Rather, it's a picture of high-level business conducting itself as business, and only a hopeless naif would believe that no mutual benefit from these associations is involved, as when master fixer Korshak steps in to protect hotel owners from a potntially damaging food-handlers strike. After all, Korshak's juice in these matters certainly doesn't come from a law school diploma, even an Ivy League one.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Acute Observer on May 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
Dark Victory: Ronald Reagan, MCA, and the Mob

Dan. E. Moldea has specialized in investigating organized crime, and has written for many publications. This book is about Ronald Reagan and his relationship to MCA, the powerful entertainment conglomerate. Show business, Hollywood and TV, play an important role in adjusting the thinking, wants, and buying habits of the public. They have more effect on people's lives than many churches. There are questions and allegations about Reagan and MCA. Are there links to organized crime (p.2)? MCA owns the largest motion picture and television production companies in the United States, and other businesses (p.3). In the 1940s Hollywood shifted its attention away from organized crime to the Communist menace (p.5). President Kennedy's term saw an investigation of anti-trust violations; it was settled out of court (p.6). MCA's executives made Reagan a multi-millionaire overnight, before he was made Governor. Reagan appointed "known associates of organized crime" to his campaign staff and later to positions in the Reagan administration. [This book must have been written before the drug smuggling and money laundering operations known as "Contragate" became public knowledge.]

Chapter 1 has the history of MCA and how it developed with the spread of radio and records, entertainment for the masses. Chapter 2 tells how organized crime developed in Chicago, moved into legal businesses and bought political protection. [No mention of strike-breaking or business rivalries.] They then moved into Hollywood and its cash-rich businesses. Will Hays hired gangsters to break unions (p.26). Payoffs to the union officers saved many millions in wages and benefits (p.27).
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More About the Author

A specialist on organized-crime investigations since 1974, best-selling author and independent investigative journalist Dan E. Moldea has published seven nonfiction books: The Hoffa Wars: Teamsters, Rebels, Politicians and the Mob (1978); The Hunting of Cain: A True Story of Money, Greed, and Fratricide (1983); Dark Victory: Ronald Reagan, MCA, and the Mob (1986); Interference: How Organized Crime Influences Professional Football (1989); The Killing of Robert F. Kennedy: An Investigation of Motive, Means, and Opportunity (1995); Evidence Dismissed: The Inside Story of the Police Investigation of O.J. Simpson (with Tom Lange and Philip Vannatter, 1997); and A Washington Tragedy: How the Death of Vincent Foster Ignited a Political Firestorm (1998).

Moldea's action-packed memoir--Confessions of a Guerrilla Writer: Adventures in the Jungles of Crime, Politics, and Journalism (2013)--is currently available.

See the first chapters of DEM's books at

He is currently at work on his ninth nonfiction book.

Since 1998, Moldea, a registered private investigator, has also worked as an independent-investigative consultant, participating in a wide variety of breathtaking and mind-blowing capers.

Specialties: True crime, focusing on organized crime and political corruption.

To book a lecture with DEM, please go to (Jodi Solomon Speakers Bureau)

Moldea's website is His Twitter account is @DanMoldea. He is also on Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

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