Nota Bene: Weird Tales from the Yiddish Press

Eddie Portnoy’s book Bad Rabbi: And Other Strange But True Stories from the Yiddish Press is chock-full of goodies printed in prewar Yiddish-language papers in New York and Warsaw. The New York Times review approvingly noted Portnoy’s collection of stories about “vengeful lovers, demented blackmailers and unscrupulous abortionists.”

Here’s a good one, per David Mikics:

Portnoy spends some time on the story of Martin (Blimp) Levy, a professional wrestler who in his heyday weighed more than 600 pounds. Levy, who started his career in 1937, was, according to his manager, “a freak with class.” He was flexible, even agile: Bad Rabbi contains a photo of him doing the splits. Levi was also a bona fide chick magnet. He was married at least three times, always to young, svelte women. (In one divorce case, Levy testified that his spouse physically abused him; the judge ruled in his favor.) In 1946 he married an 18-year-old fan. That same year, he was barred from wrestling in the United States because doctors feared he would drop dead in the ring. A few years later he was reduced to playing the fat man in a circus. Levy, who ended up weighing 900 pounds, died at age 56 in an Alabama motel…

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