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September 21 2019
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Roy Cohn talks to a client from his 1961 Chevrolet Impala convertible.

My new film, Where’s My Roy Cohn?, which opens in theaters this weekend, is about the American lawyer who first shot to national prominence with his role as Senator Joseph McCarthy’s chief counsel during the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings. He developed a reputation for ruthlessness and corruption, from his early influence in the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg trial to his later client roster, which included several Mafia dons, as well as Donald Trump. Cohn died in 1986 from complications of AIDS (a fact, among countless others, that he always vehemently denied—along with his homosexuality). Here are 10 of the most interesting things I learned about this most dark prince of power brokering, while directing Where’s My Roy Cohn?

Roy Cohn’s Family Was Really Rich

Roy Cohn came from an upper-class Eastern European Jewish immigrant family. Among the companies his family controlled were the Bank of the United States, Phillips–Van Heusen shirts, Lionel Trains, and Q-Tips. His mother’s side of the family, the Marcuses, were his moneyed relatives, and his uncle Bernie Marcus was president of the Bank of the United States. In the aftermath of the 1929 banking crisis, Cohn’s uncle Bernie was the only bank president to get a prison sentence. This brought great shame to the family and, it is thought, put a chip on the shoulder of Cohn’s mother, Dora Marcus Cohn, and Cohn himself. Cohn-family members believe that avenging the injustice done to uncle Bernie might have been one of Cohn’s motivations for winning at all costs.

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