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As he recalled his process for a recent blog about Cygnet Theatre's Parade, director Sean Murray added an anecdote that gives the musical another telling dimension.

Leo Frank was accused of raping and murdering a young woman in 1913. The charges were false and, as the controversy spread across the country, it became clear that the real charge was anti-Semitic: Frank was a Jew. After a mob lynched her husband, Lucille Frank chose to stay in Atlanta, even though her world took a giant step backward.

"It's this that frightens her at the end," says Murray, "that she chooses to remain in the South and assert her Southern-ness, but will always be looking over her shoulder for the rest of her life.

"And that's exactly what happened. Lucille lived until the 1950s. She never remarried and hired mediums to speak with Leo from beyond. When she died, she was cremated. Her friends and family worried that even mentioning her death in the news would reignite the whole affair all over again - which it could have done. So they quietly stored her ashes away.

"For years the box remained in an attic. In the mid- to late-Sixties, a nephew found them. He put them in the trunk of his car with the intention of burying them in the family plot. But he didn't get around to it for a couple of years.

"Finally he buried them secretly between her parents' graves in Atlanta, with no stone marker and no ceremony.

"The anti-Frank people claim to this day that she refused to be buried with her husband in Brooklyn because she KNEW he was guilty of Mary Phagan's murder. They have a website with photos and are as vocal today as they were in 1913.

"That the established Jewish community in Atlanta and Lucille's family felt that holding a funeral for her would give detractors another opportunity to stir it up again is telling.

"Lucille Frank was definitely the third victim in this story."

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Comments

whatreallyhappened April 27, 2012 @ 11:49 a.m.

Anti-Semitism is the common mythology about the Leo Frank trial, but Steve Oney dispelled this myth in his book, 'And the Dead Shall Rise, the Murder of Mary Phagan and Lynching of Leo Frank'. The only false charge in this case was the accusations of anti-Semitism as the reason Leo Frank was convicted, because if race hatred were involved in this case, it would have been infinitely easier to railroad Jim Conley, a friendless African-American alcoholic with a criminal rap sheet listing 7 drunk & disorderly charges.

If you believe racism and prejudice are immoral, don't you think making false accusations about racism and prejudice against people is equally immoral?

Leo Frank told the Atlanta Police in a stenographed statement that Mary Phagan entered his office on April 26, 1913, between 12:05 and 12:10pm, he also told the police he never left his office from noon to 12:45pm.

Monteen Stover testified she went to the National Pencil Company on April 26, 1913, at 12:05pm to pick up her pay envelope and waited till 12:10pm before leaving, because she found Leo Frank's office empty. Leo Frank responded that the reason his office was empty was because he might have "unconsciously" gone to the bathroom in the metal room. The admission amounted to a murder confession, because the prosecutor Hugh M. Dorsey's case at the Leo Frank trial was that Leo Frank murdered Mary Phagan in the metal room bathroom between 12:05pm and 12:10pm on April 26, 1913.

What made the conviction tight and narrow was that Jim Conley told the court he found Mary Phagan dead in the bathroom area of the metal room at the behest of Leo Frank.

Lucille requested to be cremated in her 1954 will and before she died asked her family to disburse her ashes in an Atlanta park. The Frank and Stern family reserved an empty grave to the left of Leo Frank in the Mount Carmel Cemetery in Glendale, NY. That grave is still empty according to the staff at the Mount Carmel Cemetery. Lucille Selig Frank chose not to be buried next to her husband or have her ashes spread near Leo Frank in Queens, NYC, that should say something about her belief in her husband's innocence or guilt. Lucille might have been a loyal wife who stood by her husband during the whole ordeal between 1913 and 1915, but she was not naive.

"Lucille Frank was definitely the third victim in this story."

I definitely agree with this sentiment, and so does Steve Oney.

The world's foremost expert on the Leo Frank Case is Professor Allen Koenigsberg of Brooklyn College, he has a Yahoo discussion group about the Leo Frank case and I recommend you share your views there. The yahoo group can be found through his web site Leo Frank Case Doht Com

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Dawes Sept. 9, 2019 @ 10:12 p.m.

Allen Koenigsberg has never been a professor. Secondly, throughout her life, after the lynching, Lucille always signed her names as Mrs. Leo frank. She would not have done that if she thought he was guilty.

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Dawes Sept. 9, 2019 @ 10:14 p.m.

Typo correction to my above posting: She always signed her name as
Mrs. Leo Frank.

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Jeff Smith April 28, 2012 @ 10:44 a.m.

Whatreallyhappened. I'm no expert on the case and will follow your suggestions - read Oney and check out the website. The point I made elsewhere was about the acting at Cygnet. Too often productions try to sweep uncomfortable subject matter under the rug. They cartoon it, or the actors will indicate to the audience that they aren't the villain they're portraying. They won't "go there."

At Cygnet each actor honored his/her character's point of view, even defended it. The musical slants the case for Frank, but Cygnet's actors don't. This is rare and noteworthy.

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whatreallyhappened April 29, 2012 @ 4:08 a.m.

The central thesis of this Broadway Musical, 'Parade' is that Leo Frank was indicted and convicted because of Anti-Semitism.

Don't you think it is a most unfair slander against someone, or some group of people, to claim they convicted a man for murder and sentenced him to death because of Anti-Semitism, when the truth of the matter is he was convicted by the overwhelming preponderance of the evidence? Falsing accusing people of racism, prejudice or anti-Semitism is a most grotesque slander and this play defaming Southerners.

What the Leo Frank case was really about is a Jewish factory boss who tried to blame a rape and murder on an innocent African-American nightwatchman, Newt Lee. None of the retellings of the case mention the fact that this was a case of a White Jew trying to frame a black man.

http://www.LeoFrankCase.com has a Leo Frank Yahoo discussion group, people should join to learn what really happened.

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Jeff Smith April 29, 2012 @ 11:06 a.m.

I'm buying a lot of what you say. The generality's way too sweeping (and the Cygnet production cuts against it by making Frank more complex than the script suggests, possibly even culpable).

So why can't you say Frank was just a factory boss and not a "Jewish factory boss" and why not just a white man trying to frame a black man (instead of a "White Jew" - in capital letters)? Why add these inflamatory words if you're arguing against that attitude?

And what about the lynching? Wasn't there even smidge of anti-semitism in it, or was that just good clean vigilante fun?

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whatreallyhappened May 2, 2012 @ 6:16 p.m.

It comes around full circle, if the whole central thesis of this Broadway musical 'Parade' is Leo Frank was a Northern Jew, working in the South, and convicted because of Gentile anti-Semitism, then why when speaking about the real Leo Frank case (1913 to 1915) must we leave out the race of Leo Frank and Newt Lee the man he tried to frame?

If we are going to have an honest and open discussion about Leo Frank case in the context of a White racial separatist South, we should not omit the fact that Leo Frank was a privileged White and Jewish factory boss, who tried to frame an innocent low-ranking African-American nightwatchman. The reason is because in racist 1913 Atlanta, the word of a Whiteman would almost certainly be taken over an African-American and this is most relevant to the discussion.

Governor John M. Slaton was a part-owner and senior law partner of the lawfirm 'Rosser, Brandon, Slaton and Phillips', that represented Leo Frank at his murder trial and appeals.

Perhaps it wasn't, 'good clean vigilante fun' as you say, but the outgoing Governor John M. Slaton commutted the death sentence of his own wealthy client that outraged the people of Georgia. The most prominent members of the Government of Georgia hanged Leo Frank, not some drunken mob of rabble rousers.

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Jeff Smith May 3, 2012 @ 10:43 a.m.

So they took the law into their own hands and hung him. And because they were prominent members of the govt. this somehow made it RIGHT?

I think I've figured something out. The discussion began by comparing apples with crayons. It sounds like you didn't see Cygnet's production and base your points on the Broadway version - which was slanted hard in favor of Frank's innocence. The Cygnet version un-slanted things, even added doubts about Frank. I praised the show because it did away with simplistic melodrama - shining good here, smarmy evil over there - on which so much theater is based. I wish you could have seen Cygnet's, instead of assuming that it followed the Broadway version in every regard.

The case you make makes me want to learn much more about the "affair."

On a personal note: I've been researching and writing about San Diego's vigilantes (1912, same era) for the last six months. I've studied Cygnet's multiple-perspective approach to find ways of understanding the impulse.

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