The Korshak Chronicles

Curator's note: If you're a Korshak (or simply interested in this fascinating family), click here for some background and a partial list of Korshak descendants. You can also track the Korshaks (and the Missner, Zurakov and Missner families to whom they were related) through Chicago city directories (from 1886 to 1929) and through Federal census data (from 1900, 1910 and 1920).

Right: Sidney Korshak on the occasion of his graduation from the DePaul Law School.


Curator's note: This collection of pages has nothing whatever to do with broadcasting in Chicago or anywhere else. But it's the inevitable result of my marriage a decade ago to the Queen of Love and Beauty. BTW: The "Doonesbury" strip above dates from July 11th, 1979.

The Latest: Uncle David ("The Torch") Korshak meets the press and lays bare the inner workings of Chicago's early twentieth century "arson trust". Then he takes the stand. Was his testimony truth or perjury? (By the way---David's son Clarence is the only member of the Korshak family who actually killed someone. More on that one of these days).

Sidney Korshak in 1927 Left: Sidney Korshak, photographed at a Korshak family picnic (probably in the summer of 1927 when he was an upperclassman at the University of Wisconsin).

These days Sidney (1908-1996) is described as "enigmatic", "the most powerful lawyer in the world", "almost vaporous", "the underworld's primary link to the corporate upperworld". His name is presently being invoked by striking members of the Writers Guild of America.

I borrow these terms from the publisher's blurb for a Gus Russo opus that was originally supposed to be published in 2005 under the title of "The Fixer". (A paperback version of the book was published in the summer of 2007).

Retitled "Supermob: How Sidney Korshak and his Criminal Associates Became America's Hidden Power Brokers", it was published on September 5th, 2006.

(Also said to be in the works is a Paramount Sidney-bio "The Man Who Kept Secrets", directed by Billy Friedkin, an alumnus of the WGN-TV mail room).
I would argue that Sidney is best approached, not in the context of the Capone mob (which was pretty much washed up by the time he got his law degree from DePaul university), but from the perspective of the family of which he was a member.

From my point of view, Sidney is by no means the most the most interesting member of the Korshak family (which began emigrating from Kiev in 1882). But he will perhaps appear a little less "enigmatic" once you learn a little more about the six sons of Bella and Tevye Korshak and their descendents. (Sidney, by the way, was a son of Harry Korshak, the youngest of the Korshak brothers).

If you find Sidney of interest, you'll certainly want to come back to this site when I tell the story of his Uncle David who, from 1911 to 1914 (along with his flamboyant wife Fannie) sought publicity as much as Sidney avoided it.

Installment #1: The story of "firebug" David Korshak, the wacky arsonist.

And coming eventually: The adventures of Max Korshak (son of Mendel and the family's first lawyer) and his cousin Charles Korshak (the family's worst lawyer). You'll see how Max rescued axe-murderer George Krupka from the gallows after Charlie's bizarre defense strategy (it was his first and only case) guaranteed Mr. Krupka a one-way ticket to death row.

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2004 Rich Samuels