He was a 1930s golf legend and Hollywood trickster who adamantly refused to be photographed. He never played professionally, yet sports-writing legend Grantland Rice still heralded him as "the greatest golfer in the world." Then, in 1937, the secrets of John Montague's past were exposed--leading to a sensational trial that captivated the nation.
From three-time New York Times bestselling author Leigh Montville
John Montague was a boisterous enigma. He had a bagful of golf tricks, on and off the course. He could chip a ball across a room into a highball glass, and knock a bird off a wire from 170 yards--and when the big man arrived in Hollywood in the early 1930s, he quickly became a celebrity among celebrities. He lived for a time with Oliver Hardy (whom he could lift, one-handed, onto the country club bar) and played golf with everyone from Howard Hughes and W. C. Fields to Babe Ruth and his close friend Bing Crosby, whom he famously beat while playing only with a rake, a shovel, and a bat. Yet strangely Montague never entered a professional tournament, and in a town that thrived on publicity, he never allowed his image to be captured on film.
The reasons became clear when a Time magazine photographer snapped his picture with a telephoto lens ... and police in upstate New York quickly recognized Montague as a fugitive wanted for armed robbery. As Montague was indicted in the tiny upstate town of Jay, New York, hordes of national media descended and turned a star-studded legal carnival into the most talked about trial of its day - the trial of "the Mysterious Montague."
From the glamour of 1930s Hollywood, to John Montague's extraordinary skill and triumphs on the golf course, to the shady world of Adirondack rumrunners and bootleggers, three-time New York Times bestselling author Leigh Montville captures a man and an era with extraordinary color, verve, and energy. The Mysterious Montague is Leigh Montville's most entertaining achievement to date.
When John Montague died alone on May 25, 1972, age 69, in a fleabag hotel in Studio City, Calif., his body went unclaimed for a week. Hardly a fitting end for a man who once rubbed shoulders with Bing Crosby, Richard Arlen, Oliver Hardy and the other Hollywood swells who golfed, drank and caroused at the Lakeside Country Club in L.A. In the capable hands of bestselling sportswriter Montville (Ted Williams), Montague's is a quintessentially American story of a man from a hardscrabble background who found himself in the glamorous, easy-money world of Hollywood. But Montague had a past that caught up to him. Having fled a charge of armed robbery in upstate New York, Montague was brought back in 1937 to stand trial, and though he got off, his life quickly unraveled. Hyped by the great sportswriter Grantland Rice (who called him "a golfer who would be a wrecking whirlwind in any amateur championship and on a par with any pro") and other newshounds, Montague struggled through a series of increasingly embarrassing attempts to go legit on the golf circuit. An entertaining read for the golf lit completist, this doesn't rise to the level of compulsion for the average reader. (May) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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May 05, 2008
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