Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest Robert & Carol Teitelbaum authors of Hiding in Plain Sight.
Carol has been a psychotherapist since 1985, with California private practices in Tarzana and Rancho Mirage. Her practice is dedicated to people who have experienced trauma, abuse, and addiction.
Bringing light into the darkness, Carol, along with her husband, Robert, created a 501 C3 corporation, Creative Change Conferences.
This conference is celebrating its tenth year of offering help to survivors of child abuse. Her program, "It Happens to Boys," has helped thousands of men begin their healing process.
Carol is an author for Step 12 Magazine, Recovery Illustrated, Sober World, and Recovery View.
She speaks at conferences
and leads workshops. Carol's conferences have included such stellar
speakers as Jerry Moe, John Bradshaw, John Lee, Claudia Black, David
Whyte, Dave Pelzer, Patrick Carnes, and Rev. Leo Booth, many of whom
Carol now calls friends. Carol and Robert have been married
fifty-four years have two children and three granddaughters, who are
the loves of their lives.
Robert is a SAG actor and retired casting director with twenty-five years in the entertainment industry. He has been the creative director of Palm Springs TheatreSports, an international improvisational organization, since 1994.
He is CEO of Creative Change Conferences. Robert speaks at conferences and leads workshops on Mob history, family dysfunction, trauma, abuse, addiction, and recovery.
Robert's first book, Frogs and Snails and Mobster Tales: Growing Up in Al Capone's Shadow, has helped many survivors find their voice.
Norm: Good day Robert and Carol and thanks for participating in our interview.
What motivated you to write Hiding in Plain Sight and what do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book?
Robert: We wanted to share these intimate stories of the personal relationships my parents had with their clients. These are great stories that would be lost when we are no longer here and that would be a shame.
These are stories of people who were immigrants to our country and treated very poorly. Jobs were few and far between. The life of crime was one that paid the bills.
My parents, through a simple twist of fate, and a gambling debt, became the attorneys for the Chicago Outfit in 1927.
Most stories about the Mob reveal little about relationships and focus only on the drama and shoot em ups. I am a storyteller and wanted to focus on character studies. People who read this book will learn about the history of The Outfit in Chicago, Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Palm Springs (Coachella Valley).
The reason my mother could represent mobsters was that she convinced herself these men were, fathers, sons, and husband’s who her needed her help.
Carol: I wanted to be involved in telling Esther’s story because she was a pioneer. She was one of very few women who became attorneys in the 1920’s. Esther had a brilliant mind for research and her passion was to help people who could not help themselves. She accomplished things most women would never dream of. Her story needed to be told. In spite of her brilliance, her love for her husband became her downfall. Women need to hear this story to see how co-dependence can be their ruin.
Norm: Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book and what are some of the references that you used while researching this book?
Robert and Carol: First of all, we have been married almost 55 years. My parents divorced after the death of my sister in 1948. They still, however, spent a lot of time together. My mother continued to do my father’s research and help him win cases.
My parents told my wife and I these stories over and over again as if we were sitting around a campfire, sharing family history to be told from generation to generation to be preserved.
After listening to these stories for 40 + years we knew them by heart. They told us personal details about their clients, including conversations my father had with them, only when they were walking around the block. We also heard these stories from my aunts and (family) friends. References were the Freedom of Information Act papers from the FBI.
Norm: What was the most difficult part of writing this book?
Carol – Realizing how much pain, deception and betrayal my mother in law suffered. No matter what happened she continued to thrive on doing her work, convinced she was helping people. Her loyalty to her family cost her so much.
Robert: What looks so beautiful on the outside is often the sickest on the inside. It was hidden for many years. What seemed glamorous and exciting could end up so quickly like Benjamin Siegel’s Plaque in the mausoleum he is buried at. The plague reads: From the “Family,” who tossed him out like used Kleenex. This could happen to anyone who crossed the Mob.
Reliving the painful stories of my own life was one of the difficulties for me. Even though I love my parents I see how their actions hurt me and my siblings. It affected the way we related to others.
Norm: What is the most important thing that people don't know about the subject of your book that they need to know?
Robert and Carol: They will learn the stories of how the Chicago Outfit progressed over the years.
The fear of police action was nothing compared to what members of the Mob would do to each other.
Some stories have been told only partially for years, we have filled in some important gaps.
The unions were full of Chicago Outfit members and being controlled by them. My father was Chief Counsel and became the President of the Restaurant Union, for a salary of $176,000 per year. His good friend, head of the Bartender’s Union. Many people don’t know how far the Mob’s influence reached.
Norm: Robert, as your parents were the attorneys for Al Capone, did you know anything about his personal life? As a follow up, have you ever been in contact with Capone's descendants and did they shed any light on his personal life?
Robert: I know about his personal life from stories my mother and father told me. My father was not only Al’s attorney but his brother, Ralph and the rest of the family. I do know he gave me a pair of gold cufflinks when I was born. He came to see me when he traveled from Florida to Chicago to see his doctors. I still have the cufflinks and pictures are available on our facebook page. Teitelbaum, - Hiding in Plain Sight.
We have had no contact with Al’s children.
Norm: How did you collaborate in the writing of the book?
Robert & Carol: I wrote during the day and Carol edited at night. We both remember the stories well. We have been together so long, we finish each other’s sentences’ It wasn’t that difficult. It took us a couple of years.
Norm: Where did the dialogue in the book come from?
Robert & Carol: Robert: Growing up, I was just a kid running around, when Ben Siegel would come to Indio to visit. I remember being driven to Brentwood in our limo so my father could meet with Mickey Cohen many times.. I personally knew three of my father’s bodyguards who, in their later years, told me stories of what they did for my father. I hear my father’s voice in everything we wrote together.
When we visited him in prison we spent time with his fourth bodyguard, Jimmy Fratianno and heard more stories. I personally met Mickey Cohen, Sidney Korshak, esq., Allen Smiley, Tony Accardo, and Louis Romano.
My mother also told stories to my cousin, who was an attorney, and he shared the same stories with me and Carol.
We filled in the dialog from information we were told, including stories of my grandmother and Theresa Capone’s friendship
Norm: Do you feel that family members of mobsters paint idyllic pictures of their mobster ancestors? If so, why?
Robert & Carol: Of course! Mobsters were known to be great family men. At least their mothers and children thought so. They would get beautiful homes, cars, the best schools the best food, toys, clothes and everything a child could want, as long when it was convenient to be around.
There are a lot of painful stories family members have that they will never tell. I say we are only as sick as our deepest secrets and I am tired of being sick. In my recovery, I have learned that whatever my parents were involved in, it was never my fault. I want others to know the same and find freedom by sharing their stories. By understanding my parents beginnings I no longer blame them, they were groomed to be just who they were.
Norm: Do you feel that we glamorize mobsters in the movies, television, and other media? If so, why?
Robert & Carol: Another, of course! Martin Scorsese’s: Boardwalk Empire was a better depiction of what really happened in families and the movie: Once Upon a Time in America, 1984 Sergio Leone is a classic.
Mobsters have always been glorified as they represent the “shadow” parts of our personalities. They act out the behaviors most of us would never dream of doing, so we don’t have to. That is why so many Good Girls fall in love with Bad Boys,
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and Hiding in Plain Sight?
Robert & Carol:
Norm: What do your plans for future projects include?
Robert & Carol: First fiction book coming out in a couple of months.
Norm; As this interview comes to an end, what question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?
Robert and Carol: When can we make this into a movie?
Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors
Robert and Carol: Thank you for the opportunity to share our story.