Louis "Red" Deutsch

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Louis Deutsch
Born (1895-09-16)September 16, 1895
Odessa, Ukraine
Died September 11, 1983(1983-09-11) (aged 87)
Resting place
Pompano Beach, Florida

Louis "Red" Deutsch (September 16, 1895 – September 11, 1983)[1] was a heavyweight boxer[2] and later the owner of the "Tube Bar", a tavern in Journal Square, Jersey City, New Jersey that he started in 1933 after the repeal of Prohibition. The bar, named for its address of 12 Tube Concourse, near the PATH subway station (colloquially known as "the tubes"), became a popular watering hole, especially with Deutsch's fellow boxers. According to Jim Davidson, Deutsch was known as "The Tough Jew" by police who frequented his bar. Heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano was known to drink at the Tube Bar, and a photo of him and Deutsch at the bar is widely circulated among Deutsch's fans.


Deutsch was drafted during World War I; he served two years and eight months in the service[citation needed] but was never sent overseas (probably because he was deaf in one ear). He became a minor celebrity around New Jersey for his unorthodox methods of running his bar: there were no barstools, only one bathroom, women were forbidden to enter until the late 1970s, and anyone caught not drinking was subject to be beaten by Red and ejected by force.[3] However according to Jim Davidson, as stated in an interview with Howard Stern, this was only partially true.[4]

Red, at 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) and over 200 pounds (91 kg),[5] was still an imposing physical presence even in his 80s and was famous for his unusual voice, described by one person as "a deep, guttural bark." He was also known for his charitable giving. Newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin wrote about Red in a 1974 column, adding to Red’s already legendary status.

Deutsch sold the Tube Bar in 1980, and retired to Pompano Beach, Florida, where he died three years later at the age of 87.

The phone calls[edit]

Main article: Tube Bar prank calls

Deutsch is still known today for his profanity-filled tirades in response to a series of prank calls placed in the mid-1970s to his bar. The recordings of these calls were widely circulated in the 1980s and 1990s. The character of barkeeper Moe Szyslak on television's The Simpsons is said to be based on Deutsch.[3]

The pranksters behind the phone calls, Jim Davidson and John Elmo, refer to themselves as "The Bum Bar Bastards".[3] Although they initially said that they had picked the Tube Bar at random out of a phone book, they later admitted that they had passed by the bar several times as high school students, and had developed a long standing fascination with Red ever since they saw him beat a loitering drunk — literally hurling him through the front door of the bar by the seat of his pants and the collar of his shirt.

Some of the early phone calls involved getting Deutsch to unwittingly call out a name that was actually an embarrassing pun such as "Phil Lacio (fellatio)", "Jim Nasium (gymnasium)",or "Pepé Roni (pepperoni)". Initially the gullible Deutsch would fall for the gags, but later Deutsch began catching on to his tormentors, and would then invariably launch into a cursing tirade. He would say very insulting things about their mothers, and would threaten to mutilate them. The Bastards would also sometimes insult Deutsch to further infuriate him. The Bastards later escalated their assault on Deutsch, repeatedly challenging him to fight (but never showing). In another call, Davidson took on the characteristic voice of another of Red's bartenders, calling Red at home to tell him the bar was on fire. This was initially recorded as a series of calls, however while intoxicated one night they accidentally erased all but the last call.[6]

Despite Deutsch's claim that he knew the identities of his tormentors, he never did, and after several months of telephoning Deutsch the pair moved on to other targets. Unbeknownst to Elmo and Davidson, the tapes they had made of their calls to Deutsch were beginning to circulate among their friends and friends of friends, becoming an underground sensation.

Chris Gore, creator of Film Threat magazine, got hold of the Red tapes and decided to make a film from them. He hired character actor Lawrence Tierney and took hundreds of still photos of him "playing" the character of Red in the Tube Bar. He then combined the photos into a film that was released in 1993.[7]


  1. ^ Ancestry.com, Social Security Death Index [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007. Ancestry.com, Florida Death Index, 1877-1998 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004. On his draft registration card during World War II, Deutsch said he was born on 4 September 1896, in Odessa, Ukraine. Ancestry.com, U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007.
  2. ^ Not particularly noted as a boxer: he was not mentioned anywhere in The New York Times sports pages in his lifetime, nor is he listed in the standard boxing reference books: Who's Who in Boxing (1974), A Who's Who of Sports Champions (1995), The Boxing Register: International Boxing Hall of Fame Official Record Book (3rd ed., 2002), or Notable Sports Figures (2004).
  3. ^ a b c Kaulessar, Ricardo. "Joke on 'Simpsons' started in JC: Famed crank calls originated in Tube Bar", Jersey City Reporter, October 8, 2005. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  4. ^ "A November 11, 2007 interview with Howard Stern". Youtube.com. 2008-12-02. Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  5. ^ On his draft registration card during World War II, Deutsch said he was 6 feet 0 inches (1.83 m) tall, and weighed 165 pounds (74.8 kg). Ancestry.com, U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007.
  6. ^ "Tube Bar Callers w/ Howard Stern Sirius (Part 1 of 4)". YouTube. 2008-12-02. Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  7. ^ "Red". Amazon. 2008-12-02. Retrieved 2010-11-11.