Martin Snyder

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Snyder in 1938

Martin "Moe" Snyder, commonly known as Moe the Gimp due to his lame left leg, was a Jewish-American gangster from Chicago, active in the 1920s and 1930s.[1] Snyder was born and raised on Chicago's southwest side.[2]

Snyder had both political and entertainment world connections. He knew most of the nightclubs in Chicago and the people who performed there. He once served as a bodyguard for Al Jolson. His second wife was the singer and entertainer Ruth Etting, whom he married in 1922 and whose career he aggressively promoted. Snyder and Etting met when she was performing at the Marigold Gardens. He divorced his first wife to be able to marry Etting.[2] In 1927, the couple moved to New York City where Etting landed a starring role in the Ziegfeld Follies. After a move to Los Angeles where Etting had a film contract, the couple's marriage fell apart, and they were divorced on November 30, 1937.[3]

In 1938, Snyder shot and wounded Etting's pianist and boyfriend Myrl Alderman; after which, Snyder was charged with kidnapping and attempted murder. In a sensational trial in L.A., he was found guilty and sentenced, but on appeal was released after a year in prison.[4]

Snyder, who claimed to have been born in 1896, was living in Chicago and working in the City Clerk's office in 1972: he returned to Chicago in 1940 and went to work in the mail room at Chicago's City Hall.[5][6][2] In 1975, Snyder was interviewed for a Chicago Tribune article about the 1930s, where he claimed the stories about his mob connections were untrue. Snyder said he worked for a song publisher and that he knew various celebrities through that work.[5]

Snyder had at least one child from his first marriage, a daughter, Edith. After her father and Ruth Etting were divorced, she remained living with her stepmother.[7] Edith died of a heart condition in 1939.[8] It is believed that Snyder died in Chicago in 1981.[9]

Portrayal on film[edit]

Snyder was portrayed by actor James Cagney in the 1955 film Love Me or Leave Me, a fictionalized biography of Etting, who was played by Doris Day. He was very dissatisfied with the way he was portrayed in the film.[5]


  1. ^ Damuth, Laura; Breckhill, Anita (Winter 2000). "Ruth Etting: Chicago's Sweetheart and L.A.'s Little Lady". Nebraska Library Association Quarterly. pp. 18–23. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c Leonard, William (June 12, 1955). "Ruth Etting: They Called Her Chicago's Sweetheart". Chicago Tribune. pp. 27–29, 36. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Stage-Air Star Retires From Shows, Matrimony". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. November 15, 1937. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Verdict Reversed In Ruth Etting, Snyder Conflict". Herald-Journal. December 13, 1939. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c Blades, John (April 27, 1975). "Six With Special Reason to Remember". Chicago Tribune. p. 34. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Movie Partly True". San Antonio Express. May 20, 1972. p. 2. Retrieved August 25, 2014 – via  open access publication - free to read
  7. ^ "Ruth Etting Talks Nervously of Former Husband's Threats". The Milwaukee Journal. October 19, 1938. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Moe Snyder Weeps Bitterly at Death of 'Poor Little Baby'; Miss Etting Grieves at Loss". The Lincoln Star. August 5, 1939. p. 1. Retrieved March 31, 2015 – via  open access publication - free to read
  9. ^ "Martin Moe Snyder 1893-1981-Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1939, 1955-1994". Retrieved April 1, 2015.