Jack Ruby with three of his Carousel Club entertainers

Mobster, Intelligence Agent, or Small-time Hustler?

Between 1949 and November 24, 1963, Ruby was arrested eight times by the Dallas Police Department. The dates, charges, and dispositions of these arrests are as follows: February 4, 1949, Ruby paid a $10 fine for disturbing the peace. July 26, 1953, Ruby was suspected of carrying a concealed weapon; however, no charges were filed and Ruby was released on the same day. May 1, 1954, Ruby was arrested for allegedly carrying a concealed weapon and violating a peace bond; again no charges were filed and Ruby was released on the same day. December 5, 1954, Ruby was arrested for allegedly violating State liquor laws by selling liquor after hours; the complaint was dismissed on February 8, 1955. June 21, 1959, Ruby was arrested for allegedly permitting dancing after hours; the complaint was dismissed on July 8, 1959. August 21, 1960, Ruby was again arrested for allegedly permitting dancing after hours; Ruby posted $25 bond and was released on that date. February 12, 1963, Ruby was arrested on a charge of simple assault; he was found not guilty February 27, 1963. Finally, on March 14, 1963, Ruby was arrested for allegedly ignoring traffic summonses; a $35 bond was posted.

When Ruby applied for a beer license in March 1961, he reported that he had been arrested "about four or five times" between 1947 and 1953. Between 1950 and 1963, he received 20 tickets for motor vehicle violations, paying four $10 fines and three of $3. In 1956 and 1959, Ruby was placed on 6 months' probation as a traffic violator.

Ruby was also frequently suspended by the Texas Liquor Control Board. In August 1949, when he was operating the Silver Spur, he was suspended for 5 days on a charge of "Agents: Moral Turpitude." In 1953 Ruby received a 5-day suspension because of an obscene show, and, in 1954, a 10-day suspension for allowing a drunkard on his premises. On February 18, 1954, he was suspended for 5 days because of an obscene striptease act at the Silver Spur and for the consumption of alcoholic beverages during prohibited hours. On March 26, 1956. Ruby was suspended by the liquor board for 3 days because several of his checks were dishonored. On October 23, 1961, he received another 3-day suspension because an agent solicited the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on licensed premises.

The Warren Commission Report, p. 800

Who was Jack Ruby? To understand him, you have to know his background.

Conspiracy books that portray Ruby as a mobster of some kind all have one thing in common: they ignore the testimony of people who actually knew Jack Ruby. Dave Reitzes' "In Defense of Jack Ruby" looks at the man known to his friends, employees, and acquaintances.

You've heard that Ruby told the Warren Commission that he wanted to go to Washington, D.C. You've also heard that he told the Warren Commission that he would reveal a conspiracy of which he was a part in Washington. Read the relevant excerpt from Ruby's Warren Commission testimony and decide for yourself.

Jack Ruby was in the Dallas Police Headquarters on the evening of November 22, 1963. In the wake of the assassination, the headquarters was a mob scene. Ruby was among the crowd of reporters present. If Ruby was "stalking" Oswald, why didn't he shoot him while he was being moved from office to office among the uncontrolled crowd?

Here is the ad for Ruby's Carousel Club that appeared in the Dallas Times Herald on November 22nd, 1963. Ruby cancelled the show in the wake of the President's death.

The general sleaziness of Ruby's club is conveyed by this contact sheet from the National Archives. It purports to show "women learning to strip at Jack Ruby's Carousel Club in Dallas, Texas." Ruby, however, was convinced that he had a club with real "class."

Ruby and the Fair Play for Cuba Committee:
Spook Assignment or Helpful Citizen?

When District Attorney Henry Wade said that Lee Oswald was a member of the "Free Cuba Movement," voices in the audience corrected him. Ruby was one of those voices. Compare Oliver Stone's version of this event with the actual newsreel footage. And ask whether there really was anything sinister about this.

How sinister was knowledge of Oswald and the Fair Play for Cuba Committee? In reality, news of Oswald's membership in this organization had been broadcast before 4:00 pm. Central time, and had been all over the media for almost eight hours at the time of Wade's press conference.

Did Ruby Lie About His Motive?

Conspiracists have always been suspicious about Ruby's claim, to the Warren Commission, that he shot Oswald so that Jackie Kennedy would not have to return to Dallas to testify at a Lee Oswald murder trial. Indeed, many have claimed that this motive was fabricated by Ruby's first attorney, Tom Howard. In fact, Ruby was sincere about Mrs. Kennedy, although that was hardly the whole story.

Did Ruby Confess to Being Part of a Conspiracy?

Conspiracy authors assert (or strongly imply) that Jack Ruby was part of a Kennedy assassination conspiracy, and wanted to confess to that. And indeed, a lot of his later statements show he believed there was a conspiracy -- just as millions of other Americans did. But he vehemently insisted that he was part of no conspiracy, right up through a death bed interview in the last days of his life.

Letters to Ruby

Courtesy of attorney Mark Zaid, a small collection of letters sent to Ruby, his attorney and Dallas officials in the wake of the Oswald shooting. These aren't necessarily representative of public sentiment, but they show that for a fair number of Americans Ruby was a hero.

Ruby's Mental State

The following is from Elmer Gertz' Moment of Madness, pp. 472-474. This letter was written by Jack Ruby to his brother Earl during the time Ruby was imprisoned, and was sinking further and further into a delusional state.


You must believe what I've been telling you for the past two and a half years. If you only would have believed me all along you would have found some way to check out what I said. You would have saved Israel, but now they are doomed, because they think the U.S. are for them, but they are wrong because Johnson wants to see them slaughtered and tortured. Egypt is making believe they are an ally of Russia, that is only to fool Russia and the rest of the world. The Arabs are going to over- run Israel. They are going to get help both from Russia and the U.S. It's too late now to do anything, and we are all doomed.

They are torturing children here. If you only would believe what I'm telling you. Phil [Burleson] was in on the conspiracy all along, and he was very instrumental in the frameup they planned, that I was in on the assassination of the President. Don't be fooled by his working on the briefs, now that has done all the dirty work, he put himself in a position to make every effort that he is on our side. Please you must believe all I've been telling you. Earl, they are going to torture you to death, and you will witness your own family being put to death. Forgive me for all this terrible tragedy I've caused. Love

I know you won't listen to me Earl, but if you go to a public phone booth, they may be watching you, pretend that you are going to a department store or a movie, and then give them the slip. Try the phone booth and call some people in N.Y. you know, and if you don't find them in, you will know something is wrong. Try your family again and if they are not at home, then try Eileen or Ann. If they don't answer then you know something is wrong. Earl I know what I am talking about, and I'm sure you think that I'm crazy. But don't forget the jury found me sane, so I'm not crazy anymore! If you know your family is gone, then you know that all is lost and you can't save anything. But you still may be able to save Israel. By getting to Miami either hitch-hike or some-way. You won't be able to fly because they will be watching for you. From Miami you must find a way to Cuba, by pretending to rent a boat to go fishing, and get to Cuba someway. From there you must find a way to Russia. Then you tell the Russians how Egypt has been using them all along, but they are much closer to Johnson, because of what is happening to the Jews in the U.S. Then they will understand what kind of person Johnson is, and then they may be able to save Israel.

Russia will then be in a position to tell Johnson, that there first move if any trouble starts is not to bomb the U.S., but to wipe out Germany, that one thing Johnson don't want to happen, because he is counting on them to be the master race, also all the other former Axis partners South America, Egypt, Italy and Japan.

Earl, as God is my judge, you must believe all these things I've been telling you. When you go back to your hotel, they may have a bug in your room. Don't say anything to Elmer, just take off without your clothes. Good luck and hope you believe me this time, Love always.

If you should follow what I said, and you are hitch-hiking give a fictitious name, such Fleming etc. Try calling some local people, maybe they are missing already, Scheppo, Jacobson, Kaufman and others through the phone book. Please Earl, I know what I'm asking of you.

you [sic] must get to either Miami or Mexico City and then to Cuba. You may have lost your family by now, but there is nothing you can do about it now and you can save millions of people who are doomed to be slaughtered. This country has been overthrown.

More of Ruby's paranoid delusions are revealed in a note that Ruby wrote to Gertz. Here is the envelope in which Gertz placed the note, the first page of the note, and the second page. Ruby not only believes that a second Holocaust is underway, he believes that Jews are being tortured and killed in the very building (the County Records Building on Dealey Plaza) were he is being held. (Images are from the Library of Congress "American Memory" collection.)

Ruby had this paranoid delusion even when he testified before the Warren Commission. It's not in full view in his official testimony (although there are clear hints) but it was obvious in comments he made Earl Warren (page 19):

But the fellow was clearly delusional when I talked to him. He took me aside and he said, "Hear those voices, hear those voices?" He thought they were Jewish children and Jewish women who were being put to death in the building there.

The Ruby Polygraph

Ruby, testifying before the Warren Commission, begged to be given a polygraph ("lie detector") test, and the Commission — very much against its better judgment — gave in to his entreaties. Conspiracists have claimed that the polygraph test shows Ruby lying about knowing Oswald and being part of a conspiracy. Unfortunately, as Dave Reitzes shows in this essay from his web site, "lie detector" tests have little value, and Ruby's test provides no evidence that he was lying.

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