Lenny Bruce

"Love Len": Lenny Bruce Archive Revealing Business and Personal Side of Controversial Comic

"Love Len": Lenny Bruce Archive Revealing Business and Personal Side of Controversial Comic

Small archive of autograph letter drafts, notes, and documents inscribed and signed by controversial comedian and writer Lenny Bruce (1925-1966), 10pp, 6 pieces total, ca. 1960-1966. Including three documents signed “Lenny Bruce” (2) and “Len” (1) respectively, and several notes inscribed on Hotel Mark (Atlantic City, New Jersey) stationery. Expected wear includes light paper folds and wrinkles. Isolated stains and pencil smudging, else very good to near fine. The smallest piece measures 2.875” x 5” and the largest measures 6” x 9.25”. Transcript material is reproduced with unchanged spelling and grammatical errors. Provenance: From the estate of “Count” Lewis DePasquale.

Lenny Bruce revolutionized American comedy, by his transgressive interrogation of taboo issues like sex, race, religion, and society, and also by his use of unedited language. Bruce pushed the envelope of humor, and by so doing, also pushed against the boundaries of socially and legally acceptable public behavior. As such, he is now known as a champion of free speech. Bruce was arrested 15 times in two years, mostly on obscenity charges. The entertainer was blacklisted and facing bankruptcy when he died of an accidental morphine overdose at the age of 40 in 1966.

“Count” Lewis DePasquale (1930-2001) was one of Bruce’s intimates, widely known as the “Count.” Born in Trenton, New Jersey, DePasquale served as a cryptographer and musician in the special services during the Korean War. He was a jazz keyboardist and played the organ for such performers as Ella Fitzgerald and Harry Belafonte. In January 1960, he was introduced to Lenny Bruce in Miami, Florida. Bruce immediately liked DePasquale and asked him to come open for him at the El Patio Club across town.  Over the next six years, the Count played, worked, and wrote movies with Bruce. When DePasquale died in 2001, he was in the process of writing a memoir of his experiences with Bruce.

1. 1p undated ALS inscribed overall and signed by Bruce as “Love Len” at bottom, on “Hotel Mark / Chelsea Avenue and Beach / Atlantic City, N.J. – 08401” letterhead. The letter is addressed to Charles Ashman and reads in part: “BRING All IMFO CONSTITUAL RULINGS LAST YEAR ON TAKING OATH SWEAR QUOTE SO HELP YOU GOD UNQUOTE and NUMBERS + BOOKS SO I CAN SEE THEM If you have to steal it from [illegible] The Pelimerary Love Len.”

The letter was addressed to one of Bruce’s Los Angeles defense attorneys, Charles Ashman, an associate of well-known celebrity lawyer Melvin Belli. Bruce had been arrested on obscenity charges following a stand-up performance at The Troubadour in West Hollywood on October 24, 1962. The subsequent trial, consolidated with obscenity charges stemming from another performance at a nightclub in Los Angeles, opened in December 1962 and ended in February 1963 with a mistrial.

2. 1p ALS on cream note paper regarding a $50 check, boldly signed “Lenny Bruce” at bottom right. 2.875” x 5”.

3. 1p employment contract drawn up by Bruce in pencil on the torn back of a Bell Telephone Co. of Pennsylvania manila envelope back, inscribed overall and signed by him as “Dear Lewis DePasquale, I wish to employ you to drive me to Miami at the rate of $20 per day – Lenny Bruce.”

4. 4pp AM inscribed overall in Bruce’s hand, on the fronts and backs of Hotel Mark (Atlantic City, New Jersey) stationery.

In part:

“It is only correct to tell you I request a spasific job from you I agree and pay it. If you should catch me on the secret phone in the bathroom giving another law firm the same assignment and at the last moment decide to change my plea to guilty & demand a public defender your comment may be varied but lack unreliable re payment and thats the only busness relation ship I can exesit by is a strick buesness relation ship. I plan to be involved with in many areas & seriously will never exploti you & seriousley insist that with any contract’s we sign from here on in speciphing a semi anuala lie detector test & as a security meawser you pick a lie de detector man & I pick one we flip a coin and the lie detector gives us a test after he’s taken a lie detector test that he has not be coerced by other one of us. A out of the hat operator will give him the test when I have discovered the intraciec of the machine it’s weekness how to beat it I shall inform you imeditaly and there apone devise a new to find out if you are lieing to me.

(entire verso is crossed out, reading in part “I know you harbar no greviencs agenst the untruths [w]hy are attackg agenst me + the peral’s of the law.”)

These notes reflect Bruce’s increasing paranoia in the face of public scrutiny and ongoing legal trials. Paul Krassner, who befriended Bruce and edited his autobiography How to Talk Dirty and Influence People, was himself asked to take a lie-detector test.

5. 2pp fragment on yellow blue-lined paper. On the front is an unsigned note beginning “To Seymour” regarding hiring “Count” Lewis DePasquale, and on the back is a lengthy note outlining a work contract with weekly salary and vacation days; Chicago’s Gate of Horn nightclub is mentioned. Bruce was arrested on obscenity charges on December 5, 1962 after having performed there.

6. 1p partly printed and partly handwritten United Airline air bill for a $5.00 kennel fee. Bruce had a 87 lb. dog shipped from Newark International Airport to his daughter, Kitty Bruce (born 1955), via LAX.

A remarkable archive granting us exclusive access into Bruce’s business affairs, legal troubles, and personal life!


Item: 64039

Price: $2,000.00
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