a durable mick

Michael Malloy (1873-1933) was an ex firefighting Irishman with dubious friends.


The events that led to Malloy’s death began in January 1933. He was, at the time, alcoholic and homeless. Five men who were acquainted with him, Tony Marino, Joseph Murphy, Francis Pasqua, Hershey Green, and Daniel Kriesberg, plotted to take out three life insurance policies on Malloy and then get him to drink himself to death.

(click to enlarge) from Married to the Sea

Marino owned a speakeasy and gave Malloy unlimited credit, thinking Malloy would abuse it and drink himself to death. Although Malloy drank for the majority of his waking day, it did not kill him. To remedy this, antifreeze was substituted for liquor, but still, Malloy would drink until he passed out, wake up, and came back for more. Antifreeze was substituted with turpentine, followed by horse liniment, and finally mixed in rat poison. Still, Malloy lived.

(click to enlarge) from Married to the Sea

The group then tried raw oysters soaked in methanol. Followed by a sandwich of spoiled sardines mixed with poison.

When that failed, they decided that it was unlikely that anything Malloy ingested was going to kill him, so the Murder Trust decided to freeze him to death. On a night when the temperature reached -14 °F (-26 °C), Malloy drank until he passed out, was carried to a park, dumped in the snow, and had five gallons of water poured on his bare chest. Nevertheless, Malloy reappeared the following day for his drink. The next attempt on his life came when they hit him with Green’s taxi.


Murphy stood him up in the middle of the roadway, and Green backed up his taxi two full blocks to build up enough speed to complete the job. Somehow, Malloy stumbled to safety. They then took Malloy to Gun Hill Road. This time, Green hit him.

The gang gleefully retreated to Marino’s and again waited for an announcement of Malloy’s demise. For days nothing appeared in the newspapers.

Where was he? Malloy was recovering in the hospital under a different name, having sustained a fractured skull, a concussion and a broken shoulder. The indestructible barfly returned several weeks later to the speakeasy and announced he had an awful thirst.

Charles Bukowski, the original Barfly

On February 22, after he passed out for the night, they took him to Murphy’s room, put a hose in his mouth that was connected to the gas jet, and turned it on which is how they finally killed managed to kill him.

However, the members of the Murder Trust proved to be their own worst enemies—they talked too much and squabbled among themselves. Eventually police heard the rumors of what they did, and had the body exhumed. Green went to prison, and the other four members were executed in the electric chair at Sing Sing.

Malloy was reburied, and took with him to the grave the secret of a hardy and nearly indestructible constitution.

image found here

Published in: on August 24, 2010 at 7:53 am  Comments (46)  
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46 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. This was your most entertaining story yet. God I love me some alcoholic Irishmen who just won’t die! I am shocked that this isn’t a movie yet. Maybe we should go to LA and pitch together?

    • You pitch – I’ll catch.

  2. Reminds me of a few people I knew…..

    • you must move in interesting circles

  3. Must have been the antifreeze they gave him previously that caused the attempt to freeze him to death to fail.

    Where do you find these stories of people’s lives? No, don’t tell me, this way I have to keep coming back here for more. They’re great!

    • Thanks Deborah. I find them in various places, usually in books or by trawling the internet

  4. I remember reading this in quite a few anthologies over the past few decades.

    Still never fails to amaze me whenever I read it.

    • Yeah, I nearly didn’t post this one as I thought it might be too well known.

  5. He’s like that Rasputin fella. And as pickled as Bukowski was, it took leukemia to bring him down.

    • I know you and I are in agreement about Bukowski. There’s never been anyone quite like him. Maybe John Fante…..

  6. Sounds like Malloy was the inspiration for the Resident Evil franchise. Did anyone check whether he had a fondness for braaaaaaaains.

    • you know, I’ve never seen any Resident Evil films. am I missing out on much?

  7. i’m really looking forward to some snow this winter. i NEED that snow-skull in my front yard!

    • Careful daisyfae, if you build it they will come

  8. Don’t ya just hate it when someone refuses to die!!

    • Well it kind of depends on where I stand in their Will

  9. I wonder if Scotch and horse liniment is best served neat or on the rocks?

    • I’d probably need a dash of lemonade to get that particular mixture to stay down

  10. Mr. Malloy seems like a fine lad in my book. I’ve always contended that regular drinking keeps you healthy, i know it’s worked for me.

    • And a fine example you are too Kono 😉

  11. Bukowski’s not wearing beer goggles in that photo, he’s wearing a full beer sensory deprivation suit.

  12. What happened to the days when a man could take a life insurance policy out on someone totally unrelated without their knowledge.

    • Those days are still here. Only now it’s called hedging. Malloy’s friends merely mis-marketed themselves.

  13. Yikes! He seems to have had 9000 lives or something!

  14. Brilliant story as ever! You like John Fante? Well he was Bukowski’s God! I will always be grateful to a californian ex who bought me a copy of the Road to Los Angeles as a birthday present.

    You might like a trilogy his son Dan wrote, Chump Change, Mooch and Spitting off tall buildings

    • You’re right. That trilogy looks really interesting

  15. Irishmen do seem to have some remarkable attributes apart from their ability to drink. They also have produced some of the world’s finest literature.

    However, why didn’t they just club him on the head with something heavy?

    • Um… perhaps because it would have made the insurers suspicious?

  16. What a great story! It reads like an Elmore Leonard novel. Malloy’s Murder Trust ‘friends’ were doomed to fail. They got their victim so relaxed he was incapable of dying.

  17. I adore that snowman! …. and I’m really annoyed I haven’t ever thought of building one …..

  18. Wow, that Bukowski picture . . I will be seeing that in my dreams

  19. Years ago I had a copy of Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life – a Bukowski biography. Lent it to someone, never saw it again but I’ll never forget a picture of his first(?) wife who had two vertebrae missing from her neck which gave her a somewhat unusual posture.


    • I’ve got the Barry Miles bio, it’s pretty good too. Lacks photos though.

  20. Seriously, I can’t even wrap my mind around this one. Now I’m obsessed with this guy.

    • Perhaps he could inspire one of your sculptures 😉

  21. Spoiled sardines mixed with turpentine? Quite the imaginative chefs. A wonderful story, Nurse Myra. It sets up like a joke – I half expected him to end up dying by slipping in the bath or something.

    • The turps adds a certain piquancy

  22. What a lesson on how not to kill someone. Keep them coming Nursemyra. x

  23. I think he must have been related to Rasputin.

  24. Too funny! I had to immediately send a link to my 2 best friends, both of whom have the last name…MALLOY (although unrelated). They are not nearly as indestructible as this poor guy. I mean, I’ve never tried to kill them or anything, because I need all the friends I can get, but if I fed them sardines in poison, I’m pretty sure they’d die.

  25. This cat was a DelVecchian before I was even born.

  26. It was probably the firefighting that toughened him up.

  27. Mick was like Tim Finnegan, the bloke who fell off the ladder in The Ballad of Finnegans Wake. A splash of whiskey and he awoke – at his own wake.

  28. You can always raise an Irishman from the dead with a discreet yell of “Who wants another glass?”

  29. There’s a bar in Cambridge called Bukowski’s. This post has inspired me to pay it a visit again.

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