History Between the Sheets

History Between the Sheets

Why you should care

Because our forebears weren’t quite as prudish as they look in the history books. 

Our OZY reporters have been hard at work uncovering the strange but true stories of famous Americans and their tantalizing sex secrets. What they found is truly surprising, including John Dillinger’s prodigious member. Enjoy!

How the Mob Introduced Americans to Oral Sex

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Source Getty

Blow jobs may seem as American as apple pie these days, but that wasn’t always the case. The act was taboo for centuries, and the term didn’t even enter our lexicon until the 1940s, when it referred primarily to a forbidden homosexual encounter. So whom do we have to thank for bringing oral sex out of the shadows and into the mainstream? Organized crime, it turns out. From Mario Puzo’s The Godfather to Deep Throat (a film bankrolled by the Colombo crime family), the mob ushered the job into heterosexual bedrooms across the country, where it has stayed firmly in hand ever since.

The Talk Around John Dillinger’s Penis

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John Dillinger’s body on display at the morgue after the FBI and police shot him.

Source Corbis

John Dillinger was one of history’s most notorious figures for many reasons. He was a gangster, a possible murderer and “Public Enemy No. 1” during the Great Depression. And according to rumors, he also had a prodigious … prick. Talk of Dillinger’s mythic member started with a morgue photo of the slain bank robber with a remarkable protrusion holding up the sheet. The photo inflamed the public’s imagination at the time and became a sort of legend in the years since, leading to further rumors that the penis was severed and now sits in formaldehyde somewhere in the Smithsonian Museum. Some legends, it seems, have a hard time dying.

When President Grover Cleveland Married His 21-Year-Old Foster Daughter

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President Grover Cleveland (center).

Source Corbis

You’d think it would be a big-enough deal to be the only U.S. president to wed in the White House. But for Grover “Big Steve” Cleveland, it wasn’t enough merely to marry in the Blue Room in 1886: His bride was his deceased friend’s daughter, whom he’d helped to raise since she was 11 years old. Before being elected to the highest office in the country, Big Steve was a 250-pound, cigar-smoking lawyer who had a taste for sausages and a child out of wedlock. But once he was sworn in as the 22nd president of the United States in 1885 and married the following year, his sullied reputation got a makeover. His wife became an instant sensation and a much beloved first lady, who bore five children and helped Cleveland to another first: the only president elected to two nonconsecutive terms. Is there a moral to this uniquely American tale? Sometimes the cradle robber gets the girl, who turns him into a devoted family man.

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