Richard Atwood

The Most Powerful Man in America–with Hemophilia No Less

The man who built Fox News into a political media giant has been called the most powerful man in America by President Obama… and also happens to have hemophilia! Roger Ailes. 
During this raucous political season, it’s worth looking at the man who helped create the news outlets for conservative voters in America.

The following is a book review by Richard Atwood, our columnist for PEN: Gabriel Sherman’s 2014 biography The Loudest Voice in the
Room. How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News — and Divided the
is fascinating for its look at this interesting man, who once sat on the National Hemophilia Foundation board of directors.
Roger Eugene Ailes was born on May 15, 1940 in
Warren, Ohio. When two, he bit his tongue and bled, leading to a diagnosis of
hemophilia. Ailes attended Ohio University where he enrolled in Air Force ROTC
for two years, but his eyesight and other physical problems were an issue. He
even tried to enlist. Not knowing how long he would live, Ailes did not openly
discuss his hemophilia with most of his classmates. His older brother, a
physician, linked Ailes’ temper to his medical condition. His parents divorced
while he was in college. Ailes married Marjorie White in 1960. Beginning in
1961, he worked as a producer for The Mike Douglas Show at a television
station in Cleveland. Ailes kept his hemophilia a secret. When the show moved
to Philadelphia in 1966, Ailes was its executive producer. He treated politics
as entertainment. After an interview with Richard Nixon in 1968, Ailes worked
as a media advisor, or image consultant, for Nixon’s presidential campaign
before being fired by the RNC in 1970. While separated from his wife in 1972,
Ailes was agent for, and romantically involved with, the actress Kelly Garrett.
As a Broadway producer in the 1970s, Ailes had both successes, such as Hot l
, and several flops. Ailes took risks with sky diving, tearing his
ankle ligaments, while also becoming paranoid about his physical safety. He had
brooding moods, increased weight and pent up anger. He demonstrated his
conservative political beliefs when he was a consultant and news director of
TVN (Television News Inc) for two years before it shut down in 1975. Ailes
broke up with Garrett in 1977, then became romantically involved with Norma
Ferrer who had two children. He divorced White that year and married Ferrer in
Ailes was most successful as a political consultant from 1980 to 1986.
After a fist fight, he had swollen hands. He was known to make sexual
approaches to female employees when he was executive producer for the Tomorrow
with Tom Snyder. His father died of Alzheimer’s in 1983, and his
weight ballooned again. Ailes published his book of self-help wisdom, You
Are the Message
, in 1988. He became an executive producer for Rush Limbaugh
in both radio and television. He worked for 28 months at CNBC, beginning in
1993, and learned how to turn news into entertainment. He moved to the America’s
cable channel in 1994. He divorced Ferrer in 1995, this time a more
expensive change. Ailes now walked with a limp. He moved to MSNBC in 1995, and
left a year later. Roger Murdoch hired Ailes in 1996 to be chairman and CEO of
Fox News. Ailes’ book became the cable channel’s sacred text. His fear for his
personal safety increased. He married Beth Tilson, a divorced producer whom he
met at CNBC. Ailes’ son, Zachary Joseph Jackson Ailes, was born on January 1,
2000. Ailes hired Bill O’Reilly, his brightest star. Fox News passed CNN for
good in ratings in 2002 after the Monica Lewinsky affair in 1998 and the 2000
elections.  Ailes hired Glenn Beck
from CNN in 2008 and supported the Tea Party in 2009. Many conservative
politicians became employees of Fox News. 
After building a mansion in Garrison,
New York, 46 miles north of NYC, Ailes bought the Putnam County News &
in 1988, installed his wife as editor, and changed the local paper
to reflect the conservative views of Fox News. Ailes continued to demonstrate
his fear for personal safety and his paranoia, and he shared his conspiratorial
worldview with his wife. Ailes also was in charge of Fox Business Network that
was launched in 2007. 
Ailes remembered his father’s lessons and had a ‘Rosebud’ story.
“The cruelest lesson Roger would speak of occurred in the bedroom Roger shared
with his brother. Roger was standing on the top bunk. His father opened his
arms wide and smiled.
   “Jump Roger, jump,”
he said.
   Roger leapt
off the bed into the air toward his arms. But Robert took a step back. His son
fell flat on the floor. As he looked up, Robert leaned down and picked him up.
“Don’t ever trust anybody,” he said.” (p. 7).
This biography covers Ailes’ childhood rather
quickly, but his hemophilia is stressed more often during his younger years.
Yet a specific diagnosis and family history of hemophilia is never provided.
The book is more an analysis of Fox News than a life story of Ailes for his
older adult years. There are 6 pages for A Note on Sources, 98 pages of Notes,
13 pages for Selected Bibliography, and 20 pages for the Index. Hemophilia is
cited 10 times in the text, and is listed twice in the Index, under ‘Ailes,
Roger’ and by itself. Oddly, there are no photographs. The author interviewed
614 individuals in addition to referencing the written sources. Ailes was not
subjected to a psychological analysis, yet he was frequently described as
impulsive, paranoid, aggressive, and a ruthless competitor, all influenced by
his ego and temper. He was also quite successful. The author, who never
received permission to interview Ailes, is a journalist and editor living in
New York City with his wife.

It’s worth Googling Ailes to read about his work, his attitudes and thoughts about the political candidates; a fascinating man with hemophilia!

Another book read by Richard, but not as good, is Zev Chafets’s 2013 book Roger Ailes: Off Camera.
New York, NY: Sentinel. 258 pages.

Mountains of Music

I love music of all types: from Moussorgsky to Metallica, Bach to Bee Gees, Disney tunes to the Doors.  I learn more and more how musically talented are so many members of the bleeding disorder community. Perhaps music becomes an escape or a way to express deep feelings? Below, Richard Atwood of North Carolina, who does “Richard’s Review” in our newsletter PEN, profiles a talented family from West Virginia, from a book he’s uncovered.

Richard writes:
For 5 generations, the Currence
family lived in High Germany on the Randolph-Upshur county line in West
Virginia. Jimmie Currence (1932-1992) and Loren Currence (1934-1987) grew up in
a six-room house that was over 4 miles from a hard-surfaced road. The nearby
one-room school house in High Germany housed 45 students over 8 grades. 
was no family history of hemophilia until an older brother died when 2 years
old after he bled out from a bumped nose. Jimmie and Loren also had hemophilia
but were not diagnosed until their twenties. They had 4 normal brothers and 5
sisters. Jimmie and Loren never even visited a doctor until their teens. They
had no ice for treatment and nothing for pain. For treatment, the brothers used
high-powered liniments from Blair products for hemorrhages into their joints.
Before factor VIII, the brothers received blood transfusions. Loren once
received 16 pints of blood in 36 hours for a kidney bleed and Jimmy, as a
teenager, was given a pint of blood from his brother-in-law to treat a stomach
After Doctor Mabel M. Stevenson, a hematologist at Morgantown University
Hospital, examined their blood, the brothers received a diagnosis of severe
classical hemophilia. The brothers considered themselves to be severe
hemophilic “bleeders” with near zero clotting factor levels.
Jimmy Currence explained his bleeding episodes: “We would get all hemorrhaged in
the joint. We would be swollen up till we couldn’t do a thing, just couldn’t walk. Even take spells of bleeding internally. Internal
bleeding could be either inside you or it would be internally in a joint or
under the skin—caused
hemorrhaging like that. And then that way it would lay you up.” (p. 198).
Every member of the Currence family was musical, either playing
musical instruments or singing, though none were trained. The children would
listen to the battery radio, or hear live entertainment, and then pick out the
tune on a guitar, fiddle, or mandolin. The brothers Jimmie, Loren, Marvin
(called Shorty), and Buddy, along with Malcomb Pastine, a nephew who also had
hemophilia, formed the Currence Brothers Band. The band played gospel and
bluegrass music, and even produced six long-playing recordings of their music.
Loren played the guitar, sang, and managed the band. Jimmy played the fiddle,
and was even a four-time fiddle champion at the Mountain State Forest Festival
in Elkins, before elbow bleeds forced him to play the banjo.
Jimmie and Loren could never find full-time employment or get
insurance. They received Supplemental Social Security and the state paid for
their medicine as they could not afford it. Both brothers married, and each had
three daughters.
The family was profiled in Goldenseal magazine in the 1980 article ‘The Currence Brothers: “The Spark to Play Music,” written by Jack Waugh and Michael Kline.The profile of the Currence brothers is augmented
with 5 photographs. Begun in 1975, the magazine Goldenseal is published
by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. It is a journal for local
cultural traditions and life experiences, including music, in West Virginia. 
John Lilly, editor, 1999, Mountains of Music: West Virginia Traditional Music from ‘Goldenseal. Urbana, IL: University of Chicago Press. 235 pages.

A Love Like Blood

Our colleague Richard Atwood of North Carolina has found yet another interesting literary piece about hemophilia and…. vampires. Why not? Vampires seem to be everywhere in literature and film, and include superheroes and even Abe Lincoln!

A Love Like Blood (by Marcus Sedgwick 2014, New
York, NY: Pegasus Crime. 310 pages) is a novel labeled as crime fiction, and begins with an interesting love story and morphs into a disturbing thriller. 
Richard writes:  In
1944, Dr. Charles Jackson, a newly qualified 25-year-old house officer at
Barts, is called up as a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps, Field Hygiene
Section. When Paris is liberated, he visits an antiquities museum at
Saint-Germaine-en-Laye where he stumbles upon a man in a bunker drinking blood
from a woman. Stunned into inaction by either fear or curiosity, Charles merely
turns and leaves. After the war, he takes a specialism and returns to Cambridge
as a 31-year-old consultant in haematology. In 1951 while attending an
international conference in Paris to read a paper on leukemia, Charles spots
the man in the bunker dining with a beautiful woman in her early 20s. With a
bit of sleuthing, he discovers the man’s
name to be Margrave Anton Verovkin, an exiled Estonian count, and the woman to
be Marian Fisher, an American PhD student at the Sorbonne. Marian is
researching for her dissertation how blood is used in Dante’s The Divine Comedy.
Charles falls in love with Marian and invites her to visit Cambridge over
Easter. In Paris that June, Charles finds Marian to be paler and ill, and he
warns her of Verovkin being dangerous. By August, Charles is told that Marian
has returned to America for a heart operation. Charles then focuses on his
haemophilia research in Cambridge. His small research unit investigates
improved plasma products to help haemophiliacs, if not find a cure. Charles
marries Sarah, who then tragically dies. In 1961, Charles receives a letter
from Mrs. Fisher in New York stating that Marian had died in 1951 in Paris
where she is buried, and hinting that Marian had loved Charles. Following scant
clues, Charles travels to Paris to learn of Marian’s brutal murder, and then to Avignon to discover Verovkin
conducting a blood-drinking religious ceremony. Verovkin’s followers abduct and beat up Charles before the French
police send him home. Charles inquires into clinical vampirism, or blood
drinking. An invitation to visit Professor Enzio Mazzarino in Rome to discuss
his haemophilia research turns out to be a ruse, but Charles encounters an
underage prostitute. Charles returns to London to be with his dying father and
the police raid his house to find planted photographs of Charles with the
prostitute. Fired from his job and fleeing the police for paedophilia, Charles
takes his inheritance and hides in Scotland. Studying clinical vampirism,
specifically the psychologically disturbed and their relationship to blood,
Charles becomes more paranoid. He accidentally kills a private detective, who
he hired to find Verovkin, when the detective instead stalks Charles. Hiding in
London, Charles learns more of the perversions and taboos of blood. When the
newspapers report that Giovanna Scozzo, an Italian female haemophiliac, will be
treated at the Swiss Haemophilia Clinic in Lausanne due to the generosity of a
rich Swiss philanthropist, Charles, without a passport in 1964, makes his way
to Switzerland. The abducted Giovanna is the bait for Charles, who is also
abducted to Verovkin’s
chateau in Yugoslavia. Imprisoned there, Charles is forced to drink blood to
survive. By cutting off his thumb, Charles escapes his wrist shackle and burns
down the chateau. Still wanting to avenge the murder of Marian, Charles
searches three years for the scarred Verovkin, finally finding him in Italy in
1968. Charles cuts Verovkin’s
neck with a knife to kill him, eerily realizing his personal desire for blood.
“I’ve chased him for over twenty years, and across countless miles, and though often I was running, there have been many times when I could do nothing but sit and wait. Now I am only desperate for it to be finished.”
The budding
romance of a hematologist specializing in hemophilia and a beautiful woman
never reaches fruition, yet the protagonist seeks revenge for the murder of his
unfulfilled love, using his hefty inheritance to fund his obsession. The novel
lists numerous minutiae about blood. Hemophilia is not necessary for the plot,
but it adds more substance and the appropriate name for the love of blood.
Oxford is strangely attributed with the use of snake venom as a treatment of
hemophilia in 1961 (it was the 1930s), and more appropriately for the
identification of additional clotting factors at that time (pp. 99, 155). This
is the first adult novel by the prolific award-winning author of young adult

Bears, Beer and Hemophilia

What do they have in common? Hemophilia is rare, occurring in an estimated 1 in 5,000 male births. As rare as it is, hemophilia manifests in some unusual places, like literature! Here’s a book review from our colleague Richard Atwood, of North Carolina, called Fantastical: Tales of Bears, Beer and Hemophilia.
Marija Bulatovic, an only child, was born in the 1970s in Kraljevo, Yugoslavia (now Serbia). She and her parents immigrated to the United States before their country disintegrated and erupted into warfare
that spread throughout the Balkans. In America, Marija became an experienced
business professional with Fortune 500 companies. Living in Seattle with her
husband, Marija was inspired by the birth of her son. She became introspective
and recorded the childhood stories from her homeland.
When eight years old, Marija enjoyed eating virsle, or
Serbian hotdogs. Her mother disapproved and said, “Never eat hotdogs again.” She explained her concern by stating, “Hotdogs cause hemophilia.” Marija did not know the
condition of hemophilia. Her mother added that “hemophilia was a very serious blood disease and that
hotdogs, made with subpar meat and chemicals, could lead to it.” (p. 78). Marija, questioning
her mother’s statement but still not doubting her mother’s

Marija Bulatovic 

wisdom, carried this belief that hotdogs cause hemophilia for 30 years. This
resulted in an embarrassing moment with her boyfriend while on vacation in
Puerto Rico when she realized the fallacy of those beliefs.

Richard writes that his self-published memoir of interesting stories
includes 19 photographs, one map, and an Appendix of Serbian Proverbs. The
reference to hemophilia is mildly comical. The story reveals more about a
mother’s concern over healthy eating and a daughter’s blind faith that her mother’s
wisdom would never mislead her than about any insight into the medical
condition. Of course, hotdogs may be unhealthy, but they do not cause bleeding disorders.
Nor, might I add, he bag of Oreos I consumed while pregnant!
Marija Bulatovic, 2015, Fantastical: Tales of Bears, Beer and Hemophilia. SOL, LLC. 101 pages.

With a Little Help from My (Hemophilia) Friends

While I’m on vacation this week, please enjoy this fascinating bit of hemophilia rock trivia from our colleague Richard Atwood of North Carolina!

During their 1964 tour of America, the Beatles stayed in Los Angeles for five days. The band rented a mansion at 356 St. Pierre Road in the Hidden Hills neighborhood of Bel Air. They held a sold-out concert on Saturday, August 23 for almost 19,000 paying fans seated inside the Hollywood Bowl, plus another 10-15,000 gate-crashers in the trees outside the amphitheater. Capitol Records planned to record the live concert but the continual shrieking by the audience prevented a good sound recording. After
their performance, the band members partied until dawn at their gated house
with about 30 starlets, including Peggy Lipton, Joan Baez, Billy Preston, and
Ray Hildebrand and Jill Jackson (known as Paul and Paula).
Then on Sunday afternoon, Brian Epstein and the Beatles attended
a charity garden party hosted by Alan Livingston, the president of Capitol
Records, in the Brentwood backyard of Livingston’s mother-in-law. The party was a fundraiser for the Hemophilia Foundation of Southern California. Livingston’s wife, the actress Nancy Olson, was a foundation board
member. Hollywood celebrities were charged $25 each to bring their children.
This event, held on August 24, 1964, raised $10,000.
“At the party, Livingston went to great lengths to accommodate the Beatles, who, after being cold-shouldered by the label, had rocketed Capitol’s profits into stratosphere. No expense had been spared to stage a Hollywood-style spectacular. A festive striped tent had been set up in
the spacious backyard, where vendors dispensed soft ice cream and lemonade to a litter of gorgeously groomed children. There were pony rides and games. Security was unparalleled, befitting a presidential visit, with a fully armed riot squad stashed in the garage, just in case. The guest list was a who’s who of local dignitaries, complete with a selection of hand-picked celebrities, each of whom was required by the hosts to bring a child: Edward G. Robinson had in tow his granddaughter, Francesa; Lloyd Bridges, his son Jeff; Rita Hayworth, her daughter, Princess
Yasmin Khan; Donald O’Connor, his son, Freddy, and daughter, Alicia; Jack Palance, his daughter, Holly; Eva Marie Saint, her son Darrell, and daughter, Laurie; Barbara Rush, her son Christopher; Jeanne Martin brought five of Dean’s children a few feet in front of Jerry Lewis, who bolted as soon as he saw them, leaving his son, Gary, behind rather than risk an encounter with his estranged partner.” (pp. 527-528).
The Beatles were not impressed with the fundraiser. “We saw a couple of film stars,” John [Lennon] relented, but added: “We were expecting
to see more.” (p. 528).
Richard writes: The hemophilia fundraiser was just a minor event in the definitive biography of the Beatles. Captured on news footage and
reported by Saul Halpert, the hemophilia fundraising event has since been posted on YouTube. Other celebrity guests who reportedly attended but were not recognized in the biography included John Forsyth; Groucho Marx; Jack Benny; Jack Lemmon; Rock Hudson; Dean Martin; Richard Chamberlain; Hayley Mills; Shelly Winters; Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper; Los Angeles mayor Sam Yorty, his wife, and his son, Bill; and Kenneth Hahn with his daughter, Janice. A multitude of teenage fans and press reporters remained outside the mansion gates that Sunday afternoon.
From Bob Spitz, 2005, The Beatles: The Biography. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company. 984 pages.The 984-page biography of the band includes 32 pages of photographs, 4 pages for Acknowledgments, 87 pages for Notes, 11 pages for a Bibliography, 3 pages for a Discography, and 21 pages for an Index. The author lives in Connecticut.
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