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Charles A. Levine
1 Introduction
2 The Songs
3 A Hero Is Forgotten
4 Hunted by the FBI
NPR Documentary
Levine and His Flying Machine, the documentary about the first transatlantic airplane passenger. (12:29 min.)

"Headlines Fade Out," Los Angeles Times, Feb. 28, 1937.

"Ocean-Flyer Levine Faces Charge as Smuggling Suspect," Los Angeles Times, Aug. 10, 1937.

"Levine Convicted in Smuggling Case," Los Angeles Times, Dec. 18, 1938.

"Levine, of Atlantic Hop Fame, Held in Alien Smuggling Case," Los Angeles Times, Jan. 11, 1942.

"Levine Asks Time for Fine Payment," Los Angeles Times, March 19, 1942.

Charles A. Levine's rap sheet. What the reporters didn't know.  

A Hero Is Forgotten

On February 28, 1937, a short article titled "Headliner Fades Out" ran in the back pages of the Los Angeles Times. A sort of living obituary, the piece chronicled the precipitous fall of an ephemeral modern legend.

Since the summer of 1927, everything Charles A. Levine had touched ended in ruin. In 10 years he had lost everything: fortune, family, and fame -- the latter returning momentarily in 1934, when, the LA Times article reports, he was "found unconscious in the kitchen of a friend's home, with five gas jets on." In the eyes of the writer summarizing his life, Levine had sunk plenty low. In fact, he had a ways to go.

A few months following the article's appearance, the erstwhile headliner was back in the news, this time in connection with a Federal charge of tungsten smuggling. After spending 18 months in jail, Levine was eventually busted again, this time for the smuggling of an illegal alien. (The "alien" was a German Jew denied an American visa in his attempt to escape Hitler.)

The former hero's indignities were for a time thought amusing enough for newspaper back pages, but eventually even the tabloids lost interest. By the 1950s only the FBI cared to investigate further.

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