“Joy of Living”


You Couldn’t Be Cuter, by Ruby Newman And His Orchestra; Ray Morton; Jerome Kern; Dorothy Fields, 1938


Weegee, [Police and bystanders with body of Stanley Sandler, a passenger in an automobile that crashed into a Third Avenue El pillar and caught fire, New York], April 16, 1942 (965.1993)

Object details: gelatin silver print, paper size: 12 x 9 in. (30.5 x 22.9 cm)


Weegee, [Police and bystanders with body of Stanley Sandler, a passenger in an automobile that crashed into a Third Avenue El pillar and caught fire, New York], April 16, 1942 (119.1992)

Object details: gelatin silver print, paper size: 14 x 11 1/8 in. (35.6 x 28.3 cm)

Around 4:30 AM on Thursday, April 16th, 1942, Frank Whalen (a 32 year old resident of Astoria) was drunkenly driving north on Third Avenue with Joseph Mahoney (a 32 year old resident of Astoria, Queens) and Stanley Sandler (a 23 year old resident of Astoria). Just below 42nd St., Whalen’s car crashed into a pillar of the Third Avenue elevated railway. The car “bounced from pillar to pillar of the elevated structure and finally, all but demolished, came to a stop and burst into flames at 42nd Street.” (The New York Sun, April 16, 1942, p. 5). Whalen and Mahoney were able to jump out of the car and suffered relatively minor injuries. Sandler was in the back seat and “his body was thrown clear of the wreckage.” He landed on the street.

Whalen was arrested for vehicular homicide and felonious assault. He resisted arrest and attacked an on-duty police officer, Patrick Flannery (resident of Sunnyside), who was nearby.

Whalen was held in the nearby Bellevue Hospital’s prison ward. He was denied bail and “arraigned in Manhattan Homicide Court on charges of homicide and driving while intoxicated and in Manhattan Felony Court on a charge of slugging Patrolman Patrick Flannery.” (Long Island Star-Journal, April 25, 1942, p.12.) In May 1942, Whalen was sentenced to 70 days in jail for drunken driving. Whalen had a criminal record, he was arrested twice for grand larceny.

Father Thomas McNulty gave Sandler, partially covered in newspapers, his last rites on the sidewalk below the Tudor Theatre marquee that read “Irene Dunne in Joy of Living also Don’t Turn Them Loose.”

77 years ago yesterday Weegee made a great photograph. 77 years ago today PM published (one of three versions of) Weegee’s great photo.


PM, April 17, 1942, p.7

Car Hits 3d Ave. L – One dies, Two Hurt

1. Few minutes before photo, this car was going north on Third Ave. near 42nd St. It smashed into L pillar, burned to this wreck.

2. Wheel of car rammed curb 40 feet from car body. Stanley Stanley, Astoria, died in wreck. Car was driven by Frank Whalen, Astoria.

3. Whalen, injured, battled with cops after recovering from shock of crash. He was handcuffed, forced into ambulance by officers.

4. Under double-bill movie marquee, body of Stanley, was covered with newspapers and coats by policeman. Technical charge of homicide was lodged against Frank Whalen, who was taken to Bellevue Hospital for observation. Another passenger, Joseph Mahoney, also was hurt.
PM, April 17, 1942, p.7

On April 21, 1942 The New York Times reported that the number of traffic accidents in New York City declined in 1942, as compared with the previous year. In the first few months of 1941 there were 465 accidents, resulting in 7 deaths, and 544 injuries. In all of 1941 there were 239 people killed in auto accidents. In the first few months of 1942 there were 335 accidents, resulting in 10 deaths, and 384 injuries. On January 1, 2019 The New York Times reported that “The total number of people killed in traffic crashes in New York City fell to 200 last year, down from 222 deaths in 2017 and the lowest level since the city began tracking such deaths in 1910.”


Weegee (1899-1968), [Police and bystanders with body of Stanley Sandler, a passenger in an automobile that crashed into a Third Avenue El pillar and caught fire, New York], April 16, 1942 (2184)

Object details: original black and white 4×5 inch negative


Weegee. Naked City, New York: Essential Books, 1945, pp. 88-89

This man covered up with newspapers was killed in an auto accident. The driver of the car was arrested, but put up such a terrific battle…cops had to put handcuffs on him.
Weegee. Naked City, New York: Essential Books, 1945, p. 89

“Joy of Living” was released in 1938 and starred Irene Dunne and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. In April, 1942, if any of the 7.5 million residents of the Naked City had gone into the Tudor Theatre, 650 Third Ave., (originally named the Tuxedo Theatre) and watched the double feature, they would have seen:


“Joy of Living” 1938

You couldn’t be cuter
Plus that you couldn’t be smarter
Plus that intelligent face you have
A disgraceful charm for me

You couldn’t be keener
You look so fresh from the cleaner
You are the little grand slam
I’ll bring to my family

My ma will show you an album of me
That will bore you to tears
And you’ll attract all the relatives
We have dodged for years and years

And what’ll they tell me?
Exactly what’ll they tell me?
They’ll say you couldn’t be nicer
Couldn’t be sweeter, couldn’t be better
Couldn’t be smoother, couldn’t be cuter
Baby, than you are

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1 Response to “Joy of Living”

  1. Pingback: Movie Matinée – This isn't happiness

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