Joseph Rutherford and Burlesque

by Amazing 35 Replies latest jw friends

  • Amazing

    No one really expects 'perfection' of their fellow humans, even of those in high station. Our past President, Bill Clinton certainly demonstrated that men in high station can and do give into acts that are not accepted by the public at large. Likewise, I doubt anyone expects that Joseph Rutherford would be perfect, but we would expect that as a human, he had his ways.

    What about "True" Spiritual Leaders?: The question that needs to be asked is, 'Can we expect something more from a man or woman who is called, chosen, appointed, selected, anointed, and used by God as a contemporary Prophet to lead His people?' If such a man in high station, or an organization who has these men at their helm, and claiming to 'keep their organization clean', holding to high and 'lofty' standards, and being God's 'Channel of Truth' for all mankind in these 'Last Days' of a 'wicked' system, then are we not to expect that these men are in someway blessed, and guarded from bringing reproach on God, and that God is careful to select the 'creme de la creme' of His people to represent His Kingdom interests here on earth? A representation that is said to be the 'sole source of truth and enlightment from God' for the entire planet?

    What kind of man, therefore, was this Judge Joseph F. Rutherford?: He was known to "... use vulgar language, and sufferred from alcoholism, ..." - Apocalypse Delayed, P.48, M. James Penton.

    Rutherford was once accused of attending a 'burlesque' show (a type of glorified nudie bar) with fellow Elders, a young Bible Student woman, on the evening of the Memorial celebration. - ibid.

    "On 27 April 1926 George H. Fisher wrote a letter to W. Nieman of Magdeburg, Germany accusing Rutherford of attending Al Jolson's Winter Garden Theater to see the Paris Edition of the then notorious show 'Artists and Models.' ... Rutherford's lame answer to Fisher's charge was that he was too busy in the Lord's work to be bothered with replying to such criticism, and anyway, had never seen Al Jolson in his life and did not know what he looked like." ibid, P.318, Note 4. Also see The Golden Age (4 May 1927), 505, 506)

    Did not know what Al Jolson looked like? Then, if that is true, I don't know what Elvis Presley or the Beatles looked like either. Come on! In 1927 Al Jolson was the biggest thing since Peanut Butter!

    Who was George H. Fisher? He was a close trusted Rutherford selection to be on the Board of Directors. Fisher was among the four selected to replace the four Directors that Rutherford had earlier removed. So, George H. Fisher was not one of those fallen 'evil slave', but specially chosen by Rutherford to serve alongside him in directing the Lord's work. Fisher was effectively the equivalent of a member of the GB today.

    What did Fisher have to make his case?: George Fisher wanted to take Ruthrford before the Bible Student 'ecclesia' for discipline, and he documented this in the above referenced letter, and had the necessary witnesses to do so. ibid, P.318.

    There you have it! Rutherford did not deny being at the Burlesque show (again, a type of glorified nudie bar). He did not bring forth an alibi or witnesses to the contrary. He did not submit to 'Theocratic Procedure' in harmony with the Bible, answering to and be confronted by multiple witnesses to the same act. He did not submit to the legitimate concerns of a fellow Director (GB Member) No, Joey Boozy, Cigar-smokin Ratherflawed was tooooooooo busy in the Looooorddddd's work to respond. - Amazing

  • larc


    My mother's aunt lived at Bethel beginning in 1938, and abandoned her husband to do so. In the Olin Moyle trial, she is referred to as dietician, practical nurse, and a housekeeper on the 7th floor where Rutherford lived and had is office. She probably had a higher status than the typical housekeeper, however. In 1939, she was a member of a group that spent 2 months in Europe together. The party consisted of my mother's aunt, Bonnie (Boyd) Heath, her husband William, Knorr, and Rutherford. Was my mother's aunt Rutherford's mistress? I can't prove it, but I think so.

    My mother told me that in that era, that Rutherford $100 silk shirts. What you that tranlate into in today's dollars?

    And the beat goes on.

  • Amazing

    Hi Larc: WOW! You have a very fascinating history. Have you provided notes to any writing historical works?

    Rutherford wore $100 during the Depression era? The US Dollar at the time was backed by Gold at the set rate, I believe, of $35/Troy oz. During the Great Depression the Dollar went through a massive 'Deflation' as the stock market was dead. My dad told me that when we was lucky enough to find a dime, he could buy a whole breakfast, coffee included with refills. What is breakfast today?

    IN the late 1960s my parents bought a three bedroom home for almost $10,000. If the home were on the market today, it wold command about $250,000. So, we have two examples of inflation: 1) Breakfast over 60 years ago cost 10 cents, and today about $8.00, or an 8,000% increase. 2.) A house over 40 years ago costing $10,000 and today $250,000 or an 2,500% increase.

    I guess that a $100 Silk shirt in the 1930s would cost a lot more today, maybe a $1,000? I have trouble today spending more than $20 for a shirt at J.C.Penneys. LOL - Amazing

  • larc


    I have a copy of my mother's aunts marriage license. I also have a copy of the divorce papers filed by her husband. Also, there is much detail in the Olin Moyle trial transcripts regarding her. I also know that my mother's aunt Berta Peale lived at Beth Sarim from Rutherford's death in 1942 until 1948 when the mansion was sold because an older cousin of mine visited her there. Her close personal friend Bonnie (Boyd) Heath and her husband lived in the mansion next door named Beth Shan.

    Yes indeed, during the great depression, Rutherford was living like royalty while the rank and file were suffering.

  • Amazing

    Hi Larc: Thanks for this follow-up. Two mansions, Beth Sarim and Beth Shan? You have got to be kidding! Gawd! Well, your documentation is noteworthy. If you have not sharhed this with any historian, I can put you in contact with James Penton. He is currently working on another book about Rutherford. He may enjoy talking to you. You can email me at I will pass your email on to Jim to get back to you. (With your permission, of course.)

    By the way, I have the full trial transcript of the Moyle case. And sometime back, I met Olin Moyle's grand-daughter and her husband. They were over at my house, and I also went to a Dawn Bible Student's convention with them, and attended thier Dawn Sunday Service. What a great experience that was. On one of those visits, AlanF was at my house when Moyle's grand-daughter was there. It was a treat to talk with them, and learn of the Dawn Bible Student perspective ... which will make for another good post. Thanks again. - Amazing

  • larc


    I have some other interesting tid bits, but like a good strip tease artist, I will save them for later.

  • Amazing

    Hi Larc: I look forward to more tid-bits, and I will check my email in case you take me up on my offer to contact me. Thanks. - Amazing

  • larc

    I know Jim Penton and have his e mail address. I will send my information on to him in the next few days. I also, have sent detailed information to Maiximus who has a friend that is doing research on Rutherford.

    A couple other facts about Berta. She was one of four sisters who became Witnesses sometime back in the 1920's or early thirties. She was the only one of the four who considered herself to be of the anointed. Therefore, I have to conclude that they came in, after the doctrine of the great crowd was introduced. Berta was a very beautiful, elegant Southern Belle. She always was dressed in the most stylish cloths available, even though she was a humble pioneer after she left Beth Sarim.


    It is not easy for me to write about this. I liked Berta and she is family. It is only in the last few years that I have shared this information with anyone outside of my immediate family.

  • Prisca
    She was the only one of the four who considered herself to be of the anointed. Therefore, I have to conclude that they came in, after the doctrine of the great crowd was introduced.

    Not necessarily.

    My grandmother was contacted by the witnesses in 1931. She was baptised in 1931/32. She never considered herself to be "anointed" although the common undertanding at the time was that they were all "anointed".

    When the doctrine of the "great crowd" came out in 1935, she said she and quite a few others expressed great relief, as she now knew what her "destiny" was. From that time until her death in 1989, she never considered herself to be "annointed".

    She always believed she was going to live forever on this earth. She also lived with the great desire "to walk through Armageddon into the New System". Sadly, she never got her wish.

  • VM44

    WOW! Two books about Rutherford are being written?
    One by J. Penton, and another by someone Maximus knows?
    I hope they will come out soon!

    The books will be interesting to read. I hope hard documentation will
    be included in them. Accurate information about Rutherford is hard to
    come by.

    It appears that everyone that was close to Rutherford isn't talking, or
    when they do talk, they say only the "good" things they are expected to say.
    (Example: All the praise given to Rutherford by the WT witnesses during
    the Moyle libel trial, "He was a kindly man", etc.)

    I hope one of the books coming out will contain the floor plan of the house
    Beth-Sarim, I really want to see how many bathrooms it contained, if there
    were only a few, then it was NOT designed to house the dozen or so Ancient
    Worthies mentioned in Hebrews!


  • larc

    Hello again,

    Beth Sarim was built in 1929. As a result, Rutherford and his elite got to spend their winter months in a mansion in San Diego all through the great depression. Beth Shan was built in 1939, when the winds of war were stirring. This mansion had a bomb shelter accessable by a secret passage. There was another bomb shelter underneath one of the out buildings, also stocked with food. Rutherford believed that Germany would win the war and that would bring on the Great Tribulation, hence the need for the bomb shelters.

  • jschwehm

    Edmund Gruss has written a book entitled "Jehovah's Witnesses and Their Monuments to False Prophecy" has a lot information and a lot of documentation about Beth Sarim and Beth Shan.

    Jeff S.

  • VM44

    hi larc,

    Beth-Shan was located in Mission Valley, wasn't it? The San Diego river flows
    through Mission Valley out to the ocean, but Beth-Shan was quite a distance
    away from the ocean.

    At the time, (1940s) the surrounding land was mostly undeveloped. I am not
    aware of any potential Military or Industrial targets close by, so I wonder why
    a bomb shelter was felt to be necessary. (OK, I know WWII was going on at
    the time! But still, I think it was being overly cautious)

    There were rumors circulating among the Witnesses at the time that the
    Beth-Sarim was being expanded, but the Watchtower said there was absolutely
    "No Truth" to these rumors, and people should be spending their time preaching
    instead of spreading rumors.

    Later, after Rutherford had died, the Watchtower printed that a proposal was
    made to bury Rutherford on a some land the Society owned called "Beth Shan" much for there being "No Truth" to the rumors!!!!

    Has anyone written to the WTS asking for an explanation of Beth-Shan?
    I wonder the response would be.


  • larc


    As Jeff pointed out, Edmund Gruss has written a book that includes much detail on this subject. Fact is, Beth Sarim and Beth Shan were on adjoinging properties. Rutherford's signature is on the deed for Beth Sarim and William Heath's signature was on the deed for Beth Shan. They were next door neighbors, and Beth Shan was built as a protection for the Watchtower elite when the Great Tribulation was to occur.

  • VM44

    I found the book "Jehovah's Witnesses: Their Monuments To False Prophecy"
    listed for sale at Randy's Freeminds site, it is only $10 for over 300 pages!

    Here is the web page for Freemind's new books:

    A picture of the book:

    BTW, the second author, Leonard Chretien, is the man who came out with
    the "Witnesses of Jehovah" movie and book.

  • VM44

    Getting back to the original subject of this thread...

    Nothing came from the accusation of George H. Fisher, he died before
    any judicial proceedings could occur.

    How convenient for the "Judge".

    George Fisher was also one of the Watchtower men convicted of sedition
    and was sent to prison along with Rutherford.


  • larc


    I know Leonard. I met him at the first meeting at Peter Gregarson's place. The meeting lead to the founding of BRCI. At that time, Leonard was talking about preparing his film and needed financial support. Unfortunately, I was not in a position to help out at the time. I spent some time with Leonard and his wife at their beautiful home in La Hoya outside of San Diego. He took the time to drive me to Beth Sarim to see it first hand.

    Leonard is a good man.

  • larc


    You asked about the danger at Beth Sarim as far as being a military target. Please remember the Witness mindset about the Great Tribulation and Armaggeddon. Everything was subject to destruction. Also, remember that there is a large Naval Base in San Diego, so the city could be a likely target.

  • TR

    Anyone know who the current owners of Beth-Sarim and Beth-sham are?


    "I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every
    form of tyranny over the mind of man." --Thomas Jefferson*

  • VM44

    Some more relevant information about George Fisher.

    Under the supervision of Rutherford, Clayton J. Woodworth
    and George H. Fisher wrote "The Finished Mystery," which
    appeared in the year 1917. This was supposed to be the
    posthumous volume 7 of Russell's "Studies In the Scriptures."
    But was rather an attempt to justify Rutherford as the rightful
    successor to Russell. (who else but the rightful successor
    would be publishing the 7th volume?)

    But, by the year 1927, Fisher had become a non-person as
    far as Rutherford and the Watchtower were concerned. This may
    have been because of the accusation Fisher made concerning
    Rutherford attending the Burlesque show. Whatever the reason,
    the 1927 edition of "The Finished Mystery" has all the parts written
    by Fisher removed.

    It was said Fisher was unfaithful, well, yes he was, unfaithful to
    Rutherford, and so his words were excised!

    How petty can you get?


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