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Prohibition StoryWilliam Kennedy's Prohibition Story

On Monday October 3rd, 2011 at 7:30pm WMHT will broadcast the premier of the new 30-minute documentary entitled “William Kennedy’s Prohibition Story.” In this WMHT original production, master storyteller William Kennedy unfolds the convoluted and violent tale of gangster-bootlegger Jack “Legs” Diamond during the tumultuous period of American history known as Prohibition.  William Kennedy’s words were the basis for several feature films for which Prohibition was the backdrop, including Ironweed and The Cotton Club. But his words have never been used as the basis for a non-fiction documentary examining this time in Albany’s history – until now.

Jack “Legs” Diamond is perhaps the most famous of all of the East Coast gangsters during the 1920’s and 30’s.  He built two criminal empires in New York City and the Catskill Mountains before finally being tried and acquitted in two sensational trials in Troy, NY. With his empire in ruins, Diamond sought to reestablish himself in Albany, but this act would result in a direct collision with the forces that controlled Albany’s illicit liquor industry. As Kennedy recounts the details of Diamonds life, he reveals how this gangster embodied the essence of public sentiment toward Prohibition and, emblematic of Kennedy’s other work, how Albany represented a microscopic cross-section of the American ethos.

The local broadcast of the documentary will coincide with the release of the new national PBS series by Ken Burns entitled, “Prohibition: America’s Greatest Experiment”.