|birth||12/25/1888 in Boston, MA|
|death||10/6/1956 in Wellesley Hills, MA|
|education||Boston Museum of Fine Arts|
Assistant to Augustus St.-Gaudens and Bela Lyon Pratt
You can click medals to switch between obverse and reverse sides.
This medal's obverse bears bust of Curley facing three quarters left. Around, GOVERNOR JAMES MICHAEL CURLEY; signed above shoulder at right, Parafino / Sc.
This medal's reverse bears a summary of Curley's public service career surrounded by laurel wreath, seal of the Commonwealth at bottom. Inscription reads MEMBER / OF / BOSTON / COMMON COUNCIL / 1900 - 1901 / MASS. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES / 1902 - 1903 / BOARD OF ALDERMEN / 1904 - 1905 · 1906 - 1907 · 1908 - 1909 / CITY COUNCIL 1910 - 1911 / 62nd AND 63rd CONGRESS 1911- 1915 / MAYOR OF BOSTON / 1914 - 1917 · 1922 - 1925 · 1930 - 1933 / GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS / 1935 - 1936
James Michael Curley (1874-1958) was one of the most colorful Massachusetts politicians ever and a perfect example of the old-style machine politics of the first half of the 20th century. He rose from poverty to become councillor, member of the House, Mayor of Boston, and even Governor of Massachusetts.
His legendary popularity includes getting elected into public office while serving jail terms for fraud, corruption, and bribery. While the legal troubles gave him a bad reputation among the old upper class Wasps of Boston, the increasingly numerous and vocal Irish immigrant class unfailingly supported him during his career.
In one popular stunt, while Governor of Massachusetts, he appeared at the Harvard University commencement ceremony wearing silk stockings, knee britches, a powdered wig, and a three-cornered hat with flowing plume. When University marshals objected to his costume, the story goes, Curley whipped out a copy of the Statutes of the Massachusetts Bay Colony which prescribed proper dress for the occasion and claimed that he was the only person at the ceremony properly dressed, thereby endearing him to many working and middle class Yankees.
Unlike many other local politicians, James Michael Curley has not been forgotten. Curley is widely believed to have been the model for protagonist Frank Skeffington in the Edwin O'Connor novel "The Last Hurrah". Spencer Tracey portrayed Skeffington in a John Ford film based on the novel. Since Curley, every Boston mayor has been driven in a car with the license registration 576, representing the number of letters in his first, middle, and last name: James (5) Michael (7) Curley (6). The Curley family still holds Massachusetts auto registration number 5. It is owned by his step-son Richard.
The round medal measures 76.2mm in diameter and was struck in bronze by the Medallic Art Company of New York. Its mintage is not reported.
References: MACo 1936-037