Roy Cohn

Editors Note: We're blogging through We Didn't Start the Fire by Billy Joel.

Roy Cohn was born on February 27, 1927. He chose a career in law, and graduated from Columbia Law School in 1947. He joined the Justice Department as an attorney, and was part of the prosecuting team during the Rosenberg trial. Joe McCarthy then decided to have Cohn join his team in the Communist witch hunt. While they never actually convicted anyone, they wrecked a few careers.

After his time with McCarthy, Cohn had a 30-year career as an attorney on his own. He was charged three times for witness tampering and perjury, but was acquitted. He was, however, disbarred after entering the hospital room of Lewis Rosenstiel, a multimillionaire who was in a coma, forcing a pen into his hand, and signing an amended will, whichever left all of his money to Cohn and Cathy Frank.

Cohn was rumored to be homosexual, which, during the 50s and 60s, was a big deal. In fact, many of the people Cohn and Joe McCarthy prosecuted during the communism trials were accused of homosexuality.

Cohn died in 1986 of AIDS. He insisted to his grave he was dying of liver cancer. He was 59.

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