Tragedy Given New Life By Hollywood
Fast forward 20 years to September 22, 1997.
Ray’s son, Glenn who has never gotten over his father’s murder on the eve of Christmas, or celebrated the holiday since, is now living in Orlando, Florida. I’m a now federal prosecutor in Las Vegas, which is three hours behind Florida in the Pacific Time Zone.
My phone rings. It’s Glenn. He is frantic, practically hyperventilating. “Watch this new show, it’ll be on in three hours there, 10:00, I think I just watched my father’s murder.”
I wait, and then I watch. The new series, “Brooklyn South”, opens its first season with a graphic and grisly recreation of Ray’s murder and the chaotic scene that ensued, right there on Flatbush Avenue.
I am appalled.
I start doing some research.
The show is the brainchild of writers Steven Bochco and David Milch, creators of “NYPD Blue”.
Bochco, along with Michael Kozoll, were previously the head writers of “Hill Street Blues”, produced under the auspices of Mary Tyler Moore Productions.
It seems Milch was a pal of an NYPD Detective named Bill Clark, who consulted on “NYPD Blue” for its first two years, before leaving the Department for greener pastures in LA, courtesy of Milch. He got to write, “co-produce”, and even star in episodes of the highly successful series, which ran on ABC from 1993 to 2005.
Now, in 1997, Bochco, Milch, ex-cop Clark, and another guy named William Finkelstein had thrown in together for what they hoped would be another huge money maker in “Brooklyn South”, presented by Steven Bochco Productions.
The premier drew much ire for the level of violence it depicted. Not satisfied with the original facts, they threw in a fictional sniper blowing a cop’s head off for good measure.
Delve into old promotional press clippings and your will find Clark much lionized, particularly by…himself.
In one such interview he compares the philosophy of early “NYPD Blue” character John Kelly, played by David Caruso, to his own, explaining “That is one of my dissertations”. I don’t know whether he is a multiple Ph.D. or just trying to sound smart.
When Ray was murdered, word got to my father and his old partner Tommy Grosso via another old Bronx detective pal, Artie Sheehy. They raced to the Gallo house to be the ones to break the news to Ray’s wife – now a widow, Nancy (nee Schwartz) Gallo. They found her decorating the Christmas tree. The horrific scene included two hard nosed, hard-core old NYPD cops, weeping.
Nancy, now remarried, was so distraught over seeing the only slightly fictionalized portrayal of Ray’s murder, that she wrote Bochco and Milch a heartfelt letter. It was returned, unopened.
Feel free to read it – and weep:
Ironically, Milch, a native of Buffalo,NY, boasted in a hometown press puff piece that the cop paralyzed in the 1977 rampage (Larry Bromm) was present on the set, with his son, while the opening scene was being filmed.
No such arrangements were attempted on behalf of murder victim Ray Gallo’s family.
Another Clark crony, mentioned in Nancy Gallo’s letter to Bochco and Milch – Tommy Doyle – was also given a ticket on the gravy train. Milch hired him on as a consultant for “Brooklyn South”, courtesy of Clark.
In his 2010 obituary, Doyle was lauded by Clark as the real life “Blue Knight” (the main character – “Bumper Morgan” – in the classic novel by the great Joseph Wambaugh). Daily News columnist Denis Hamill called him the “The Sheriff of Park Slope…for 40 years…the toughest, smartest, most omnipresent street cop you ever saw…”.
Yet in a 1997 interview plugging “Brooklyn South”, the “Sheriff”, in recounting the original horror back in 1997, said that he “believe(d) a detective who was retired was shot dead.” Believed???
That seems to me to be something the best cop in Park Slope at the time would remember.
He Had A Name
Sadly, none of the Hollywood big shots or ex-cop suck-ups remembered, or if they did, cared about Ray Gallo. Or his widow. Or his sons. Or his daughter. Or the many of us who loved him.
It was left to Nancy Gallo to remind them: “My husband had a name. Raymond D. Gallo. Born 9/4/27 Died 12/20/77. Husband, Father, and Brother.”