Talking Hart Island

Grave Yard of Strangers with Norma Jean Gradsky

April 19, 2020

Episode 34 “Grave Yard of Strangers”: with Norma Jean Gradsky.

Leo Birinski was a playwright, screenwriter and director. He worked in Austria-Hungary, Germany and in the United States.

Birinski was the screenwriter of many Hollywood productions including, “Song of Song”s starring Marlene Dietrich, “The Lady Has Plans”, starring Paulette Goddard, and perhaps his most famous, “Mata Hari” starring the screen legend Greta Garbo.

Until recently, only a minimal amount of information about his life was available. In addition there were many legends and rumors concerning Birinski’s person, some of them even spread by himself. For example, the false report of his “suicide” in 1920 even found its way from the newspaper obituaries into encyclopedias. But it wouldn’t be until 1951 that Birininski actually died. At the time he was alone and penniless, interred for all eternity on Hart Island.

Michael T. Keene is the author of Folklore and Legends of Rochester, Murder, Mayhem and Madness, Mad~House, Question of Sanity, and now his new book, 


Order a signed, soft cover copy of the book: New York City's Hart Island, directly from the Author

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