Martin "Marty" Krugman was an associate of the Lucchese crime family and the basis for the character "Morrie Kessler" as depicted by Chuck Low in the 1990 film Goodfellas. Krugman, a Passaic, New Jersey, native and son of Jewish-Russian immigrant parents, resided in Valley Stream, New York with his Long Island housewife, Frances. Martin's namesake came from "Saint Martin of Tours" who was a 4th-century bishop and is the patron saint of France.
Career as a Hair Stylist
Krugman owned a popular two-story storefront popular and heavily advertised male hair salon and wig shop called "For Men Only," which was situated next door to The Suite. It was advertised on a local Queens, New York television station in the 1970's. Due to it's proximity to Henry Hill's dinner club, The Suite it became a popular hangout for the Vario Crew. Paul Vario bought his hair pieces when he started getting bald, as shown in several 1970-era survelliance photographs taken of him. The salon had two back rooms closed off by large curtains where mobsters could discuss business in privacy from any survelliance the NYPD were conducting outside. One of his employees, Frank Menna, an employee of Krugman who was also involved in the Lufthansa heist. His male clientele, as the name of the salon stated, catered to a strictly male clientele which included Tommy DeSimone, Parnell Edwards, Paul Vario and Henry Hill, but mainly "straight" people from Queens.
Since it was a semi-legitimate business owned and managed by Krugman he did not allow Henry Hill's mobster partners to organize any mob "executions" on the premises, unlike Jimmy Burke's Robert's Lounge, and Henry Hill's The Suite that would attract unwanted attention to his already thriving business clientele. He used the upper-floor of the hair salon and wig shop for his independently run bookmaking operation whose clientele included many JFK Airport employees like Louis Werner, Peter Gruenwald, Robert McMahon and Joe Manri. From his business being close to Henry Hill's The Suite, he would go over and dine and listen to mob-war stories. Henry Hill became good friends with Krugman and helped Krugman for years avoid his book-making operation from being extorted by Jimmy Burke and later Gambino crime family soldier Billy Batts (who would be subsequently be executed in 1970 by Jimmy Burke and Tommy DeSimone for his efforts) because of Krugman's valued hijacking connections inside JFK Airport and if Burke murdered him, it would be in a culloquial sense, lost earnings on the Vario Crew's part.
Growing up with Hypothyroidism
When growing up as a child he was nicknamed "Bug Eyes" for his protruding eye balls caused by a condition called hyperthyroidism that caused him to resort to wearing tinted sunglasses, as in the survelliance picture. Even with the condition Krugman was secure enough to go on television and promote his hair salon in a steady commercial slot on local Queens, New York television station. At the time there wasn't any known cure for the condition.
Friendship with Burke & Hill
Krugman was a close friend of Henry Hill's, but much hated by Hill's friend Jimmy Burke. Burke believed that Krugman was withholding money owed to him from a sportsbook that Krugman was said to have set up in the back of his wig shop. He was one of the people who tipped off Henry Hill about the Lufthansa heist from his connections inside Kennedy International Airport.
Krugman angers Burke
Burke was planning to kill Krugman, who was forever pestering him for his $500,000 share in the Lufthansa heist. Burke told Henry Hill, whom Krugman trusted most of all, to ring Krugman and tell him he'd be met at a local eatery, the Forty Yards. Hill phoned Krugman from the Robert's Lounge bar, where Tommy DeSimone, his sister Dolores, Milty Weker and Jimmy Burke were all sitting around talking. Tommy told Hill to persuade Krugman to go to the Riviera Motel, with the lure of prostitutes, get him in the car, then DeSimone and Angelo Sepe would 'take it from there'. On the way to the Forty Yards Hill began trying to persuade Burke that murdering Krugman was stupid and said that it was 'bread off our table', meaning that financially Krugman was useful, he also said that they needed him to do some spread betting and that his wife, Fran, would cause light to shine on Burke and his crew if Martin disappeared.
Burke listened and when they saw Krugman at the Forty Yards said, "Forget about tonight". Hill, Burke and Krugman sat around, drinking and joking, until Jimmy left and Fran came to pick up Martin. Martin began hounding Hill for his share of the money. Christmas passed, Hill and Burke went down to Florida about some cocaine and everyone hoped that the heat over Lufthansa had cooled off. The police heat and surveillance at Robert's Lounge became overwhelming and it could no longer serve as a headquarters for Burke's crew, so they moved to a fence company owned by Vinnie Asoro on Rockaway Boulevard. Krugman became a pest again, he was asking about Stacks Edwards (who had been shot), about Tommy DeSimone (who had since disappeared) and about his share of the money. Finally Burke met Krugman at Asaro's place and he was killed there. Krugman was dismembered and disposed of.
The following morning Fran Krugman called Henry Hill at 7 a.m. and began saying that her husband hadn't come home and that he'd called her at half-past nine the previous night to say he had money coming in and that he might be late. Hill claims he knew immediately that Jimmy had killed Krugman. Hill agreed to go and search for Krugman and drove to Asaro's place and saw Jimmy was parked outside. Henry said Fran wanted to know if anyone had seen Martin and Jimmy said, "He's gone". Henry shook his head in disbelief, Jimmy told Henry to pick up Karen and go and tell Fran that Martin Krugman was with a girlfriend, in other words to 'give her a story'. Hill comforted Fran with Karen and all the while knew that Martin was dead, but more worryingly Fran, just as Hill had warned Burke, was becoming an increasing problem. She said how she knew all about the Lufthansa Heist.
It was revealed in Hill's testimony, in 1980, to the FBI that Krugman's body was buried, along with Burke's hijacker friend Remo from San Remo, Italy in the small enclosed yard behind the bar, underneath the boccie court and with sixteen-year-old Michael 'Spider' Gianco buried in a small unfinished section of the terazzo floor basement who was murdered not by Burke, but Tommy DeSimone in 1970 in his Queens, New York bar, named Robert's Lounge. This was unable to be confirmed.
Martin Krugman's name is covered by a bleep on the GoodFellas commentary without explanation.
In 1986 Martin was declared legally deceased although his remains were never found, Fran Krugman received $135,000 in a life insurance policy pay-out.
In Film and Reality
Martin Krugman was shot and dismembered at Bonnano member Vincent "Buster" Aloi's fence factory. The murder was most-likely conducted by Jimmy Burke because when Henry Hill drives up, Burke was the only one present. Krugman's death in the movie with the ice pick, mimicks the murder of Burke's best friend, only known as "Remo" who was actually garroted in the rear parking lot at Robert's Lounge by Tommy DeSimone, Jimmy Burke and another mobster, most likely the Paul Vario street soldier and distant relative of Leo Diamond, Stanley. The character and story behind Remo and his murder is excluded from Goodfellas, but ironically Martin Scorcese would later use "Remo" as a character name for Pasquale Cajano who plays Chicago don Joe Aiuppa in the movie Casino.