A policeman ran over to the body. There was no response. The grizzled old man who had collapsed on a New York City sidewalk was gone. A scrapbook with “The Luckiest Fool In The World” printed on the cover was clutched under one arm.

The man who died that October afternoon in 1952 was unlike other street people. This one had once been a national celebrity. This one had launched a fad that defined a decade. And this one truly was, in his own words, “the luckiest fool in the world.” Listen to his story, and you’ll understand why.

J. Mark Powell is a novelist, former TV journalist and diehard history buff. Have a historical mystery that needs solving? A forgotten moment worth remembering? Please send it to HolyCow@insidesources.com.