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Roosevelt had become President, Liberty obtained his permission to hand over the puzzle to six top mystery writers, each of whom devised one installment of the plot without knowing whose idea it was. The result was a highly entertaining story line that just got wilder and weirder—the middle-aged millionaire’s wife is a Russian who’s plotting to murder him before he disappears; he gets plastic surgery, acquires a new voice by studying with a ventriloquist, and so on and so on. But the most interesting thing is that he’s secretly in love with a woman in his office, so his real goal isn’t simply to disappear with the dough, but with the babe as well. The stow was a big success, but nobody realized just how prescient Liberty’s writers were: Years later, it was revealed that the middle-aged millionaire FDR had had a secret love himself—Lucy Rutherfurd, his wife’s secretary.
A movie was made of “The President’s Mystery Story” in 1936, one of over a hundred Liberty stories that were turned into films over the years, including Sergeant York, Double Indemnity, Destination Tokyo, My Man Godfrey, and I Married a Nazi not to mention TV’s Mr. Ed.
Of course, being a “weekly for everybody” meant publishing not only stories and articles, but weekly features such as “Tongue Twisters,” “20 Questions,” a “To the Ladies” column by Princess Alexandra Kopotkin (“linguist, traveler, lecturer, and authority on fashion”) as well as its “Vox Pop” section, where readers made their own contributions (the following was from Tallahassee, Florida, 1935): “Last year I asked her to be my wife and she gave me a decidedly negative reply, so to get even, I married her mother. Then my father married the girl. When I married the girl’s mother, the girl became my daughter, and my father married my daughter, so he became my
son. When my father married my daughter
she became my mother. If my father is my son and my daughter is my mother—who am I? My mother’s mother is my wife and must be my grandmother, and being my grandmother’s husband, I must be my own grandfather.”