Ruby at Oswald Press Confrence Ruby at the Carousel Club
Jack Ruby was born Jacob Leon Rubenstein to Joseph Rubenstein (1871–1958) and Fannie Turek Rutkowski (or Rokowsky), both Polish-born, Orthodox Jews, in Chicago, on March 25, 1911.
The fifth of his parents' eight surviving children, growing up in the Maxwell Street area of Chicago, Ruby had a troubled childhood and adolescence, marked by juvenile delinquency and time spent in foster homes. On June 6, 1922, aged 11, he was arrested for truancy. Ruby eventually skipped school enough times that he spent time at the Institute of Juvenile Research. Young Ruby soldhorse-racing tip sheets and various other novelties, then acted as business agent for a local refuse collectors union that later became part of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
In the 1940s, Ruby frequented race tracks in Illinois and California. He was drafted in 1943 and served in the Army Air Forces during World War II, working as an aircraft mechanic at bases in the US until 1946. He had an honorable record and was promoted to Private First Class. Upon discharge, on February 21, 1946, Ruby returned to Chicago.
In 1947, Ruby moved to Dallas where he and his brothers soon afterward shortened their surnames from Rubenstein to Ruby. The stated reason for changing the family name was that he and his brothers had opened up a mail order business and feared that some customers would refuse to do business with Jews. Ruby later went on to manage various nightclubs, strip clubs, and dance halls. Among the strippers Ruby befriended was Candy Barr.
Ruby developed close ties to many Dallas police officers who frequented his nightclubs, where he showered them with large quantities of liquor and other favors. In 1959, Ruby went to Cubaostensibly to visit a friend, influential Dallas gambler Lewis McWillie, an associate of Mafia boss Santo Trafficante. Ruby may have met directly with Trafficante on those visits according to the testimony of British journalist John Wilson-Hudson who was imprisoned in Cuba at the time. (Trafficante operated major casinos in Cuba and was briefly imprisoned after Fidel Castro came to power).
Ruby never married.
According to the Warren Commission, Ruby was in the second-floor advertising offices of the Dallas Morning News, five blocks away from the Texas School Book Depository, to place weekly advertisements for his nightclubs when he learned of the assassination of Kennedy around 12:45 pm. Ruby then placed telephone calls to his assistant at the Carousel Club and to his sister. The Commission stated that an employee of the Dallas Morning News estimated that Ruby left the newspaper's offices at 1:30 pm, but indicated other testimony suggested he may have left earlier.
White House correspondent Seth Kantor — who was a passenger in the motorcade — told the Warren Commission that he went to Parkland Hospitalabout an hour after President Kennedy was shot (1:30 pm). (It was at Parkland Hospital that Kennedy received medical care after the shooting.) Kantor said that as he was entering the hospital, he felt a tug on his coat. He turned around to see Jack Ruby who called him by his first name and shook his hand. (Kantor said that he had become acquainted with Ruby while he was a reporter for the Dallas Times Herald newspaper.) According to Kantor, Ruby asked him if he thought that it would be a good idea for him to close his nightclubs for the next three nights because of the tragedy and Kantor responded that he thought that doing so would be a good idea.
The Warren Commission dismissed Kantor's testimony, saying that the Parkland Hospital encounter would have had to take place in a span of a few minutes before and after 1:30 pm, as evidenced by telephone company records of calls made by Kantor and Ruby around that time. The Commission also pointed to contradictory witness testimony and to the lack of video confirmation of Ruby at the scene. The Commission concluded that "Kantor probably did not see Ruby at Parkland Hospital" and "may have been mistaken about both the time and the place that he saw Ruby".
In 1979, the House Select Committee on Assassinations reexamined Kantor's testimony and stated: "While the Warren Commission concluded that Kantor was mistaken [about his Parkland encounter with Ruby], the Committee determined he probably was not."
According to the Warren Commission, Ruby arrived back at the Carousel Club shortly before 1:45 pm to notify employees that the club would be closed that evening.
Ruby (also known as "Sparky," from his boxing nickname "Sparkling Ruby") was seen in the halls of the Dallas Police Headquarters on several occasions after the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald on November 22, 1963; and newsreel footage from WFAA-TV (Dallas) and NBC shows Ruby impersonating a newspaper reporter during a press conference at Dallas Police Headquarters on the night of the assassination. District Attorney Henry Wade briefed reporters at the press conference telling them that Lee Oswald was a member of the anti-Castro Free Cuba Committee. Ruby was one of several people there who spoke up to correct Wade, saying: "Henry, that's the Fair Play for Cuba Committee," a pro-Castro organization. Some speculate that Ruby may have hoped to kill Oswald that night at the police station press conference. Ruby told the FBI, a month after his arrest for killing Oswald, that he had his loaded snub-nosed Colt Cobra .38 revolver in his right-hand pocket during the press conference