The Helmsleys: The Rise and Fall of Harry and Leona Helmsley

Richard Hammer, Author
Richard Hammer, Author Dutton Books $18.95 (337p) ISBN 978-0-453-00682-8
Reviewed on: 03/31/1990
Release date: 04/01/1990
True-crime author Hammer ( The CBS Murder ; Court-Martial of Lt. Calley ) here describes the careers of New York real-estate operator Harry Helmsley and his second wife, Leona, who managed the Helmsley hotel chain and was recently convicted of tax evasion. The reader's interest is piqued as Harry rises from a minor office job to control a giant apartment complex in the Bronx, vast Tudor City and the Empire State building in Manhattan, then builds luxury hotels of his own. Rivals, we're told here, respect Harry and tenants fear him. Leona is portrayed as an ingratiating salesperson, indulged by an adoring husband but despised by employees for her capricious rule as ``Queen'' of Helmsley hotels. The author details how extravagances at the Helmsley country estate in Connecticut were charged to the couple's hotels as business expenses, but he jumps too abruptly to Leona's trial and conviction (Harry was excused from the case because of ill health). The Helmsleys have caught the public's imagination, and so will this portrait. Photos not seen by PW. (Apr.)
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!