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The Real Jack Ruby Wasn’t As Cool As His The Umbrella Academy Character

Spoiler warning: The following story contains light spoilers for The Umbrella Academy Season 2.


  • Netflix’s Umbrella Academy features the historical character Jack Ruby in its second season.
  • Ruby was indeed a nightclub owner in Dallas when President John F. Kennedy arrived in 1963.
  • Here’s how the Netflix portrayal compares to the historical person of Ruby.

    Yes, as Five from Netflix’s Umbrella Academy asked incredulously, Luther’s “Jack” from 1963 Dallas really is Jack Ruby, the Jack Ruby, the man who shot the man who (allegedly) shot President John F. Kennedy.

    Now, Umbrella Academy doesn’t pretend to be a historical document; many of the events and characters depicted across time (and the events precipitating those events and characters—like alien-led deep-state shadow organizations and science experiments) are obviously fake. That’s just part of the fun. Based on the graphic novel of the same name, the series manages a tone somewhere between childhood adventure and blood-gushing adult comedy.

    Still, the series has to navigate some fairly sensitive historical events this season, including the assassination of an American president, as well as segregation and civil rights efforts in 1963 Dallas—not the time for blood gushing comedy.

    The balance is best attained by a healthy mix of fact and fiction. Though, it can be hard to tell which is which, especially when someone like Raymond Chestnut (fictional) seems far more believable as a historical personage than the night-club owning cartoonish gangster “Jack,” or as Luther calls him, “Mr. Ruby.”

    Jack, however, was real, though perhaps not in the same way as his cool-headed Netflix representation.

    Here’s what to know about the real Jack.

    jack ruby

    Netflix

    Who was Jack Ruby?

    Ruby was born Jacob Rubenstein in Chicago in 1911. He was the son of Polish immigrants and would describe his childhood neighborhood as a “ghetto.” (Biographical details for the remainder of this story were primarily attained through the Warren Commission Report and rely on their sourcing.)

    Ruby grew up in a tumultuous household and lived for a time in foster care. To make money, he scalped tickets on the street. In 1933, he moved with several friends to Los Angeles and then San Francisco, making money by selling “tip sheets” at the racetracks. He then moved back to Chicago, working as a salesman and “hustler,” frequenting pool halls and boxing matches, though it’s unclear if he was involved in organized crime.

    After a brief stint in the military, Ruby moved to Dallas in 1947 to help his sister who had opened a night club there. Over the next sixteen years, Ruby invested in and operated several different clubs in Dallas, which netted him decent profits, though not substantial revenue. In Dallas, Ruby was friendly with underworld figures, however, he had no obvious links to organized crime in this city either.

    original caption twenty four year old ex marine lee harvey oswald is shown after his arrest here on november 22 he received a cut on his forehead and blackened left eye in scuffle with officers who arrested him oswald, an avowed marxist, has been charged with the murder of president john f kennedy, who was killed by a sniper bullet as he rode in motorcade through dallas

    Lee Harvey Oswald Being Led by Policemen

    BettmannGetty Images

    Why did Jack Ruby kill Lee Harvey Oswald?

    Business was normal in November 1963. Ruby was recruiting strippers, spreading money across several bank accounts, and still owing taxes to the federal government. He was five blocks away from the gunman’s location at the Dallas Morning News offices on the morning of November 22. Witnesses remember Ruby looking “ashen” and “pale” while watching news of the president’s death. He decided to close his clubs that night.

    After Oswald’s arrest later that day, Ruby was seen at the police station, claiming to be a translator/reporter. He later stated that while at the station he was “carried away with the excitement of history.”

    Two days later on November 24, when authorities were moving Oswald out of the police station and to an armored vehicle, Ruby, standing in a crowd of reporters, stepped in front of Oswald and shot him in the stomach point blank. Oswald died of the wounds.

    The Warren Commission later found no evidence of conspiracy—that Ruby was acting on behalf of another group (theories suggested the Cubans).

    Ruby’s family insisted that he was just overcome with grief after the assassination of the president and that he later felt guilty for shooting Oswald. They implied the decision was impulsive and perhaps motivated by thoughts of becoming a hero.

    Ruby died of pulmonary embolism in 1967 before receiving a conviction.

    jack ruby

    Netflix

    Is The Umbrella Academy Jack Ruby accurate?

    Over the years, Ruby became progressively hot-headed, occasionally beating patrons of his night-clubs. The calm, collected mob-looking Jack from The Umbrella Academy appears quite different from reports by those who knew and worked with Ruby. (Ruby had no real mob connections.) Of course, Ruby is only on screen a few times in the new season, so it’s difficult to make any clear assessment.

    And while Ruby watching the news and reaching for a gun in the series’ closing sequence may not have represented the time, place, and order of such reactions, the scared, ashen expression of the man feels pretty darn real.

    Joshua St Clair is an editorial assistant at Men’s Health Magazine. 

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