Boxer Max Baer with Harry Bennett photo: T. Dewald
The most exciting thing about being a blogger is the tons of emails and comments I receive from my readers. Imagine my great delight when I received an email from Harry Bennett's grandson Skip. He wrote to me and we exchanged messages. I just had to share them with the many other readers who like me are totally into learning more about this larger than life man. I did talk with Skip on the phone as he resides very far away. I just listened mesmerized to Skip telling the history of Harry Bennett and his family. Thank you SKIP! Kim
One quick thing Skip told me: Harry never had Tigers in cages inside the Castle. He did have two retired Circus Lions! Not quite as scary as the hushed conversations on the wild beasts roaming the grounds of the Castle...
Its nice to meet you. My grandfather Harry Bennett was all that you have probably heard but some of the stories have been a little exaggerated over the years but by no means was he someone who anybody wanted to cross.
I got the chance to know him as i grew up in California, every year my mother and father would take us kids to see our grandfather who was at that time living in Palm Springs retired.
He never much talked about the past with us...but my dad (who is still living) was Harry's right hand man and took care of the horses that were kept on the island across from the castle before he married my mom, Billie Bennett one of Harry's 4 daughters.
So over the years they(mom and dad) verified the stories and I could sometimes ask my granddad about the insensitive stories, but it was always Taboo to talk about the tough stuff and I didn't start finding out about the tuff stuff until I was older so I started to get a different picture of my granddad as I started to read up and check for myself.
My dad was so close to him he knew a lot of the dirt and truths about most the stories and was always kind of afraid to tell, but did anyway.
Harry Bennett's Pagoda House on Grosse Ile Michigan
I have seen the Pagoda house from the land and water, if my memory serves me there was a tunnel years ago in that home also. It has a boat garage that accesses the lake and my dad and uncles worked on this home during the construction.
My dad's name is Harold, my uncle that is still living in Michigan is Edward, and there is a gentleman who for sometime has been writing a book about Harry Bennett his name is Thomas Dewald.
This man has a lot of the true information about the life and times of Harry Bennett. He has interviewed all of us and everybody that Harry knew that would talk to him .
One of the best stories, well I guess truths that I have discovered are that Henry Ford himself was as accountable as my grandfather for all the stories that are out there, it just was never going to come out in the media at that time,
Henry Ford was a demigod and he was getting too old to cover for my granddad somebody had to be the fall guy, only Henry Ford and my granddad were the only 2 that knew the real truth.
Why do you think my granddad never went to jail at the end? Nobody wanted the Ford name tarnished in the slightest. They did summon him back from California but never made anything stick, he went away quietly.
Don't get me wrong I'm not on a soap box about my granddad he was a bad man and had bad things done, my point is he had no back up other than Henry Ford (another bad man) himself. When Ford's health declined my grandfather only had Henry Ford to vouch for him everybody else sold him out and rightfully so. Again
I am not defending Harry Bennett and I have no proof other than I believe my dad and mom, I am just stating things I found out along the way from the people who were so close, closer than anybody. I hope this intrigued you a little and we can talk again if you like.
Skip) Harry Angellotti
yes i was named after my grandfather....and his nic name was Skipper.
I am glad you took an interest in my grandfather, and as a matter of fact his taste in architecture and the things he furnished his homes with are what intrigued me at an early age also. I was born in 1951 I'm 59 years old.
My grandfather had a flair for the asian style as I do (I guess Igot it from him) even in his non-asian homes he had many statues and artifacts from Japan, bronze, ivory, jade. etc. One of my most favorite was a full size antique rickshaw converted into a movable bar in his dining room in Palm Springs.
The seats and foot area were converted to bottle holders and glass holders, you could actually pick up the handles and move it where ever the party was, the wheels rolled very smoothly and it was painted unbelievably ornate. I have no pictures of the pagoda house but it had to really be something in its hey day.
And I believe he only had one cabin (if you want to call them cabins) off Geddes rd. As far as being afraid of any one coming for him,I never saw that in him during the time I knew him. He was like a king in Palm Springs when ever we all went to dinner it was like we were with royalty.
I think the days if being worried about someone coming after him died with his exit from Ford Motor Co. I do believe there were other people more worried about him sending someone for them after the fact.
My favorite story of my grandfather is how Henry Ford discovered him and took a liking to him. My grandfather was a sailor and Henry Ford and William R. Hurst (as the story goes) were near the docks and from a distance were witnessing a dock strike and my grandfather happened by and was asked by the to men if he thought he could go down there with his buddy and break things up for 100 bucks and of course he took the challenge and the rest was history. He later applied for a job with Ford Motor Co. and already had an in by what had happened at the docks. Hope you like this stuff, we will talk again soon
NEW* Video Tour of the Castle!
1984 Photos of the Castle
Harry Bennett's Lodge HERE
Harry Bennett's Castle HERE
The Rise and Fall of Harry Bennett HERE