Now It’s Really The Last Laugh

As usual, a tiny snippet in a vintage magazine drives me to obsessive research…

This time it’s a few lines on page 47 of Quick (November 21, 1949 — which had that feature on Esther Williams). The few lines, titled Last Laugh, are about the widowed singer, Mrs. Reseda Corrigan, who after having fallen prey to infamous bigamist Sigmund Engel, announced her plans for both a vaudeville act “showing how Engel made love to her” and her engagement to “booking agent and bandsman,” Al Turk.


Apparently it is worth noting that Mrs. Corrigan was not only a window, mother of three, and a singer, but a redhead — and her fashions were greatly detailed in the press reports of the court trials. I love how women’s fashions pertain to courtroom drama. Not.

Sigmund Z. Engel, was a real charmer. He’s credited with saying, “The age of a woman doesn’t mean a thing. The best tunes are played on the oldest fiddles.” And he apparently offered the press advice upon entering prison:

1. Always look for the widows. Less complications.
2. Establish your own background as one of wealth and culture.
3. Make friends with the entire family.
4. Send a woman frequent bouquets. Roses, never orchids.
5. Don’t ask for money. Make her suggest lending it to you.
6. Be attentive at all times.
7. Be gentle and ardent.
8. Always be a perfect gentleman. Subordinate sex.

Engel also wrote a book, titled Lover of 1001 Women — a copy of which currently eludes me. But I have heart. I always have heart when it comes to collecting; but love can be far trickier… As Mrs. Corrigan herself warned in the St. Petersburg Times, June 23, 1949, “When a man uses excellent English, whispers ‘I love you’ while at the same time kissing your ear, beware.”


It’s important to note that Mrs. Corrigan was not just bigamist-bitter, nor even money-taking-bigamis-bitter, but royally-pissed-bitter. This because during Engel & Corrigan’s engagement Engel went missing for a week. Then he suddenly called and asked Corrigan to take the first train out of Chicago and meet him in New York’s Grand Central Station. Corrigan complied. Not only was Engel a no-show, but, because Engel was supposedly wealthy, she arrived without any money of her own and was forced to live in Grand Central Station for eight days — sleeping in the washrooms and on public benches.

That would leave a bitter aftertaste all its own, yes? This is when she filed charges in Chicago, resulting in Engle’s photograph being published & the ensuing suits.

So we can understand Corrigan’s boasting in the press about her show and upcoming nuptials.

But Corrigan wasn’t to have the last laugh as far as I can see.

In the St. Petersburg Times, November 20, 1949, the following bad news:

Mrs. Reseda Corrigan’s “kissless romance” with band leader Al Turn is one the rocks — right where the vocalist was left by Sigmund (Sad Sam) Engel when he dashed off with her $8,700.

Soon after Engel’s conviction in Chicago, Mrs. Corrigan, 39, disclosed plans to marry Turk. But Turk said yesterday the whole thing was washed up. He explained: “She does a fair job of singing but she needs a log of training.”

Mrs. Corrigan was caught off base by Turk’s announcement but fired back: “I have more finesse than he has. He has no gallantry about him. Why, he didn’t even kiss me.”

Neither did Engel, she insisted, because “I’m a singer and I don’t want to be going around with germs in my throat.”

I’ve got a little something in my throat… I think it’s bile.

If anyone knows anything more about Reseda Corrigan, I’d love to hear about it — especially if you have a photo!


  1. This article is about my grandfathers grandfather! My family is still trying to get our hands on a copy of that book!

  2. Good luck to you, Kate! I’m not related, but do want the book myself, so… Let’s just hope we don’t end up bidding against one another lol

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