Weiss, Jr., doubts his father killed Huey Long

By James Ronald Skains
Journal Correspondent

Seventy-five years have passed since Huey Pierce Long, the Kingfish, the most widely known Louisiana politician and patriarch of the one of the seven most influential political families in American history, was gunned down in the 34-story Louisiana capitol that he built during the Great Depression.

Although most of the people with first-hand knowledge of the event have passed away, scholars and history buffs still debate the circumstances surrounding his death. The Long Symposium held at the Old Louisiana State Capitol seemed to only stir the controversy.

Michael Wynne, the guiding force behind the Huey P. Long Symposium told the Piney Woods Journal, "There is as much confusion today as there was 75 years ago as to who was actually responsible for his death."

"Ed Zinnan, a longtime AP reporter and author of the book, The Day Huey Long Died, and I decided to develop a stage play that would present the circumstances to his death and let a jury make a decision," Wynne explained.

"We only had to rewrite just a small fact of history to make this play plausible," Wynne pointed out. "We developed a scenario whereby Dr. Carl Weiss, Sr. survived his bullet wounds and was put on trial for the murder of Senator Long."

"Everything else is authentic down to the reports at the hospital, the coroner's inquest and eye-witness accounts of the shooting," Wynne said in detailing the plan of action he and Zinnan followed. "Modern day audiences to our stage play are much more knowledgeable of CSI-type scenarios than in the 1930's."\par }{\plain "Usually, our modern-day jury, chosen from those in attendance at the play, come up with a split decision as to the guilt or innocence of Dr. Carl Weiss, Jr." Wynne said.

The stage play about the death of Huey P. Long was held on Sunday afternoon, August 29 in the House of Representatives at the Old State Capitol. It was performed by the Le Petit Theatre de Terrebonne performers of Terrebonne parish. The "prosecuting attorney" in the play, which has now been staged 12 times, told the Journal that the results were usually a split decision, favoring a not guilty verdict for Dr. Weiss, Sr.

\The Saturday morning session of the Symposium was geared to panel discussions led by a group of well-known scholars and professors of Louisiana history. The Long Legacy Panel was moderated by Dr. Wayne Parent of LSU. Other panelists included noted historian and Professor Dr. Glen Jeansonne; Dr. Richard White of LSU and author of the book Kingfish - The Reign of Huey P. Long. The two other Long Legacy panelists were Dr. Paul Leslie, professor of history at Nicholls State University, and Dr. John Price, associate professor of history at Northwestern State University.

Dr. Price is a protégé of the author of the definitive book on Huey P. Long. Dr. Price, as an LSU grad student, assisted Dr. T. Harry Williams in his research for the book Huey Long.

Dr. Price is also a native of Winn Parish, home of the Long political family. Dr. Price over the years was in personal contact with former Governor Earl K. Long, former U. S. Congressmen Gillis Long and Speedy Long, former U.S. Senator Russell Long and other members of the extended Long political family.

In his remarks, Dr. Price noted that Huey Long's son, Russell Long was a much more accomplished politician in Washington than his father ever was. "Russell Long was the consummate power politician in Washington for most of his 38 years in office. Although he held true to many of his father's ideals, his political approach was quite different."

"Russell was a behind the scenes organizer and pusher," Dr. Price pointed out. "In addition, Russell Long became the foremost tax expert in the U.S. Senate and was on good terms with all the Presidents during his years of service in the Senate."

The Saturday event was highlighted by a presentation by Dr. Carl Weiss, Jr. the son of Dr. Carl Weiss, Sr., the man reported to be the killer of Huey P. Long since that fateful day 75 years ago. This was the first time that Dr. Weiss had spoken publicly about the events involving his father. Dr. Weiss, Jr. was three months old the night that his father was killed by Long's bodyguards in the house that Huey built.

"I am convinced after a lifetime of researching this horrible event, that my father did not kill Huey P. Long," Dr. Weiss told the HPL Symposium. "My father was a kind, gentle, caring man, the personification of what a doctor should be."

"He would have never taken anyone's life unless it was to protect his own life," Weiss stated. "He did own a gun, which he kept in the glove compartment of his car for protection when he made night time house calls."

This gun owned by Dr. Weiss, Sr. was found on or near the body Dr. Weiss, Sr. on the floor of the state capitol at the spot that Long was shot. Dr. Weiss, Sr., who lived only three blocks from the State Capitol on Lakeland Street in Baton Rouge, had reportedly stopped by the Capitol on that fateful Sunday night after making a house call. His car was found in the parking lot at the state Capitol.

In explaining his version of the gun being in the State Capitol with his father's body, Dr. Weiss had this to say: "There were no ballistic tests made on the gun owned by my father. Also, there was no chain of custody established on the gun after or before the shooting. It is also plausible to speculate that someone, after the shooting, got the gun out of my father's car," Dr. Weiss pointed out. "There is also evidence that my father did hit Huey Long with his fist during the event. Long had a bruised lip and my father had a broken finger," Dr. Weiss added. "In addition, Huey Long told a nurse at the hospital that the guy had hit him."

My father had no motive to kill Huey P. Long and had never made any comments or taken any action that remotely suggested that he might take such action as shooting Long," Dr. Weiss noted. "After a lifetime of research, I believe that my father was in the wrong place at the wrong time. All my evidence suggest that Long was shot by his body guards during the confrontation with my father."

History has always suggested otherwise, and the official version of the death of Huey P. Long was that Dr. Carl Weiss, Sr. was the trigger man. There is also evidence that Dr. Weiss was greatly disturbed by two actions being taken at the time by the "Kingfish."

First, Long was gerrymandering the judicial district in which Dr. Weiss's father-in-law, Judge Pavy was the sitting judge. Secondly, it was alleged that Huey P. Long was spreading vicious rumors that the Pavy family had "mixed-blood."

An allegation of "mixed race" in the 1930's in Louisiana had far-reaching, insurmountable implications. Such a charge would hinder educational opportunities and would dictate the areas in which a person of mixed-race could live.

Dr. Carl Weiss, Jr. also explained the implications for his family during the years after the Huey P. Long shooting. "My mother took me to Europe where I grew up and obtained my education. I've practiced medicine in Europe and in New York. My mother thought that Louisiana would be a horrible environment in which to raise the son of the man blamed for killing the most well known Louisiana politician of all time," Dr. Weiss elaborated. "I did not know any of the details about my father for many years. Once I did know the situation, I immediately began doing research on my father and the death of Huey P. Long."

Long Family Panel members who took part in the afternoon session were: Russell Long Mosely, the great-grandson of Huey Long and the grandson of Russell Long; Jimmy Long, a native of Winnfield and former longtime member of the Louisiana House of Representatives; and Baton Rouge attorney, Ted Jones, a longtime friend and political operator with the Long family.