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James J. Walker, universally known as Jimmy Walker, (June 19, 1881 - November
18, 1946) was the fun-loving mayor of New York City during the Jazz Age.
He was elected to the New York State Senate in 1914, and became Mayor of New
York City in 1926. The initial years of his mayorality were a prosperous
time for the city, at least partially due to the proliferation of
speakeasies during the Prohibition era. His affairs with "chorus girls" were
widely known, and he left his wife for showgirl Betty Compton without
impairing his popularity. He managed to maintain the five-cent subway fare
despite a threatened labor strike. He even composed a popular song of the
day, "Will You Love Me in December (as You Do in May)?".
His fortunes turned, with the economy, in 1929. Patrick Cardinal Hayes
denounced him, implying the immorality of the mayor, both personal, and
political, in tolerating "girlie magazines" and casinos, was a cause of the
Increasing social unrest led to the uncovering of corruption within his
administration, and he was eventually forced to testify before the
investigative committee of Judge Samuel Seabury (the Seabury Commission).
Walker resigned from office in September 1932 and promptly fled to Europe
until the danger of criminal prosecution appeared remote.