World's hardest drinker: Michael Malloy (1933)

You may be familiar with the death of Grigori Rasputin (yes, yes, 'Ra Ra Rasputin: Lover of the Russian Queen' courtesy of Boney M). According to the disputed account of Prince Felix Yusopov (still a good read) Rasputin, having survived numerous assaults throughout his life, was finally lured to a dinner where Yusupov and his fellow plotters were determined to see his demise.

The details are debatable but it seems Rasputin was served enough cyanide to kill five men, without effect. He was then shot in the back, but later revived and tried to strangle the prince. After a severe beating the still breathing body was thrown into the Neva River where he eventually drowned.

Though his physical stamina was legendary, poor old Rasputin couldn't hold a candle to a certain man from Donegal, of whose existence I have only recently learned, called Michael Malloy.

In 1933 a gang of New York bartenders, dubbed the Murder Trust by the press, hatched a plot to insure the lives of drunks and then have them killed–which seems plausible enough skulduggery so far–but they hadn't reckoned on Michael Malloy.

Malloy (born 1873) was ex-fireman vagrant who originally hailed from Donegal. He was a hardened alcoholic (prohibition hadn't stopped him) who frequented a speakeasy owned by one of the Trust.

He was the kind of person no-one would miss, and so multiple policies were taken out on the life of Malloy; each of which the victim was duped into signing (he was told they were petitions).

Their first plan should prick up the ears of many of this blog's readership as it involved allowing Malloy as much free drink as he liked in the vain hope that he would pickle himself.

The Trust, after forking up a month of Christmas drinks for the ever eager Malloy, began to rethink their expensive strategem and moved to the more reliable Mickey Finn method.

For a few weeks they tried spiking his drinks and food with anti-freeze, horse linament, rat poison and turpentine, but alas to no avail–Malloy kept coming back for more.

One night after Malloy had passed out, they put him out in the icy winter cold, stripped him, covered him with water and left him. Predictably, he showed up at the speakeasy the next day looking for the hair of the dog. Perhaps the antifreeze had done its job after all.

Another night they propped up the stocious Malloy in the middle of the road and drove a car into him at high speed. When he returned from a brief stay at the hospital they did the same thing again–with similar results.

In the end, they finally finished him off by plying him with copious amounts of wood alcohol (!) and sticking a gas pipe in his unconscious mouth.

And in the true fashion of a moral Hollywood ending, it all went wrong for the killers who were rumbled by the insurance companies and eventually given the electric chair. One imagines that, in the same situation, Malloy would have dimmed the lights of several cities and still turned up at the bar the next day looking for a cure.

Epilogue: Pondering the Herculean constitution of Mr Michael Malloy has brought to Darwin's mind several of his past acquaintances, whom he remembers studiously avoiding whenever rounds were mentioned.

[A detailed article here. And paperback here.]