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Steve Brodie - 1896 Lithograph
Library of Congress Collection
The Strobridge Lith Co, Cinti & N.Y.

Steve Brodie (1863–1901) was an American bookmaker from Brooklyn who claimed to have jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge and survived on July 23, 1886. The newspaper reports at the time gave Brodie lots of publicity, and the New York City tavern he opened shortly afterward was a success.

Hoax or not, Brodie became famous, and his name for a time became slang; to "pull a Brodie" or "do a Steve Brodie" came to be understood to do something flamboyant and dangerous.

According to humorist Al Boliska, Jim Corbett once took his father to Brodie's saloon. The elder Corbett extended his hand and said, "I've always wanted to meet the man who jumped over the Brooklyn Bridge."

"He didn't jump over the bridge, Father," Jim said. "He jumped off it."

"Shucks," said the older man, turning to go. "I thought he jumped over it. Any damn fool can jump off it."

References to Brodie in later generations

In 1933, Brodie was portrayed by George Raft in Raoul Walsh's film The Bowery. He also appears as a character in the June 4, 1949 Warner Bros. cartoon short Bowery Bugs, starring Bugs Bunny, directed by Arthur "Art" Davis and presenting a fictionalized account of why Brodie wished to jump from the bridge in the first place. Brodie (misspelled "Brody" in the cartoon) is portrayed as a cigar-chomping, hard-drinking, gambling-addicted, thieving lout who seeks a rabbit's foot to change his bad luck; Bugs' subsequent antics eventually drive him to jump from the bridge out of pure madness.

In Samuel Fuller's paean to the fourth estate, Park Row (1952), the character Steve Brodie is prepped to make the leap, and then becomes the primary focus for the first edition of The Globe newspaper.

Brodie was the inspiration for Kelly, a 1965 musical that closed after one performance on Broadway.

Years later, an actor used the Brooklyn man's name for his movie stage name; see Steve Brodie (actor).

"Doing a Brodie" is referred to in David Foster Wallace's "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" essay.

The "spinning knobs" once commonly bolted to the steering wheels of farm implements and trucks prior to the advent of power steering were referred to as "suicide knobs," and, by association, "Brodie knobs," as their misuse could lead to loss of control of the vehicle.

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