Real-life inspiration for paper target in firearms training, ex-NYPD Lt. Jesse Oldshein, dies at 92
BY Rocco Parascandola
DAILY NEWS POLICE BUREAU CHIEF
Wednesday, January 27th 2010, 4:00 AM
Thousands of cops opened fire at Jesse Oldshein over the years - and all it did was make him smile.
The retired NYPD lieutenant believed to be the real-life inspiration for a paper target used in firearms training died last week at his Florida home, relatives said.
He was 92 and had battled bladder cancer.
It was less than two years ago that Oldshein was unmasked as "The Thug" whose visage was supposed to inspire cops to shoot straight.
For years, there was debate in police circles about the identity of the snarling, pug-nosed gunman with all the charm of a kick in the teeth.
Some said he resembled actor Ernest Borgnine. Others said boxer Rocky Graziano. One theory pegged him as Sgt. Fred Worell, a former NYPD firing range instructor.
When the NYPD said in November 2008 it was replacing "The Thug" with two targets - a Mr. Clean look-alike and a faceless alien - retired Detective Harold Schiffer came forward and said Oldshein was the mystery man.
Oldshein said Schiffer was no liar and told how he showed up for target practice one day in the early 1960s and was asked to pose for a picture.
"They said, 'Pose in a boxing stance,'" Oldshein said in 2008. "Next thing I know, my face is on the target."
His son, Dr. Mitchell Oldshein, remembers the thrill he got seeing Charles Bronson fire at his dad's paper face in "Death Wish."
And he said his said his dad enjoyed the wave of publicity he got in his last year.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly sent Oldshein a thank-you letter that said, "Yours is the face that launched a thousand careers."
"He was thrilled with it," said his widow, Francine, 84. "He was very proud of it. He thought it was a big part of the New York Police Department's history."
May he rest in peace
Retired Lt. Jesse Oldshein (below) was model for 'The Thug' target drawing used by by generations of police.