Who is The Thug.
Available & in stock at Glory Glory Vintage. 104cm x 61cm.
New York Times Wrote in an article many years ago…
The police call him Advanced Silhouette SP-83A; in some gun shops, he is B-60. He is widely known in police and gun-club circles as The Thug. A life-size, two-dimensional paper target that every New York City police officer has shot at since the early 1960’s.
He has not changed over the decades. A husky white guy, maybe a little German, maybe a little Italian, some Irish, with his pug nose and his thick head of dark, wavy hair. His hands are hairy, his jowls clean shaven. He favors a white-on-white track suit that is a little snug in the middle. Whatever the Thug wants with that gun, he seems to be eating well.
As with many tools of police work, a certain lore has grown up around the Thug, giving birth to multiple theories on whether he is based on a real person, and just exactly who that man is. Each different theory attaches a different real name to the crouching bad guy. He’s the Worell. He’s the Bruno. He’s Ernest Borgnine.
The truth may surprise a few people who thought they knew the answer.
The image was created in New York City, but over the years, police departments in other states, including Connecticut, have used it, and anyone can buy one in gun stores. It is the official target used by the Department of Homeland Security.
First, the Worell Theory.
The department’s outdoor firing range is located at Rodmans Neck in the Bronx. Officers with enough years remember a sergeant named Fred V. Worell, who taught thousands of New York City police officers how to shoot in his 35 years on the job. The resemblance to The Thug, they say, is too close to be coincidence.
“It was always alluded to, he was the one this target was modeled on,” said Detective Stephen Albanese, 48, moments before pumping his 15 rounds into what he believed was the image of the man he once worked with.
Sergeant Worell retired in 1987, and died Feb. 8, 2003, at age 66. Pictures of him at work indeed bear a resemblance to the target, especially the hair.
“Up until the end, he still had it,” said John Cerar, 60, a former commander at the range for nine years, until 1994. “Whenever he wrote a report, you saw the words ‘vis-à-vis.’ That was one of his trademarks, I guess.”
Sergeant Worell spent so much time at work, the range became something of a day care center for his two sons. “My brother and I, we grew up at the outdoor range,” said Kurt Worell. “The target definitely looked like him. He said, ‘It does really look like me, huh?”‘
To this day, when officers at the range order new copies of the target, they refer to it as “Worell with gun,” or “Worell with knife.” (There is one bizarre version, with a woman’s head atop the Thug’s body, that is no longer in use.)
The second theory…
Is kept alive in another borough, in the basement of One Police Plaza in Lower Manhattan, the printing office for all the department’s literature and targets. “That’s Bruno,” said James Gorzelnik, the deputy director. “That’s the guy they sketched it from.””Bruno” is Bruno J. Fulginiti, a member of the police department from 1951 until his retirement in 1977.
Charles Callahan, a former director of printing, said the target was already in use when he arrived in 1968, but everyone agreed that it looked like Officer Fulginiti. “Bruno had a resemblance to the guy,” he said. “He was a press operator, the old letter press,” back when the office was on Centre Street, he said. “It’s a very manly appearance.”
Officer Fulginiti died in 1996, at age 69. His widow, Marie Fulginiti, said she had never heard about any target. “He’s never mentioned it,” she said on the telephone from her home in Brooklyn. “If that was the case, he would have told me.”
Comes from Inspector Steven J. Silks, commander of the range at Rodmans Neck. “I call it the Ernest Borgnine Target,” he said. In terms of the film and television actor’s celebrity at the time the target was created, the theory is solid. Born to Italian immigrants in Hamden, Conn., in 1917 and a boxer in his youth, Mr. Borgnine had appeared in more than 20 films by the time the target was created, most notably as Sgt. James R. (Fatso) Judson, the bully who beats Frank Sinatra’s character to death in “From Here to Eternity” in 1953.
Inspector Silks spotted the actor on a trip to California several weeks ago. “On Sunday, I was as close to Ernest Borgnine as I am to this telephone, in LAX,” he said. “I was staring at him. I thought, ‘Man, he does look like our target.”‘
A call to Mr. Borgnine’s office in Beverly Hills found the actor during a break between jobs. He turned 88 last month. (“Tell them I’m still working,” he said.)
He said he had heard of his likeness to the Thug before. “People say, ‘Hey, that looks just like you,”‘ he said, bursting into his familiar, gravelly laugh. “I’ve been trying to be nice ever since. I could sue for this, couldn’t I?” Created shortly after the range opened in 1960. It was a busy time, with the firearms officers facing brand-new headaches. Bullets sometimes ricocheted off the target posts and back at shooters, until someone developed an angled pole.
Was the first administrative lieutenant at the range. Today he is 82 years old, lives in Bayside, Queens, and suffers from a permanent ringing in his ears. (“You can shut it right out,” he said. “Just think of something else.”) He remembers the primitive target in use when he got there.
“If you took a pen and just made a circle for a head, and you made a little open mouth and a couple of dots — it was Mickey Mouse,” Mr. Love said. “As soon as I saw it, I felt, ‘We got to change that.’ ”
“I called downtown and they sent up an artist and he was terrific,” he said. “I told him what I wanted. He was a quick study. He did excellent, really. Young guy.”
The lieutenant — the man who commissioned one of the iconic images of law enforcement — said that he gave the artist a clear command on who it should look like…Nobody.