American Football Database

Template:Infobox Politician (general)

Leo Francis Curley (1915–1950) was the son of American politician James Michael Curley. Seen by the elder Curley as his successor in politics, Curley served as the city's traffic commissioner during his father's final term as Mayor of Boston. Leo Curley died shortly thereafter at the age of 35.[1]

Early life

Curley was born on April 6, 1915. He was the fifth child born to the Curleys and named after Pope Leo the Great. He was baptized on April 18, 1915 at St. Patrick's Church in Roxbury by Rev. Joseph H. Gallagher, who had christened James Michael Curley 40 years earlier.[2]

In 1930, Curley and his brothers James and Paul received an audience with Pope Pope Pius XI. The Pope blessed a number of religious articles the children brought and presented them with a medal and written blessings for their father and the city of Boston.[3]

On December 5, 1931, Curley struck a woman with his car at the corner of Huntington Avenue and Forsyth Street. She died from her injuries five days later.[4] On December 18, Judge Frankland W. L. Miles declined to issue warrants charging Curley with manslaughter and operating an automobile to endanger the public, ruling that due to poor visibility the accident was unavoidable.[5] Registrar of Motor Vehicles Morgan T. Ryan disagreed with Miles and suspended Curley's license for six months, stating that "Curley should have seen [the victim] before she was struck".[6]


Curley attended Georgetown University, where he played right tackle for the Georgetown Hoyas football team.[7] In 1935 he played on a Collegiate All Star team that faced a barnstorming group of former Notre Dame football players at Boston Garden. As the game was played indoors, the field was 90 yards long and 30 yards wide. Goal posts were on the goal line and the end-zones were arced.[8] Curley was also chosen as the best speaker in Georgetown's Philodemic Society and was a member of the school's debate team. As a sophomore he won the Qucksall medal for best oral examination in Shakespeare and in 1935 he was awarded the Hamilton medal for excellence in spontaneous debating.[1] He graduated from the University's College of Arts and Sciences in 1936 and was selected to give the senior address at commencement.[9]

Curley went on to attend Harvard Law School, however he withdrew in May 1937 after professor Warren A. Seavey compared his father to William Hale Thompson, the corrupt former Mayor of Chicago, during a classroom discussion. Professor Seavey apologized for offending Curley and asked him to reconsider his decision to withdraw.[10] Another professor, Edward H. Warren, had allegedly told Curley "you can't get over your congenital defects" following an unsatisfactory answer to a question, which also factored in Curley's decision to leave Harvard.[11]

After leaving Harvard, Curley enrolled at Georgetown Law School.[1] On April 29, 1940 he married Catherine Sweeney of New York City in Alexandria, Virginia. Curley and Sweeney had known each other since they were children and had been dating for about seven or eight years.[12][13]

In May 1942, Curley entered the United States Naval Reserves.[14] He performed blimp patrols along the coast. After the war, Curley resumed his law practice.[15]


Curley frequently made appearances on the campaign trail as a surrogate for his father.[1] During the 1932 United States presidential election, Curley accompanied his father on a speaking tour of the western United States on behalf of Democratic nominee Franklin D. Roosevelt. The younger Curley spoke briefly at the American Federation of Labor's Labor Day exercises at Soldier Field in Chicago and at a luncheon at Warner Brothers studios broadcast over KFWB.[16][17] During James Michael Curley's 1936 campaign for the United States Senate, Leo and his sister Mary filled in at campaign rallies after their father fell ill.[18][19]

In 1938, Curley was elected as a delegate to the state Democratic convention.[20] He was unanimously selected to serve as the convention secretary.[21] He was a candidate for delegate to the 1940 Democratic National Convention, but dropped out to focus on his law school studies and to prepare for the bar exam.[1] At the 1946 Democratic state convention, Curley served as toastmaster. He presented the entire ticket and spoke of party unity.[22]

In 1946, Curley's father got him a job in the city's law department. The following year was appointed chairman of Boston traffic commissioner.[1] The elder Curley lost the 1949 Boston mayoral election and Leo Curley was not retained by the new mayor, John Hynes. Curley returned to his private law practice.[23][24]


On December 11, 1950, Curley's sister Mary Curley Donnelly died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage while talking on the phone at her apartment. Curley went to his sisters apartment later that night. He used his sister's phone to call their youngest brother, Frater Francis Curley S. J. While on the phone, Curley collapsed and died of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was the seventh of Curley's nine children to die during their father's lifetime.[25]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "Leo Inherited Much of Father's Personality". The Boston Daily Globe. February 12, 1950.
  2. "Named Leo Curley After Great Pope". The Boston Daily Globe. April 19, 1915.
  3. "Pope Gives Audience To Sons Of Mayor Curley". The Boston Daily Globe. July 18, 1930.
  4. "Woman Hit By Car Of Mayor's Son Dies". The Boston Daily Globe. December 11, 1931.
  5. "Leo Curley Cleared In Motor Fatality". The Boston Daily Globe. December 19, 1931.
  6. "Leo Curley's Auto License Suspended". The Boston Daily Globe. January 12, 1932.
  7. "Freitas, Kelly and Moynihan Hurl Scoring Passes as Boston College Drubs Hilltoppers at Heights". The Boston Daily Globe. November 5, 1933.
  8. "Indoor Football Game At Garden Tomorrow". The Boston Daily Globe. December 10, 1935.
  9. "Leo Curley To Give Georgetown Speech". The Boston Daily Globe. May 23, 1936.
  10. "Law Professor Asks Leo Curley Reconsider Harvard Resignation". The Boston Daily Globe. May 14, 1937.
  11. "Meant No Slur on Curley Sr.". The Boston Daily Globe. May 15, 1937.
  12. "Curley Newlyweds Here". The Boston Daily Globe. May 9, 1940.
  13. "Leo Curley Weds". The New York Times. May 9, 1940.
  14. "Eight Mass. Aviation Cadets Get Wings at Arkansas Field". The Boston Daily Globe. July 2, 1943.
  15. Harris, John (September 26, 1946). "The Governor and Bradford May Swap Punches Yet". The Boston Daily Globe.
  16. "Curley Speaks Before 30,000". The Boston Daily Globe. September 6, 1932.
  17. "Curley Party Feted By Hollywood Folk". The Boston Daily Globe. September 18, 1932.
  18. Collins, Edwin F. (October 30, 1936). "Daughter Takes Stump When Illness Sends Curley to Bed". The Boston Daily Globe.
  19. Collins, Edwin F. (October 31, 1936). "Hurley Directs Fire At Fuller". The Boston Daily Globe.
  20. "Dr. Leonard Gains In Ward 3 Recount". The Boston Daily Globe. September 30, 1938.
  21. Hennessy, M.E. (October 1, 1938). "Curley Outlines His Platform in Talk To Democratic Resolutions Committee". The Boston Daily Globe.
  22. Harris, John (September 21, 1946). "Political Camps Muster Here; Fall Campaigns Open Today: Long Democratic Tenure Predicted by Gov Tobin". The Boston Daily Globe.
  23. Dinneen, Joseph F. (December 28, 1949). "Displaced Politicians Pick Sorts for Jump". The Boston Daily Globe.
  24. Lewis, William J. (December 26, 1949). "Reilly, Mackie Among 14 Hynes Appointees". The Boston Daily Globe.
  25. "Leo Curley Drops Dead 14 Hours After Sister". The Boston Daily Globe. February 12, 1950.