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Goodnight moon, hello sweet sweet money

August 19th, 2008 by · 10 Comments

goodnight moon

We’ve all read Goodnight Moon, or at least had it read to us.  It turns out that contrary to popular belief, the Old Lady Whispering ‘Hush’, is not the most intriguing character in the Goodnight Moon saga.  This interesting Wall Street Journal article by Joshua Prager (his book about Bobby Thomson’s Shot Heard Round the World was excellent), introduces us to Albert Clarke, who was willed the royalties to Goodnight Moon by the author when he was nine years old.

Cletus
Artists rendition, aka, my mental picture, of Mr. Clarke

As you may guess, this eventually turns into a huge annual sum of money, $572,370 in 1999.  And Mr. Clarke handles it about as well as your average lottery winner:

Arrests followed for grand larceny, menacing, resisting arrest, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal trespass, assault. According to police records, he usually got off with fines, though he once served six months in Westchester County Penitentiary for disorderly conduct after a fight in a parking lot. (The sentence was extended for getting into another fight while in jail.)

“I won most of those fights,” he says. “I’ve broken people’s noses, knocked their teeth out.”

The Goodnight Moon heir is of course now bankrupt, but the changes to copyright law over the past decade have ensured that he or his kids will be reaping the fortunes for at least the next 40 years. Goodnight bowl of mush indeed!

Tags: Books · RiffTrax