City of 72 Names is the joint dream of award-winning screenwriter Dan Gordon whose diverse Jewish family spread worldwide through the 20th century and Leonid Makaron whose Russian Jewish ancestory demanded to be told and is finally illustrated in its complexity through this special short-form series.

Many of the characters who people the series are either real or taken from reality with all their wonderment and flaws. For example, Dan writes the following about his Poliakov relations:

The Photo of my grandparents Eli and Rose Paliakov is an incredible one to me. One can see by their clothes they are wearing the latest fashion. Moreover unlike other photos of Jewish weddings of this era there is nothing about any of them that identifies them as Jews. No one is wearing a kippah, let alone, the traditional garb of religious Jews of Eastern Europe.

I wish I could find the fragment of my grandfather's Talit bag, the bag in which the Jewish prayer shawl is kept. Traditionally it is adorned with Jewish symbols; the star of David, Blue and white coloring, sometimes all white for purity. My Grandfather's Talit bag bore the double headed Eagle, the crest of the Romanov's. For Jews of the period  that would have ben akin to a German Jew adorning their talit bag with a swastica. But the Poliakov's so closely identified with the Tzar and his family that they saw it as not only completely natural but it was a mark of pride.

The photo of them in Missouri , to me is like a photo of characters out of a Chekov play; a displaced noble family living on memories of the past and looking nothing at all  like Missouri  farmers!

That was my mother's side of the family. They were beautiful, brilliant, charming, and completely useless at life. I love them dearly.

On the Poliakov side was also an uncle who owned the restaurant in the picture. It was in the heart of the theater district and a go to plac for Broadway stars and vaudevillians . Another relative, Moses Pallikoff had a limited law practice; Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky and he was the one who brokered the deal with the Feds to have Luciano use mob muscle to bust the German spy rings operating on the Eastern seabord and to help with the invasion of Sicily. I have the full intelligence file detailing the meetings with Naval intelligence and Luciano, Lansky and Moses Palikoff.

The Poliakovs

Dan's Fraternal Side: The Cohens

Dan describes his Father's side of the family thus:

My father's side was the opposite. In the photo of my Uncle Hyman and Aunt Mary  with my cousins at Pincher Creek they are a typical ranch family and my Uncle Hyman looks like and was, one tough son of a bitch. I set the scenes of Two Gun Cohen at Pincher Creek because my dad was eventually foreman if that ranch and I remember it and my Uncle's other ranches vividly from my choldhood. It was little kid heaven as my brother and I sleapt in the bunk house with the cowboys and had ponies of our own through the summers we spent there.

 Uncle Hyman was not only a pioneering cattlman in western Canada, but a gambler and avid race horse owner. Jack Kipling , the jockey in the picture is the Yiddish speaking blackfoot Indian whom I remember as well. My Dad caught him and his girl friend in the back of a model A in the late '20's


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Moshe "Morris" Levy

Bodyguard and General to Chinese Nationalist Army

Two-Gun Levy was a real person named Morris Cohen and given the nickname "2-Gun" because he always carried two guns. He protected both Dr. Sun Yat-Sen and Chiang Kai-Shek from 1911 until his death in the 1950s.

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Pinchas Levy

Poet and Warrior

Pinchas Levy participated in a love battle that became the talk of Ottoman Palestine. He fought with the Jewish Legion in WWI and then settled down at one of the first Kibbutzim.

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Dovid "Davey Boy" Levy

Head of the Freedman Gang and Mobster

David Levy joined one of the lower East side New York City gangs and eventually became head of one of the most notorious mobs in the US.

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Leah Levy

Bolshevik revolutionary

Leah Levy was a member of the wealthy and influential Polyakov family who became disillusioned and radicalized. She joined the Bolsheviks and through much suffering remained a member of the Communist party until her death in the late 1950s.