By Diane Lyn

On my vacation, I discovered this fascinating piece of history, The Portsmouth Naval Prison in Kittery Maine. Known as the “Alcatraz of the East”, this historic institution, perched on a rocky cliff in Maine. In 1908, the first Naval prisoners arrived and incarcerated for their war/military crimes. Portsmouth Naval Prison has a lot of Hollywood history. Movies were modeled after the structure. Many mentioned the institution in film. A list stars where in the prison! Humphrey Bogart and Steve Mc Queen have stories…

When Humphrey Bogart served in the Navy, an incident occurred at the prison, that may have given his famous frozen-lip sneer and distinctive lisp. According to the book “Stars in Blue”:

“Bogart was ordered to take a U.S. Navy prisoner to Portsmouth Naval Prison, New Hampshire. The two traveled side by side, with the prisoner handcuffed. As they changed trains in Boston, the con asked Bogart for a Lucky Strike, a supply of which Bogie always had and was happy to share. As he dug for matches, suddenly his ungrateful companion smashed him in the mouth with his manacles and jumped up to escape. Bogart, his upper lip badly torn and bleeding, reacted quickly, drawing out his .45 automatic and dropping the prisoner. Initial Navy surgery on the lip was badly botched, and subsequent plastic surgery did not help.”

Actor Steve McQueen served his time in the Portsmouth Naval Prison. In 1947, he was enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and became a tank driver. Because of his rebellious streak, he ended up in the brig.

A 1973 movie “The Last Detail” featured the Naval Prison.

The prison was often referred to in the TV show “Mc Hale’s Navy”.

Some say, the movie “Shawshank Redemption” was modeled after the Portsmouth Naval Prison.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More From WLIF-FM

Get The App
Best Of BaltimoreGet all the best of Baltimore right here!
Sign Up!

Listen Live