Photo Of The Day

Norman Baker, Holding A Subjects Head, At A Demonstration Of His Hypnosis Treatment, 1900. Born November 27, 1882, in Muscatine, Iowa, Norman Baker, was the last of 10 children delivered to wealthy factory owner John Baker and his wife Frances. Young Norman left school at the age of 16 to work as a machinist in his father's factory. Baker became fascinated, however, by a hypnotist act that he saw as part of a vaudeville show that had traveled to his small, rural town. Baker soon began his own vaudeville act in 1900, called The Madame Pearl Tangley show, where he had a beautiful woman "read" the minds of spectators in the audience.

Norman Baker, Holding A Subjects Head, At A Demonstration Of His Hypnosis Treatment, 1900. Born November 27, 1882, in Muscatine, Iowa, Norman Baker, was the last of 10 children delivered to wealthy factory owner John Baker and his wife Frances. Young Norman left school at the age of 16 to work as a machinist in his father’s factory. Baker became fascinated, however, by a hypnotist act that he saw as part of a vaudeville show that had traveled to his small, rural town. Baker soon began his own vaudeville act in 1900, called The Madame Pearl Tangley show, where he had a beautiful woman “read” the minds of spectators in the audience.

Crescent Hotel History

 Norman Baker Struck Snake Oil

Norman Baker had worked at a myriad of careers—magician, inventor, radio evangelist—in his lifetime, none of which qualified him to be a medical doctor. But this didn’t stop him from opening up a medical practice in his home state of Iowa and later in 1937, when he had been run out of town, in a hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The Crescent Hotel, where the notorious “Doctor” Baker treated his patients and promised to cure them of cancer, still exists after all these years. Most of Dr. Baker’s patients, however, barely lasted a few weeks under his care…

Perched on the crest of West Mountain above the Victorian village of Eureka Springs, Arkansas is the historic 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa. The 78-room resort hotel is not only known as one of America’s most distinctive and historic destinations, but it is also renowned for a bevy of spirits that are said to continue to walk upon the palatial grounds.

Built by the Eureka Springs Improvement Company and the Frisco Railroad, the hotel was designed by Isaac L. Taylor, a well-known Missouri architect who had designed a number of famous buildings in St. Louis. Twenty-seven acres at the north end of West Mountain was chosen for its majestic location overlooking the valley.

It was an important time in Eureka Springs’ history as the “healing waters” of the Ozarks had become well known across the nation. People from near and far were swarming to the area in hopes of curing their ailments and easing their pains. The developers of the Crescent Hotel & Spa planned to take advantage of these many travelers by building the most luxurious resort in the country.

Powell Clayton, a former governor of Arkansas from 1868 to 1870, formed the Eureka Springs Improvement Company in hopes of taking advantage of this prosperous period. Along with a number of other investors, the Frisco Railroad joined in on the plan, knowing that the resort could only spur their business.

Numerous stonemasons were brought in from Ireland to begin the construction in 1884. Due to the density of the magnesium limestone used to build the hotel, special wagons were constructed to move the massive pieces of stone from the quarry site on the White River. Designed in an eclectic array of architectural styles, the masons built 18 inch walls, a number of towers, overhanging balconies, and a massive stone fireplace in the lobby.

As construction continued for the next two years, more and more workmen were hired as electrical lights, modern plumbing, steam heating, an elevator, extensive landscaping, and luxurious decorations and amenities were built into the hotel. In the end, the hotel cost $294,000 to build, an extremely extravagant amount for the time.

On May 20, 1886, the grandiose Crescent Hotel opened among a midst of fan fair. The local Eureka Springs Times Echo called it “America’s most luxurious resort hotel.” Notables from across the country attended its grand opening, which included a gala ball, complete with a full orchestra and banquet dinner for 400 celebrants.

Offering large airy rooms with exquisite furnishings, a dining room that once seated more than 500 people, and outside amenities that included a swimming pool, tennis courts and croquet, among a beautiful landscape of flower gardens, winding boardwalks and gazebos, the opulence of the hotel was unmatched at the time.

Immediately, the well-to-do of the nation began to flock to the luxurious resort hotel as liveried footmen met them at the Frisco depot before transporting them to the inn. Once there, the guest could not only enjoy the healing waters of the spa, but also a stable of 100 sleek-coated horses, tea dances in the afternoon, and elaborate parties every evening with a full in-house orchestra.

However, the prosperity was not to last. After the turn of the century, people began to realize that the acclaimed “healing waters” didn’t have the curative powers that the hotel and the city were so known for. Little by little, people stopped coming to the beautiful resort.

From 1908 to 1924, the building was utilized as the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women, but continued to act as a resort during the summers. However, after operating for 16 years, the revenues from tuition and summer guests was not high enough to maintain the costs of running the large building and the Women’s College closed. After sitting abandoned for the next six years it briefly reopened as a junior college from 1930 to 1934.

In 1937 a man named Norman Baker arrived on the scene and bought the aging hotel for the purpose of opening a cancer hospital and health resort. Advertising miracle cures that required neither surgery nor painful extensive tests, the Baker Hospital, alleged that its patients would walk away from the “resort” cancer-free.

However, what was unknown to the many desperate patients who flocked to the hospital was that Norman Baker’s “miracle” was nothing more than a scam that he had been purporting on unsuspecting patients for years.

Advertisement For Baker's Clinic, Late 1930s. Baker felt that the American Medical Association and the doctors that participated in it were going about treating common medical conditions—especially cancer—wrong and he frequently warned his listeners of this. By 1929, he became convinced that the only way to "help save" the people of Muscatine, and the rest of Iowa, was to open his own clinic. Baker, who had dropped out of high school in the 10th grade and had no further education, opened the Baker Muscatine Cancer Hospital in 1929. He claimed to have a "secret cure" available to his cancer patients, that had been provided to him by a South American Witch Doctor.

Advertisement For Baker’s Clinic, Late 1930s. Baker felt that the American Medical Association and the doctors that participated in it were going about treating common medical conditions—especially cancer— wrong and he frequently warned his listeners of this. By 1929, he became convinced that the only way to “help save” the people of Muscatine, and the rest of Iowa, was to open his own clinic. Baker, who had dropped out of high school in the 10th grade and had no further education, opened the Baker Muscatine Cancer Hospital in 1929. He claimed to have a “secret cure” available to his cancer patients, that had been provided to him by a South American Witch Doctor.

KTNT Live: Baker Goes On The Radio. Leveraging his family's status in the community, Baker was able to persuade the Muscatine Chamber of Commerce to support him in a bid for his own radio station. He named the station KTNT radio, or Know the Naked Truth. Almost immediately the radio station became a disaster for the town of Muscatine. Baker was constantly involved in libel suits for the outlandish statements that he often made on air, often injecting bizarre commentary about the status of medicine in the United States in between covering human interest and general news stories. In 1925, he began publishing a magazine with the inflammatory name TNT to supplement his radio station.

KTNT Live: Baker Goes On The Radio. Leveraging his family’s status in the community, Baker was able to persuade the Muscatine Chamber of Commerce to support him in a bid for his own radio station. He named the station KTNT radio, or Know the Naked Truth. Almost immediately the radio station became a disaster for the town of Muscatine. Baker was constantly involved in libel suits for the outlandish statements that he often made on air, often injecting bizarre commentary about the status of medicine in the United States in between covering human interest and general news stories. In 1925, he began publishing a magazine with the inflammatory name TNT to supplement his radio station.

Norman Baker struck snake oil.

Norman Baker struck snake oil.

It's Time To Head South! Eureka Springs! After six years in Mexico, Baker went back to Muscatine and pleaded guilty to practicing medicine without a license, served one day in jail, and was back on the streets of his old hometown. With no hope of starting over in Iowa, Baker traveled south to Eureka Springs, Arkansas and quickly capitalized on a deal to purchase the property at The Crescent Hotel, whose owners had suffered under the financial losses of the Great Depression. The Crescent Hotel had been a tourist stomping ground of magnificent proportions in Arkansas since 1886 and was a well known, and beloved, location throughout the area.

It’s Time To Head South! Eureka Springs! After six years in Mexico, Baker went back to Muscatine and pleaded guilty to practicing medicine without a license, served one day in jail, and was back on the streets of his old hometown. With no hope of starting over in Iowa, Baker travelled south to Eureka Springs, Arkansas and quickly capitalized on a deal to purchase the property at The Crescent Hotel, whose owners had suffered under the financial losses of the Great Depression. The Crescent Hotel had been a tourist stomping ground of magnificent proportions in Arkansas since 1886 and was a well known, and beloved, location throughout the area.

It didn't take long before desperate patients came to Baker's hospital, hoping that his cure would be just the thing to make their cancer disappear. Baker called his hospital the "Castle In The Air" and sick patients from all over the country, from 1938-1940, were willing to pay their entire life savings, just for a chance at the "miraculous treatments" at the hotel-turned-hospital.

It didn’t take long before desperate patients came to Baker’s hospital, hoping that his cure would be just the thing to make their cancer disappear. Baker called his hospital the “Castle In The Air” and sick patients from all over the country, from 1938-1940, were willing to pay their entire life savings, just for a chance at the “miraculous treatments” at the hotel-turned-hospital.

Baker once again set up shop for another Cancer Hospital and wasted no time advertising to patients throughout the country about his fabulous cures. The citizens of Eureka Springs were excited about the possibility that the hospital would bring new people and new money to the town. Baker promised that he had the best interests of the community at heart.

Baker once again set up shop for another Cancer Hospital and wasted no time advertising to patients throughout the country about his fabulous cures. The citizens of Eureka Springs were excited about the possibility that the hospital would bring new people and new money to the town. Baker promised that he had the best interests of the community at heart.

Norman Baker peddled more than just a trumped-up cure for cancer. He was also a business man who peddled, among other products, Baker Brand whole beans and coffee. While his "mentalist" act didn't last long, Baker, in what would be a pattern for his entire life, started his career over again. He was an opportunist and an inventor, a jack of all trades and master of none—with the exception, perhaps of radio equipment. While he invented, manufactured, and sold everything from coffee to beans to gasoline, his invention of the Tangley Calliope, which used compressed air instead of steam, was the only real success of his dubious career. His other inventions, products and enterprises usually flopped—or worse, found him in hot water with the government.

Norman Baker peddled more than just a trumped-up cure for cancer. He was also a business man who peddled, among other products, Baker Brand whole beans and coffee. While his “mentalist” act didn’t last long, Baker, in what would be a pattern for his entire life, started his career over again. He was an opportunist and an inventor, a jack of all trades and master of none— with the exception, perhaps of radio equipment. While he invented, manufactured, and sold everything from coffee to beans to gasoline, his invention of the Tangley Calliope, which used compressed air instead of steam, was the only real success of his dubious career. His other inventions, products and enterprises usually flopped—or worse, found him in hot water with the government.

'Dr.' Norman Baker. By the late 1920's, Baker's tirades, both on his radio broadcasts and in his TNT magazines, seemed to be weirdly focused toward the American Medical Association. He warned people of the dangers of doctors. For example, he accused doctors that gave vaccinations to children as being pedophiles, questioning the reason that they gave girls immunizations in the legs. “Is it because they like to feel the legs of these innocent little girls?” he asked. “Is it not a fact that many of these men use their profession as an excuse to fondle and gaze upon the nude parts of innocent children?”

‘Dr.’ Norman Baker. By the late 1920’s, Baker’s tirades, both on his radio broadcasts and in his TNT magazines, seemed to be weirdly focused toward the American Medical Association. He warned people of the dangers of doctors. For example, he accused doctors that gave vaccinations to children as being pedophiles, questioning the reason that they gave girls immunizations in the legs. “Is it because they like to feel the legs of these innocent little girls?” he asked. “Is it not a fact that many of these men use their profession as an excuse to fondle and gaze upon the nude parts of innocent children?”

Jean Hiller, Died At The Baker Hospital, October 20, 1938. While Doctor Baker didn't use any of the newfangled 1930s treatments such as x-rays or radium treatments at his cancer facility, his practice once again was built on the those ancient cures that he had learned from the South American witch doctor. And again, Dr. Baker's patients began to die. Rumors swirled as local coroners were asked to pick up dead bodies from the Baker Hospital in the dark of night, to mask the numbers of just how many patients had died. It became difficult, however, to determine whether these deaths were a results of the cancer or Baker's treatments, or both.

Jean Hiller, Died At The Baker Hospital, October 20, 1938. While Doctor Baker didn’t use any of the newfangled 1930s treatments such as x-rays or radium treatments at his cancer facility, his practice once again was built on the those ancient cures that he had learned from the South American witch doctor. And again, Dr. Baker’s patients began to die. Rumors swirled as local coroners were asked to pick up dead bodies from the Baker Hospital in the dark of night, to mask the numbers of just how many patients had died. It became difficult, however, to determine whether these deaths were a results of the cancer or Baker’s treatments, or both.

Though it was difficult to track Baker's involvement in the deaths of the cancer patients he "treated" at The Crescent Hotel, because they were often fatally sick when they arrived, Baker would not escape this chapter of his criminal life without punishment. By collecting as much as $500,000 of payments for clinic treatments from patients through the mail, Baker was charged and convicted of mail fraud in 1940.

Though it was difficult to track Baker’s involvement in the deaths of the cancer patients he “treated” at The Crescent Hotel, because they were often fatally sick when they arrived, Baker would not escape this chapter of his criminal life without punishment. By collecting as much as $500,000 of payments for clinic treatments from patients through the mail, Baker was charged and convicted of mail fraud in 1940.

By 1931 things were looking grim for Dr. Baker in Muscatine. His first test cancer patients at the Hospital had died and the AMA, unsurprisingly, after the slew of attacks that Baker had levied at them via his radio program were questioning his "cures." With his radio station under fire and the entire town of Muscatine angered, offended, and duped, Baker weighed his options. When he received an arrest warrant for practicing medicine without a license in May, he packed up his belongings and fled to Mexico.

By 1931 things were looking grim for Dr. Baker in Muscatine. His first test cancer patients at the Hospital had died and the AMA, unsurprisingly, after the slew of attacks that Baker had levied at them via his radio program were questioning his “cures.” With his radio station under fire and the entire town of Muscatine angered, offended, and duped, Baker weighed his options. When he received an arrest warrant for practicing medicine without a license in May, he packed up his belongings and fled to Mexico.

Major Harris, With His Wife Mollie, Patients At The Baker Hospital. Perhaps weary cancer patients were drawn in by the allure of the fine "Doctor" Baker's advertisements, which might have seemed like a welcome respite to ill folks who had endured the limits of what 1930s medicine could offer. Baker built his quack practice on the premise that at his clinic, “we do not use knife, x-ray, or radium.”

Major Harris, With His Wife Mollie, Patients At The Baker Hospital. Perhaps weary cancer patients were drawn in by the allure of the fine “Doctor” Baker’s advertisements, which might have seemed like a welcome respite to ill folks who had endured the limits of what 1930s medicine could offer. Baker built his quack practice on the premise that at his clinic, “we do not use knife, x-ray, or radium.”

In the spring of 1930 John Tunis’s wife Lula was dying of cancer. In his private moments he must have alternately begged God not to take his wife and cursed him for letting her suffer such a cruel end. By the end of May, Lula was running out of time. John placed her and their dwindling hopes in the hands of a man named Norman Baker. They prayed he could provide the cure that the medical establishment could not.

And by all appearances they had reason to hope. Norman Baker was the founder of the Baker Institute in Muscatine, Iowa. He was a flamboyant, medical maverick with a new cure for cancer. Always dressed in a white suit and a lavender tie, he owned a radio station in Muscatine with the call letters KTNT, which stood for Know the Naked Truth. He took to the airwaves and declared war on big business, and the American Medical Association. He believed that organized medicine was corrupt and chose profits over patients. He preached the Gospel of alternative medicine. He was the self proclaimed champion of the common man against the ownership class. He was on the Tunis’s side and he had a cure.

It is doubtful that John and Lula could have known much about the background of their ostensible savior. That he was a former vaudeville magician, turned inventor, turned millionaire business man, turned populist radio host, turned Cancer doctor without a day of medical training in his life.

They couldn’t have known that Norman’s magic elixir was nothing more than a useless mix of watermelon seed, brown corn silk, alcohol, and carbolic acid.

They clearly didn’t know that all Norman Baker had to offer was an excruciating, pseudo-treatment and a betrayal of their last hope.

But in time they learned.

John Tunis would later testify in court against Norman Baker. “She took the needle treatments. She told me it was awful- that five or seven needles a day were stuck into her, and they would hold them there until the medicine ran out. She said it didn’t do much good; said she wanted to go home; that she was getting worse. She was in terrible shape when she left the Baker Institute and went down in bed right away.”

Lula was dead by Christmas.

In the introduction of Norman’s bought and paid for biography, “Doctors, Dynamiters and Gunmen” author Alvin Winston wrote “This is an inspiration book for young and old. A fact story of how a man fought his enemies-how he faced Gunmen, Dynamiters and enemy Doctors-how he fought the medical racket, the radio trust, the aluminum trust and others. He did it for you….There has never been a book prepared so carefully. This makes it the most important book ever written. Read the life story of Norman Baker the greatest one man battle ever fought.”

That was how Norman Baker wanted the world to see him. As a crusader who fought to protect the common man against exploitation. But behind the mask of humanitarianism was a man who leeched off the sick and dying to make hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Although tragic, Lula’s story is far from unique. It could be interchanged with hundreds of other desperate cancer sufferers who came to Norman Baker looking for a cure but found only suffering and death. It was the way of things at Baker’s Hospitals in Muscatine, Iowa, and Eureka Springs, Arkansas for nearly a decade.

Norman Baker was born on November 27, 1882, in Muscatine, Iowa. He was the youngest of 10 children. In 1898 at the age of sixteen Norman quit high school to take a job as a machinist. For a few years he traveled from town to town working as a die and tool maker where he could. Then one night Norman saw a “mental suggestion” magic show by a performer named “Professor Flint.” Norman was captivated by Flint’s abilities, and resolved to start a similar show of his own.

After a few false starts Norman got his performance troupe off the ground in 1904. The star of his show was a mind reader with the stage name “Madame Pearl Tangley.” The show was a hit, and found an audience on the vaudeville circuit. According to Norman’s biography the show drew 300 a week. In 1909 the original Madame Tangley decided to quit the troupe. A college girl named Theresa Pinder replaced her, and a year later Norman and Theresa married.

The show continued for another four years until the summer of 1914. Mr. and Mrs. Baker found themselves in Muscatine again for a long break from the show. They had intended to go back out on the road again in the fall, but fate intervened.

While tinkering in his brother’s machine shop that summer Norman came up with an innovation for a new kind of organ, called the Air Calliaphone. It was played with air, rather than steam, making it much more efficient. He sold the first one for $500 dollars (just under $10,000 in today’s money). He made two more and sold them immediately. Suddenly the “amusement” business didn’t seem so attractive anymore. He decided to quit altogether and manufacture his new invention. It soon made him a wealthy man.

1915 was a year of big change for Baker. He quit the theatre business, divorced his wife, and became a full time manufacturer. At its height, this business pulled in $200,000 a year. In 1920, Norman opened an art correspondence school, called the Tangley School. He freely admitted that he could not draw at all himself. But that didn’t stop him from netting over $75,000 in three years ostensibly teaching other people to do it.

Norman always tried to cloak his business maneuverings as civic duty or magnanimous human crusade. But he never undertook any venture that didn’t come with a healthy profit margin. So it was no surprise in 1925 when Norman went to the Muscatine Chamber of Commerce under the guise of civic duty and offered to build a radio station that would “popularize Muscatine, Iowa throughout the world.” All he asked in return for his gesture was “free electricity, water, and taxes.”

The city fathers gave Norman what he wanted. He promised daily talks about Muscatine to publicize it in the hope of luring new industries and employers to the sleepy Iowa town. “It’ll lift Muscatine from being a little burg lost in the Mississippi corn fields to a city the whole world knows about,” Norman promised.

Norman secured a license for a 500 watt station. He chose the now infamous call letters “KTNT.” He built his station on the highest hill in Muscatine, which overlooked the Mississippi river. Norman postured that his station would be a beacon of light for “the masses, the hordes of farmers, and laborers and small business men, as well as humanity in general.”

On Thanksgiving Day 1925, KTNT took to the air for the first time. Norman understood the natural unease and distrust the rural population had towards urban big business. He came out swinging at them, framing the argument as little KTNT vs. the Radio Trust. He was fighting for “the freedom of the airwaves,” and his message resonated loudly with his rural audience.

His broadcasts consisted of an interweaving of his attacks on the AMA, Aluminum Trust, and Wall Street and pitching his many mail order products. Norman grasped the power of radio quickly, recognizing it was a way to raise his own profile to unprecedented heights and sell more product.

KTNT was only licensed for 500 watts but often broadcast at 10,000. In 1928 Baker legally received license to broadcast at 10,000 watts meaning his signal could reach well over 1 million homes.

Norman had been a prominent man in the community for well over a decade, but the stature and influence his radio station gave him was exponentially larger than anything he had ever known. KTNT became one of the most prominent radio stations in the Midwest. On weekends and holidays thousands would gather at the station to hear Norman’s broadcasts. Baker welcomed the crowds with live entertainment as well as souvenirs, food, and cheap gasoline. All for a fair price of course.

As KTNT’s popularity grew, Norman’s attacks on his usual targets became more vitriolic and personal. He made baseless personal attacks on prominent men he considered enemies. Accusing them over the airwaves of everything from adultery to drunkenness. This behavior began to turn people against him and there was a backlash of complaints against KTNT.

Had Norman stuck to heckling all the bogeymen of rural America, like the American Medical Association, and Wall Street, he most likely would have lived out his days in Muscatine as a rich and prominent citizen. But in 1929 he chose a path that led directly to his own ruin.

Norman became aware of a Dr. Charles Ozias, who was operating a cancer sanitarium out of Kansas City. Norman claimed that in the interest of the public good, he wished to investigate whether or not the Dr. Ozias cure worked. Over the KTNT airwaves he called for five volunteers to be treated in Kansas City, with Norman footing the bill. He soon had his five volunteers and sent them to Ozias for treatment for several months in the spring and summer of 1929.

Norman planned to publish an article in the December 1929 issue of his new magazine “TNT” that related his findings. He asserted that using aluminum products, especially aluminum cooking utensils caused Cancer. He warned that cancer was not curable through operation, radium, and x-ray. His new cure used none of these. He referred to surgeons as “cutters.” Normans cure was non-surgical, a series of injections that would eat the cancer without harming the surrounding tissue. The public could now rest easy that there was someone who could cure cancer without carving them up.

There was just one problem. His test patients were starting die. The first one passed on November 25th.

In December “TNT” hit the newsstands anyway with the front page proclaiming “Cancer is Cured” over a smiling picture of Baker and two associates.

Three days after Christmas the second test patient died. The third and fourth patients died in January and February. In March Norman reprinted the December TNT issue detailing the miraculous recovery of his five test patients.

In May of 1930 the last test patient died and Norman reprinted the TNT issue again, without changing a word.

He acquired the cure from Ozias in January of 1930 and opened the Baker Institute in Muscatine. The formula was a solution containing glycerine, carbolic acid, and alcohol, which was mixed with tea brewed from water melon seed, brown corn silk, and clover leaves.

He used KTNT to advertise his new hospital. In March of 1930 he hired Harry Hoxsey, another infamous cancer quack to use Hoxsey’s treatment. Some found it curious that Norman would hire Hoxsey and his treatment if he already had a cure.

However, Hoxsey’s hiring didn’t slow business at the Institute. In the calendar year of 1930 Norman made over $444,000 from Cancer sufferers alone, roughly the equivalent of 4.8 million dollars today.

In April of 1930, Norman Baker found himself in the crosshairs of Morris Fishbein and the American Medical Association. Fishbein was the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association. He had made it a personal mission to expose quackery in JAMA. Fishbein recognized that Baker’s attacks were undermining people’s trust in the medical establishment, and went to work putting Norman Baker out of the cancer business. They published multiple articles exposing Baker and his quackery. In the April 12, 1930 edition of JAMA they wrote

“In Iowa at Muscatine, over KTNT, broadcasts a business man named Norman Baker who is selling a cancer cure, with cigars and cheap magazines as side lines. His cancer cure includes the old Hoxsey fake, originally promoted in Illinois, and apparently now resident also in Iowa. This nostrum for cancer is boomed by Mr. Baker over his radio station KTNT, which can be heard almost anywhere after 11 o’clock at night. This is exceedingly proper since it is the time of night when many devious and doubtful ventures are promoted.

Baker has even claimed that the American Medical Association offered him one million dollars for his cancer cure with the intent of forcing it from the market so that patients might be compelled to resort to surgery for the saving of their lives. The lie is so obviously false to any person of intelligence above that of a moron that it needs little thought to convince his hearers of its fallacy. Even if the American Medical Association had a loose million dollars lying around ready to be spent, it is quite certain that a number of better ways for spending it would occur to the trustees who are responsible for the funds of the association.

What is Mr. Baker doing with the money that he is snaring from the pockets of sufferers with cancer and wheedling from the funds of chiropractors, naturopaths, nostrum promoters and other medical malcontents?

The viciousness of Mr. Baker’s broadcasting lies not in what he says about the American Medical Association but in the fact that he induces sufferers from cancer who might have some chance for their lives, if seen early and properly treated, to resort to his nostrum. The method can result in Muscatine, Iowa, as it did in Taylorville, Illinois-merely in death certificates signed by the physicians who have been so poor in finances and in morals as to sell their birthrights to Mr. Baker for his mess of garbage.”

A week later, Norman was again the target in a follow up story.

“Norman Baker’s cancer cure quackery at Muscatine, Iowa has been dealt with by the Des Moines Register. Not only did this paper reprint the statement of the Journal relative to Baker and KTNT but also it made an investigation of its own which established the utter falsehood of the claims made by him in his radio talks. The medical profession, of course, needed no evidence, but a credulous public must be convinced by personal study. The investigation made by the Register revealed many deaths from cancer among the Baker clientele; it revealed the menace of Bakerism to be his vicious influence against modern scientific diagnosis and treatment and modern public health work; it brought to light a Baker who trims his claims to the winds that blow; To all of this what does Baker answer? Merely that he is being persecuted by the “Medical Trust”; that he is benefiting 25 percent of cancers, and that the Des Moines Register is cowardly, contemptible and dirty.” Does this sad old world after all afford any spectacle so terribly pusillanimous or so completely ignominious as an exposed cancer quack?

The state licensing boards, the state prosecuting officials and the other constituted authorities of Kansas and of Iowa owe it to the people of those states to rid their communities as soon as possible of these blatant quacks. The Federal Radio Commission must be depended on by the people in other states to spare them the possibility of hearing the obscene mouthings and pernicious promotions that are broadcast by the stations that these quacks dominate. If these authoritative bodies do not function for the good of the people, our government must find some system that will.”

Norman was livid. He struck back on multiple fronts. The following month He filed a $500,000 lawsuit against the AMA for libel and defamation. He went so far as to accuse the AMA of sending three assassins to KTNT to silence him. According to Norman, a gun fight ensued between himself and the assailants. He and Hoxsey wounded one of the thugs before he and his fellow gunmen made their getaway. Baker filed a report with police but nothing ever came of it, due to lack of evidence. Finally, in an attempt to sway public opinion against the AMA and his other critics, he held a public demonstration of his cure on May 12.

An estimated forty to fifty thousand people came to Muscatine to watch Norman’s demonstration. He had sent out a call from KTNT to see an outdoor exhibition of his cure. His days of running his theatre troupe had taught him how to manipulate a crowd, and he warmed them up with stories of miraculous healing from former patients, who one by one gave their own accounts to the crowd.

To allay fears that his cure was harmful, he drank an enormous dose of his cancer “cure,” and showed no ill effects. The main event was open air surgery on a sixty eight year old man named Mandus Johnson. One of the Baker Institute doctors ostensibly opened up the skull of Johnson while he was still conscious. Baker then applied his cure to what he claimed was cancerous brain tissue, and echoed the statement from the cover of the December issue of TNT. “Cancer is cured,” he said.

Now that he had thoroughly won over his audience, Norman could turn to his real purpose. Damage control against the AMA’s attacks. He launched into a fiery diatribe against the medical trust. He charged them with choosing profits over patients and told the crowd the initials M.D. really stood for “More Dough”. Norman promised the people that he would not let up in his fight with “the Medical Trust” and reminded the crowd that it was them he was fighting for.

The open air demonstration and his daily radio barrages combined to create a booming business for the Baker institute. New patients arrived daily hoping that Baker’s miracle was true. Patients like Lula Tunis.

As the institute flourished, organized medicine turned up the heat on Norman. New articles appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association. They even debunked the ostensible brain operation on Mandus Johnson as a hoax. Johnson had a condition that caused the inflammation of his outer skull “What the gaping crowd saw at the ‘demonstration’ was not the man’s brain, but the medullary portion of the man’s skull,” the article said.

Beginning in 1931 things began to unravel for Norman. The AMA actively lobbied the Federal Radio Commission to revoke Baker’s radio license. In May of 1931 they officially refused to renew his license and forced him from the air.

Norman’s suit against the AMA was ruled against him and his reputation took a beating. A steady stream of relatives and former patients testified in court and recounted Norman’s sins in public.

The final blow was an arrest warrant issued against him for practicing medicine without a license

Norman fled to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico to build a new 100,000 watt radio station that would be out of the legal reach of the Federal Radio Commission.

Norman remained in Mexico until 1937, broadcasting from his station and trying to influence from a distance. He even ran a small cancer hospital there. But he grew restless.

He returned to Muscatine, plead guilty and served a one day sentence for practicing medicine without a license. After an unsuccessful bid for Iowa’s senate seat, Norman left Muscatine for good.

Having been run out of his home state, Norman moved to Arkansas. This time to the Ozarks and the town of Eureka Springs. There he bought a majestic Victorian hotel that had fallen on hard times. The Crescent hotel sat on a hill 2,000 feet above sea level overlooking the town nestled below. He called it a “Castle in the Air” and made it the new location of the Baker Hospital.

Norman picked up where he had left off in Iowa. Running the same medical scams in the Ozarks that had made him hundreds of thousands of dollars in Iowa. According to one US Postal Inspector Norman was pulling in $500,000 a year in Eureka Springs.

For two years, He thrived in there, but the clock was ticking on Norman. He was now a marked man by federal authorities. They quietly investigated him and in 1939 they closed in.

After ten years of being hounded by the authorities and the AMA all it took to bring Baker down was seven letters placed in the United States mail advertising his services. Norman Baker was arrested by federal authorities and charged with using the mails to defraud.

The trial was held in January of 1940 in Little Rock and Norman was found guilty on all seven counts. He appealed the decision, but was denied. The opinion handed down by the court of appeals said that Norman’s cancer cure was “pure hoax.”

In January of 1940 Norman arrived at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary to serve a 4 year sentence. One investigator wrote “Our investigation indicates that Baker and his associates defrauded Cancer sufferers out of approximately $4,000,000. Our investigation further shows that a great majority of the people who were actually suffering with cancer who took the treatment lived but a short while after returning to their homes from the hospital. We believe that the treatment hastened the death of the sufferers in most cases. It appears to us that the sentence of four years which Baker received and the fine of $4000 was an extremely light penalty under the circumstances.” He was no longer Norman Baker, millionaire business man, and cancer maverick. Now he was simply known as inmate 58197.

In a statement in the Warden’s report Norman said, “I am not guilty. They have never proved anything in the indictment. We figure this was a railroading proposition. It is my opinion that the jury was fixed and influenced. We have hired private detectives to look into the matter. It is believed that whiskey and women were made available to the jurors. We were railroaded by the American Medical Association who have been after me for years.”

Norman was released from Leavenworth on July 19, 1944. He retired to Florida and lived comfortably until his death in 1958.

What made Norman Baker’s cancer cure charade so despicable is the human cost of his fraud. Hundreds of people who might have lived if they received legitimate medical care died because they put their trust in his cure.

The common grifter swindles people out of their money. But only a monster would do so at the cost of their last chance at survival.

So was Norman a greedy sociopath, devoid of conscience? Or was simply a delusional man who convinced himself that his cure really worked?
After interviewing Norman, the Leavenworth psychiatrist concluded that he was delusional, and that Baker did not believe that he had done anything wrong.

But Norman’s own words reveal a different sentiment. While serving his sentence at Leavenworth, no longer burdened with keeping up appearances for the public, he let his guard down. “If I could keep my radio station open,” he said “I would make a million dollars out of the suckers of the states.”

The American Medical Association soon learned of Baker's new hospital and was alarmed to see the disturbing number of deaths that were occurring in the hotel/clinic. Even more disturbing, Baker's “secret cancer cure” was revealed in late 1939, as his life and career quickly fell into shambles. The treatment that he had promised would save the lives of thousands consisted of nothing more than watermelon, clover seeds, and cornsilk boiled in alcohol and carbolic, which was injected into his desperate patients.

The American Medical Association soon learned of Baker’s new hospital and was alarmed to see the disturbing number of deaths that were occurring in the hotel/clinic. Even more disturbing, Baker’s “secret cancer cure” was revealed in late 1939, as his life and career quickly fell into shambles. The treatment that he had promised would save the lives of thousands consisted of nothing more than watermelon, clover seeds, and cornsilk boiled in alcohol and carbolic, which was injected into his desperate patients.

The Ghosts Of Patients Past. You can still make your visit to the very halls, lobby, and rooms that Baker treated—and mistreated—his patients and consider the history of the old hotel. People who stay and work there say the place is haunted with the ghosts of those who came to stay at the old hotel...but didn't survive long enough to check out.

The Ghosts Of Patients Past. You can still make your visit to the very halls, lobby, and rooms that Baker treated —and mistreated— his patients and consider the history of the old hotel. People who stay and work there say the place is haunted with the ghosts of those who came to stay at the old hotel…but didn’t survive long enough to check out.

During the wars years of 1940 to 1946, the beautiful building once again sat empty. However, in 1946, the hotel was purchased by four Chicago businessmen who began to restore the old hotel to its former elegance. Though never at the level of its first grand days in the late 1800’s, the hotel once again began to thrive. Unfortunately, tragedy struck in 1967 when a fire swept through the fourth floor of the south wing and much it was destroyed.

Over the next several years, the hotel passed through several hands as repairs and more restorations were made, but the hotel was never fully restored to its original grandeur. However, this all changed in 1997 when the historic inn was purchased by Marty and Elise Roenigk. In May, 1997, the couple announced, “In five Years, we pledge to have this ‘Grand Lady of The Ozarks’ back to where she was 100 years ago.” But, Ozark residents, having heard these promises too many times before, were skeptical.

In 1997, the Roenigks began to rebuild the spas. That first year, a 6,500 square foot “New Moon Spa” opened which included Vichy showers, a hydrotherapy tub, sauna, message and therapy tables, tanning beds, and exercise equipment. The next major project was to restore the hotel’s skyline which had been destroyed in the 1967 fire. Costing well over a million dollars, the 3,500 square foot penthouse, original center observation tower and the 200-pound, 24-foot-tall Crescent Moon weathervane were restored.

In the meantime, restorations of the guest rooms, lounges, electrical and plumbing, and landscaping were also going on. On September 6, 2002, The Roenigk’s bold announcement became a reality. After 5 million dollars in renovations, the grand hotel had been fully restored to its original stately glory.

Today, the Crescent Hotel is one of the most visited hotels in the South. With its long and extensive history, it is also known to be one of the most haunted places in the Ozarks. Staff and guests alike tell stories of a number of ghosts that are still said to inhabit the old hotel.

The most often sighted apparition is that of an red-haired Irish stonemason, who the staff has dubbed “Michael.”  Allegedly, Michael was one of the original masons who worked on the building of the hotel in 1885. However, while working on the roof he lost his balance and fell to the second floor area and was killed. This area now houses Room 218 of the hotel and is said to be the most haunted guestroom. Michael is evidently a mischievous spirit who likes to play tricks with the lights, the doors, and television, as well as often being heard pounding loudly on the walls. Others have witnessed hands coming out of the bathroom mirror and heard cries of what sounded like a man falling in the ceiling. Yet other guests have been shaken during the night, and on one occasion a patron ran screaming from the room, professing to have seen blood splattered all over its walls.

From the days when the old hotel served as Baker’s Cancer Hospital, the lingering spirit of a nurse, dressed all in white, is often seen pushing a gurney on the third floor.  Only spotted after 11:00 p.m., the time which they used to move the deceased out the cancer hospital, the ghostly spirit vanishes when she reaches the end of the hallway. Others who have not seen the apparition have reported the sounds of squeaks and rattles that sound like a gurney rolling down the hallway. During the 1930’s, this area was used as the morgue and even today, still houses “Dr.” Baker’s old autopsy table and walk-in freezer. Also located on the third floor is the laundry area, where a hotel maintenance man once witnessed all of the washers and dryers inexplicably turning on by themselves in the middle of the night.

The apparition of the greedy “Doctor Baker” himself, has also been seen in the old Recreation Room in the basement and at the foot of the first floor stairway. Dressed in a purple shirt and white linen suit, and looking somewhat confused, the apparition appears identical to old photographs of the infamous “quack.”

For a time, the antique switchboard continued to be utilized in the hotel, but when it continually received phone calls from the otherwise empty basement, the use of the old switchboard was discontinued. It was here in the basement that “Dr.” Baker’s hapless patients were often convinced of his miracle cures and handed over their life’s savings for the “treatment.”

Another remnant of these old “hospital” days is a ghostly figure who calls herself “Theodora.” Most often seen by housekeepers in Room 419, Theodora courteously introduces herself as a cancer patient, before quickly vanishing.

In the lobby a gentleman dressed in formal Victorian clothing, complete with top hat, has often been spotted at the bottom of the stairway and sitting at the bar. Described as distinguished-looking with a mustache and beard, many have claimed to entice him into conversation. However, he just sits quietly and never responds, before he suddenly disappears…

The hotel’s Crystal Dining Room, is another place in the hotel that is said to contain frequent paranormal activities. Here, other Victorian dressed apparitions have often been encountered.   Many have seen groups of 1890’s dancers, in full-dress attire, whirling around the room in the wee hours of the morning. Other reports tell of a 19th century gentleman who has been seen sitting at a table near the windows. When approached, he says, “I saw the most beautiful woman here last night and I am waiting for her to return.”

A former waitress reported that she spied the vision of a Victorian bride and groom in the dining room’s huge mirror. The groom allegedly made eye contact with her before the couple faded away.

The Victorian spirits that linger in the dining room are said to be very playful, and on one occasion during the Christmas season, the Christmas tree and all its packages were found mysteriously moved to the other side of the room. Additionally, all the chairs had been moved to circle or face the transported tree. On another occasion, staff arrived in the morning to find the dining room in perfect order, with the exception of all of the menus scattered about the room.

In the dining room’s kitchen. the apparition of a small boy has been seen skipping around and sometimes pots and pans are said to come flying of their hooks of their own accord.

One other often reported spirit is that of a young female who once attended the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women, which was open between 1908 and 1924. According to the tale, the young girl either jumped from or was pushed from a balcony to her death. Today, guests report hearing her screams as she falls.

Other apparitions have been sighted in Room 202 and Room 424, as well as a ghostly waiter carrying a tray of butter in the hallways.

Whether you visit the historic Crescent Hotel to get a peek at one of its many spirits, or simply want to experience its long history and luxurious accommodations, you will certainly not be disappointed.

After evil Doctor Baker was released from prison in 1944, he moved to Florida and lived in quiet anonymity until his death in 1958. The Baker Hospital in Eureka Springs, Arkansas reverted back to The Crescent Hotel as it was before Baker's short stay there from 1938-1940.

After evil Doctor Baker was released from prison in 1944, he moved to Florida and lived in quiet anonymity until his death in 1958. The Baker Hospital in Eureka Springs, Arkansas reverted back to The Crescent Hotel as it was before Baker’s short stay there from 1938-1940.

Today, the fully restored hotel creates an ambience that has transcended time, while providing all the amenities that the modern day traveler requires. Surrounded by 15 acres of formal gardens and nature trails, the hotel offers 72 guest rooms, many with their own balcony, and 12 luxury suites throughout the building. The New Moon Spa features a full menu of treatments, a salon and a wellness program.

Eureka Springs is located in just eight miles south of the Missouri border in northwest Arkansas near Beaver Lake.

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