The Westport Historical Society Speaker Series: Tom and Harry: The Boss and the President

Local filmmaker Terence O’Malley explores the relationship between Harry Truman and “Boss” Tom Pendergast, whose corrupt machine helped propel Truman’s political career.
Saturday, August 10, 2013
2:00pm @ Westport Branch

Terence O'Malley, Kansas City attorney and filmmaker, will present and discuss his documentary, Tom and Harry: The Boss and the President. O'Malley is the filmmaker of two previous documentaries, Nelly Don: A Stitch in Time and Black Hand Strawman.

Tom & Harry: The Boss and the President is the only feature length documentary film that goes into great detail about the complex relationship between Harry Truman and Political Boss Tom Pendergast and the political machine that had a vise-like grip on Kansas City in the 1920s and 1930s.Tom Pendergast personally chose Harry Truman to run for the United State Senate in 1934. But by 1940, when Truman was seeking re-election, Pendergast was in prison and Harry Truman’s political future hung in the balance as his two democratic primary opponents roundly decried Truman’s association with the corrupt political machine. (documentary descriptions are from

Terence O’Malley Bio

Terence O'Malley made his mark on the Kansas City film scene on Mother's Day 2006 with the premier of his documentary, Nelly Don: A Stitch in Time, the story of Mrs. James A. Reed who was known throughout the country as Nelly Don, the largest dress manufacturer in the world in the 20th century.

The film was a great success and impressed upon local cinema owners that there is enough interest in local history to make documentary film exhibition about Kansas city profitable. Nelly Don was the longest running film in Kansas City that year, staying on screen for 29 weeks.

Since then, Mr. O'Malley has directed three more documentary films and authored two books on Kansas City history: the companion book to the film Nelly Don - it too is called Nelly Don A Stitch in Time; the film, Black Hand Strawman: The History of Organized Crime in Kansas City - the film was released in 2009 and the book was released in 2011 and both have been very popular.

Kansas City Public Library Beta