The Who2 Blog

The Death of Kingfish

Louisiana’s Huey P. Long died 10 September 1935, two days after being shot at the state Capitol. To some, there are still questions about who pulled the trigger.

At the time, Huey Long controlled the state’s political machine. He’s gone down in history as one of Louisiana’s most influential politicians, even though his career lasted a mere seven years.

Midway through his term as governor, in 1930, he was elected to the U.S. Senate — and he waited until 1932 before taking his seat in Washington. A populist Democrat, he was known for public works programs and called himself “Kingfish.”

He announced his presidential ambitions in the summer of 1935, and on 8 September he was shot and fatally wounded. He died 30 hours later.

The official story is that he was killed with one shot by Dr. Carl Austin Weiss, a 29 year-old ear, nose and throat specialist with a wife and a three month-old son. 

Huey Long was walking along the corridor of the new state Capitol, surrounded by his bodyguards. Weiss approached Long with a .32 caliber pistol and shot him. The bullet exited Long’s back. The bodyguards opened fire and put 61 bullet holes into Dr. Weiss, killing him at the scene. That’s always been the tale.

But Huey P. Long’s tenure was also known for its corruption and his Good Ol’ Boy interpretation of the law. He was just king-fishy enough to provide an extra bit of oomph behind any wronged-man, conspiracy theory about his murder.

His son took up the cause. After Long was dead and Carl Weiss was condemned as a crazed murderer, his wife took their baby son to Europe to escape the publicity.

Dr. Carl Weiss, Jr. maintains to this day that his father — a man he never knew — did NOT kill Huey P. Long. He has a very detailed explanation of why he thinks that, here in his first public speech about it, in 2010.

Who knows? It sounds as though it’s entirely possible that Huey Long’s close followers could and would cover up the facts of his death, back in 1935. It does seem odd that a successful, educated doctor would go gunning for the state’s biggest politician in the middle of the state Capitol — until you remember there’s no sense in trying to apply logic to such scenarios.

They dug up Huey Long in 1992 and found out that yes, in fact, he’d been shot once, and the bullet went out his back. They also dug up Carl Weiss, and didn’t find anything to change the official story.

On the other hand, the gun that Dr. Weiss supposedly used to kill Huey P. Long didn’t show up until the 1990s. It was in a safe deposit box belonging to the heir of the person in charge of the statewide criminal investigation. That seems a little odd, sure, but it’s impossible to get beyond speculation.

I don’t claim to understand why the younger Dr. Carl Weiss is so convinced of his father’s innocence. He never knew his father, and he wasn’t in the U.S. for most of his young life, and when he was in the United States, it wasn’t in Louisiana. And by that time few people knew the stories of Carl Weiss OR Huey P. Long.

To find out more about the Kingfish, see the Who2 biography of Huey P. Long and follow the links.

Go here to see a Kickstarter project, started by a relative of Dr. Weiss — a documentary film called 61 Bullets. They think Dr. Weiss is innocent.

And here is the Facebook page for Dr. Carl Austin Weiss is Innocent.

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