In the final scene of Sweet Smell of Success, Tony Curtis’ amoral, smarmy press agent Sidney Falco gets his final just desserts at Duffy Square.
Father Francis Duffy of Holy Cross Church on 42nd Street near Broadway served with the Fighting 69th, a mostly-Irish regiment in World War I, was severely wounded, and received the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery on the battlefield. His monument, sculpted by Charles Keck and dedicated in 1937, features Father Duffy in his World War I uniform standing in front of the Celtic cross.
The “Fighting 69th” regiment of the US Army, a part of the NY Army National Guard, was founded in 1849 and has had a rich history in the US Civil War and Word War I and up to today; the unit has fought in the Iraq War. Between 1917 and 1992 it was also designated as the 165th Infantry Regiment, and its headquarters are still located at the 69th Regiment Armoryat #68 Lexington Avenue fronting the entire avenue between East 25th and 26th Streets. A substantial memorial to the “Fighting 69th” is found in Calvary Cemetery in Queens.
In its early days the regiment consisted nearly completely of Irish immigrants. Its motto, “Gentle when stroked – fierce when provoked” refers to the representations of Irish wolfhounds found on the regiment’s crest and dress cap badges in the 1860s. In some ceremonies, the regiment’s officers and senior non-commissioned officers carry shillelaghs as a badge of rank.
A monument to the regiment can be found in Calvary Cemetery in Blissville, Queens.