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Collyer Brothers - Famous NYC Recluses On March 21, 1947, New York City police received an anonymous telephone call reporting a dead body at the Collyer home in what was once a fashionable section of Harlem. The brownstone house was shared by Homer and Langley Collyer, two brothers who gained a measure of celebrity for living like hermits in New York City. The sons of a physician, the Collyer brothers were once prominent and productive citizens. Homer, the older sibling, was an admiralty lawyer. Langley was a concert pianist. Both were Sunday school instructors. Upon the deaths of their parents, though, the brothers shut off themselves from the outside world. They stopped paying taxes and lived without utilities for nearly 30 years. Homer went blind due to hemorrhages and later became paralyzed. Langley became Homer's caregiver. He cooked food on a portable kerosene stove and carried water in buckets from a public park four blocks away. Langley also became a notorious pack rat and scrounger. Venturing out of his house only in the dead of night, he'd shop for whatever food he needed for the day and pick up discarded items of all sorts. He retained newspapers for years so that Homer could catch up on his reading once he regained his sight. He occasionally befriended newspaper reporters who wrote stories about the reclusive Collyer brothers. Langley often fed Homer 100 oranges per week in the hope it would help him regain his eyesight. Fearful of burglars, Langley turned the Collyer house into a maze of pathways and crawl spaces amid the numerous junk and refuse that collected in the house. He built booby-traps to ensnare potential intruders. Based on the anonymous phone tip in March 1947, police broke into the Collyer home and found Homer, clad in a tattered robe, dead in a chair from malnutrition. Nearly a month went by before Langley was found amid the 140 tons of items that had been piled haphazardly throughout the house. Langley's body was found by sanitation workers under a mountain of debris only about 10 feet from where Homer's body had been found. Police theorized that Langley had accidentally tripped one of his own booby-traps and died of suffocation. Helpless and with no one to care for him, Homer slowly died of starvation about two weeks later. Among the wide variety of items found in the Collyer house were 14 pianos, most of a Model T Ford, tons of newspapers, thousands of law books, sexy pin-up posters circa 1910, dressmakers' dummies, unopened mail, 34 passbooks for various bank accounts, and unused tickets to a church function from 1905.
Tags: Collyer  brothers  pack  rats  hermits  NYC 
Added: 7th October 2014
Views: 1909
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Posted By: Lava1964
Posted by: Steve on 2014-10-07 
And the first episode of hoarders became famous!
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2014-10-07 
In one episode of The Honeymooners there's a reference to the Collyer brothers. When Ed Norton learns that Ralph Kramden's monthly electric bill was less than a dollar, he comments that Ralph had broken the Collyers' record for the cheapest utility bill! I wonder how many people would understand that allusion today?
Posted by: Cliffy on 2014-10-08 
The Collyer brothers were sons of Herman Livingston Collyer a Manhattan gynecologist who worked at Bellevue Hospital, and Susie Gage Frost ( a former opera singer. Their parents were first cousins.
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