What Ever Happened To Satira?

Patricia Schmidt, "Satira" seen in here publicity photo. Credit BurlyQNell

Patricia Schmidt, “Satira” seen in here publicity photo. Credit BurlyQNell

It seems that for whatever reason, Toledo has had many strange connections to Cuba. (I’ll cover some of those in a future posting). But one of those Cuban connections involves a young woman from Toledo by the name of Patricia Schmidt. It appears that she moved to Cuba, in the 1940’s as an exotic dancer(stripper), who took the stage name of “Satira”. She was only 21 at the time and became a sensation – not just as a dancer, but as a defendant in a  high-profile murder trial.  The young Toledo native was accused of cold-blooded murder  in the shooting death of Chicago lawyer and playboy, John Lester Mee aboard his yacht “Satira” in Cuba.

The story of Patricia Schmidt began in Toledo where she was raised as the daughter of a well-known druggist, John Schmodt who worked for many years in east Toledo.  The family however lived in West Toledo on Belmar Street and Patricia attended Devilbiss High School in graduated in 1943.   She had reportedly  been an honors student in her junior and senior years. Shotrly after her mother passed away, she decided to take a new track in life. She moved to Chicago and began dancing as an exotic dancer is this is where she met John Mee, a lawyer, poet and former commander of a Navy PT boat.  Her agent in Chicago at the time, convinced her to move to the Caribbean and to take her dancing act to that region the world.  At 21, she departed the cold climate of the Midwest for the warmer climes of Cuba and Jack Mee soon followed.  Soon they were living together on Mee’s makeshift yacht and she would tell the Cuban court during the trial that she became intimate with Mee and they became lovers. Then in January of 1947, she testified that a few weeks after she move din with him,  she learned that Mee was a married man and it wasn’t long after that their relationship would begin to sour.   She also alleged that she wanted to leave the yacht, but that Mee held her as a captive aboard the yacht for another six weeks until April of 1947 when she says they had a violent argument one night which ended when she shot Mee in the neck  with his .22 caliber handgun.  He died eight days later.  During the trial, she re-enacted the shooting in emotional and dramatic detail for the three-judge panel, pleading self-defense, and the all-too-eager photographers who helped spread this Toledo woman’s story and face around the world.   Evidence was also shown during the trial of scratches and bruises on her body that she claims were inflicted by Mee whom she alleged to have sado-masochistic sexual fetishes.   Some court observers predicted that the young Toledo woman might be acquitted, but she was not.  Instead she was convicted and given a 15 year prison sentence.

Toledo's "Satira" in Cuban Prison

Toledo’s “Satira” in Cuban Prison

According to Time Magazine…“In sentencing Cootch-Dancer Schmidt to 15 years for manslaughter (TIME, Feb. 2), the judges had chided her for “appearing nude on the deck of [Mee’s] yacht like a nymph,” and for “swimming naked in [Havana] Bay.” Said Toledo-born Satira: “They just don’t understand our customs.”

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,887908,00.html#ixzz0btfUftI0

But Satira would not serve anything close to that term. Instead, after considerable legal intervention and personal pleas from friends in Toledo and elsewhere, Patricia Schmidt got a pardon from the Cuban President. She ended up  serving only about 17 months of that 15-year term in a women’s prison in Cuba until October of 1948. Within hours, after the pardon, she returned to the United States and did fly back to Toledo to see her family.

Schmidt, arriving home after being released from prison.

Schmidt, arriving home after being released from prison.

One of the side notes to the story is that, according to an article in the Toledo Blade,  her fourth grade teacher from Hamilton School Toledo, Mrs. Irene(Tilly) Wasserman, made a personal plea to the court for Schmidt’s release. Her parents also went to Cuba several times before and during the much publicized trial.

The case of this young Toledo woman seemed to have the right “sex-appeal” for yesterday’s news editors. It became a nearly international incident at the time and Toledo’s petite “Satira” was the “star”.   A Google search shows that the story was carried in great detail in papers in Chicago and Miami and Los Angeles. The Toledo Blade covered it, but not with front page bold headlines, but mostly in respectable three graph stories buried deep within its pages. One can only wonder how the story would be covered today.

Little is known about Patricia Schmidt’s life after her brief bout with fame, but some newspaper accounts indicate that she began dancing again in the U.S. under name of Satira and was, for a few years, able to exploit her fame in the Cuban murder affair, but apparently not for long. I have been unable to find anything printed about Patricia “Satira” Schmidt much beyond the early 1950’s.   So I am only left to  wonder what ever happened to this Toledo “star” and just  how and when she fell from the sky.

If you know anything about this story and what ever happened to Patricia Schmidt, I’d love to know the follow-up.



Filed under Uncategorized, World War two Era

12 responses to “What Ever Happened To Satira?

  1. Raymond Russell

    I’d like some contact with the peron whoo published the well written article about Patricia ‘Satira’ Schmidt please? I have an original article dated 11 April 1947 in the Chicago Daily News entitled ‘Mystery in shooting of Lawyer’ page 16. It was found in the bottom of a box of books I bought some years ago at an auction. It says that at first “Satira’ posed as his wife but his true wife came forward. She was Mary Dixon Mee and also a dancer dancing under the name ‘Marilyn Drake”. I have researched the case since and have purchased two original LIFE magazines (at no little cost) from a guy who sells them online. Great pictures and an article on another lover of John Lester Mee’s. Website for the one who sells the LIFE magazines upon receipt of an email.

  2. George L. Ruhl

    I just came across this story and it brought back vivid memories. I knew Patricia quite well and also attended DeVilbiss High School. She was not the exotic tempress the newspapers made her out to be…An exotic dancer in those days is not what it means today. When she was finally released from prison in Cuba…I was with her mother when we met her coming home. Believed the Toled Blade even ran a photo of her mother and a “mystery man” meeting her at the station! Look ather high school credits to see what a fine person she really was!

    • George,

      Thanks for the post. Do you know what ever happened to Patricia? I have scoured many different sources but have been unable to determine where she may be at this time, or if she is still alive. It appears that her father, John, died in California about 20 years later. From what I gather, she moved away before graduating high school, and that would have been shortly after her mother died. Is that your understanding? Are you still in the Toledo area? I ‘d certainly like to know more about “Satira” and the rest of her story.

      Thanks for the post,
      Lou Hebert

  3. stormy aka Jim Strong

    Saw her performing in a seedy joint in Calumet City outside Chicago in effort to capitalize on notoriety surrounding the murder of Mee who had lived in a plush north suburb of Chicago.


    Dear Mr. Hebert,
    Have you been able to find anything at all about Patricia after she returned to the US and resumed her career. I have searched in vain for information on her as she grew older. I have been unable to find an obituary, if she is indeed dead (she could be still alive – she would be 90 today) It’s like she disappeared from the face of the earth! If you do have any additional information, please share it. I am Cuban and have been interested in Patricia since I was a teenager and heard the story from my parents. I wonder also, with you being in Toledo, if you have access to her high school yearbook (assuming they had yearbooks back in 1943) through the Toledo public library or Devilbiss High itself.

  5. Richard Keyser

    My aunt was Irene Tilly Wasserman, her 4th grade teacher. My Dad may be able to tell me more about this.

  6. Dan Bowling

    Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007
    Name: Patricia Caroline Schmidt
    [Patricia Dale]
    [Pat Smiley]
    [Patricia Sperry]
    [Maya Dale]
    [Patricia Van Ingen]
    SSN: 272225160
    Gender: Female
    Race: White
    Birth Date: 16 Sep 1925
    Birth Place: Toledo Lucas, Ohio
    [Toledo, Ohio]
    Death Date: 2 Feb 1999
    Father: John F Schmidt
    Mother: Elsie M Petee
    Type of Claim: Original SSN.
    Notes: Mar 1943: Name listed as PATRICIA CAROLINE SCHMIDT; Aug 1952: Name listed as PATRICIA DALE; 18 Jul 1975: Name listed as PAT SMILEY; 30 Jul 1975: Name listed as PATRICIA SPERRY; 30 Jul 1975: Name listed as MAYA DALE; 24 Aug 1984: Name listed as PATRICIA C VAN INGEN

    U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014
    Name: Patricia C. Van Ingen
    SSN: 272-22-5160
    Last Residence:
    90077 Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA
    BORN: 16 Sep 1925
    Died: 2 Feb 1999
    State (Year) SSN issued: Ohio (Before 1951)

    • Dan, Thanks for info on Patricia. Have you see the follow up I posted a few months ago? I am aware of most of aliases and also that she was going by the name Van Ingen back in the late 1950’s after she apparently married Bernard J. Van Ingen, a very prominent and wealthy New York attorney and financier. I’m not sure where “Smiley” came from, but “Dale” was a family name and “Sperry was the name of her first husband in Chicago. I recently learned that she appeared in a 1950’s TV show of Sgt. Preston of the Yukon as Maya Dale -playing the role of an Indian.

  7. Richard Keyser

    My aunt was Mrs. Irene Tilly Wasserman. She only completed 8th grade but was a dance teacher in Toledo. She was posssibly Patricia’s dance teacher.

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