One Year: 1986

Season 3: Episode 7

The Man From Fifth Avenue

The stranger-than-fiction story of a mysterious American who starred in a Soviet propaganda film.


Episode Notes

Episode Notes

After Joe Mauri gets evicted from his New York apartment, he becomes a star in the USSR, the subject of a documentary about the injustices of capitalism. But this Cold War icon was using the Soviets just as much as they used him.

This episode of One Year was produced by Evan Chung, Sam Kim, Yana Pashaeva, Sophie Summergrad, Madeline Ducharme, and Josh Levin.

Derek John is senior supervising producer of narrative podcasts and Merritt Jacob is senior technical director.

Sources for This Episode


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Satter, David. Age of Delirium: The Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union, A. A. Knopf, 1996.


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Andronov, Iona. “Letters to the editor,” Washington Post, Dec. 23, 1975.

Barringer, Felicity. ” ’Homeless’ New Yorker: Postscript in Soviet,” New York Times, Aug. 11, 1986.

Boorstin, Robert O. “Guest of Soviet Back With Plea for More Homes,” New York Times, Sept. 1, 1986.

Boorstin, Robert O. “New Yorker in a Russian’s-Eye View of the City,” New York Times, April 9, 1986.

“Con Man From Fifth Avenue,” New York Daily News, Aug. 14, 1986.

Cooney, John E. “Soviet Newsman Here is Less Than Objective in His Reports Home,” Wall Street Journal, Aug. 29, 1979.

Dorfman, Ron. “Media bias hinders relations,” Columbia Record, March 21, 1987.

Duggan, Dennis. “A ‘Homeless’ Man With Places to Go,” Newsday, Aug. 14, 1986.

Duggan, Dennis. “New York Diary: Mauri: I’m No Cheat, No Commie,” Newsday, Sept. 4, 1986.

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Fulman, Ricki. “Council hits eviction of jobless man,” New York Daily News, April 5, 1985.

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” ‘Homeless’ American in Russia reveals he has job, home,” United Press International, Aug. 11, 1986.

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Kandel, Bethany. “Unknown New Yorker Becomes Celebrity in Soviet Union,” Associated Press, Aug. 2, 1986.

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“Man From Fifth Avenue Returns to United States,” Associated Press, Aug. 31, 1986.

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Milligan, Susan. “Landlady slams Joe; says his name is on lease,” New York Daily News, Sept. 3, 1986.

Newspaper: Evicted ‘Man From Fifth Avenue’ Has Two Homes,” Associated Press, Aug. 12, 1986.

“Newspaper: Moscow’s ‘Man From Fifth Avenue’ Could Make 35K,” Associated Press, Aug. 11, 1986.

Olsen, Ken. “ ‘Man From Fifth Avenue’ Big Hit in Moscow,” Associated Press, Aug. 6, 1986.

Palmer, Thomas. “From 3 cases, a question: Is the press too gullible?,” Boston Globe, Aug. 15, 1986.

Parshall, Gerald. “An Amerikanski superstar,” U.S. News & World Report, Aug. 25, 1986.

“Professional Help,” Wall Street Journal, Aug. 12, 1986.

Remnick, David. “America: Love It Or Loathe It,” New York Times Magazine, June 6, 1993.

Ross, Barbara. “2 abodes? Say it ain’t so, Joe,” New York Daily News, Aug. 12, 1986.

Ross, Barbara. “Snow job on Sovs,” New York Daily News, Aug. 9, 1986.

Ross, Barbara. “Yank in Sov could be 1 home less,” New York Daily News, Aug. 14, 1986.

“Soviet Visitor Defends Himself As a Patriot, Not a Traitor,” Associated Press, Sept. 2, 1986.

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Taubman, Philip. “Through a Soviet Lens: Gomorrah on Hudson,” New York Times, April 7, 1986.

The Great Pretender,” Time, Aug. 25, 1986.

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Trehub, Aaron. “The homeless: down and out in the USSR,” Christian Science Monitor, May 19, 1988.

White, Michael. “Defective defector angers New York: ‘Jobless’ New Yorker Joseph Mauri’s visit to Soviet Union,” the Guardian, Aug. 13, 1986.

“‘Wish You Were Here’ at Muny Opera,” St. Louis Post Dispatch, July 30, 1961.

Zarakhovich, Yuri. “Love in the Time of Cold War,” Time, June 20, 2004.


About the Show

The people and struggles that changed America—one year at a time. In each episode, host Josh Levin explores a story you may have forgotten, or one you’ve never heard of before. What were the moments that transformed politics, culture, science, religion, and more? And how does the nation’s past shape our present?

The third season of One Year covers 1986, a year when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, the mystery of Al Capone’s vaults got solved, and a sea lion named Herschel caused chaos in Seattle.

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