This daughter was her father's darling. Most men want a son to hand down their name as well as their profession. Not so with Victor Lustig. He would not hand down his profession to anyone, but he would love a little daughter. "So it must be a girl," he told his wife as he bade her goodbye on her way to California. And after she came according to order, he loved her, was always proud of her. When he did not always acknowledge his wife and daughter publicly, it was not that he was ashamed of them, it was to protect them.
He gave his little daughter a long list of lovely names and had them all registered in Germany, but his favorite name for her was Skeezix, after the comic book character.
"I believe that was why I was always so close to my father," his daughter said in later years. "It was because he wanted me. I loved my father and my mother both. They told me that I never cried when they held me. But I felt most loved when my father said, 'My little Skeezix'. He was a tender man in many ways."
Betty Jean was taught from an early age never to talk about her father. If someone asked where he was, she was always to say, "I don't know." And she usually didn't know. Because their lives were always in danger, Roberta and little 'Skeezix' always had a body guard with them, either Tony or Grace.
Victor's many friends were still trying to persuade him to give up his illegal, precarious business. Tom Kearney in St. Louis never stopped talking to him about it. Van in New York had already offered him a high public office if he would change. Walter Winchell and Lionel Moise both pleaded with him to get out of the racket. Lionel, bitter at first over Roberta's blatant rejection that night she met Victor at the party in Kansas City, had become their friend. A New York banker spent hours pointing out the advantages of working for him at a top salary, and Roberta kept saying, "Please, Vic, give it a try."
Tom Mix and Rudy Valentino knew him and tried in vain to persuade him to give it all up. Tom was walking with him one day on Tom's ranch and said suddenly: "You can ride horses, Vic. I could make a real cowboy out of you in the movies. Give it all up and try acting."
"No use, Tom. My acting pays better than yours. And the only horses I am interested in are those on the race track."
Walter Winchell said to him: "You are an intelligent man, Vic. You could study, take the tests and become an American citizen. Then you could teach languages, history, many things. You have a knowledge that is wasted."
Victor's answer was always: "I would be bored to death behind a desk. I could never do it." It was true, dollar-wise, but in the long run, he found out later, too late, it might have been a good idea after all.