Throwback Thursday: When We Published Famous Bostonians’ Salaries

Boston magazine's February 1975 list included pitchers, politicians, pimps, and everyone in between.


Boston has changed quite a bit in the last 40 years, perhaps best evidenced by Mayor Kevin White, Mr. X the dope pusher, and Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski listed beside one another in a Boston magazine feature on how much they and other prominent Bostonians make.

For our February 1975 issue, Janet Davidson and Gail Kelley went around town asking folks in both the public and private sectors their current salaries. Of course, a question as taboo as income presented some difficulty:

Many of the people approached by Boston Magazine were willing to volunteers their incomes, but said they were afraid of the consequences. If they thought they earned more than co-workers at an advertising agency, for instance, where there are many variations at the same job level, they didn’t want to stir up resentment. If they thought they earned less than their friends, as one bank manager lamented, they didn’t want them to know it. And, if they realized they were overpaid, as one executive of a nonprofit agency admitted, they didn’t want their staffs to know it.

Some figures were easier to pin down than others, given any number of bonuses, stock options, book royalties, and lecture fees separate from base salaries. Despite “several threats,” Davidson and Kelley compiled an eclectic list full of surprises and relics from Boston’s past (anyone remember The Real Paper?)

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 10.05.58 AM“Theoretically, there are a lot of salaries that are public information. In practice, our public servants have their wages well hidden in reams of government files. Some of the records in the State House are over fifteen feet above the floor and accessible only by rickety ladders,” the pair wrote. “In theory, wages of the officials of public institutions should be available to any member who’s various where his membership dues are directed.

“In practice, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has allowed charities and other publicly funded nonprofit groups to lump their salaries under the title of ‘administrative costs’—and a good number of them, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Museum of Fine Arts, have taken advantage of the opportunity. Finding out how much their directors make is only a bit more difficult than obtaining a copy of the Watergate tapes.”

Maybe our public records problem extends further back than we thought.

Some highlights from the list:

  • “Apollo,” Combat Zone Pimp: $30,000
  • Red Auerbach, Celtics President and General Manager: $100,000
  • Mr. B, Clairvoyant: $14,000
  • Derek Bok, President, Harvard University: $85,000
  • Tommy Butt (Author’s note: Ha!)Oyster Shucker, Union Oyster House: $2,200 (plus Social Security benefits)
  • Michael DukakisGovernor: $40,000
  • Phil EspositoForward, Boston Bruins: $125,000
  • John Havlicek, Forward, Boston Celtics: $250,000
  • Robert HillFish Market Clerk, Legal Seafoods: $6,240
  • Jack Hynes, Newscaster, WCVB-TV: $75,000 (and stock options)
  • Edward M. Kennedy, United States Senator: $42,000
  • Mike Lupica, Freelance Sports Writer: $17,000
  • George H. McDermott, Doorkeeper, State Senate: $17,965
  • David Moran, Managing Editor, Boston Phoenix$13,000
  • Albert L. “Dapper” O’NeilBoston City Councilman: $12,500
  • Bobby Orr, Defenseman, Boston Bruins: $125,000
  • “Patty,” Call Girl: $25,000
  • Jim Plunkett, New England Patriots Quarterback: $65,000
  • Alexis Ramirez, Playboy Bunny: $9,000
  • Robert M. Rosenberg, President, Dunkin Donuts: $67,200
  • John I. Taylor, President, Boston Globe$106,666
  • Luis Tiant, Pitcher, Boston Red Sox: $75,000
  • Vicky, Telephone Operator: $6,162
  • Kevin White, Mayor of Boston: $40,000
  • Mr. X, Dope Pusher: $41,000
  • Carl Yastrzemski, First Baseman, Boston Red Sox: $175,000

You can read “Who Makes How Much?” from our February 1975 issue below: