THIS WAS AN ARTICLE WHICH CAME OUT YESTERDAY IN THE NEW YORK SUN NEWSPAPER. AMAZING
Paris Theodore, 63, Inventor of Spy Weaponry
By STEPHEN MILLER Staff Reporter of the Sun
Paris Theodore, who died November 16 at 63, was a holster-maker, gun inventor, and clandestine manufacturer of weapons meant to kill men without leaving a trace.
With a secret laboratory located behind a safe at his Seventrees, Ltd. holster shop in the garment district, Theodore evoked comparisons to a fictional master of lethal gadgetry, Q, from the James Bond books. If the stories told by associates and family contain even a few grains of truth, the comparison would have to include 007 himself, because many people think Theodore worked as an assassin for government agencies so secret they don’t even have names. He never told.
Government documents show that he was specially exempted from all provisions of the National Firearms Act, which was necessary for pursuing research into his “Uzi in a briefcase” — a gun that could fire from within a briefcase. He developed a working cigarette lighter that would spray three .22 rounds in a pinch. He called it a “Zappo.” For the FBI, he produced a clipboard to be used by a hostage negotiator that could fire a dozen rounds.
But Theodore’s most important invention may have been the ASP pistol, a sleek, lightweight, 9 mm handgun that became de rigueur for government agents needing a concealable weapon. First produced in the early 1970s, the ASP (named for a subsidiary company, Armaments Systems Procedures Corp.) became a gun world legend for innovations like its clear Lexan window in the stock, which allowed the user to determine how much ammunition was left, and the “Guttersnipe” sight, a beveled channel running down the top of the gun.
“It was the first service-caliber sidearm in pocket size,” a former Army lieutenant colonel who served in Special Operations Forces in Vietnam and later became an instructor in specialized weaponry at Fort Bragg, N.C., Rob Jones, said. “All of a sudden today the gun market is filled with subcompact weapons in service calibers.”
Mr. Jones and others also credit Theodore with challenging decades of conventional wisdom, epitomized by human-profile shooting targets with a bull’s eye on the chest, about the best place to aim to stop a foe. Theodore insisted that it was better to aim for the central nervous system — the spine, the head, and the medulla oblongata at the base of the skull.
“There is no such thing as knockdown power. It is a figment of the collective imagination of the Hollywood scriptwriters,” Theodore once wrote, addressing the common misperception that the sheer force of a .45 slug can knock a man down.In 1985,he patented parts of what became known as the Quell system, a shooting protocol that included a distinctive,two-handed shooting pose and a line of targets with vital areas outlined.
“He was essentially an artist,” said Michael Hershman,president of the Fairfax Group,an international global intelligence and investigative security company based in Virginia. “That gave him a perspective that others didn’t have. If he was working with a poison, what sort of vehicle would transport it best?”
Theodore had several answers to that question, including a bee-sting antidote kit, a tube of toothpaste, and a single strand of fiber optic cable fired into a victim’s scalp.
But then Theodore came from a creative family. His mother, Nenette Charisse, was a vaudeville dancer and ballet instructor, and his aunt, Cyd Charisse, was a dance legend. His father, John Theodore, was a sculptor and art professor, and his stepfather, after his parents divorced, was Robert Tucker, a choreographer.
Paris Theodore took up painting and also appeared on Broadway as the character Nibs in the 1954 production of “Peter Pan,” starring Mary Martin. He was paid $15,000 for four months’ work, his son Ali Theodore said. It was the last money he ever earned that the IRS was aware of, yet somehow he managed to raise a family on Park Avenue.
Shortly after graduating from the Browning School, Theodore was apparently recruited as a courier by clandestine services. Stories from ensuing years link him to violent encounters in Greece, Africa, and Vietnam, although nothing can be verified. In Czechoslovakia, a longtime friend at a large metropolitan police department, Steve Minguez, said,Theodore was wounded, captured, and then escaped.
Part of the reason he was involved in so much violence,Mr.Minguez said,was that the clandestine services leaked his name while using him as a decoy to cover for other operations.“They were surprised when he came back.”
By 1966, perhaps tiring of the danger,Theodore founded Seventrees, Ltd. Soon he was producing innovative holsters, as well as all sorts of what were called “unique defense devices.”There were binoculars that could shoot .38 rounds, gun silencers, knives that attached to the soles of shoes, and a type of explosive that acquaintances said would detonate in total silence.
Theodore did business with multiple government agencies and also sold holsters and weapons to police officers and people with jobs in private security. But the clandestine weapons work was more or less ended by the Church Committee hearings into CIA operations in 1975.Theodore testified, but in a closed session.
Mr. Hershman of the Fairfax Group escorted Theodore to the session.When they came to the metal detector outside the Senate office building, Mr. Hershman said,Theodore balked — normally he was permitted to walk around metal detectors, but not here. “I’m packing,” he told Mr. Hershman. Irritated at this breach of protocol,Mr.Hershman asked him where he had secreted the weapon. “It’s behind my tie,”Theodore said.
His weapons lab shut down,Theodore began working on gun training, and also filed lawsuits against manufacturers for infringing on his gun and holster patents. In the late 1980s, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and spent most of the past decade bedridden.
One of his sons, Paris Kain, has been putting together a documentary of what can be reconstructed about his father’s shadowy career. In it, Theodore, speaking with effort, confirms practically nothing about his covert missions. But when discussing his contributions to unique defense devices, he smiles broadly and proclaims, “I was Q!”
Born January 9, 1943, in New York; died November 16 at St. Luke’s Hospital in Manhattan of complications from multiple sclerosis; survived by his sons, Ali Theodore, Said Theodore, and Paris Kain. His wife, Lee Becker, a well-known choreographer, died in 1987