Tiger Mike owned an independent exploration and production company in Houston during the boom days of the late 1970’s and early 80’s, and then directed his company through a volatile chapter 11 case during the depression in the oil and gas industry in the mid-80’s. I have always thought that one of the most impressive credentials of Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Edith Jones is that she represented Tiger Mike during his company’s chapter 11 case. Based on her representation of Tiger Mike alone, Edith definitely understands the challenge of representing a difficult client.
Legend has it that Tiger Mike was born in Lebanon, had no formal education and eventually emigrated to the US, where he was a cabbie in Denver. He was hired by wealthy Helen Bonfils’ husband and remained her chauffeur after his death, which eventually led to his marriage with the 70 year-old widow. After her death, Tiger Mike inherited a part of her fortune, which he invested in several drilling rigs that he later sold at a substantial profit. That was his stake into the exploration and production business, where he proceeded to drill 50-odd dry holes and spiraled into bankruptcy.
The stories of Tiger Mike resonate in Houston oil and gas circles to this day. At one point, Tiger Mike was allegedly carrying on a torrid affair with one of the McGuire sisters (a popular singing group from the 1960’s) at the same time as Ms McGuire was the mistress of Sam Giancana, the notorious Chicago Mafia boss. No one was ever quite sure whether Tiger Mike had Sam’s consent to that arrangement.
Another time, during a particularly difficult work-out negotiations over a botched drilling project, Tiger Mike waltzed into a conference room filled with creditors and their lawyers in his trademark one-piece khaki polyester leisure suit with white shoes and belt. He proceeded to throw his briefcase on the conference room table, grabbed a 45 caliber pistol out of the briefcase and slammed it on the table to the astonishment of everyone in the room.
“Now,”ù exclaimed Tiger Mike. “It’s time to deal!”ù
All of which is a prelude to the the always-observant Letters of Note‘s posting of the hilarious Tiger Mike Memos,ù a series of 22 interoffice memos that the “incredibly amusing, painfully tactless, and seemingly constantly angry”ù Tiger Mike sent to his employees over the years.ù
To those of us in Houston who remember Tiger Mike, none of them are surprising in the slightest. But they are fun. Enjoy!