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Yesterday in La Crosse

A reformed conman teaches businesses to look out for tricks, 39 years ago

Brad Williams



In December of 1980, Gateway Foods brought Frank Abagnale to La Crosse for a seminar on how to watch for bad checks and other scams.  Abagnale would become famous years later, when Leonardo DiCaprio played him in the movie “Catch Me If You Can.”  Abagnale had faked his way into different jobs and wrote many phony checks himself before going straight.   

A La Crosse woman hit it big on “Hollywood Squares” in 1980.  Gale Yarber was a waitress at the Party House in La Crosse, who won $9000, a trip to Miami, and a Caribbean cruise on the game show.  It was still the original version of “Squares” with Peter Marshall and Paul Lynde that had been on the air since 1966, but by 1980, the show had moved to a Vegas resort.   

UW-L theater professor Richard Tinapp was onstage in 1980, instead of directing a show.  Tinapp played the lead in a La Crosse Community Theatre production of the comedy “Tribute.”  The newly-formed Heart of La Crosse comedy group was at the Pump House, performing its first Christmas show, “Crisco Kringle, or Wesson 10 Shopping Days ’till Christmas.”     

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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