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J. Oldshein, model for NYPD target, dead at 92

Another piece of NYPD history has passed on.

The retired lieutenant whose scowling face is believed to have been the model for "The Thug," a paper target that generations of police officers practiced their shooting on, died Jan. 16 in Boynton Beach, Fla. at the age of 92.

A funeral was held earlier this month in Delray Beach for Jesse Oldshein, according to a spokesman for Sinai Memorial Chapels. A newspaper death notice said Oldshein died on Jan. 16. No cause of death was given.

"He led a very good life," said his widow, Francine, of Boynton Beach. She said the couple was married for 60 years.

Oldshein, who retired from the NYPD in 1967, lived at various times in Queens, Lido Beach and Long Beach.

In November 2008, Newsday tracked down Oldshein and persuaded him to recall how he was asked one day at the police shooting range to pose for a picture in a boxing stance.

"Next thing I know, my face is on the target," Oldshein told Newsday.

The image of the grimacing, thuggish man pointing a handgun straight ahead was put on the "advanced silhouette" targets that officers shot at during target practice since the 1960s until it began to be phased out in the summer of 2008. Before Oldshein surfaced, the image was attributed to the likeness of actor Ernest Borgnine, boxer Rocky Graziano and a deceased sergeant named Fred Worell who worked as an instructor at the shooting range.

His son Mitchell, a doctor on Long Island, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

But retired Det. Harold Schiffer, who was instrumental in alerting Newsday two years ago to the story of Oldshein being the model for the target, called again to say his friend had died.

"He was a real fine guy, a good guy, from the police department of a bygone era," said Schiffer.

"He never really took credit for it," recalled Schiffer, speaking of the target.

While the visage on the target appeared tough and menacing, Oldshein wasn't anything like that in person, said Schiffer, 66. Schiffer, who retired in August as acting chief of police at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point recalled: "He was a sweetheart, a real nice guy with a sense of humor."

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