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Time machine: The death of ‘Specs’ O’Keefe, Brink’s robber

March 27, 1976: Joseph J. “Specs” O’Keefe, who took part in the celebrated 1950 Brink’s heist then turned informer, died in California at age 67. It should be noted that the reason for his demise was listed as natural causes, since he lived under a series of assumed names and faced the constant threat of gangland retribution for testifying against eight fellow bandits. in the North End robbery.

According to his obituary in the Globe, O’Keefe — known for his natty attire — carved out a new life on the West Coast, even working for a time as a valet and chauffeur for Cary Grant. The movie star apparently was unaware of O’Keefe’s shady past.


The year before his death, the Globe reported, O’Keefe confided that he longed for the day when he could shed his anonymity. “I’m tired of not being myself,” he said. “It would be like coming out of a cave.’’