Showing posts with label Patrick Downey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Patrick Downey. Show all posts

08 February 2017

Coming soon...ish!

The Joe Petrosino story is coming to the big screen. To have your book sold to Hollywood before it is even released must be a very cool thing.

02 February 2017

La Smootch Mort IV



On June 7, 1930, a tugboat chugging through a drainage canal outside of Chicago churned up a body that had been weighted down with seventy-five pounds of iron. Inside the dead man’s suit was a photo of pretty girl with the inscription, “Gene, I’ll be loving you always, Maria.” Could Maria have been Mary Collins? According to one writer; yes. As the body sat on the slab waiting for identification, somebody called Tom McLaughlin, the president of the Checker Cab Company, and asked him if his younger brother, Eugene “Red” McLaughlin—the very same gangster who was arrested for the murder of  victim number two, Irv Schlig— was missing. Tom said that Red hadn’t been seen in two weeks. The caller then told him about what the police dragged out of the drainage canal and Tom raced over to the morgue. There he officially identified the corpse as his younger brother. Shown the photo Tom reportedly said, “Yes, that’s Mary all right. I told him she was poison and he would get his, if he went around with that skirt.” Apparently Red laughed off the curse, not realizing he was victim number six.
 
 #6

The seventh and final gangster to succumb to the Kiss of Death girl was Sam Katz, an extortionist who specialized in kidnapping gamblers and holding them for ransom. One day, Katz and Mary were picked up and taken in for questioning. In regards to the Kiss of Death curse, one of the detectives told Mary, “Why don’t you quit this bird. Give him a break—Let him alone.” Both the Kiss of Death girl and Katz laughed it off. Two months later on July 16, 1932, Katz and two accomplices showed up to a gambler's office to shake him down. The trio had already kidnapped his brother once, and they threatened to kidnap him if he didn’t come up with a payoff. The gambler called the police and a trap was set. When the gangsters showed up to collect their loot, the gambler gave them a hundred bucks. They told him to go get more, so he left his office and the police ran in. The gangsters were told to put up their hands but Katz went for his gun and received a fatal blast from a shotgun for doing so. His confederates too, were killed.
Headline for #7

 

01 February 2017

La Smootch Mort III


Th saga of the Kiss of Death Girl continues with victim number four. We are told that he was another North Side bootlegger, named John Phillips, who a Mary Collins chronicler tells us, was at a night club called the Northern Lights with Ms. Collins and a few others. Because of their raucous behavior, the police were called. Phillips and his cronies were quicker on the draw then the cops and the gangsters walked the officers out of the club at gunpoint. Before they could get too far however, reinforcements showed up and Phillips was killed in an ensuing shootout. A newspaper search found one mention to support this claim but an actual news story covering the shooting proved elusive. There was however, a bandit named John Phillips killed in Chicago in a shootout in 1931. Perhaps the journalist got his dates mixed up and took some dramatic license. 

Number five, David Jerus a.k.a “Jew Bates”, was also a pal of Dean O’Banion’s. By 1930 Jerus had relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio, but distance couldn’t protect him from the curse. On December 5 of that year, Jerus and a confederate named Coates, tried to take a guy for a ride in Covington, Kentucky. The intended victim however, had a gun and a will to live. Once in the back he seat he drew his gun and shot both Jerus and Coates, who managed to shoot him back. Jerus lingered for a bit before officially claiming the number five title.

Headline for #5

 

29 January 2017

La Smootch Mort II

In the previous installment we were introduced to Chicago's Kiss of Death Girl-Mary Collins and John Sheehy her first paramour to bite the dust.The distinction of being the second hoodlum to fall as a result of Mary Collins’s curse goes to North Side gang leader and pal of victim number one, Dean O’Banion, who was put on the spot the following November 10.  It was said that Collins and O’Banion were one time paramours. It was also suggested hat they may simply just been friends, so the reader can decide for themselves.

#2


Victim number three was the young—he never saw his twenty-second birthday—Mister Irving Schlig. Starting off with two cars, Schlig became a successful bootlegger. His gang’s modus operandi was to sell alcohol to crooked pharmacists and then come back the following night and steal it, and then sell it back to them.

Irving was also a progressive gangster attempting to take advantage of modern technology. He bought an airplane and paid a pilot to teach him to fly. After a mere two hours of flight training, Schlig flew to Canada for a cargo of booze. Unfortunately for the neophyte pilot, engine trouble on the return trip forced him down in a Kalamazoo, Michigan, cornfield. He destroyed his cargo lest he be caught with the goods. A month later he bought another plane and on August 27, 1925, he and an associate named Harry Berman took off for the airfield for another trip to Canada. The following morning they were found dead on the roadside near the airfield. Both had been shot through the back of the neck.

 #3

By the time of Schlig's murder, Mary’s ghastly reputation was already spreading through gangland. One of those picked up for the murder was gangster Eugene “Red” McLaughlin, who, when told that Mary was going to testify against him, stated, “If you drag that broad in you’ll never hang me. All her friends get the bump before they get the rope.” Red was eventually released for lack of evidence.

Coming up- Nos. 4 & 5...

28 January 2017

La Smootch Mort



Ah, the Prohibition Era; a time when a guy with a fast car, a dream, and a machine-gun, could make oodles of kale supplying an insatiable citizenry with their much desired clown juice. For a bootlegger, one of the grand things about having the grands in your pocket was being able to blow some of it on a jane before getting yourself dead.

For the gangsters of old, romance and death went together like gin and tonic, a situation that produced one of the semi-legendary figures to come out of this alcohol fueled epoch: The “Kiss of Death Girl”, so called because a large number of her paramours ended up on the slab. Lots of women lost their men to the gun but a “Kiss of Death Girl,” had more than the average bear. New York City had one and so did Chicago. We shall examine the Windy City’s hexed vixen first.

Her name was Mary Collins and she was a North Sider who became acquainted with the gangsters of her bailiwick in the early days of the Dry Era. The first of Mary’s fellas to end up with a toe tag was a friend and fellow gun man of North Side gang leader Dean O’Banion named John Sheehy.

Kiss of Death Girl a.k.a. Mary Collins

The end of Sheehy came in a speakeasy known as the Rendezvous on the evening of December 7, 1923. As the story goes, Sheehy simply asked for a bucket of ice and was told no by the waiter. Gangsters don’t like to hear no; so Sheehy went to the bar to fetch it himself, but again was told no. One writer put it that it was Mary, whose birthday they were celebrating, that wanted the ice so she could throw the cubes at the band’s drummer and this is why Sheehy’s request was denied.

Sheehy didn’t appreciate the inhospitable nature of both the waiter and club’s steward so pulled out his roscoe and killed them both. Before Sheehy and Mary had a chance to vacate the premises however, police arrived and Sheehy managed to wing one of them before catching a bullet himself and expiring the next day.

Headline for Sheehy shooting

In our next installment we'll meet victims #2 and #3 of the Kiss of Death Girl.

18 January 2017

Hollywood Homicide


Was back on this date in 1933 that Tinsel Town lost one of their, if not thee, top bootlegger. Booze baron Harry Meagher, said to have a number of Hollywood stars as both friends and customers,was pulling up to his home when neighbors heard a series of pops and then a crash.

See, what happened was somebody gave Harry the works while Harry was pulling up to his abode, then this somebody, who was in the passenger seat at the time, turned his gun and killed James North who was in the back seat. Or did he give North the works first and then kill Meagher? Either way the result was the same. The car jumped the curbed and crashed into a light post. The killer got away while Meagher and North stayed put.

Why did Harry get dead? Three reasons were offered so you can pick one:
1) Gangsters from Chicago (or other eastern parts) were muscling in on the lucrative L.A. scene and it was just to bad for the local boys.
2) Harry himself was expanding into Arizona and Utah and them local fellas there weren't to keen on the idea.
3) It was an attempted robbery gone wrong.

PS
That third guy in the headline? He was an ex-boxer named Mickey Arno. He was killed about the same time and his body was found under a bridge near Long Beach. Police thought he may have been an associate of Meagher, then, after awhile, they thought that maybe he wasn't an associate of Meagher's.  Could of just been one of the coincidences.

07 January 2017

The way of all gangster flesh

The final four years of Prohibition saw over two hundred New York City gangsters shot, garrotted, or stabbed to death with ice picks. Some simply vanished never to be seen again. My new ebook: ON THE SPOT: Gangland Murders in Prohibition New York City 1930-1933 brings these murders back in full detail. In addition to all of the bootleggers, drug dealers, gamblers and other underworld sorts who were "bumped off", "taken for a ride", and "put on the spot", the reader will learn about the victims of the gang wars fought between Dutch Schultz and Vincent Coll, Waxey Gordon and the Bugsy Seigel - Meyer Lansky mob, the Mafia's Castellammarese War and the battle waged between Brooklyn's Shapiro Brothers and the boys from Murder, Inc. Over two hundred gangland executions are discussed, most for the first time since they occurred all those years ago.



05 January 2017

Hooray for Hollywood!



On this date in 1933 movie star Betty Compson was playing cards with producer E.D. Leshin in her Los Angeles home. The doorbell rang, and when Compson answered it, a gunman forced his way in. The actress and producer were forced upstairs into Betty’s bedroom where both were bound with piano wire and had tape placed over their mouths. 
The bandit helped himself to over $40,000 worth of jewelry and escaped. Fifteen minutes later Compson wriggled free and untied Leshin. The police were called and she filed a report. The following day, detectives came to question her further, but she told them that she had changed her mind and didn’t want the police to pursue the case. Detectives stated that she received a phone call from the robber threatening her during their visit. She denied it, stating only that she feared for her safety.  In the end, the bandit reached out to her lawyer and the jewelry was returned to the actress.  Although she denied it, the police felt that the robber had ransomed back the jewelry.
Being a star during Hollywood’s golden-years wasn’t always sunshine and champagne.

28 December 2016

They gave at the office

Eighty-five years ago today, Philadelphia gangsters Sam Grossman and Al Skale sat in the office of their second-story gambling and drinking resort, the "Jewish Social Cub." It was located at the south east corner of Girard Avenue and Watts Street. Sam and Al were former lieutenants in gangster Mickey Duffy's gang. Former because Mickey was rubbed out in an Atlantic City hotel the previous summer. Both Grossman and Skale had been picked up as material witnesses and were currently out on bail.

Grossman sat at the desk, Skale  perched on top. They may have been divvying up the nights receipts as the former had $1,000 in his hand as five armed-men entered the club and headed directly for the office. Once inside the quintet played a hot number with their .38s. No encore required.

Police were pretty quick to respond. When they entered the office, they found Grossman keeled over the desk, that grand tight in one fist a gun in the other. His eyes were glazing over but, not wanting to take any chances, a cop knocked the gun from his hand. Skale was blown off the desk and found floundering on the floor amidst $400 in small bills and an ever increasing puddle of his own blood.
"Who shot you?", a cop asked,
"[expletive of your choosing] that. I don't know. Get me out of here."
Grossman was questioned but either couldn't or wouldn't respond.

Both men were taken to the hospital where they died a short time later.

                                            Skale (l) and Grossman (r) prior to perforation.

01 December 2016

He Done Her Wrong

When one thinks of the Golden Age of Hollywood, one doesn’t normally think about crime but Hollywood’s top stars lived with a constant fear that they could become the victims of armed robbers, extortionist or kidnappers. One of the most preyed upon movie stars was Mae West. She was the victim of both extortionists and armed bandits. Regarding the latter, in 1932 Mae was set up by a man named Harry Voiler, whom she considered to be a friend. Voiler was the manager of famed speakeasy hostess Tex Guinan and had ties to Chicago’s underworld. He moved to Hollywood in 1932 along with Guinan in search of Hollywood riches.
A bad guy at heart, Voiler just couldn’t help himself when it came to easy dough. Because Mae’s limousine was in the garage Voiler took to chauffeuring the actress around. On one occasion Mae opened her purse and pulled out a wad of $3,400. This plus the thousands in jewelry that Mae was always draped in was too much for Voiler to ignore. Knowing that he would be driving her around that night he got in touch with a couple of Los Angeles hoodlums and set up a robbery.  That evening, September 28, Voiler picked up Mae at the Paramount Studios and drove her and her manager back to Mae’s house. As Mae’s manager ran up to her apartment to feed her pet monkey, a man stepped up to the car and jerked open Mae’s door. With a gun hidden under a handkerchief, he demanded Mae’s purse and her jewelry.  Once he got what he was after he he told Voiler to take off.
Mae wanted to go to the police but Voiler said that she should wait to see if the robbers try to ransom back her jewelry, he even volunteered to act as her go between,  so the star agreed to wait. In the following weeks Voiler said that the bandits were willing to negotiate and that he would have to fly to Arizona to meet with them, so Mae sent him. Once there he called Mae and said that they had all her jewelry and were demanding $3,200 for it and were not willing to negotiate. Mae refused. With his plan backfired, Voiler was forced to sell the stuff elsewhere.
After the incident with Voiler Mae went to the police and, although it took over a year, Voiler was finally uncovered as the master mind behind the crime. Unfortunately for Mae, by that time, he was back in Chicago and the police were unable to extradite him.
                        Mae West shows the underworld that they won't be able to mess with her.

03 November 2016

Luck was no lady to Harry

Ah, the carefree life of a gambler. All you need is a suitcase and a trunk and in the case of Chicago gambler Harry Teuber, eyes in the back of the head would have come in handy. For it was eighty-three years ago today that Harry was seated at a table in a barbershop getting a manicure. While a young lady polished his digits another, named Annette, who polished other parts of Harry, waited in a barber's chair.

Through the back door of the barber shop crept a man with gun and a grudge, or, possibly just orders from above to remove Harry from Chicago's underworld. The gunman slunk through the rear of the shop, stuck his pistol through a partition and fired four shots into Harry's noggin. Slump went Harry across the table. The manicurist jumped up horrified, Harry's girlfriend jumped up and skedaddled. The gunman escaped out the back.

Harry's wife, who wasn't named Annette, identified him at the morgue. Police found the apartment he shared with his other significant other, the aforementioned Annette, and there they learned that her father worked at an upscale gambling joint called the 225 Club. The owner of which went the way of Harry the previous month. That seemed to be enough for the cops to chalk the murder up to "gamblers feud".