Meyer Harris "Mickey" Cohen (September 4, 1913 – July 29, 1976) was an American gangster based in Los Angeles and boss of the Cohen crime family. He also had strong ties to the Italian American Mafia from the 1930s through 1960s.
Cohen's 1961 mugshot
Meyer Harris Cohen
September 4, 1913
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Died||July 29, 1976 (aged 62)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery, Culver City, California|
|Occupation||Crime boss, gangster|
|Known for||Boss of the Cohen crime family|
|Height||5 ft 5 in (165 cm)|
|Title||"King of Los Angeles"|
Lavonne Weaver (m. 1940)
Mickey Cohen was born on September 4, 1913, into an Orthodox Jewish family living in the Jewish Brownsville section of Brooklyn. His mother Fanny, who had become widowed in September 1914, had emigrated from Kiev, Ukraine. Soon, however, Fanny moved her family to the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. At age 6, Mickey was selling newspapers on the street; one of his brothers, Louie or Harry, would drop him off at his regular corner, Soto and Brooklyn Streets (now Cesar E. Chavez Avenue). In 1922, petty crime landed Mickey in reform school.
As a teenager, Cohen began boxing in illegal prizefights in Los Angeles. In 1929, the 15-year-old moved from Los Angeles to Cleveland, Ohio, to train as a professional boxer. His first professional boxing match was on April 8, 1930, against Patsy Farr in Cleveland. It was one of the preliminary fights on the card for the Paul Pirrone/Jimmy Goodrich feature bout. On April 11, 1933, Cohen fought against Chalky Wright in Los Angeles. Wright won the match, and Mickey was incorrectly identified as "Mickey Cohen from Denver, Colorado" in the Los Angeles Times sports page report. His last fight was on May 14, 1933, against Baby Arizmendi in Tijuana, Mexico.
In a match on June 12, 1931, Cohen fought and lost against World Featherweight Champion Tommy Paul, having been knocked out cold after 2:20 into the first round. It was during this round he earned the moniker "Gangster Mickey Cohen".
In Cleveland, Cohen met Lou Rothkopf, a member of Moe Dalitz's outfit. Cohen later moved to New York, where he became an associate of labor racketeer Johnny Dio's brother, Tommy Dioguardi, and with Owney Madden. Finally, Cohen went to Chicago, where he ran a gambling operation for the Chicago Outfit, Al Capone's powerful criminal organization.
During Prohibition, Cohen moved to Chicago and became involved in organized crime, working as an enforcer for the Chicago Outfit, where he briefly met Al Capone. During this period Cohen was arrested for his role in the deaths of several gangsters in a card game that went wrong.
After a brief time in prison, Cohen was released and began running card games and other illegal gambling operations. He later became an associate of Capone's younger brother, Mattie Capone. While working for Jake Guzik, Cohen was forced to flee Chicago after an argument with a rival gambler.
In Cleveland, Cohen again worked for Lou Rothkopf, an associate of Meyer Lansky and Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel. However, there was little work available for Cohen in Cleveland, so Lansky and Rothkopf arranged for him to work with Siegel in Los Angeles.
In 1939, Cohen arrived in Los Angeles to work under "Bugsy" Siegel. During their association, Cohen helped set up the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas and ran its sports book operation. He also was instrumental in setting up the race wire, which was essential to Vegas betting. During this time, Cohen met prostitute Lavon Weaver (working alias Simoni King), and the couple married in 1940.
In 1947, the crime families ordered the murder of Siegel due to his mismanagement of the Flamingo Hotel, most likely because Siegel or his girlfriend Virginia Hill were skimming money. According to one account which does not appear in newspapers, Cohen reacted violently to Siegel's murder. Entering the Hotel Roosevelt, where he believed the killers were staying, Cohen fired rounds from his two .45 caliber semi-automatic handguns into the lobby ceiling and demanded that the assassins meet him outside in 10 minutes. However, no one appeared, and Cohen was forced to flee when the police arrived.
Cohen's violent methods came to the attention of state and federal authorities investigating Jack Dragna's operations. During this time, Cohen faced many attempts on his life, including the bombing of his home on posh Moreno Avenue in Brentwood. Cohen soon converted his house into a fortress, installing floodlights, alarm systems, and a well-equipped arsenal kept, as he often joked, next to his 200 tailor-made suits. Cohen briefly hired bodyguard Johnny Stompanato before Stompanato was killed by Cheryl Crane, the daughter of actress Lana Turner. Cohen bought a cheap coffin for Stompanato's funeral and then gave Turner's love letters to Stompanato to the press.
In 1950, Cohen was investigated along with numerous other underworld figures by a U.S. Senate committee known as the Kefauver Commission. As a result of this investigation, Cohen was convicted of tax evasion in June 1951 and sentenced to prison for four years.
In Ben Hecht's autobiography, A Child of the Century, he says that Cohen called him to say he wanted to do his part in helping Hecht raise money to support Menachem Begin's Irgun in its fight for Israel's independence. Cohen called together a parlor meeting of people who did business with him and had Hecht address them on the importance of the cause. Each person was then asked to call out a sum he would donate. In some cases, Cohen told a donor "that's not enough" and they upped the pledge. Later, when Cohen was arrested, he called Hecht from prison to ask if he had access to some cash to help with his bail. When Hecht apologized, Cohen politely said goodbye, and they never spoke again.
When he was released in October 1955, he became an international celebrity. He ran floral shops, paint stores, nightclubs, casinos, gas stations, a men's haberdashery, and even drove an ice cream van on San Vicente Boulevard in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, according to author Richard Lamparski.
In 1957, TIME magazine wrote a brief article about Cohen's meeting with Billy Graham. Cohen said, "I am very high on the Christian way of life. Billy came up, and before we had food he said—What do you call it, that thing they say before food? Grace? Yeah, grace. Then we talked a lot about Christianity and stuff." Allegedly when Cohen did not change his lifestyle, he was confronted by some Christian acquaintances. His response: "Christian football players, Christian cowboys, Christian politicians; why not a Christian gangster?"
In 1961, Cohen was again convicted of tax evasion and sent to Alcatraz. He was the only prisoner ever bailed out of Alcatraz; his bond was signed by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. After his appeals failed, Cohen was sent to a federal prison in Atlanta, Georgia. His heavily armored Cadillac from this period was confiscated by the Los Angeles Police Department and is now on display at the Southward Car Museum in New Zealand. On August 14, 1963, during his time at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, inmate Burl Estes McDonald attempted to kill Cohen with a lead pipe. In 1972, Cohen was released from the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, where he had spoken out against prison abuse. He had been misdiagnosed with an ulcer, which turned out to be stomach cancer. After undergoing surgery, he continued touring the United States and made television appearances, once with Ramsey Clark.
What particularly enraged Cohen was that Turner refused to pay for her ex-lover's funeral and Cohen had to foot the bill. He bought a cheap wooden coffin for Stompanato. Then, he vindictively gave the press Turner's love letters to Stompanato.
| Cohen crime family
Organized crime was particularly active in its heyday of the 1950s. The year 1951 saw a number of notable organized crime events, including the conviction of mobster Mickey Cohen for tax evasion.Candy Barr
Candy Barr (July 6, 1935 – December 30, 2005) was an American stripper, burlesque dancer, actress, and adult model in men's magazines of the mid-20th century.During the 1950s she received nationwide attention for her stripping career in Dallas, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas; her troubles with the law; shooting her estranged second husband; and being arrested and sentenced to a prison term for drug possession. She had relationships with Mickey Cohen and Jack Ruby.After serving three years in prison, Barr began a new life in South Texas. She briefly returned to stripping in the late 1960s, posed for Oui magazine in the 1970s, and then retired. In the early 1980s, Barr was acknowledged in the magazine Texas Monthly as one of history's "perfect Texans", along with other Texans including Lady Bird Johnson.Cohen crime family
The Cohen crime syndicate, or the Siegel crime syndicate, was an Italian-American Mafia / Jewish Mafia crime family created by New York Jewish American mobster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel in the early 1930s. Siegel ran Los Angeles and later Las Vegas' illegal gambling and prostitution rings with his lieutenants Mickey Cohen, David Berman, Harold "Hooky" Rothman, Moe Sedway and boss of the L.A. family Jack Dragna.
Although founded and largely run by Jewish mobsters, the family was often considered to be a part of the Italian-American Mafia, due in part to Siegel and Cohen's associations with the Italian New York and Chicago families. Furthermore, although many of the Cohen family's most high-ranking members and "soldiers" were Jewish gangsters, a large part of the Cohen family's members were ultimately Italian-American. The Cohen family also adopted the Italian Mafia's machismo culture and operated under the Italian Mafia's structure, rules, and customs, such as omertà. However, uniquely, the family generally did not employ the traditional Italian Mafia "made" man system, a system that involves an exclusive Mafia initiation ritual used to induct only men of Italian ethnicity into the Italian-American Mafia. The traditional Italian Mafia initiation ritual was incompatible with the multi-ethnic nature of the family, as the ritual would inherently exclude the many Jewish-American members of the Cohen Family from obtaining high ranking within the family.
After Siegel's murder in June 1947, his chief lieutenant Mickey Cohen inherited his rackets, thus making Cohen a crime boss in the criminal underworld, causing a power struggle between him and the boss of the LA crime family Jack Dragna, another lieutenant in Siegel's organization. This would lead to a war breaking out between the two organizations in the Hollywood and West Hollywood neighborhoods of Los Angeles, dubbed the "battle of Sunset Strip" by media.
The organization was allied with the Five Mafia Families—specifically the Luciano crime family—in New York, the Chicago Outfit in Chicago, and the Dragna crime family in Los Angeles (prior to Siegel's death). Cohen's family was the primary target for organized crime police squads, particularly the LAPD squad ran by Police Chief Bill Parker called the Gangster Squad, who also targeted Jack Dragna and the family during pre-Cohens reign.
The family was ruled by Cohen from 1947 to 1961, in which he was arrested and convicted on charges of tax evasion twice. After his second conviction in 1961, the family was essentially decimated, with its administration either in prison or deceased.Gangster Squad (LAPD)
The Gangster Squad (later known as the Organized Crime Intelligence Division (OCID)) was a special unit created by the Los Angeles Police Department in 1946 to keep the East Coast Mafia and organized crime elements out of Los Angeles.Gangster Squad (film)
Gangster Squad is a 2013 American action crime thriller film directed by Ruben Fleischer, written by Will Beall and starring Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Nick Nolte, Emma Stone, Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi, Robert Patrick, Michael Peña and Sean Penn. Set in 1949, the plot is a fictionalized account of the LAPD officers and detectives called the "Gangster Squad" who attempt to keep Los Angeles safe from Mickey Cohen and his gang.
The film was originally set to be released September 7, 2012, but in the wake of the 2012 Aurora shooting, the film was pushed back to a January 11, 2013 release date by Warner Bros. in order to accommodate reshoots. It received mixed reviews and grossed $105 million worldwide.Hooky Rothman
Harold "Hooky" Rothman (1910 – August 18, 1948), also known as Harry Rothman, was a Jewish mobster and mob enforcer who was the right-hand man of Los Angeles kingpin Mickey Cohen during "The Battle of Sunset Strip" for the control of illegal activities in Las Vegas and Los Angeles.Jack Whalen
Jack Whalen (May 11, 1918 – December 2, 1959), also called Jack O'Hara and "The Enforcer," was a criminal and freelance contract killer and bookie, who worked for the Los Angeles crime family, although he also was associated with Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, the Shannon brothers (Joe, Izzy, Moe, and Max) and Mickey Cohen during the 1940s and 1950s.Jeremy Luke
Jeremy Luke (born March 23, 1977) is an American actor, best known for his roles in Jersey Shore Shark Attack, Don Jon and as Mickey Cohen in the TNT series Mob City.Jewish-American organized crime
Jewish-American organized crime emerged within the American Jewish community during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It has been referred to variously in media and popular culture as the Jewish Mob, Jewish Mafia, Kosher Mafia, Kosher Nostra, or Undzer Shtik (Yiddish: אונדזער שטיק). The last two of these terms are direct references to the Italian Cosa Nostra; the former is a play on the word kosher, referring to Jewish dietary laws; while the latter is a direct translation of the Italian phrase Cosa Nostra (Italian for "our thing") into Yiddish, which was at the time the predominant language of the Jewish diaspora in the United States.
In the late 19th century in New York City, Monk Eastman operated a powerful Jewish gang that competed with Italian and Irish gangs, notably Paul Kelly's Five Points Gang, for control of New York City's underworld. Another notorious gang, known as the Lenox Avenue Gang, led by Harry "Gyp the Blood" Horowitz, consisted of mostly Jewish members and some Italian members (such as Francesco Cirofisi). It was one of the most violent gangs of the early 20th century and became famous for the murder of gambler and gangster Herman Rosenthal.
In the early 1920s, stimulated by the economic opportunities of the roaring twenties, and later prohibition, Jewish organized crime figures such as Arnold Rothstein were controlling a wide range of criminal enterprises, including bootlegging, loansharking, gambling, and bookmaking. According to crime writer Leo Katcher, Rothstein "transformed organized crime from a thuggish activity by hoodlums into a big business, run like a corporation, with himself at the top." Rothstein was allegedly responsible for fixing the 1919 World Series. At the same time, the Jewish bootlegging mob known as The Purple Gang dominated the Detroit underworld during prohibition, while the Jewish Bugs and Meyer Mob operated in the Lower East Side of New York City before being absorbed into Murder, Inc. and becoming affiliates of the Italian-American Mafia.
The largely Jewish-American and Italian-American gang known as Murder, Inc. and Jewish mobsters such as Meyer Lansky, Mickey Cohen, Harold "Hooky" Rothman, Dutch Schultz, and Bugsy Siegel developed close ties with and gained significant influence within the Italian-American Mafia, eventually forming a loosely organized, mostly Jewish and Italian criminal syndicate known in the press as the "National Crime Syndicate." Jewish and Italian crime groups became increasingly interconnected in the 1920s and 1930s, as they often occupied the same neighborhoods and social statuses of the time. The two ethnic crime groups became especially close in New York City following the establishment of the close relationship between partners Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky and their subsequent elimination of many of the so-called "Mustache Pete", or the Sicilian-born gangsters that often refused to work with non-Italians and even non-Sicilians. The Cohen crime family of Los Angeles and Las Vegas was notably part of both the Jewish Mafia and Italian-American Mafia, and lines between the two ethnic criminal organizations often blurred throughout the 20th century. For decades after, Jewish-American mobsters would continue to work closely and at times compete with Italian-American organized crime.Johnny Stompanato
John Stompanato Jr. (October 10, 1925 – April 4, 1958), was a United States Marine who became a bodyguard and enforcer for gangster Mickey Cohen and the Cohen crime family.
In the mid-1950s, he began an abusive relationship with actress Lana Turner. In 1958, he was stabbed to death by Turner's daughter, Cheryl Crane, who said she did it to defend her mother from a vicious beating by Stompanato. His death was ruled as justifiable homicide because he had been killed in self-defense.Joseph Sica
Joseph "JS" Sica (August 20, 1911 – November 21, 1982) was a New Jersey mobster involved in armed robbery, murder for hire, extortion, and narcotics distribution. Sica mentored many West Coast mobsters, including Mike Rizzitello and Anthony "the Animal" Fiato. Chistopher "Chris" Petti was Sica's longtime partner in the Los Angeles and San Diego rackets. Sica's brothers Alfred, Angelo, and Frank were also associates of Sica's.
Born in Newark, New Jersey, Sica was first arrested in 1926 at age 15. In 1950, Sica was indicted with 15 other mobsters for conspiracy to distribute narcotics in California. However, the case was dismissed after Abraham Davidian, the prosecution's star witness, was shot to death while sleeping at his mother's home in Fresno, California. During the 1950s, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the U.S. Senate Committee on Government Operations identified Sica as a prominent member of the Los Angeles crime family and an associate of mobsters Mickey Cohen, Salvatore Iannone, and Thomas DeMaio.
Sica once refused an order by L.A. Boss Jack Dragna to kill friend Mickey Cohen. Defying Dragna made Sica a well-respected man amongst Cohen and his bookmakers, but it alienated the L.A. family against him. Cohen's bookies sided with Sica and in an attempt to avoid another gambling war, Sica gave up a piece of his lucrative bookmaking business to Dragna. Sica worked in Los Angeles so long that he eventually became a close associate of the L.A. family.
Joseph Sica died on November 21, 1982.L.A. Quartet
The L.A. Quartet is a sequence of four crime fiction novels by James Ellroy set in the late 1940s through the late 1950s in Los Angeles. They are:
(1987) The Black Dahlia
(1988) The Big Nowhere
(1990) L.A. Confidential
(1992) White JazzElmore Leonard wrote that "reading The Black Dahlia aloud would shatter wine glasses". Several characters from the L.A. Quartet, most notably Dudley Smith, were introduced in Ellroy's 1982 novel Clandestine, which is set between 1951 and 1955 and makes reference to the Black Dahlia killing and Dudley Smith's investigation into it.List of Cohen crime family members
The Cohen crime family, or the Siegel-Cohen crime syndicate, was a Jewish-Italian crime family that was active from 1933 to 1961. The family was founded by New York Jewish mobster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel in the early 1930s. He had Los Angeles Mafia boss Jack Dragna and Jewish mobsters Mickey Cohen and Moe Sedway as his lieutenants. He created the biggest prostitution ring, gambling and protection rackets in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. He also expanded into drug trafficking and bookmaking.
The family has had over 70 known members and associates in its history. In 1946, the family had about 63 known members.Mickey Cohen (soccer)
Mickey Cohen is an American former professional soccer goalkeeper who played in the North American Soccer League and American Soccer League.
Cohen attended Long Island University where he played on the men's soccer team. In June 1968, he was drafted by the St. Louis Stars of the North American Soccer League; however, he was not signed by the club. In 1971, he signed with the Connecticut Wildcats of the American Soccer League and remained with them through the 1978 season. In 1976, he played one season for the Boston Minutemen of the NASL. Cohen was also the starting goalkeeper for the U.S. Maccabiah Games soccer team for several years.Mob City
Mob City is an American neo-noir crime drama television series created by Frank Darabont for TNT. It is based on real-life accounts of the L.A.P.D. and gangsters in 1940s Los Angeles as chronicled in John Buntin's book L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City. The series premiered on December 4, 2013.On February 10, 2014, TNT canceled Mob City. In Germany the series was released via polyband on DVD and Regional lockout-free Blu-ray on July 2, 2015, however there are no known plans to release the series on home video in the U.S.Patrick Fischler
Patrick S. Fischler (born December 29, 1969) is an American actor best known for his roles as Jimmy Barrett on the drama series Mad Men, Dharma Initiative worker Phil on the drama series Lost and Detective Kenny No-Gun on the police drama Southland. He has had more than 60 film and television credits, including the films Mulholland Drive (2001), Ghost World (2001), Old School (2003), The Black Dahlia (2006) and Dinner for Schmucks (2010).
Fischler portrayed real-life gangster Mickey Cohen in the 2011 video game L.A. Noire, which utilized facial performance-capture technology to convert performances in the game's graphics. Two years later he played gangster Meyer Lansky in scenes with Cohen's character in the TNT mini-series Mob City. In 2012, he appeared in One for the Money, a crime thriller adapted from Janet Evanovich's novel of the same name.
The Santa Monica restaurant "Patrick's Roadhouse" was started by his father and is named for him.Southward Car Museum
The Southward Car Museum is an automobile museum housing a collection of over 400 vehicles, as well as three aircraft, located on Otaihanga Road, Otaihanga, just north of Paraparaumu on the Kapiti Coast of New Zealand's North Island. The museum is run by a charitable trust, incorporated in 1972.
It is approximately an hour's drive from downtown Wellington and is situated between the North Island Main Trunk railway to the west and State Highway 1 to the east.
The museum's collection includes Marlene Dietrich's Cadillac cabriolet, a 1915 Stutz Indianapolis race car, gull-winged Mercedes-Benz, a 1950 Cadillac "gangster special" that belonged to gangster Mickey Cohen, and an 1895 Benz Velo, imported to New Zealand in 1900.
A DeLorean, the car best known from the Back to the Future movie series, is also on display. It is one of few public examples of the car worldwide, and the only DeLorean on public display in New Zealand.
The car collection was the work of Sir Len Southward and his wife, Vera, Lady Southward. They began collecting cars in 1956. After achieving success in business, Sir Len dedicated time and money to buying and restoring old cars, adding to the collection.
The Southward Car Museum was opened in December 1979, and after his retirement Sir Len devoted his time to the museum.
The museum is a purpose-built building, featuring a 6000 square metre exhibition hall, engineering workshop, gift shop, and small cafe, and is set in six hectares of park-like grounds.
The building also includes a 474-seat theatre, and features a 1929 Wurtlitzer theatre organ, which was originally installed in the Civic Theatre in Auckland.Tere Tereba
Tere Tereba (born in Warren, Ohio) is an American fashion designer, writer, and actress. She is well known as one of the pioneers of women's "contemporary" clothing design and for playing "Ingrid Joyner" in Andy Warhol's Bad (1977). She is also the author of Mickey Cohen: The Life and Crimes of L.A.'s Notorious Mobster, published in 2012, which has been released in hardcover, trade paperback, e-book and audio editions. The book has also been translated into French, Italian and Chinese.
|Relation to other groups|
|Relation to other groups|