- 1Mickey Spillane came to power as an Irish mobster in the 1960s and 1970s. Spillane took over from Eddie McGrath, running rackets throughout Hell's Kitchen and well beyond. He was a night club owner and a numbers guy - and he was battling to keep his position as boss, with challenges coming from violent Irish mobsters who wanted nothing more than to take over. Among them: James 'Jimmy' Coonan, who wanted revenge on Spillane for kidnapping his accountant father. Spillane was said to be involved in the so-called "snatch" racket - kidnapping big businessmen in the area and then demanding ransom from other mob groups. Mickey Spillane was murdered in May of 1977, clearing the way for a whole new kind of gangster to emerge.
Owney 'The Killer' MaddenOwney Madden was the boss of 'The Westies,' a group that ruled supreme over Hell's Kitchen - and eventually controlled a large part of Manhattan. Madden was much more than a mere Irish street gang mobster and bootlegger. He controlled an interest in Harlem's famed Cotton Club, among other things. Remember Francis Ford Coppola's 'The Cotton Club' movie? Actor Bob Hoskins portrayed Owney Madden in the film. Madden was heavily involved in all aspects of Irish mob activity, but in 1932, he was implicated in the murder of mobster Vincent 'Mad Dog' Coll, spent a year behind bars and, afterward, retired to Arkansas to live out his golden years.
James 'Jimmy' CoonanJimmy Coonan is considered one of the most most violent and ruthless Irish mobsters ever. Coonan took over the Hell's Kitchen Irish mob after Mickey Spillane's 1977 murder. His reign lasted through the mid-1980s, during which time he was purportedly involved in countless murders, and, notably, drugs. Prior to Coonan, Irish gangsters in Hell's Kitchen weren't really involved in illegal drugs. This all changed under Coonan, who forged an alliance with the Gambino crime family in the late 70s, strengthening his own power. Coonan was incarcerated more than once for his crimes, and eventually, his right-hand man flipped on him. He was arrested in 1986 and sentenced to 75 years behind bars. He's serving his time at the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary.
George 'Bugs' Moran"Bugs" Moran was a gangster during the Prohibition era in Chicago. After embarking on a criminal career as a teenager, he gained a reputation as a lunatic with a ferocious temper, earning the nickname "Bugs" (at the time, slang for "crazy.") Before the age of 21, he had already been incarcerated three times.
During Prohibition, Moran found his own bootlegging operation in direct competition with the Chicago "Italian" family set up by Al Capone, triggering a turf war (and lifelong rivalry) between the two men. Their back-and-forth series of attacks and retaliations lasted through the rest of the Prohibition era, and led Moran to popularize the technique of driving by Capone's properties and peppering them with gunfire, an iconic image of organized crime from the era and the inspiration behind the crime of "drive-by shooting."
Moran was convicted of robbing a bank messenger in Ohio in 1946, and spent most of the remainder of his life in prison. He died destitute in 1957, mere weeks after beginning a new prison sentence for bank robbery.
- 5Dean O'Banion (sometimes referred to as Dion O'Banion) was a native of Chicago's North Side neighborhood and, during the beginning of the Prohibition era, united with Italian South Side mobsters (including boss "Papa"Johnny Torrio and his associate, Al Capone), to ramp up their bootlegging operations and avoid turf battles. In 1924, O'Banion decided to break with his former partners, and unsuccessfully attempted to frame Torrio for murder, leading to a bloody struggle for dominance of North Side bootlegging.
In November of 1924, O'Banion was shot and killed while working in his flower shop. The murder started a gruesome 5-year Chicago gang war that culminated in the infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre in 1929.
O'Banion was the basis for the character played by Jimmy Cagney in the 1931 film "The Public Enemy."
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