Pop culture has had a long fascination with the mafia. Every country has had to deal with organized crime, but for some reason the Italian mafia migration and formation in the United States has taken hold of Hollywood's collective imagination and produced works like no other. And in spite of the crime and the violence that inspires it, we continue to feed into this fascination, watching the movies and shows and wanting more.
It started with Cosa Nostra which translates literally to "our thing." Families grew and expanded all over Italy and eventually immigrated to the United States, taking up residence on the east coast and slowly expanding westward. Redditors share the most fascinating facts they can about the mafia, without stirring up too much trouble.
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From Reddito u/Majorwetod:
TIL How the American mafia helped the Allied forces during WWII. Mob boss Lucky Luciano was eventually granted his freedom from prison for his help. Part of the deal was he had to agree to deportation back to Italy.
Context: In 1942 a US troop carrier ship caught fire and capsized in Manhattan harbour in a suspected act of sabotage. It was well known that the mafia controlled the docks at the time so the Navy reached out to imprisoned mafioso Salvatore "Lucky" Lucanio. Lucky ordered that any suspicious activity along the docks and waterfronts be reported to the authorities and guaranteed that there would be no strikes from the dock workers. In exchange, his sentence was commuted and he was deported to Italy.
- Photo: The Godfather / Paramount Pictures
From Redditor u/johnnylgarfield:
TIL the 1972 hit movie The Godfather does not contain the words ‘mafia’ or 'La Cosa Nostra’ because of a deal struck between the producer and the real mafia.
Context: Joe Colombo Sr. and his son Anthony lobbied the producers of The Godfather through the Italian-American Civil Rights League to not include the word "Mafia" in the final shooting script. Producers seemed to have the understanding that should they not comply, there may be labor strikes, missing equipment, and missing cast members.
From Redditor u/truehalf:
TIL at his peak, mafia boss Al Capone was making an annual income of $1.3 billion in today’s dollars.
Context: In the late 1920s through the early '30s, Chicago's Al Capone was making about $105 million a year, the modern equivalent of $1.3 billion. But it was hardly all profit. Nearly one third of it went to payroll. Other gangsters, judges, politicians, reporters, and police were all required to keep his enterprise running.
- Photo: The Sopranos / HBO
From Redditor u/TheAtheistArab87:
TIL that during the heyday of The Sopranos FBI wiretaps of the real mafia revealed that the show was so realistic the real mobsters thought there was a connected guy feeding storylines for the show.
Context: Executive producer Terrence Winter revealed in a Vanity Fair interview that FBI agents would hear members of the mob discussing the show on their wiretaps. The mafioso believed the depictions were too accurate for the show not to have a wise guy working for them on the inside.