Mobster Joey Gallo was born April 7, 1929, in Brooklyn, Ny. The guy generally called Crazy Joey also had a softer side. Joseph Gallo was born on April 7, 1929 in Brooklyn, Ny. One of three sons, Gallo grew up in a world formed by offense.
Joey was little—he just grew to be 5 feet 6 inches—and had blond hair that initially earned him the nickname “Joey the Blonde.” From an early age, Gallo had a show business awareness about him and his preferred profession. He saw himself as a Jimmy Cagney or George Raft, both fashionable leading men of several early Hollywood gangster movies. “I may have worked my way up to head soda jerk at Whelan’s Drugstore,” Joey said after in life, “but what sort of life is that to get a man like me?” Gallo, undaunted from the setting, quipped, “Fine carpeting you got here,” upon walking into Kennedy’s office. “Great for a crap game.”
By early 1961 Joey and his brothers had assembled an effective jukebox racketeering operation. It’d initially been under the auspices of the Profaci (after the Colombo) gang family. But then the Gallos broke away, so when they did, they did so using a brazen disregard for land already staked out by more recognized syndicates. The Profacis declared war on Joey and his team, beginning most notably with Larry Gallo’s departure. For months the two factions fought a bloody conflict that just ended when Joey was sentenced in late ’61 on extortion charges.
At that point, nevertheless, Gallo was a routine front page attribute in New York papers. Reporters fell in love with all the storyline of the ragtag group of mobsters attempting to go in on the larger, more established syndicates. Gallo’s penitentiary time amounted to ten years, during which he worked hard to create coalitions with African American and Italian gangsters. He was attentive to nurture his name recognition, also. From his prison cell, Gallo went public with his fight from the Klu Klux Klan sway he found in the penitentiary system.
Gallo’s story became the subject of the Jimmy Breslin novel The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight, which was afterwards turned into a 1971 movie. Even Bob Dylan came to respect the sharp tongued gangster, and even composed a tune in his honour, just titled “Joey.” “I always thought of him as some sort of hero in a few sort of manner. An underdog fighting from the components.” He palled around with celebrities, most notably the late Jerry Orbach, who played Gallo in the film edition of The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.
“Joey compressed time with us because he understood in the rear of his head which he mightn’t have a lot of time, which he could go at any given minute,” said Orbach. “Thus, a minute spent speaking to Joey was like an hour spent with another person. There is no ‘How’s the weather?’ or small talk. He was somebody who had to catch a train and get everything in now.”
But not everyone was enamored with Gallo’s well-known status. His departure, unsurprisingly, was front page news. And his celebrity status never waned. In the narratives it had been pointed out that Gallo were slated to appear with writer Gore Vidal, Abbie Hoffman and film director Otto Preminger to get a discussion of the subject, “How They Cover Me.”