Mickey Cohen was born on September 4, 1913, in Brooklyn, Ny, and grew up in La. Following a troubled youth, Cohen’s first links with top Jewish and Italian mobsters came during his teen years, through his participation in the boxing game. During the Great Depression he packaged professionally, and acted as strength for the two Mafiosi and Jewish gang managers in Cleveland, New York and Chicago. In his early 20s, he started working for infamous mobster Bugsy Siegel. Along with conventional gang businesses, Cohen took advantage of the movie industry by commanding unions and through blackmail. In 1947, Siegel was assassinated and Cohen, later, became the West Coast crime boss. Cohen’s exploits made him nationally infamous, and his own desires and aspirations exemplified the Noir City that he both bled and serviced. His links were so broad and deep that although he was brought to trial for many kinds of violations, including homicide, he was convicted only twice, for income tax evasion. He moved to La, California, as a toddler along with his widowed mother, a Russian-Jewish immigrant who spoke little English. His hardworking mom ran a small market, and during Prohibition his brothers operated a drug store, where he learned to make bootleg booze.
Seldom in school, Cohen grew up illiterate and just supervised. Without appropriate guidance, he developed a skewed moral compass, and always looked for methods to earn money, legally or illegally. He sold papers in the downtown financial district and packaged in amateur fights. He ran away from home at age 15, and lived in Cleveland, afterward in The Big Apple and Chicago. As the Great Depression hit, youthful Mickey Cohen packaged professionally and afterwards acted as a freelance bandit and an enforcer aligned with leading mobsters.
After problems erupted in Cleveland, the syndicate put him in Chicago where Cohen ran his own armed burglary team and worked in little occupations on the prohibited gaming circuit for the Chicago outfit, made infamous by Al Capone. While many sources, including Cohen himself, assert he and Capone met, there isn’t any conclusive signs with this. An individual meeting involving the two could have been exceptionally improbable yet, as Capone was in prison for tax evasion in 1934, when Cohen first arrived in Chicago. But during his Chicago interval, Mickey Cohen created strong ties to Capone’s underworld organization.
A violent people assault involving Cohen as well as a competition prompted his return home to California in 1937, when Cohen was in his early 20s. His mentors organized an alliance together with the magnetic and murderous Ny gang star, Ben “Bugsy” Siegel, who was on the west shore to set up an extension of the East Coast Syndicate as well as the horserace wire service that commanded betting on a national scale. Fighting the local, well-entrenched L.A. racketeers, and their policeman allies, in short order, Siegel, with Cohen as his lieutenant, took control of the affluent and hedonistic land. From the early 1940s, their money-making businesses encompassed a mixture of gaming, prostitution, narcotics and control of labor unions.
After initiating undeveloped Las Vegas, Siegel, who’d not played by mob rules, was assassinated in 1947 by a sniper, just months after starting his Flamingo casino. Mickey Cohen, age thirty four, took over as the West Coast racket manager. Together with the support of the mob royals, money-making Mickey Cohen’s strategy for complete control contained a paper, a wiretapper as well as the state’s attorney general. He also hired a private coach, who instructed him to read and write, and added some polish to his manner. He became involved with leading Hollywood figures, along with L.A.’s top politicians of the time.
Following Siegel’s homicide, old school and ineffectual L.A. Mafia leader Jack Dragna considered Cohen his chief opponent. After Cohen disrespected him, gang war broke out in the roads of La. Several efforts were made on Cohen’s life, including ambushes in the roads as well as in restaurants, as well as a bomb detonated at his house. Local law enforcement went after Cohen with a vengeance, as well as the headlines that ensued in the years-long gang war brought interest in Washington. A senate committee, often called the Kefauver committee, after Senator Estes Kefauver who chaired it, was formed. In 1950-51, the complete underworld was unmasked and endangered by the Kefauver committee, exposed for the very first time on the newest medium, television. He was sentenced to four years in federal penitentiary. It was his first conviction.
He was professing to be reformed, and Reverend Billy Graham, the most well-known religious figure in the county, attempted to convert him to Christianity. More headlines ensued. When Cohen was not socializing at posh eateries and nightclubs with the glitterati, he was using them. Among his peculiarities was blackmailing movie stars with keys, frequently of a sexual nature, that they needed concealed from the general public. A record of display goddess Lana Turner having sex with John Stompanato, a fine Cohen associate, was a much sought after entertainment piece, as well as a money-making enterprise. When Stompanato finally turned up dead in Turner’s bedroom, another firestorm affecting Mickey Cohen erupted. Authorities reasoned that Turner’s teenaged daughter killed Stompanato in defense of her mom, along with the case was closed. But Cohen vocally maintained this wasn’t the truth and smeared Turner by releasing her love letters to Stompanato to the press.
After appeals to the Supreme Court failed, he was transferred into a federal penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia, and Alcatraz was shut. In 1963, in the Atlanta facility, Mickey Cohen endured a brutal assault that left him partly paralyzed. In 1974, he made headlines, again, when he became tangentially associated with the notorious kidnapping of newspaper heiress, Patty Hearst. He was 62.