Charles "Lucky" Luciano (/luːtʃiˈɑːnoʊ/; born Salvatore
Lucania November 24, 1897 – January 26, 1962) was an
Italian-American mobster and crime boss. Luciano is considered the
father of modern organized crime in the United States for the
establishment of the first Commission. He was also the first official
boss of the modern Genovese crime family. He was, along with his
associates, instrumental in the development of the National Crime
Luciano was tried and successfully convicted for compulsory
prostitution and running a prostitution racket in 1936 after years of
District Attorney Thomas E. Dewey. He was given a
thirty-year prison sentence, but during
World War II
World War II an agreement was
struck with the Department of the Navy through his associate Meyer
Lansky in order to protect New York's harbors from Axis U-Boats. Dewey
almost failed to keep his end of the bargain, and it took months to
finally come up with a solution to release Luciano. He was deported to
live his life freely outside the U.S.
1 Early life
3 Rise to power
3.1 Power play
4 Reorganizing Cosa Nostra
5 The Commission
6 Prosecution for pandering
7 World War II, freedom, and deportation
9 Operating in Italy
10 Personal life
11 American power struggle
12 Death and legacy
13 In popular culture
14 See also
16 Further reading
17 External links
Salvatore Lucania was born on November 24, 1897 in Lercara Friddi,
Sicily, Italy. Luciano's parents, Antonio and Rosalia
Capporelli-Lucania, had four other children: Bartolomeo (born 1890),
Giuseppe (born 1898), Filippa (born 1901), and Concetta. Luciano's
father worked in a sulfur mine in Sicily.
His father was very ambitious and persistent in eventually moving to
America. Luciano recounts in his semi-autobiography The Last Testament
of Lucky Luciano: The Mafia Story in His Own Words that his father
always had a new
Palermo based steamship company calendar each year
and would save money for the boat trip by keeping a jar under his bed.
He also mentions in the book that his father was too proud to ask for
money so instead his mother was given money by Luciano's cousin in
secret, named Rotolo who also lived in Lercara Friddi. In April 1906,
when Luciano was nine years old, the family emigrated to the United
States. They settled in
New York City
New York City in the borough of Manhattan
on its Lower East Side, a popular destination for Italian
immigrants. At age 14, Luciano dropped out of school and started a
job delivering hats, earning $7 per week. However, after winning $244
in a dice game, Luciano quit his job and went to earning money on the
street. That same year, Luciano's parents sent him to the Brooklyn
As a teenager, Luciano started his own gang and was a member of the
old Five Points Gang. Unlike other street gangs, whose business was
petty crime, Luciano offered protection to Jewish youngsters from
Italian and Irish gangs for 10 cents per week. He was also learning
the pimping trade in the years around World War I. Around this time,
Luciano also met Meyer Lansky, his future business partner and close
It is not clear how Luciano earned the nickname "Lucky". It may have
come from surviving a severe beating by three men in the 1920s, as
well as a throat slashing. This was because Luciano refused to work
for another mob boss. From 1916 to 1936, Luciano was arrested 25
times on charges including assault, illegal gambling, blackmail and
robbery, but spent no time in prison. The name "Lucky" may have
also been a mispronunciation of Luciano's surname "Lucania".
On January 17, 1920, the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
was ratified, and
Prohibition lasted until the amendment was repealed
in 1933. The amendment prohibited the manufacture, sale, and
transportation of alcoholic beverages. As there was still a
substantial demand for alcohol, this provided criminals with an added
source of income.
By 1920, Luciano had met many future Mafia leaders, including Vito
Genovese and Frank Costello, his longtime friend and future business
partner through the Five Points Gang. That same year, Lower Manhattan
Joe Masseria recruited Luciano as one of his gunmen.
Around that same time, Luciano and his close associates started
working for gambler Arnold "The Brain" Rothstein, who immediately saw
the potential windfall from
Prohibition and educated Luciano on
running bootleg alcohol as a business. Luciano, Costello, and
Genovese started their own bootlegging operation with financing from
Rothstein served as a mentor for Luciano; among other things,
Rothstein taught how to move in high society. In 1923, Luciano was
caught in a sting selling heroin to undercover agents. Although he saw
no jail time, being outed as a drug peddler damaged his reputation
among his high class associates and customers. To salvage his
reputation, Luciano bought 200 expensive seats to the Jack
Luis Firpo boxing match in the Bronx and distributed them to
top gangsters and politicians. Rothstein then took Luciano on a
shopping trip to
Wanamaker's Department Store in
Manhattan to buy
expensive clothes for the fight. The strategy worked, and Luciano's
reputation was saved.
By 1925, Luciano was grossing over $12 million a year. He had a net
income of around $4 million each year after the costs of bribing
politicians and police. Luciano and his partners ran the largest
bootlegging operation in New York, one that also extended into
Philadelphia. He imported
Scotch whisky from Scotland, rum from the
Caribbean, and whisky from Canada. Luciano was also involved in
Rise to power
Luciano soon became a top aide in Masseria's criminal organization. In
contrast to Rothstein, Masseria was uneducated, with poor manners and
limited managerial skills. By the late 1920s, Masseria's main rival
was boss Salvatore Maranzano, who had come from
Sicily to run the
Castellammarese clan. Maranzano refused to pay commissions to
Masseria. Their rivalry eventually escalated into the bloody
Castellammarese War and ultimately resulted in the deaths of both
Maranzano and Masseria.
Masseria and Maranzano were so-called "Mustache Petes": older,
traditional Mafia bosses who had started their criminal careers in
Italy. They believed in upholding the supposed "Old World Mafia"
principles of "honor", "tradition", "respect", and "dignity". These
bosses refused to work with non-Italians, and were even skeptical of
working with non-Sicilians. Some of the most conservative bosses only
worked with men with roots in their own Sicilian village. Luciano, in
contrast, believed that as long as there was money to be made, the
ethnicity of your partner did not matter. He was thus willing to work
not only with Italians, but also Jewish and Irish gangsters. Luciano
was shocked to hear traditional Sicilian mafiosi lecture him about his
dealings with close friend Costello, whom they called "the dirty
Luciano soon began cultivating ties with other younger mobsters who
had been born in Italy, but began their criminal careers in the U.S.
Known as the Young Turks, they chafed at their bosses' conservatism.
Luciano wanted to use lessons he learned from Rothstein to turn their
gang activities into criminal empires. As the war progressed, this
group came to include future mob leaders such as Costello, Genovese,
Albert Anastasia, Joe Adonis, Joe Bonanno, Carlo Gambino, Joe Profaci,
Tommy Gagliano, and Tommy Lucchese. The Young Turks believed that
their bosses' greed and conservatism were keeping them poor while the
Irish and Jewish gangs got rich. Luciano's vision was to form a
national crime syndicate in which the Italian, Jewish, and Irish gangs
could pool their resources and turn organized crime into a lucrative
business for all.
In October 1929, Luciano was forced into a limousine at gunpoint by
three men, beaten and stabbed, and dumped on a beach on Staten Island.
He somehow survived the ordeal but was forever marked with a scar and
droopy eye. The identity of his abductors was never established. When
picked up by the police after the beating, Luciano said that he had no
idea who did it. However, in 1953, Luciano told an interviewer that it
was the police who kidnapped and beat him in an attempt to find Jack
"Legs" Diamond. Another story was that Maranzano ordered the
attack. The most important consequence of this episode was the
press coverage it engendered, introducing Luciano to the New York
New York Police Department
New York Police Department mugshot of Lucky Luciano
In early 1931, Luciano decided to eliminate Masseria. The war had been
going poorly for Masseria, and Luciano saw an opportunity to switch
allegiance. In a secret deal with Maranzano, Luciano agreed to
engineer Masseria's death in return for receiving Masseria's rackets
and becoming Maranzano's second-in-command. On April 15, Luciano
invited Masseria and two other associates to lunch in a Coney Island
restaurant. After finishing their meal, the mobsters decided to play
cards. At that point, according to mob legend, Luciano went to the
bathroom. Four gunmen – Genovese, Anastasia, Adonis and Benjamin
"Bugsy" Siegel – then walked into the dining room and shot and
killed Masseria and his two men. With Maranzano's blessing,
Luciano took over Masseria's gang and became Maranzano's
Castellammarese War was over.
With Masseria gone, Maranzano divided all the
New York City
New York City into Five Families. Per his original deal with
Maranzano, Luciano took over the old Masseria gang. The other four
families were headed by Maranzano, Profaci, Gagliano, and Vincent
Mangano. Maranzano promised that all the families would be equal and
free to make money. However, at a meeting of crime bosses in Upstate
New York, Maranzano declared himself capo di tutti capi ("boss of all
bosses"). Maranzano also whittled down the rival families' rackets in
favor of his own. Luciano appeared to accept these changes, but was
merely biding his time before removing Maranzano. Although
Maranzano was slightly more forward-thinking than Masseria, Luciano
had come to believe that Maranzano was even more greedy and hidebound
than Masseria had been.
By September 1931, Maranzano realized Luciano was a threat, and hired
Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll, an Irish gangster, to kill him. However,
Lucchese alerted Luciano that he was marked for death. On September
10, Maranzano ordered Luciano and Genovese to come to his office at
the 230 Park Avenue in Manhattan. Convinced that Maranzano planned to
murder them, Luciano decided to act first. He sent to Maranzano's
office four Jewish gangsters whose faces were unknown to Maranzano's
people. They had been secured with the aid of Lansky and Siegel.
Disguised as government agents, two of the gangsters disarmed
Maranzano's bodyguards. The other two, aided by Lucchese, who was
there to point Maranzano out, stabbed the boss multiple times before
shooting him. This assassination was the first of what would
later be fabled as the "Night of the Sicilian Vespers."
Several days later, on September 13, the corpses of two other
Maranzano allies, Samuel Monaco and Louis Russo were retrieved from
Newark Bay, showing evidence of torture. Meanwhile, Joseph Siragusa,
leader of the Pittsburgh crime family, was shot to death in his home.
The October 15 disappearance of Joe Ardizonne, head of the Los Angeles
family, would later be regarded as part of this alleged plan to
quickly eliminate the old-world Sicilian bosses. However, the idea
of an organized mass purge, directed by Luciano, has been debunked as
Reorganizing Cosa Nostra
With the death of Maranzano, Luciano became the dominant crime boss in
the US. He had reached the pinnacle of America's underworld, directing
criminal rules, policies, and activities along with the other Mafia
bosses. Luciano also had his own crime family, which controlled
lucrative criminal rackets in
New York City
New York City such as illegal gambling,
extortion, bookmaking, loansharking, and drug trafficking. Luciano
became very influential in labor union activities and controlled the
Manhattan Waterfront, garbage hauling, construction, Garment District
businesses, and trucking.
Luciano abolished Maranzano's title of capo di tutti i capi, believing
the position created trouble between the families and made himself a
target for another ambitious challenger. Instead, Luciano chose to
quietly maintain control through the Commission by forging unofficial
alliances with other bosses. However, Luciano did not discard all of
Maranzano's changes. He believed that the ceremony of becoming a "made
man", or an amico nostro, in a crime family was a Sicilian
anachronism. However, Genovese persuaded Luciano to keep the title,
arguing that young people needed rituals to promote obedience to the
family. Luciano remained committed to omertà, the oath of silence, to
protect the families from legal prosecution. In addition, he kept
Maranzano's structure of five crime families in New York City.
Luciano elevated his most trusted Italian associates to high-level
positions in what was now the Luciano crime family. Genovese became
underboss and Costello consigliere. Adonis, Michael "Trigger Mike"
Coppola, Anthony Strollo,
Willie Moretti and
Anthony Carfano all
served as caporegimes. Because Lansky and Siegel were non-Italians,
neither man could hold official positions within any Mafia family.
However, Lansky was a top advisor to Luciano and Siegel a trusted
Luciano, on the urging of former Chicago boss Johnny Torrio, set up
the Commission to serve as the governing body for organized crime.
Designed to settle all disputes and decide which families controlled
which territories, the Commission has been called Luciano's greatest
innovation. Luciano's goals with the Commission were to quietly
maintain his own power over all the families, and to prevent future
The Commission was originally composed of representatives of the Five
Families of New York City, the Los Angeles crime family, the
Philadelphia crime family, the Buffalo crime family, and the Chicago
Outfit of Al Capone; later, the
Detroit crime family
Detroit crime family and Kansas City
crime family were added. The Commission also provided representation
for the Irish and Jewish criminal organizations in New York. All
Commission members were supposed to retain the same power and had one
vote. In reality, Luciano and his allies controlled the Commission.
The group's first test came in 1935, when it ordered gang boss Dutch
Schultz to drop his plans to murder
Special Prosecutor Thomas E.
Dewey. Luciano argued that a Dewey assassination would precipitate a
massive law enforcement crackdown. A defiant Schultz told the
Commission that he was going to kill Dewey (or his assistant David
Asch) in the next three days. In response, the Commission quickly
arranged Schultz's murder. On October 24, 1935, before he could
kill Dewey or Asch, Schultz was murdered in a tavern in Newark, New
Prosecution for pandering
During the early 1930s, Luciano's crime family started taking over
small scale prostitution operations in New York City. In June 1935,
New York Governor
Herbert H. Lehman
Herbert H. Lehman appointed Dewey, a U.S. Attorney,
as a special prosecutor to combat organized crime in the city.
Dewey soon realized that he could attack Luciano, the most powerful
gangster in New York, through this prostitution network with the
assistance of Asch.
On February 2, 1936, Dewey launched a massive police raid against 200
Manhattan and Brooklyn, earning him nationwide recognition
as a major "gangbuster". Ten men and 100 women were arrested. However,
unlike previous vice raids, Dewey did not release the arrestees.
Instead, he took them to court, where a judge set bails of US$10,000,
far beyond their means to pay. By mid-March, several defendants
had implicated Luciano in order to get out of jail. Three of these
prostitutes implicated Luciano as the ringleader, who made
collections. However, Luciano associate David Betillo was actually in
charge of the prostitution ring in New York; any money that Luciano
received was from Betillo.
In late March 1936, Luciano received a tip that he was going to be
arrested and fled to Hot Springs, Arkansas. Unfortunately for him, a
New York detective in Hot Springs on a different assignment spotted
Luciano and notified Dewey. On April 3, Luciano was arrested in
Hot Springs on a criminal warrant from New York. The next day in New
York, Dewey indicted Luciano and his accomplices on 60 counts of
compulsory prostitution. Luciano's lawyers in
Arkansas then began a
fierce legal battle against extradition. On April 6, someone offered a
$50,000 bribe to
Arkansas Attorney General Carl E. Bailey to
facilitate Luciano's case. However, Bailey refused the bribe and
immediately reported it.
On April 17, after all of Luciano's legal options had been exhausted,
Arkansas authorities handed him to three NYPD detectives for transport
by train back to New York for trial. When the train reached St.
Louis, Missouri, the detectives and Luciano changed trains. During
this switchover, they were guarded by 20 local policemen to prevent a
mob rescue attempt. The men arrived in New York on April 18, and
Luciano was sent to jail without bail.
On May 13, 1936, Luciano's pandering trial began. Dewey accused
Luciano of being part of a massive prostitution ring known as "the
Combination". During the trial, Dewey exposed Luciano for lying on the
witness stand through direct quizzing and records of telephone calls;
Luciano also had no explanation for why his federal income tax records
claimed he made only $22,000 a year, while he was obviously a wealthy
man. Dewey ruthlessly pressed Luciano on his long arrest record
and his relationships with well-known gangsters such as Masseria, Ciro
Terranova, and Louis Buchalter. On June 7, Luciano was convicted
on 62 counts of compulsory prostitution. On July 18, he was
sentenced to 30 to 50 years in state prison, along with Betillo and
Many observers have questioned whether there was enough evidence to
support the charges against Luciano. Like nearly all crime families,
the Luciano family almost certainly profited from prostitution and
extorted money from madams and brothel keepers. However, like most
bosses, Luciano created layers of insulation between himself and
criminal acts. It would have been significantly out of character for
him to be directly involved in any criminal enterprise, let alone a
prostitution ring. At least two of his contemporaries have denied that
Luciano was ever part of "the Combination". In her memoirs, New York
Polly Adler wrote that if Luciano had been involved with
"the Combination", she would have known about it. Bonanno, the last
surviving contemporary of Luciano's who wasn't in prison, also denied
that Luciano was directly involved in prostitution in his book, A Man
Luciano continued to run his crime family from prison, relaying his
orders through acting boss Genovese. However, in 1937, Genovese fled
Naples to avoid an impending murder indictment in New York. Luciano
appointed his consigliere, Costello, as the new acting boss and the
overseer of Luciano's interests.
Luciano was first imprisoned at
Sing Sing Correctional Facility
Sing Sing Correctional Facility in
Ossining, New York. However, later in 1936, authorities moved him to
Clinton Correctional Facility
Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, a remote facility far away
from New York City. At Clinton, Betillo prepared special dishes for
Luciano in a kitchen set aside by authorities. Luciano was
assigned a job in the prison laundry. Luciano used his influence
to help get the materials to build a church at the prison, which
became famous for being one of the only freestanding churches in the
New York State correctional system and also for the fact that on the
church's altar are two of the original doors from the Victoria, the
ship of Ferdinand Magellan.
Luciano's legal appeals continued until October 10, 1938, when the
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Supreme Court refused to review his case. At this point,
Luciano stepped down as family boss, and Costello formally replaced
World War II, freedom, and deportation
During World War II, the US government struck a secret deal with the
imprisoned Luciano. In 1942, the
Office of Naval Intelligence
Office of Naval Intelligence was
concerned about German and Italian agents entering the US through the
New York waterfront. They also worried about sabotage in these
facilities. Knowing that the Mafia controlled the waterfront, the US
Navy contacted Lansky about a deal with Luciano. To facilitate
negotiations, Luciano was transferred to Great Meadow Correctional
Facility in Comstock, New York, which was much closer to New York
The Navy, the State of New York and Luciano reached a deal: in
exchange for a commutation of his sentence, Luciano promised the
complete assistance of his organization in providing intelligence to
the Navy. Anastasia, a Luciano ally who controlled the docks,
allegedly promised no dockworker strikes during war. In preparation
for the 1943 allied invasion of Sicily, Luciano allegedly provided the
US military with
Sicilian Mafia contacts. This collaboration between
the Navy and the Mafia became known as Operation Underworld.
The value of Luciano's contribution to the war effort is highly
debated. In 1947, the naval officer in charge of Operation Underworld
discounted the value of his wartime aid. A 1954 report ordered by
now-Governor Dewey stated that Luciano provided many valuable services
to Naval Intelligence. The enemy threat to the docks, Luciano
allegedly said, was manufactured by the sinking of the
SS Normandie in
New York harbor, supposedly directed by Anastasia's brother, Anthony
Anastasio. However, the official investigation of the ship
sinking found no evidence of sabotage.
On January 3, 1946, as a presumed reward for his alleged wartime
cooperation, Dewey reluctantly commuted Luciano's pandering sentence
on condition that he did not resist deportation to Italy. Luciano
accepted the deal, although he still maintained that he was a US
citizen and not subject to deportation. On February 2, 1946, two
federal immigration agents transported Luciano from Sing Sing prison
Ellis Island in New York Harbor for deportation proceedings. On
February 9, the night before his departure, Luciano shared a spaghetti
dinner on his freighter with Anastasia and five other guests.
On February 10, Luciano's ship sailed from
Brooklyn harbor for
Italy. This was the last time he would see the US. On February 28,
after a 17-day voyage, Luciano's ship arrived in Naples. On arrival,
Luciano told reporters he would probably reside in Sicily. Luciano
was deeply hurt about having to leave the US, a country he had
considered his home ever since his arrival at age 9. During his exile,
Luciano frequently encountered US soldiers and American tourists
during train trips in Italy. Luciano enjoyed these meetings and gladly
posed for photographs and signed autographs.
Lucky Luciano in 1948
Former residence of
Lucky Luciano in Cuba
In October 1946, Luciano secretly moved to Havana, Cuba. Luciano first
took a freighter from
Naples to Caracas, Venezuela, then flew to Rio
de Janeiro, Brazil. He then flew to
Mexico City and doubled back to
Caracas, where he took a private plane to Camaguey, Cuba, finally
arriving on October 29. Luciano was then driven to Havana, where he
moved into an estate in the Miramar section of the city. His
objective was to be closer to the US so that he could resume control
American Mafia operations and eventually return home. Lansky
was already established as a major investor in Cuban gambling and
In 1946, Lansky called a meeting of the heads of the major crime
Havana that December, dubbed the
Havana Conference. The
ostensible reason was to see singer
Frank Sinatra perform. However,
the real reason was to discuss mob business with Luciano in
attendance. The three topics under discussion were: the heroin trade,
Cuban gambling, and what to do about Siegel and his floundering
Flamingo Hotel project in Las Vegas. The Conference took place at the
Hotel Nacional de
Cuba and lasted a little more than a week.
On December 20, during the conference, Luciano had a private meeting
with Genovese in Luciano's hotel suite. The year before, Genovese had
been returned from
Italy to New York to face trial on his 1934 murder
charge. However, in June 1946, the charges were dismissed and
Genovese was free to return to mob business. Unlike Costello,
Luciano had never trusted Genovese. In the meeting, Genovese tried to
convince Luciano to become a titular "boss of bosses" and let Genovese
run everything. Luciano calmly rejected Genovese's suggestion:
There is no Boss of Bosses. I turned it down in front of everybody. If
I ever change my mind, I will take the title. But it won't be up to
you. Right now you work for me and I ain't in the mood to retire.
Don't you ever let me hear this again, or I'll lose my temper.
Soon after the Conference began, the US government learned that
Luciano was in Cuba. Luciano had been publicly fraternizing with
Sinatra as well as visiting numerous nightclubs, so his presence was
no secret in Havana. The US started putting pressure on the Cuban
government to expel him. On February 21, 1947, U.S. Narcotics
Harry J. Anslinger
Harry J. Anslinger notified the Cubans that the US would
block all shipment of narcotic prescription drugs while Luciano was
there. Two days later, the Cuban government announced that
Luciano was in custody and would be deported to
Italy within 48
hours. Luciano was placed on a Turkish freighter that was sailing
Operating in Italy
After Luciano's secret trip to Cuba, he spent the rest of his life in
Italy under tight police surveillance. When he arrived in
April 11, 1947, Italian police arrested him and sent him to a jail in
Palermo. On May 11, a regional commission in
Palermo warned Luciano to
stay out of trouble and released him.
In early July 1949, police in
Rome arrested Luciano on suspicion of
involvement in the shipping of narcotics to New York. On July 15,
after a week in jail, police released Luciano without filing any
charges. The authorities also permanently banned him from visiting
Rome. On June 9, 1951, he was questioned by
Naples police on
suspicion of illegally bringing $57,000 in cash and a new American car
into Italy. After 20 hours of questioning, police released Luciano
without any charges.
In 1952, the Italian government revoked Luciano's passport after
complaints from US and Canadian law enforcement officials. On
November 1, 1954, an Italian judicial commission in
strict limits on Luciano for two years. He was required to report to
the police every Sunday, to stay home every night, and to not leave
Naples without police permission. The commission cited Luciano's
alleged involvement in the narcotics trade as the reason for these
In 1929, Luciano met Gay Orlova, a featured dancer in one of
Broadway's leading nightclubs, Hollywood. They were inseparable
until he went to prison, but were never married. In early 1948, he
met Igea Lissoni, a Milanese ballerina 20 years his junior, whom he
later described as the love of his life. In the summer, Lissoni moved
in with him. Although some reports said the couple married in 1949,
others state that they only exchanged rings. Luciano and
Lissoni lived together in Luciano's house in Naples. He continued to
have affairs with other women, causing many arguments between him and
Lissoni. During these arguments, Luciano would sometimes physically
strike her. In 1959, Lissoni died of breast cancer.
Luciano never had children. He once provided his reasons for that: "I
didn't want no son of mine to go through life as the son of Luciano,
the gangster. That's one thing I still hate Dewey for, making me a
gangster in the eyes of the world."
American power struggle
By 1957, Genovese felt strong enough to move against Luciano and his
acting boss, Costello. He was aided in this move by Anastasia family
underboss Carlo Gambino. On May 2, 1957, following Genovese's orders,
Vincent "Chin" Gigante ambushed Costello in the lobby of his Central
Park apartment building, The Majestic. Gigante called out, "This is
for you, Frank," and as Costello turned, shot him in the head. After
firing his weapon, Gigante quickly left, thinking he had killed
Costello. However, the bullet had just grazed Costello's head and he
was not seriously injured. Although Costello refused to cooperate with
the police, Gigante was arrested for attempted murder. Gigante was
acquitted at trial, thanking Costello in the courtroom after the
verdict. Costello was allowed to retire after conceding control of
what is called today the
Genovese crime family
Genovese crime family to Genovese. Luciano
was powerless to stop it.
On October 26, 1957, Genovese and Gambino arranged the murder of
Anastasia, another Luciano ally. The following month, Genovese
called a meeting of bosses in
Apalachin, New York
Apalachin, New York to approve his
takeover of the Luciano family and to establish his national power.
Apalachin Meeting turned into a fiasco when law
enforcement raided the meeting. Over 65 high-ranking mobsters were
arrested and the Mafia was subjected to publicity and numerous grand
jury summons. The enraged mobsters blamed Genovese for the
disaster, opening a window of opportunity for Genovese's opponents.
Costello, Luciano, and Gambino met in a hotel in
Palermo to discuss
their plan of action. In his own power move, Gambino had deserted
Genovese. After their meeting, Luciano allegedly paid an American drug
dealer $100,000 to falsely implicate Genovese in a drug deal. On
April 4, 1959, Genovese was convicted in New York of conspiracy to
violate federal narcotics laws. Sent to prison for 15 years,
Genovese tried to run his crime family from prison until his death in
1969. Meanwhile, Gambino now became the most powerful man in the
Death and legacy
On January 26, 1962, Luciano died of a heart attack at Naples
International Airport. He had gone to the airport to meet with
American producer Martin Gosch about a film based on his life. To
avoid antagonizing other Mafia members, Luciano had previously refused
to authorize a film, but reportedly relented after Lissoni's death.
After the meeting with Gosch, Luciano was stricken with a heart attack
and died. He was unaware that Italian drug agents had followed him to
the airport in anticipation of arresting him on drug smuggling
Three days later, 300 people attended a funeral service for Luciano in
Naples. His body was conveyed along the streets of
Naples in a
horse-drawn black hearse. With the permission of the US
government, Luciano's relatives took his body back to New York for
burial. He was buried in St. John's Cemetery in Middle Village,
Queens. More than 2,000 mourners attended his funeral. Gambino,
Luciano's longtime friend, gave his eulogy.
Gambino was the only other boss besides Luciano to have complete
control of the Commission and virtually every Mafia family in the US.
In popular culture, proponents of the Mafia and its history often
debate as to who was better known between Luciano and his
contemporary, Al Capone. The much-publicized exploits of Capone with
Chicago Outfit made him the more well-known mobster in American
history, but he did not exert influence over other Mafia families as
Luciano did in the creation, and running of The Commission. In 1998,
Time characterized Luciano as the "criminal mastermind" among the top
20 most influential builders and titans of the 20th century.
In popular culture
Deported (1950) - A story based about a character based on Luciano and
played by Jeff Chandler
The Valachi Papers
The Valachi Papers (1972) – Luciano was portrayed by Angelo
Lucky Luciano (1973) – Luciano was portrayed by Gian Maria
Lepke (1975) – Luciano was portrayed by Vic Tayback
Brass Target (1978) Luciano was portrayed by Lee Montague
The Cotton Club (1984) – Luciano was portrayed by Joe
Mobsters (1991) – Luciano was portrayed by Christian Slater
Bugsy (1991) – Luciano was portrayed by Bill Graham
Billy Bathgate (1991) – Luciano was portrayed by Stanley Tucci
White Hot: The Mysterious Murder of Thelma Todd (TV 1991) – Luciano
was portrayed by Robert Davi
The Outfit (1993) – Luciano was portrayed by Billy Drago
Hoodlum (1997) – Luciano was portrayed by Andy García
Bonanno: A Godfather's Story (TV 1999) – Luciano was portrayed by
Lansky (TV 1999) – Luciano was portrayed by Anthony LaPaglia
The Real Untouchables (TV 2001) – Luciano was portrayed by David
The Untouchables (1959-1962) - Luciano was portrayed by Robert
The Witness (1960–1961) – Luciano was portrayed by Telly
Gangster Chronicles (1981) – Luciano was portrayed by Michael
Boardwalk Empire (2010–2014) – Luciano was portrayed by Vincent
The Making of the Mob: New York (2015) – Luciano was portrayed by
Mafia's Greatest Hits – Luciano features in the second episode of UK
history TV channel Yesterday's documentary series.
Jack Higgins (1981). Fictional based on the Luciano's
WWII supposed war efforts.
The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano, Martin A. Gosch and Richard
Hammer (1975). Semi-Autobiographical, based on Luciano's entire
lifespan as dictated by him.
Live by Night,
Dennis Lehane (2012). Luciano is a minor character
appearing in the story of fictional gangster Joe Coughlin. He is
further mentioned in the sequel "World Gone By".
Lucky Santangelo named after
Lucky Luciano in the Santangelo novels
written by Jackie Collins.
Black Hand (extortion)
^ "Say How: I, J, K, L". NLS Other Writings. National Library Service
for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. February 2011. Retrieved
August 19, 2012.
Lucky Luciano American crime boss Britannica.com
^ Birth Record
^ Critchley, David The Origin of Organized Crime in America: The New
York City Mafia, 1891–1931 pp. 212–213
^ a b c d "Luciano Dies at 65. Was Facing Arrest in Naples". The New
York Times. January 27, 1962. Retrieved June 17, 2012. Lucky Luciano
died of an apparent heart attack at Capodichino airport today as
United States and Italian authorities prepared to arrest him in a
crackdown on an international narcotics ring.
^ a b Biography.com (A&E Television Networks). "Lucky Luciano
Biography". Retrieved September 20, 2010.
^ "Immigration: The Journey to America: The Italians". Projects by
Students for Students. Oracle ThinkQuest Education Foundation.
Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved September
^ Stolberg, p. 117
^ "Lucania is Called Shallow Parasite". The New York Times. June 19,
1936. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
^ Newark, p. 22
^ a b Stolberg, p. 119
^ Pietrusza, David. Rothstein The Life, Times, and Murder of the
Criminal Genius Who Fixed the 1919 World Series (2nd ed.). New York:
Basic Books. p. 202. ISBN 0465029396.
^ a b c Sifakis
^ a b Maas, Peter. The Valachi Papers.
^ a b "Genovese family saga". Crime Library.
^ Feder & Joesten, pp. 67–69
^ Eisenberg, D.; Dan, U.; Landau, E. (1979). Meyer Lansky: Mogul of
the Mob. New York: Paddington Press. ISBN 044822206X.
^ a b c d e f g h The Five Families. MacMillan.
p. [page needed]. Retrieved June 22, 2008.
^ a b "Lucky Luciano: Criminal Mastermind," Time, Dec. 7, 1998
^ "The Genovese Family," Crime Library, Crime Library Archived
December 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
^ The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Mafia, p. 283
^ Newark, p. 81
^ "Schultz's Murder Laid to Lepke Aide". The New York Times. March 28,
1941. Retrieved June 24, 2012.
^ "Dewey Chosen by Lehman to Head Racket Inquiry; Acceptance Held
Certain". The New York Times. June 30, 1935. Retrieved June 24,
^ "Vice Raids Smash '$12,000,000 Ring'". The New York Times. February
3, 1936. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
^ Stolberg, p. 127
^ Stolberg, p. 128
^ "Luciano is Given Up and Is On Way Back". The New York Times. April
17, 1946. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
^ "Luciano Due Today, Heavily Guarded". The New York Times. April 18,
1936. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
^ Stolberg, p. 133
^ Stolberg, p. 148
^ "Lucania Convicted with 8 in Vice Ring on 62 Counts Each". The New
York Times. June 8, 1936. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
^ "Luciano Trial Website". Archived from the original on January 31,
^ "Lucania Sentenced to 30 to 50 Years; Court Warns Ring". The New
York Times. June 19, 1936. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
^ a b Newark, p. 137
^ "Supreme Court Bars a Review to Luciano". The New York Times.
October 11, 1938. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
^ Kelly, Robert J. (1999). The Upperworld and the Underworld: Case
Racketeering and Business Infiltrations in the United
States. Criminal Justice and Public Safety. New York: Kluwer Academic
/ Plenum Publishers. p. 107. ISBN 0306459698.
^ "Luciano War Aid Called Ordinary". The New York Times. February 27,
1947. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
^ Kihss, Peter (October 9, 1977). "Secret Report Cites". The New York
Times. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
^ Bondanella, Peter E. Hollywood Italians: Dagos, Palookas, Romeos,
Wise Guys, and Sopranos. New York: Continuum International Publishing
Group, 2004, p. 200. ISBN 0-8264-1544-X
^ Gosch & Hammer, pp. 260, 268, cited in Martin, David
SS Normandie Sunk as Cover for Dewey".
^ Trussell, C.P. (April 16, 1942). "Carelessness Seen in Normandie
Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved June 23, 2012.
^ "Dewey Commutes Luciano Sentence". The New York Times. January 4,
1946. Retrieved June 16, 2012.
^ "Luciano Leaves Prison". The New York Times. February 3, 1946.
Retrieved June 16, 2012.
^ a b "Pardoned Luciano on His Way to Italy". The New York Times.
February 11, 1946. Retrieved June 16, 2012.
^ "Luciano Reaches Naples". The New York Times. March 1, 1946.
Retrieved June 16, 2012.
^ English, p. 3
^ Sifakis, p. 215
^ "Genovese Denies Guilt". The New York Times. June 3, 1945. Retrieved
June 24, 2012.
^ "Genovese is Freed of Murder Charge". The New York Times. June 11,
1946. Retrieved June 24, 2012.
^ English, p. 28
^ English, p. 49
^ "U.S. Ends Narcotics Sales to
Cuba While Luciano is There". The New
York Times. February 22, 1947. Retrieved June 16, 2012.
^ "Luciano to Leave
Cuba in 48 Hours". The New York Times. February
23, 1947. Retrieved June 16, 2012.
^ "Luciano Released from
Palermo Jail". The New York Times. May 15,
1947. Retrieved June 16, 2012.
^ "Luciano Freed; Barred from Rome". The New York Times. July 16,
1949. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
^ "Luciano Questioned on Smuggling Count". The New York Times. June
10, 1951. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
^ "Luciano Loses Passport". The New York Times. July 17, 1952.
Retrieved June 17, 2012.
^ "Luciano, 'Danger to Society', Is Ordered To Stay Home Nights in
Naples for 2 Years". The New York Times. November 20, 1954. Retrieved
June 21, 2012. Charles (Lucky) Luciano, former New York vice king,
will have to stay home every night for the next two years.
^ a b Gosch & Hammer
^ "City Boy". Time. July 25, 1949.
^ Newark, p. 241
^ Newark, p. 240
^ "Costello is Shot Entering Home: Gunman Escapes". The New York
Times. May 3, 1957. Retrieved June 24, 2012.
^ "Anastasia Slain in a Hotel Here: Led Murder, Inc". The New York
Times. October 26, 1957. Retrieved June 24, 2012. Death took The
Executioner yesterday. Umberto (called Albert) Anastasia, master
killer for Murder, Inc., a homicidal gangster troop that plagued the
city from 1931 to 1940, was murdered by two gunmen.
^ "65 Hoodlums Seized in a Raid and Run Out of Upstate Village". The
New York Times. November 15, 1957. Retrieved June 24, 2012.
^ Sifakis, p. 23
^ "Genovese Guilty in Narcotics Plot". The New York Times. April 4,
1959. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
^ Grutzner, Charles (December 25, 1968). "Jersey Mafia Guided From
Prison by Genovese". The New York Times. Retrieved June 25,
^ "300 Attend Rites for Lucky Luciano". The New York Times. January
30, 1962. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
^ Buchanan, Edna. "Criminal Mastermind: Lucky Luciano". Time.
The Valachi Papers
The Valachi Papers (1972)
Lucky Luciano (1973)
^ IMDb: Lepke (1975)
^ IMDb: The Cotton Club (1984)
^ IMDb: Mobsters (1991)
^ IMDb: Billy Bathgate (1991)
^ IMDb: White Hot: The Mysterious Murder of Thelma Todd (TV 1991)
^ IMDb: The Outfit (1993)
^ IMDb: Hoodlum (1997)
^ IMDb: Bonanno: A Godfather's Story (TV 1999)
^ IMDb: Lansky (TV 1999)
^ IMDb: The Real Untouchables (TV 2001)
^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052522/ IMDb: The Untouchables (TV
^ IMDb: The Witness (TV Series 1960–1961)
^ IMDb: The
Gangster Chronicles (TV Series 1981)
Boardwalk Empire (TV Series 2010)
^ IMDb: The Making of the Mob: New York (TV Series 2015)
Gosch, Martin A.; Hammer, Richard (1974). The Last Testament of Lucky
Luciano. Boston: Little Brown and Company.
Gosch, Martin A.; Hammer, Richard (2013). The Last Testament of Lucky
Luciano. New York: Enigma Books. ISBN 978-1-936274-57-4.
Raab, Selwyn (2006). Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence
of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires. St. Martin's Press.
Klerks, Cat (2005). Lucky Luciano: The Father of Organized Crime.
Altitude Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 1-55265-102-9.
Powell, Hickman (2000). Lucky Luciano, his amazing trial and wild
witnesses. Barricade Books, Incorporated.
Feder, Sid; Joesten, Joachim (1994). Luciano Story. Da Capo Press.
ISBN 0-306-80592-8. Retrieved 2013-04-21.
Newark, Tim (2010). Lucky Luciano: the real and the fake gangster (1st
ed.). New York: Thomas Dunne Books. ISBN 978-0-312-60182-9.
Stolberg, Mary M. (1995). Fighting organized crime: politics, justice,
and the legacy of Thomas E. Dewey. Boston: Northeastern University
Press. ISBN 1-55553-245-4. Retrieved 2013-04-21.
Sifakis, Carl (2005). The Mafia Encyclopedia (3rd ed.). New York, NY:
Facts On File. ISBN 0-8160-6989-1. Retrieved 2013-04-21.
English, T. J. (2008).
Havana nocturne: how the mob owned
Cuba – and
then lost it to the revolution. New York: Harper.
ISBN 0061712744. Retrieved 2013-04-21.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lucky Luciano.
Lucky Luciano Biography
Salvatore "Lucky Luciano" Lucania at Find a Grave
'Havana' Revisited: An American
Cuba NPR, June 5, 2009
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