Salvatore "Sam" Giancana (né Giangana; June 15, 1908 – June 19,
1975), was a
Sicilian American mobster, notable as being boss of
Chicago Outfit from 1957–1966. His nicknames were
"Mooney", "Momo", "Sam the Cigar", and "Sammy".
1 Early life
2 Criminal career
4 Rise to power
5 Alleged CIA connections
7 International gambling success and dispute with the Outfit
8.1 Other theories
9 In popular culture
10 See also
13 Further reading
14 External links
Giancana was born Salvatore Giangana, in The Patch on Chicago's West
Side, to Italian Sicilian immigrants from Partanna, in the province of
Trapani. His father, Antonino (later simplified to Antonio) Giangana,
owned a pushcart and later briefly owned an
Italian ice shop, which
was later firebombed by criminal rivals of his son.
Sam Giancana joined the 42 Gang, a juvenile street crew working for
political boss Joseph Esposito. (The name of the 42 Gang came from
associating themselves with
Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves. They thought
they were one better, hence 42). Giancana soon developed a reputation
for being an excellent getaway driver, a high earner, and a vicious
killer. After Esposito's murder, in which Giancana was allegedly
involved, the 42 Gang was transformed into a de facto extension of the
Chicago Outfit. The Outfit was initially wary of the 42ers, thinking
they were too wild. However, Giancana's reputation gained him the
notice of Cosa Nostra bosses such as Frank "The Enforcer" Nitti, Paul
"The Waiter" Ricca, and Tony "Joe Batters" Accardo. He was arrested
for the first time during 1925, for auto theft. He soon graduated to
"triggerman", and by the age of 20 had been the prime subject of three
murder investigations, but was never tried for any of them. During
the late 1930s, Giancana became the first 42er to join the Chicago
Outfit. From the early 1940s through the 1950s, he controlled most of
the illegal gambling, illegal liquor distribution, and numerous other
political rackets in Louisiana through longtime friend H.A. (Hol)
Killian. Killian controlled the majority of the liquor license
issuance by his associations with longtime business associate Carlos
Marcello from New Orleans.
Giancana married Angelina DeTolve, the daughter of immigrants from the
Italian region of Basilicata, on September 23, 1933. They had three
daughters, Antoinette, Bonnie, and Francine. His wife died during
1954, leaving him to raise his daughters. Giancana never remarried and
was known as a good family man, despite frequent infidelities. All of
the Giancana daughters have married at least once. As of 1984[update],
at least one daughter, Antoinette, had taken the "Giancana" name again
following her divorce.
Rise to power
During 1945, after serving a sentence at the Federal Correctional
Complex, Terre Haute,
Indiana (during which time he told his children
he was away "at college"), Giancana made a name for himself by
convincing Accardo, then the Outfit's underboss, to stage a take-over
African-American "policy" (lottery) pay-out system for
The Outfit. Giancana's crew is believed to have been responsible for
convincing Eddie Jones to quit his racket and leave the country.
Giancana's crew was also responsible for the murder on August 4, 1952
African-American gambling boss Theodore Roe. Both Jones and Roe
were major South Side gambling bosses. However, Roe had refused to
surrender control of his operation as the Outfit had demanded, and on
June 19, 1951, Roe fatally shot Lennard "Fat Lennie" Caifano, a made
man of Giancana's crew.
However, the South Side "policy"-game takeover by the Outfit was not
complete until another Outfit member, Jackie "the Lackey" Cerone,
scared "Big Jim" Martin to
Mexico with two bullets to the head that
did not kill him. When the lottery money started rolling in for the
Outfit after this gambling war, the amount that this game had produced
for the Outfit was in the millions of dollars a year and brought
Giancana further notice. It is believed to have been a major factor in
his being "anointed" as the Outfit's new boss when Accardo resigned
from being the front boss to becoming consigliere, during 1957.
However, it was generally understood that Accardo and Ricca still had
the real power. Giancana was required to consult Accardo and Ricca on
all important Outfit affairs. No major business transactions, and
certainly no contract killings, were performed without Accardo and
Giancana was present at the Mafia's 1957
Apalachin Meeting at the
Upstate New York
Upstate New York estate of Joseph Barbara. Later, Buffalo crime
Stefano Magaddino and Giancana were overheard by wiretap saying
the meeting should have occurred in the
Chicago area. Giancana claimed
Chicago area was "the safest place in the world" for a major
underworld meeting because he had several police chiefs on his
payroll. If the syndicate ever wanted to hold a meeting in or around
Chicago, Giancana said, they had nothing to fear because they had the
area "locked up tight".
Alleged CIA connections
It is widely reputed and partially corroborated by the Church
Committee hearings, that during the Kennedy administration, the
Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recruited Giancana and other
mobsters to assassinate Fidel Castro. Giancana reportedly said that
the CIA and the Cosa Nostra were "different sides of the same
coin". Documents released in 2017 showed the Sam Giancana
connection to the CIA and to Robert Maheu.
Judith Exner claimed to be the mistress of both Giancana and JFK, and
that she delivered communications between the two regarding Fidel
Castro. However, Giancana's daughter, Antoinette Giancana, has
stated her belief that her father was performing a scam to pocket
millions of dollars of CIA funding.
Documents released during 1997 revealed that some Mafiosi worked with
CIA on assassination attempts against Castro. CIA documents
released during 2007 confirmed that during the summer of 1960, CIA
recruited ex-FBI agent Maheu to meet with the West Coast
representative of the
Chicago mob, Johnny Roselli. When Maheu
contacted Roselli, Maheu hid the fact that he was sent by CIA, instead
portraying himself an advocate for international corporations. He
offered to pay $150,000 to have Castro killed, but Roselli refused any
pay. Roselli introduced Maheu to two men he referred to as "Sam Gold"
and "Joe". "Sam Gold" was Sam Giancana; "Joe" was Santo Trafficante,
Jr., the Tampa/
Miami syndicate boss and one of the most
powerful mobsters in prerevolution Cuba. Glenn Kessler of The
Washington Post explained: "After
Fidel Castro led a revolution that
toppled the government of
Fulgencio Batista in 1959, CIA was desperate
to eliminate Castro. So, the agency sought out a partner equally
worried about Castro—the Mafia, which had lucrative investments in
According to the declassified CIA "Family Jewels" documents, Giancana
and Trafficante were contacted during September 1960, about the
possibility of an assassination attempt by a go-between from CIA,
Maheu, after Maheu had contacted Roselli, a Mafia member in Las Vegas
and Giancana's number-two man. Maheu had presented himself as a
representative of numerous international businesses in
Cuba that were
being expropriated by Castro. He offered $150,000 for the "removal" of
Castro through this operation (the documents suggest that neither
Roselli, Giancana, nor Trafficante accepted any sort of payments for
the job). According to the files, Giancana was who suggested using
poison pills that could be used to dose Castro's food and drink. These
pills were given by CIA to Giancana's nominee, Juan Orta, whom
Giancana presented as being a corrupt official in the new Cuban
government and who had access to Castro. After six attempts to
introduce the poison into Castro's food, Orta abruptly demanded to be
relieved from the mission, giving the job to another, unnamed
participant. Later, a second attempt was done by Giancana and
Trafficante using Anthony Verona, the commander of the Cuban Exile
Junta, who had, according to Trafficante, become "disaffected with the
apparent ineffectual progress of the Junta". Verona requested $10,000
in expenses and $1,000 worth of communications equipment. However, how
much work was performed for the second attempt is unknown, as the
entire program was cancelled soon thereafter due to the Bay of Pigs
invasion during April 1961.
At the same time, Giancana, according to the "Family Jewels", asked
Maheu to wire the room of his then-mistress Phyllis McGuire, whom he
suspected of having an affair with comedian Dan Rowan. Although
documents suggest Maheu acquiesced, the device was not planted due to
the arrest of the agent who had been given the task of planting the
device. According to the documents, Robert Kennedy prohibited the
prosecution of the agent and of Maheu, who was soon linked to the wire
attempt, at CIA's request. Giancana and McGuire, who had a
long-lasting affair, were originally introduced by Frank Sinatra.
During part of the affair, according to Sam's daughter Antoinette,
McGuire had a concurrent affair with President Kennedy.
Giancana's behavior was too high-profile for Outfit preferences and
attracted too much federal scrutiny. He also refused to share his
lavish profits from offshore casinos in
Iran and Central America with
his subordinates. Both of these factors resulted in much resentment
among the Outfit's rank-and-file. Giancana was the subject of many
hours of wiretaps. On one, he was heard to say, "We're whacking a lot
of the wrong guys lately."
When Giancana was called before a grand jury during 1966, he was
ordered[by whom?] to stay silent, which put him in prison for more
than a year. Meanwhile, Giancana was deposed as operational boss by
Ricca and Accardo, and replaced by Joseph "Joey Doves" Aiuppa.
International gambling success and dispute with the Outfit
After arriving in Mexico, Giancana managed to make money from various
gambling operations, among them in Iran.
Tony Accardo demanded that he give a share of the profits to The
Outfit, Giancana refused, claiming that he did it all by himself and
outside the Outfit's jurisdiction. In response, Accardo asked someone
to "explain him the facts of life. And I mean life." Giancana, however
remained adamant and refused to pay.[not in citation given]
After his release from prison, Giancana relocated to Cuernavaca,
Mexico in order to avoid further grand jury questioning. He
was arrested by Mexican authorities on July 19, 1974 and deported to
the United States. He arrived back in
Chicago on July 21,
Giancana had another meeting with the Outfit with no resolution. The
Outfit requested he give them a share of his money, and he
After Giancana's return to the U.S., the police detailed officers to
guard his house in Oak Park, Illinois. However, on the night of June
19, 1975, shortly before he was scheduled to appear before the Church
Committee, which was investigating CIA and Cosa Nostra collusion
in plots to assassinate President John F. Kennedy, someone
recalled the police detail guarding his property. A gunman later
entered Giancana's basement kitchen and shot him in the back of the
head as he was frying sausage and peppers. After Giancana fell to
the floor, the gunman turned him over and shot him six more times in
the face and neck. Investigators suspected the murderer was someone
known to Giancana because, due to his heart condition, he would not
eat rich foods and was therefore cooking for another.
Giancana was interred next to his wife, Angelina, in a family
mausoleum at Mount Carmel Cemetery, in Hillside, Illinois.
Within days of Giancana's murder, Michael J. Corbitt, the police chief
of Willow Springs and a mobster associate, was told by Chicago
Outfit's capo Salvatore Bastone that "[...] Sam sure loved that little
guy in Oak Park [...] Tony Spilotro. Yeah, he was fuckin' crazy about
him. Sam put Tony on the fuckin' map, thought he was gonna be a big
fuckin' man someday. Did you know that after
Marshall Caifano got out
of Vegas, it was Sam who wanted Tony Spilotro out there? Even lately,
with all the problems with the skim and all, Sam always stood behind
the guy. Tony was over to Sam's house all the time. He lived right by
there. Did you know Tony even figured out a way where he could get in
through the back of Sam's place without anybody seeing him? He'd go
through other people's yards, go over fences, all sorts of shit."
When Corbitt asked for the reason for the murder, Bastone quipped,
"There's never just one reason for shit like what happened to Sam.
There's a million of 'em. Let's just say that Sam should've remembered
what happened to Bugsy Siegel."
Although long time associate Dominic "Butch" Blasi was with Giancana
the night he was murdered and was questioned by police as a suspect,
both the FBI and Giancana's daughter, Antoinette, do not consider him
Giancana's killer. Hitman
Nicholas Calabrese told the FBI during
the 2000s that he knew that
Tony Accardo was part of the killing, and
Angelo LaPietra got rid of the gun which used a suppressor made by
Frank Calabrese, Sr.
Frank Calabrese, Sr. and Ronnie Jarret.
Another theory was that Santo Trafficante, Jr., the boss of the
Trafficante crime family, ordered Giancana's murder due to fears he
was going to testify about the Mafia's involvement in the CIA plots to
kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Although Trafficante would have needed
permission from Outfit bosses
Tony Accardo and Joseph Aiuppa,
Giancana's murder coincided with the discovery of the decomposing
Johnny Roselli in an oil drum floating off Miami, Florida,
whose body had been shot and chopped up before being dumped in the
sea. The killing was suspected of being committed on the orders of
Despite rumours that the CIA may have killed Giancana because of his
links to the agency, former CIA Director
William Colby has been quoted
as saying, "We had nothing to do with it".
In popular culture
Giancana played a major role for the
J. X. Williams movie Peep Show
(1965) and has a personal performance credit for this on the IMDb
The HBO made-for-TV movie Sugartime (1995) depicts Giancana's
relationship with singer
Phyllis McGuire of the McGuire Sisters, with
Giancana being played by John Turturro.
Peter Friedman played Giancana for the movie Power and Beauty (2002).
Robert Miranda played Giancana in the television movie, The Rat Pack
Carmine Caridi played Giancana for the movie Ruby (1992).
News footage of Giancana is featured in the movie JFK (1991).
Giancana is portrayed with the name "Joseph Palmi" in the movie, The
Good Shepherd (2006), featuring Matt Damon. Palmi may be a mix of the
several other mobsters (Santo Trafficante, Jr., Carlos Marcello, etc.)
involved with the operation. Matt Damon's character, Edward Wilson, is
depicted in proposing Palmi (Joe Pesci) to assist in the assassination
of Fidel Castro. Pesci also played Nicky Santoro in Casino, who was
based on Tony Spilotro.
Giancana is a major character of Max Allan Collins' novels Chicago
Confidential and Road to Paradise.
Giancana plays a major role in James Ellroy's fiction, most notably
American Tabloid and its sequels
The Cold Six Thousand
The Cold Six Thousand and Blood's a
Giancana is the subject of the biography Mafia Princess, written by
his daughter Antoinette. This book was later adapted into the TV
film Mafia Princess (1986), starring
Tony Curtis as Giancana.
Giancana is a character of Robert Randisi's Rat Pack novels.[citation
Giancana is a notable character of Norman Mailer's historical fiction
The fictional character "Sam" in Steve Peters and Kay Stephens' novel
The Outlaw Sandra Love (2013) is based on Giancana.[citation
The fictional character
Louie Russo from Mark Winegardner's novel The
Godfather Returns, could be based on Sam Giancana.
The book "Double Cross: The Explosive, Inside Story of the
Controlled America" tells the story of Sam Giancana's life. Written by
his brother Chuck Giancana, and his godson and namesake Sam Giancana,
the book includes stunning first-time revelations concerning the
deaths of JFK, Marilyn Monroe, and RFK.
In the 2013 novel The Outlaw Sandra Love, the protagonist Sandra Love
is said to have had a four-year relationship with a man named Sam the
head of the
Chicago Outfit during the early 1960s.
Kool G Rap
Kool G Rap once stated that the "G" in his
name stands for Giancana.
Kool G Rap
Kool G Rap released an album during 2002
The Giancana Story
The Giancana Story (2002).
Giancana may be mentioned in the
Shyne song "Edge" on his second album
Godfather Buried Alive. "Fuck comma rap's, Sam Giancana", although
this is sometimes rendered as "... same G and canna".
Giancana is mentioned in the song "Dope money" by The Lox. "Bring
Drama 'cause Giancana got Kennedy Killed". "Dope money" is the sixth
The LOX second album, Ryde or Die Vol. 1.
Giancana features in the first episode of the documentary series
Mafia's Greatest Hits, on the UK history TV channel Yesterday.
Rod Steiger portrayed Giancana in the TV miniseries Sinatra (1992).
Serge Houde portrays Giancana as a major nemesis of the Kennedy family
in the television miniseries The Kennedys (2011).
The character Mob Man (uncredited) from
The X-Files episode "Musings
of a Cigarette Smoking Man" is likely based on Giancana who is present
at a planning meeting on the assassination of JFK.
Giancana is portrayed by
Emmett Skilton in the 8-part AMC television
miniseries, "The Making of the Mob: Chicago" (2016).
Assassination attempts on Fidel Castro
Hyman Larner, an American gangster associated with Sam Giancana.
Sam Giancana (Original name: Salvatore Giancana)". Find a Grave.
Retrieved October 18, 2010.
Sam Giancana on Biography.com". biography.com. Retrieved May 24,
^ Giancana 1984.
^ Ron Chepesiuk, Black Gangsters of Chicago, Barricade Books, 2007.
^ Roemer 1995, pp.125-129.
^ Giancana 1984, pp. 190, 195-197.
^ Sifakis, Carl (1987). The Mafia Encyclopedia. New York City: Facts
on File. ISBN 0-8160-1856-1.
^ Giancana 1992, p.215.
^ Michael O'Brien (1999-12-01). "The Exner File. (Judith Campbell
Exner, John F. Kennedy's mistress)". Washington Monthly. Archived from
the original on March 11, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-11.
^ Television documentary Mafia Women, Discovery Channel.
^ CIA offered money to Mafia. Retrieved December 3, 2006.
^ Memorandum for the Director of Central Intelligence, Subject:
Roselli, Johnny, November 19, 1970.
^ Kessler, Glenn (June 27, 2007). "Trying to Kill Fidel Castro". The
Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
^ Steve Holland and Andy Sullivan (2007-06-27). "CIA tried to get
Mafia to kill Castro". Reuters. Retrieved 2008-04-11.
^ Thomas Blanton (2007-06-26). ""Family Jewels" Archive". National
Security Archive. Retrieved 2008-04-11.
^ a b Alex Johnson (2007-06-27). "CIA opens the book on a shady past
Declassified 'family jewels' detail assassination plots, break-ins,
wiretaps". MSNBC. Retrieved 2008-04-11.
^ Giancana 1984 pp.259-284, 287-293, 347-348.
^ Giancana 1984 p.179.
^ Carl Sifakis (2005). The Mafia Encyclopedia. Infobase Publishing.
pp. 6. ISBN 978-0-8160-6989-7.
^ a b Roemer, Accardo: The Genuine Godfather
^ a b "Crime boss' death linked to his discomfiture to mob". The
Spokesman-Review. 93 (38). Spokane, Washington. June 21, 1975.
p. 16. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
^ a b Glionna, John M. (November 21, 2014). "Sam Giancana's daughter
aims to cash in on gangster's memorabilia". Los Angeles Times.
Retrieved October 30, 2014.
^ Michael Branigan (2011). A History of Chicago's O'Hare Airport. The
History Press. pp. 134. ISBN 978-1-60949-434-6.
^ "Giancana Killed". CBS News. June 20, 1975.
^ "Murder Most Foul". The Times-News. December 31, 1975.
^ "Chicago". Underworld Histories. History Channel.
^ Congress 1983, p. 182
^ Giancana family mausoleum location: 41°51′51″N
87°54′51″W / 41.8642299°N 87.914274°W / 41.8642299;
^ Michael J. Corbitt, Double Deal: The Inside Story of Murder,
Unbridled Corruption, and the Cop who was a Mobster, 2003. Page 196.
^ Corbitt (2003), page 196.
^ Giancana 1984, p.367.
^ Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the
^ C., G. (August 23, 1976). "Deep Six for Johnny" (PDF). Time.
pp. 23–25. Alameda Fratianno was Roselli's protégé because
Roselli introduced Fratiano to NY mob he was responsible for
Fratiano's actions who was an informant therefore death is of
^ Godwin 1978, p.145.
^ Giancana 1984
^ Peters, Steve (2013). The Outlaw Sandra Love. Star Hill Publishing.
^ "Mafia's Greatest Hits (series 1)". televisioncatchup.co.uk.
Giancana, Antoinette and Renner, Tony C, Mafia Princess: Growing Up in
Sam Giancana's Family, Morrow (1984), ISBN 0-380-69849-8.
Sam Giancana, Bettina Giancana, Chuck Giancana, Double Cross: The
Explosive, inside Story of the
Mobster Who Controlled America. New
York: Warner Books (1992), ISBN 0-446-51624-4.
Godwin, John, Murder U.S.A.: The Ways We Kill Each Other, Ballantine
Books (1978), ISBN 978-0-345-27721-3.
Roemer, Jr., William F., Accardo: The Genuine Godfather, D.I. Fine
(1995), ISBN 978-1-55611-467-0.
United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Governmental Affairs.
Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
Organized crime in Chicago:
hearing before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the
Committee on Governmental Affairs, United States Senate, Ninety-eighth
Congress, first session, March 4, 1983.
Brashler, William. The Don: The Life and Death of Sam Giancana. New
York: Harper and Row, 1977. ISBN 0-06-010447-3
Cain, Michael J. The Tangled Web. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2007.
Dark, Tony. The FBI Files Sam Giancana, H H Productions, Chicago,
2004. ISBN 0-615-12720-7
Hersh, Seymour M.
Hersh, Seymour M. Dark Side of Camelot. New York: Little, Brown and
Company, 1997. ISBN 0-316-35955-6
Inserra, Vincent L. C-1 and the
Chicago Mob. Xlibris, 2014.
ISBN 978-1-4931-8278-7[self-published source]
Morgan, John M. Prince of Crime. New York: Stein and Day, 1985.
Nash, Jay Robert. Bloodletters and Badmen. New York: M. Evans &
Co. 1973. ISBN 0-87131-777-X
Sifakis, Carl. Encyclopedia of Crime. New York: Facts On File, 1982.
Talbot, David. Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years. Free
Press. May 2007. ISBN 0-7432-6918-7
Thompson, Nathan (2003). KINGS The True Story of Chicago's Policy
Kings and Numbers Racketeers. The Bronzeville Press.
Zion, Sidney. Loyalty and Betrayal: The Story of the American Mob. San
Francisco: Collins Publishers, 1994. ISBN 0-00-638271-1
Sam Giancana Archives
Sam Giancana at Encyclopædia Britannica
FBI file on Sam Giancana
Seize the Night: Sam "Momo" Giancana
Sam Giancana at Find a Grave
Chicago Outfit Boss
Frank T. Caruso
William Morris Bioff
Kefauver Committee (1950–1951)
Operation Family Secrets (2005)
Capone Tax Evasion Trial (1931)
Mafia Commission Trial
Mafia Commission Trial (1986)
Castellammarese War (1929–1931) (Unofficial)
Relation to other groups
Balistrieri crime family
Bonanno crime family
Boston crime family
Philadelphia crime family
The Bugs-Meyer gang
Cleveland crime family
Cohen crime family
Colombo crime family
Dragna crime family
Gambino crime family
Genna crime family
Lucchese crime family
Luciano crime family
North Side Gang
ISNI: 0000 0000 5923 2421
BNF: cb120494774 (data)