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Mickey Cohen became the West Coast racket boss in 1947, after his mentor and predecessor, Bugsy Siegel, was assassinated.
Mickey Cohen - Preview (2:17)
The Gambinos - Mini Bio (2:08)
Al Capone - Taking Him Out (4:57)
A preview of "Mobsters: Mickey Cohen."
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The Gambino crime family ruled new york city streets for decades. They were three of the most powerful mafia dons of the 20th centuries.
Al Capone was a famous outlaw and leader of the Mob in Chicago. It took Eliot Ness and the secret six of Chicago to take down Al Capone on tax evasion.
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A recording of screen goddess Lana Turner having sex with John Stompanato, a handsome Cohen associate, was a much sought-after entertainment piece, and a lucrative endeavor. When Stompanato ultimately turned up dead in Turner's bedroom, yet another firestorm involving Mickey Cohen erupted. Authorities concluded that Turner's teenage daughter killed Stompanato in defense of her mother,
and the case was closed. But Cohen vocally claimed that this was not the truth and smeared Turner by releasing her love letters to Stompanato to the press.
With his great enemy U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy deeply involved in the case, Cohen was tried and convicted a second time for tax evasion, in 1961. Sentenced to 15 years, he outdid the previous record for white-collar crime, held by his idol and role model, Al Capone. Like Scarface he served his first months in Alcatraz, before he became the first and only prisoner ever bailed out of the infamous prison—his bond signed by a sitting U.S. Supreme Court Justice. After appeals to the Supreme Court failed, he was transferred to a federal prison in Atlanta, Georgia, and Alcatraz was closed. In 1963, in the Atlanta facility, Mickey Cohen suffered a vicious attack that left him partially paralyzed.
Cohen was released from prison in 1972, and he traveled the country, visiting friends such as New Orleans mob boss Carlos Marcello, meeting members of the press and appearing frequently on television. In 1974, he made headlines, again, when he became tangentially involved in the infamous kidnapping of newspaper heiress, Patty Hearst. Mickey Cohen died in his sleep from complications of stomach cancer on July 29, 1976, in Los Angeles. He was 62.
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