Stereotype This! Debunking Hollywood's Italian Stereotypes and Myths Stereotype This!  Debunking Hollywood's Italian Stereotypes and Myths Stereotype This! Debunking Hollywood's Italian Stereotypes and Myths
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Mobsters You Should Know Printable Version


  • Mike "The Pike" Heitler--Prior to Big Jim Colosimo or Al Capone, a German American mob boss, Mike "The Pike" Heitler, surpassed his mentor, the turn-of-the-century Anglo American gambler Mont Tennes, to become Chicago's leading criminal. Heitler's particular penchant was for "white slavery"-i.e., raping and then forcing innocent young women into prostitution rings. Heitler's influence grew when he combined forces with a fellow pimp, Jake "Greasy Thumb" Guzik, the man who would eventually become the financial brains behind Al Capone's outfit a decade or so later.

  • William Joseph Simmons---In 1915, Simmons revived the Ku Klux Klan, the White Anglo Saxon Protestant (WASP) terrorist group whose membership had been on the wane after post-Civil War Reconstruction. William Joseph Simmons Inspired by a viewing of WASP filmmaker D.W. Griffith's epic "Birth of A Nation," Simmons re-organized the KKK into a political as well as a criminal force, electing many like-minded members not only in the South but in Midwestern states like Indiana and Illinois. Equal opportunity haters, the KKK reinforced their theories of racial purity by intimidating, and often murdering, blacks, Catholics, Jews, and immigrants. Elements of their paranoia and violence can be found via their modern-day incarnation as militia groups, advocating an internal war with the U.S. government.

  • Arnold Rothstein-In contrast to fellow Jewish American mobsters such as Monk Eastman, Dutch Schulz, Abe Reles, Bugsy Siegal, Louis Lepke, Izzy Bernstein, Henry Konigsberg and Larry Neumann, Rothstein set the standard of "the gentleman gangster." Arnold Rothstein A spiffy dresser with a sense of style, Rothstein ruled the 1920s, turning the vices of organized crime (gambling, drugs, political corruption) into lucrative big businesses. He inspired awe in no less than Meyer Lansky, the mob boss who followed him and who would eventually create the Sin City of Las Vegas: "Rothstein had the most remarkable brain. He understood business instinctively, and I'm sure that if he had been a legitimate financier, he would have been just as rich as he became with his gambling and the other rackets he ran."

  • Stephanie St. Clair --Born in Martinique, Stephanie St. Clair grew up in France and immigrated to America in 1912. Stephanie St. Clair A tough, brusque, no-nonsense woman, "Queenie," as she was known, became an immigrant success story, overseeing the largest illegal numbers game in Manhattan. She balked when mobster Dutch Schulz tried to horn in on her territory in the mid-30s, resulting in protracted mob wars. Eventually, her main muscle man, Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson, negotiated a settlement with other gangs in the city, forcing her to pay them street tax.

  • Pablo Escobar Pablo Escobar --The South American kid who started out as a car thief went on to become the greatest drug dealer of all time, controlling nearly 80% of the cocaine trade in the world. Escobar corrupted governments, fought successful gang wars and, through his domination of the drug market, brought untold misery on millions of people who became addicts.

  • Evsei Agron---Dubbed "the Godfather of Brighton Beach," Agron transformed himself from a Russian immigrant to national crime boss, extending his influence from Brooklyn to beyond. Evsei Agron A member of the VOR Brotherhood (the Russian version of a secret criminal society), Agron carried an electric cattle prod with him at all times in order to terrorize his victims. His successes put him in direct conflict with another Russian émigré-criminal, Boris Goldberg, whose minions attempted to assassinate him in 1984. He survived the shooting but was killed a year later in his own apartment building.

  • Osama bin Laden---Perhaps the deadliest mob boss in modern history, the Islamic leader uses his immense wealth to recruit Muslim fanatics all over the world, training them to kill innocent victims. Osama bin Laden Bin laden's reach managed to cripple one of the most powerful countries on the planet, the United States of America, on September 11, 2001, when members of his posse hijacked three commercial airplanes, killing 3,000 victims at once.

  • Ze'ev Rosenstein---Not all bombings in Tel Aviv, Israel, are the result of fanatical terrorists. Zeev Rosenstein In 2003, a bomb which rocked a downtown neighborhood was set off by Israeli gangsters trying to assassinate Ze'ev Rosenstein, a powerful drug kingpin. Rosenstein, along with other Israeli mobsters, is responsible for the smuggling and distribution of Ecstasy pills throughout the U.S., an offense for which he was convicted by an American court in Miami on January 17, 2007. Rosenstein has since been extradited to Israel to begin serving a 12 year prison sentence.

  • Yoshinori Watanabe---Although he officially retired in 2004, Watanabe is recognized as one of the most powerful mob bosses in Japan, the leader of what is referred to as a "yakuza." Yoshinori Watanabe With their roots stretching back to the 17th century, the Yakuza gangs extort the same control over illegal activities in their society that their Chinese cousins, the Triad gangs, do in Hong Kong and other Asian provinces. The Yakuza, who wear traditional suits and dark glasses as emblems of their power, are even solicited by legitimate businessmen to show up at mass meetings in order to intimidate stockholders.

  • Big Sister Ping-One of the most notorious human smugglers in American history, Cheng Chui Ping was convicted in a U.S. court in 2006 of being the mastermind behind numerous operations. Big Sister Ping One of them was the Golden Venture disaster in 1993 when a shipping boat crashed in Queens, NY, resulting in the death of ten immigrants. In addition to money laundering, the Chinatown businesswoman also employed the services of local Chinese gangsters to intimidate her human cargo.

  • James "Whitey" Bulger-The Boston-born Bulger is the latest in a long line of Irish American thugs and is currently on the F.B.I.'s "Most Wanted" list (2007). Whitey Bulger A fugitive for over 17 years, Bulger's crimes run from petty theft and larceny to drug dealing and cold-blooded murder. Some 18 or so killings have been attributed to him, which is more than those attributed to the much-more publicizied gangster Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, former captain to the late John Gotti. (Footnote: Bulger was finally captured in June, 2011.)

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