'Gangster Squad,' About Mobster Cohen and the Cops Who Hunted Him

LA gangster Mickey Cohen,circa 1940s.

Crash actor Michael Pena has joined the all-star cast of Gangster Squad, a crime drama set in 1940s Los Angeles, writes the Hollywood Reporter, according to  Reuters.

The Warner Bros. project centers on how, amid corruption and chaos, the LAPD created a unit called the Gangster Squad to keep the East Coast mafia out of the city. It is based on a seven-part Los Angeles Times article.

Josh Brolin stars as John O'Mara, one of the few cops not on the payroll of gangster Mickey Cohen, being portrayed by Sean Penn. Ryan Gosling, meanwhile, will play Sgt. Jerry Wooters, a good cop who loves the bachelor life.
Director: Ruben Fleischer; Writer: Will Beall (adaptation)

Meyer Harris "Mickey" Cohen (born Sept. 4, 1913, in Brooklyn, New York City – died, July 29, 1976 in Los Angeles) was a gangster based in Los Angeles and part of the Jewish Mafia; he also had strong ties to the American Mafia from the 1930s through 1960s.

According to Wikipedia, Mickey Cohen was sent to Los Angeles by Meyer Lansky and Lou Rothkopf to watch Bugsy Siegel. During their association, Mickey helped set up the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas and ran its sports book operation.

He also was instrumental in setting up the race wire, which was essential to Vegas betting, a Nevada attraction perhaps only second to the Hoover Dam. In 1947, the crime families ordered the murder of Siegel due to his mismanagement of the Flamingo Hotel, most likely because Siegel or his girlfriend Virginia Hill was skimming money. According to one account which does not appear in newspapers, Cohen reacted violently to Siegel's murder. Entering the Hotel Roosevelt, where he believed the killers were staying, Cohen fired rounds from his two .45 caliber semi-automatic handguns into the lobby ceiling and demanded that the assassins meet him outside in ten minutes. However, no one appeared and Cohen was forced to flee when the cops arrived.

Cohen's violent methods came to the attention of state and federal authorities investigating the Dragna operations. During this time, Cohen faced many attempts on his life, including the bombing of his home on posh Moreno Avenue in Brentwood. Cohen soon converted his house into a fortress, installing floodlights, alarm systems, and a well-equipped arsenal kept, as he often joked, next to his 200 tailor-made suits. Cohen also briefly hired bodyguard Johnny Stompanato before his killing by actress Lana Turner's daughter. Cohen bought a cheap coffin for Stompanato's funeral and then sold Lana Turner's love letters to Stompanato to the press.

Stompanato ran a sexual extortion ring as well as a jewelry store. He was one of the most popular playboys in Hollywood. Singer Frank Sinatra once visited Cohen at his home and begged him to tell Stompanato to stop dating Sinatra's friend and ex-wife, actress Ava Gardner.

Mickey Cohen died in his sleep in 1976 and is interred in the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.

Cohen's extended family number many cousins who today reside in New Jersey, New York, Florida, Washington and Vermont.


  1. a legend long ignored. the jews owned the 20th century, greud, einstein, oppengeimer,ben gurian,ochs,rothchilds las vegas & israel as starters. w/o the mishbuccha the sicians still collect nickels and dimes on the corner

  2. When Cohen was in prison, friends used to like to break his balls. He was concerned with his weight, so they would take his pants from his cell while he was on his job, and have a tailor take in a smidgeon at a time. When he found his pants tighter, he'd give away his dessert at dinner...to the same friends who were playing a joke on him. Who says guys in jail don't have fun?


  3. He's a killer, what a nice guy huh, if he killed your family member, would you still thin he was a nice guy, you read an article and think what a good guy, you don't even know him, I don't also, but I bet he is more a killer then a good guy, if he wasn't a killer he would have been dead along time ago and if he was a nice guy he would have been dead along time ago, so you figure it out, John Gotti Sr, good guy or killer, or you just don't know....

  4. To anonymous: Those who have never lived the life have a black and white view of mobsters. Street guys were (Yes, were) like other people, in that they had good and bad traits, good guys and bad guys, with the difference being the willingness to take chances with their own lives and eliminate the lives of others. Yes, the victim will always say the perpetrator was the worst in the world, but those who received help, like food we'd give to neighborhood people at holidays, or jobs our influence got for them, wouldn't feel the same way. An old actor I ran into told me that he grew up during the Depression, where guys from the local mob club kept regular people alive during that difficult time by distributing food, clothes, and other items. Aside from those who've become rats, keep in mind that guys enter that life knowing what the dangers are, and that when they are killed it's not as if the guy at the counter of the liquor shop was murdered for the money in his register or a girl killed during a rape like non-organized criminals do. Try to think of shades of grey instead of black and white.


  5. great comment Sonny. The mob is a combo of good and bad. But tell me what are pay day loan stores, OTB parlors, gov't lotto games if not mob run enterprises taken over by a governmen and run with less honesty.Plus Las Vegas is a mob city, true 20th century, and America's current entertainment capital, sorry New York

  6. more people have died in the name of religion then for any other cause in human history. The Roman Catholic Church, to impose their beliefs on those who believed otherwise, has roiled continents in centuries of killing.So every time you true believers kneel before the madonna understand that more people have died to enforce your devotion to her then the mob ever dispatched

  7. In the 20th century the WASP power structure diligently worked to maintain a stranglehold on American wealth.The gilded age was marked by an extreme transfer of wealth to a privileged few. New immigrants were viewed as a large pool of cheap labor. But were never to be allowed access to capital or the resources of capitalism. The segments of the Italian and Jewish communities labeled mobsters are made up of men who decided to take what they were being systematically denied.Many of their actions, like labor unions, gamming, liquer importation, movie making and loan extensions,are merely efforts to earn wealth without owning proerty. Each enterprise cut into major wasp earning centers, plus provided economic opportunity to large segments of society long suppressed. Todays neo conservative philosophy is little more then a wasp effort to regain their monopoly over the profit centers of capitalism. The reason the public can't get enough of mob lure is because many wish they had the courage to take what they feel they deserve from those suppressing them. Those called mobsters said no liquor, no way, no betting no way, banks won't extend credit we will, no decent wage let's organize, bored at home here's a movie. On balance we all live better lives because of the mob had the guts to stand up to a power elite working to keep them down.

  8. Lou, check out my earlier post, which says the same thing you are: http://cosa-nostra-news.blogspot.com/2011/05/mafialifeblogcom-blog-archive-mafia.html

  9. Lou, you're 100% right. Did an interview with EVL that he'll post later on this month, in which I discuss how the government's bullying bookmakers out of business and taking it over destroyed neighborhoods, businesses, and education.

    Mickey's Kid, what the hell are you smoking? Try to focus on the topic at hand.

    Robert Shapiro, you're on target except for your liberal biased shot at conservatives, but if you're the L.A. Attorney, a) that's understandable considering where you live, and b) I was at your office with Ronnie, a pal who Jimmy Caan recommended to you, when he first got pinched. You might like an article/blog I wrote on the contribution of Meyer Lansky to South Florida at www.SonnysMobCafe.com


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