What You Didn't Know About Mobster Frankie Yale

Frankie Yale, AKA Frankie Uale was born Francesco Ioele in Longobucco, Calabria, Italy, in 1893.
Frankie Yale

Yes, the John Gotti movie is the big news of the day, which is why I bring you the following.... (but seriously I hope to have some interesting news later today / tonight about the film. What I'd previously heard included some scenes will be shot in New York (Queens and Manhattan) and that the film is focused on Gotti Senior -- it's called The Life and Death of John Gotti, note. Some newspapers have incorrectly reported that filming has begun. It hasn't. While John Travolta and real-life wife Kelly Preston were slated to play Gotti Senior and his real-life wife, Victoria, there's no word regarding rest of cast.)

The following arrives here courtesy of Tony Sokol, who wrote this story originally as part of a package of Boardwalk Empire-related stories for Den of Geek... Tony also writes for The Chiseler, KpopStarz.com, and hypnocloud.com. His stories also can be seen on Altvariety, Coed.com, Daily Offbeat, Dark Media Press, Wicked Mystic and other magazines. Tony also is a musician and is a playwright who has had more than 20 plays produced in NYC, including Vampyr Theatre and the rock opera “AssassiNation: We Killed JFK.” He also appeared on the Joan Rivers (TV) Show, Strange Universe and Britain’s “The Girlie Show.”

The story of the real Frankie Yale is crazy and bloody, as Tony writes, noting:

I’m starting with Frankie Yale because I happen to know something about him almost no one knows...

My grandfather was the gravedigger at the Holy Cross Cemetery on Snyder Avenue in Brooklyn. Holy Cross is a Roman Catholic graveyard and the people who run it could never let someone like Frankie Yale be interred there. He was a known murderer and criminal. But his family owned a funeral parlor on 66th Street and 14th Avenue. Frankie Yale is buried at Holy Cross, but you won’t find his headstone. The lettering is so light you can’t see it. My father told me you need to rub dirt on it to make it out. There has been an addition to the Ioele family plot, Yale's grave is a knight's move away.

Frankie Yale, AKA Frankie Uale was born Francesco Ioele in Longobucco, Calabria, Italy, in 1893. Yale was married twice and had three daughters. He was a snazzy dresser and was called the “Beau Brummell of Brooklyn” and the “Prince of Pals" because he was quick with a joke and helped out a lot of people in the neighborhood. There is an urban myth that he became head of the Unione Siciliana after Ignazio "the Wolf" Lupo went to jail in 1918. Lupo had controlled the Unione for the Morello crime family. Lupo was known for hanging guys on meat hooks he kept in his office. Word on the street was that he burned six politicians in his basement furnace. The truth is that the two were in the Black Hand and no real connection to the unione has been established. The rest you can guess for yourselves. Ioele was Capone’s boss and the one who sent him to Chicago to bring it under New York rule.

Both Ioele and Capone came up through the Five Points Gang, and their dutch uncle was Johnny Torrio. By the time he was 19, Ioele was arrested in connection with a murder. Ioele kept Brooklyn cool, taking over the trucks that delivered ice. Ioele took that money and opened the Harvard Inn on Coney Island. Because the bar was called the Harvard he took the name Yale. The Harvard Inn is where Frank Galluccio slashed Al Capone across the face for insulting his sister and why they called Capone “scarface.” Capone worked for Yale for two years before he was sent to Chicago to work under Johnny Torrio.

Yale ran cathouses and tried his Black Hand at strong-arming the neighborhood. He sold cigars with his face on the box and lived across the street from the funeral home he ran. He said he was an undertaker. When booze was criminalized he became a bootlegger, one of the biggest in Brooklyn. Future bosses Albert Anastasia and Joe Adonis worked under him. In 1920, Yale shot Jim Colosimo so Torrio could take over operations in Chicago. Yale, along with John Scalise, and Albert Anselmi, would do a similar piece of work for Torrio and Capone on Dean O’Bannion, who ran the North Side Gang, at his flower shop on Nov. 10, 1924. The undertaker told the cops he was in Chicago for the funeral of Mike Merlo, the president of Unione Siciliana.

Yale survived four attempted hits. He was ambushed on his way to a banquet on Feb. 6, 1921. His bodyguard was killed but Yale survived a lung wound. On July 15, 1921, his car was shot at on Cropsey Avenue and his brother Angelo was hit. About a week later Yale’s men shot the man who ordered the hit, Silvio Melchiorre, in Little Italy. Yale’s chauffer, Frank Forte, was shot on July 9, 1923 because the gunman thought he was Frankie Yale. The fourth attempt was when one of Capone’s men tried to shoot Yale on July 1, 1927 after Yale found out that Capone was hijacking Yale’s whiskey on its way to Chicago.


George Raft’s quarter-flipping Guino Rinaldo character in the 1932 film Scarface is based on Frankie Yale. Raft said that after he made the movie a gangster told him that if any mobster was flipping any kind of coin, it would be worth more than a quarter. John Cassavetes played Yale in the 1975 movie, Capone.