The Los Angeles/Hollywood Mafia
Actress Lana Turner
Actress Lana Turner, stared with Robert Taylor, in “Johnny Eager,” Hollywood tale of the mafia that marked the beginning of her own involvement with a real life mobster, Johnny Stompenado, a crew member for the Hollywood mob organization headed then by Mickey Cohen. Stompenado had confronted several of Turner’s screen co-stars, including a celebrated tiff with Sean Connery. Stompenado was killed by Turner’s daughter, who stabbed the mobster in the stomach several times. Stompenado had bled to death.
Cohen himself had begun his mafia career as a thug for Vegas boss Ben “Bugsy” Siegel before moving to Hollywood. Cohen, a former ex-prize fighter, inherited Siegel’s racing interests and operated a small haberdashery in Los Angeles that served as a front for a book making enterprise.
Cohen was eventually arrested and charged with tax evasion, and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.
Cohen escaped numerous mob hits in the 40s and 50s. Always high profile, he dressed lavishly and flaunted his money and friendships. Much of his image came from the Hollywood movie houses that portrayed the mafia bravo in films of the era.
The west coast representative of the New York mob, who frequently fought with Cohen and was behind several attempts on Cohen’s life, was Jack Dragna. Dragna liked to call himself the “Al Capone of Los Angeles.” The Dragna mafia family, jokingly referred to by the FBI as “F-Troop,” included members of his personal family, Louis, Tom, Frank and Paul Dragna.
Dragna’s organization incuded Johnny Roselli, who fled to Los Angeles after jumping bail on a federal narcotics arrest in 1921. Roselli worked with Dragna, extorting the film industry until his ocnviction in 1944. Sentenced to 10 years, he only served three. After Dragna’s death in 1957, Roselli became the West Coast boss.
— Ray Hanania