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A gun moll (aka gangster moll) is the female companion of a male professional criminal. In some contexts, 'gun moll' more specifically suggests that the woman handles a firearm.
When the term came into usage in the first decade of the 20th century, "gun" was not derived from the firearm, but from the Yiddish word meaning "thief," variously transliterated into English as ganefthe, gonif, goniff, or ganof, itself derived from Hebrew "Ganav" (גנב). However, this distinction gradually disappeared, especially when such women became associated with gangsters noted for their frequent use of guns.
"Moll" derives from "Molly", used as a euphemism for "whore" or "prostitute" and attested at least since 17th century England.
In the U.S., the term has mostly been applied to a woman associating with an American gangster of the 1920s and 1930s, and in most cases remarkable only because of his notoriety. Extended use of the term without awareness of the Yiddish root, however, has invited interpretations of "gun" as suggesting more than simply criminal associations. Bonnie Parker and Blanche Barrow were gun molls in this stronger sense, and especially notable examples in general, because of their accompanying the rest of the Barrow Gang to the planned locations of violent crimes, and in Parker's case, apparently directly assisting at least to the extent of loading guns in the midst of shootouts.
Prominent gun molls
Prominent, true-life gun molls (and the men they were associated with) include:
- Beulah Baird — Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd
- Mae Capone — Al Capone
- Dee David (née DaLonne Chisam; 30 April 1923 – 12 November 1976 - later Cooper, Brumer & Jackson, through four marriages) — Frank Niccoli (alias Frankie Burns) (1910 – 2 September 1949), Mickey Cohen and Fred (Alfred Gerardo) Sica (11 September 1915 – 10 December 1987) Dee David was an aspiring actress, playing bit-parts in several movies, such as the hat check girl in Alias a Gentleman (billed as DaLonne David), and the uncredited role of Rita (the "Blond") in the detective thriller Calling Homicide (billed as Dalonne Cooper)."
- Jean Delaney (Crompton) — Tommy Carroll
- Phoolan Devi Indian dacoit, Gun Moll of Vikram Mallah, later turned into the gang leader after his death
- Victoria DiGiorgio Gotti— John Gotti
- Judith Exner — was an American woman who claimed to be the mistress of U.S. president John F. Kennedy and Mafia leaders Sam Giancana and John Roselli.
- Evelyn "Billie" Frechette — John Dillinger
- Buda Godman (née Helen Julia Godman; 4 December 1888 – 1944?) — John Homer T. ("Dapper Jackie") French, member of the Lou Blonger Gang of Denver. A photo of Buda holding a gun is found in Philip S. Van Cise's Fighting the Underworld.
- Catherine Greig — James Whitey Bulger
- Maria Victoria Henao — Pablo Escobar
- Karen Hill — Henry Hill
- Virginia Hill — Bugsy Siegel
- Mary Kinder (née Mary Northern; 29 August 1909 – 21 May 1981) — Harry Pierpont
- Opal "Mack Truck" Long — Russell Clark
- Edna Murray wife of "Diamond Joe" Sullivan, who was executed for murder in 1924. She then married Jack Murray, who was imprisoned for 25 years in 1925. She then lived with Volney Davis, until they were both arrested for kidnapping in 1935.
- Mary O'Dare — Raymond Hamilton
- Bonnie Parker — Clyde Barrow
- Geraldine McGee Rosenthal— Frank Rosenthal
- Kathryn Thorne (née Cleo May Brooks; 18 March 1904 – 28 May 1985) — George "Machine Gun" Kelly
- Helen Wawzynak — George "Baby Face" Nelson
- Italian and Italian American gangsters and mafioso often refer to their mistress as a comare (Italian for "godmother"), often Americanized to goomah, goomar, or gomatta.
- moll - common term for whore or prostitute, and also the nickname of a 17th-century criminal Moll Cutpurse
In popular culture
- American Gangster (2007)
- Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
- Bugsy (1991)
- Carlito's Way (1993)
- Casino (1995)
- Donnie Brasco (1997)
- Drive (2011)
- Gangster Squad (2013)
- Gloria (1980)
- Godfather Trilogy (1972-1990)
- Goodfellas (1990)
- Gun Crazy (1950)
- Harlem Nights (1989)
- Jigsaw (1949)
- Miller's Crossing (1990)
- Natural Born Killers (1994)
- Outside the Law (1920)
- Public Enemies (2009)
- Pulp Fiction (1994)
- Ruby (1977)
- Scarface (1983)
- The Cocaine Fiends (1935)
- The Getaway (1972)
- The Lady in Red (1979)
- White Heat (1949)
- Boardwalk Empire (2010-)
- Breaking Bad (2008–2013)
- Mob Wives (2011-)
- The Simpsons episode, "The Real Housewives of Fat Tony" (2011)
- Sons of Anarchy (2008-)
- The Sopranos (1999–2007)
- gun moll - Definitions from Dictionary.com
- ganef - Definitions from Dictionary.com
- Long Beach Independent - Long Beach, California - Wednesday, August 3, 1949 - P. 23
- Long Beach Independent - Long Beach, California - Thursday, July 21, 1949 - P. 32
- "California, Death Index, 1940-1997," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VP2B-9BC), Accessed 24 Aug 2013, Alfred Gerardo Sica, 1987.
- Long Beach Press-Telegram - Long Beach, California - Friday, November 2, 1956 - P. 23 (This article points out that DaLonne had actually lived with Fred Sica for a number of years.)
- Dalonne Jackson, Internet Movie Database
- Van Cise, Philip S. Fighting the Underworld. (Cambridge, Mass.: The Riverside Press, 1936) OCLC 435739
- Don’t Call Us Molls: Women of the John Dillinger Gang by Ellen Poulson