Mickey Spillane (mobster)

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For the author, see Mickey Spillane.
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Police photograph of Mickey Spillane

Michael J. Spillane, much better known as Mickey Spillane (July 13, 1934 – May 13, 1977), was an Irish-American mobster from Hell's Kitchen, New York City. Spillane, who was called the "last of the gentleman gangsters," was a marked contrast to the violent Westies mob members who succeeded him in Hell's Kitchen. Spillane was no relation to the author Mickey Spillane, or to the wrestler Michael Spillane.[citation needed]

Life[edit]

As a young boy in Hell's Kitchen, Spillane started as a numbers runner for various organized crime figures in his neighborhood. In 1960, Mickey took over the rackets left to him by his predecessor Hughie Mulligan. He married Maureen McManus, the daughter of the Democratic district leader Eugene McManus.[1]

Though Italian mobsters dominated organized crime in the city, the Italian mob stayed out of Hell's Kitchen while Spillane was the boss. Often, Spillane would kidnap members of the Italian Mafia and hold them for ransom to raise money for his operations. Although he ran the rackets such as gambling and loansharking, he never allowed the sale of drugs.

It was Spillane's refusal to allow the Italian mobsters to participate in the Hell's Kitchen rackets that led to his downfall. The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center was being built on Spillane's westside.[2] The amount of money the new convention center, Madison Square Garden, the waterfront and the unions were generating for Spillane was enormous, and the Italians were desperate for a piece of the action. Spillane refused to allow the Italian mob to participate, and the New York - Irish - Italian Mob War began.

Irish - Italian Mob War[edit]

Main article: Westies

In the 1970s the Irish mob saw an increased threat from the Italian Mafia as the Genovese crime family sought control over the soon to be built Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Since the convention center was located in Spillane's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood, Spillane refused to allow any involvement by the Italians. Although the Italian gangsters greatly outnumbered the members of the Irish mob, Spillane was successful in keeping control of the convention center and Hell's Kitchen. The Italians, frustrated and embarrassed by their defeat to Spillane and the Irish gangsters, responded by hiring a rogue Irish-American hitman named Joseph "Mad Dog" Sullivan to assassinate Tom Devaney, Eddie "the Butcher" Cummiskey, and Tom "the Greek" Kapatos, three of Spillane's chief lieutenants. By the mid-1970s, Spillane had moved his family out of Hell's Kitchen to Woodside, Queens because of threats of violence against his children.[3]

In 1966, a young upstart named Jimmy Coonan attempted to take the neighborhood from Spillane, muscling in on his territory and murdering a Spillane underling. Ultimately, Coonan was sent to prison in 1967. When he was released from prison, Coonan sought to align himself with the Gambino crime family through an up-and-coming mobster from Brooklyn, named Roy DeMeo. This would mark the beginning of the end for the Irish mob, as Coonan would eventually work for the Gambinos.

Death[edit]

On May 13, 1977, Spillane was killed outside his apartment in Queens. It has long been rumored that DeMeo murdered Spillane as a favor to Coonan, who subsequently took over as the boss of the Hell's Kitchen Irish Mob.[4] Spillane is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Queens, New York.

Family[edit]

Spillane had three children. Michael (Mickey), Robert and Denise. Robert, an actor, fell six stories to his death on July 10, 2010 in Manhattan, New York, when he leaned against his apartment window screen.[1] The screen gave way while Robert may have been calling his brother.

The Spillane family owns a bar in Hell's Kitchen called "Mickey Spillane's Hells Kitchen" on 49th Street and 9th Avenue.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Wilson, Michael (July 30, 2014). "Hell’s Kitchen Funeral Celebrates Matriarch With Ties to 2 Pasts". New York Times. Retrieved 31 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Newscore (July 10, 2010). "Son of NYC Mobster Mickey Spillane Falls to Death". Fox News. Retrieved 31 July 2014. 
  3. ^ Traub, James (April 5, 1987). "THE LORD'S OF HELL'S KITCHEN". New York Times. Retrieved 31 July 2014. 
  4. ^ English, T.J. (2006). The Westies : inside New York's Irish mob (1st St. Martin's Griffin ed. ed.). New York: St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 0312362846. 
  • English, T.J. The Westies. St. Martin's Paperbacks, 1991. ISBN 0-312-92429-1
  • English, T.J. Paddy Whacked: The Untold Story of the Irish American Gangster. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. ISBN 0-06-059002-5