Mickey Spillane (mobster)

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Police photograph of Mickey Spillane

Michael 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.

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Life

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 Eddie McGrath, the waterfront racketeer and longshoremen's union leader. He married Maureen McManus, the daughter of the Democratic district leader Eugene McManus.

Though Italian mobsters dominated organized crime in the city, the Italian mob stayed out of Hell's Kitchen while Spillane was the boss. Oftentimes, 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 loan sharking he never allowed the sale of drugs.

It was Spillane's refusal to allow the Italian mobsters to participate in the Hell Kitchen rackets that led to his downfall.

The Javits Convention Center was being built on Spillane's Westside. The amount of money that the new convention center was generating for the underworld was enormous and the Italians were desperate for a piece of the action. Spillane refused to allowe the Italian mob to participate and the New York Irish Italian Mob War began.

Irish Italian Mob War

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 Italian. Although the Italians 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 rouge 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 kids.

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.

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.[citation needed] Spillane was no relation to the author Mickey Spillane, or to the wrestler Michael Spillane.

Family

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. The screen gave way while Robert may have been calling to his brother.

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

References