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Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 26 February 1902Calabria, Italy
Date of Death 25 October 1957New York City, New York, USA  (homicide)
Nicknames The Mad Hatter
The Lord High Executioner

Mini Bio (2)

Albert Anastasia was born February 26, 1903, in Calabria, Italy, famous for its hams and the 'ndrangheta, which was every bit as vicious as the Sicilian Mafia. He was brought to America as a child along with his eight brothers. When he was starting in organized crime, he helped Salvatore Lucania, who later became known as Lucky Luciano, murder Giuseppe Masseria (aka "Joe The Boss" or "The Chinese"). When the "Boss of Bosses", Salvatore Maranzano, was murdered by Luciano, La Cosa Nostra was divided into different families known as The Commission. The bosses of the family Anastasia belonged to were brothers Vincent Mangano and Philip Mangano.

It wasn't long before Anastasia started to lust for power. As the underboss, he and Vincent Mangano often fought physically. Anastasia, being younger, would usually win. Anastasia's old friend and boss of the Luciano family, Frank Costello, soon found himself in a pickle when his partner, Vito Genovese, returned from Italy after nine years' exile. Costello needed Anastasia's help but couldn't do a thing unless he had an entire family behind him. Costello and Anastasia soon came up with the idea of killing the Manganos. On April 19, 1951, one of the most mysterious murders in Mafia history occurred. The body of Phil Mangano was found in a marshland with three bullets in the back of his head and two in each cheek. When the police tried to contact his brother, they couldn't reach him. When Vincent didn't show up at his brother's funeral, the police and Mafia bosses assumed that Vincent had been murdered as well. Frank Costello stuck up for Anastasia when the families had a sit-down to discuss the murder, saying that the Manganos were planning to kill him. Anastasia was now the boss of the former Mangano family.

After he became the boss, he and his younger brother, Anthony Anastasia (aka "Tough Tony") - who changed his last name to Anastasio, most likely in order to avoid public connections with his brother--ran the Brooklyn waterfronts for over a decade. When Lucky Luciano was arrested, Albert and his brother Tony sabotaged a huge French ocean liner moored at a pier and spread the word that it had been done by Nazi saboteurs. They then made a deal with the US government that they would "protect" the waterfront from further "sabotage" in exchange for Luciano's release. A compromise was reached in which Luciano was sent to a minimum-security prison. Under Luciano's order, Anastasia became the head of the Mafia's enforcement arm, known as Murder Inc. This group of killers was responsible for an estimated 700 to 1000 murders, the large number of killings attributed to Anastasia's hot temper and love of violence. When he saw an interview with a New York shop owner named Arnold Schuster, who had recognized notorious bank robber Willie Sutton on the street and notified the police, who then arrested Sutton, Anastasia immediately ordered that Schuster be killed; he had no connection with Sutton, but his reasoning for ordering Schuster's murder what that "I don't like rats".

Schuster's death enraged the public as well as the other Mafia bosses. A few years later Luciano was deported to Italy, and the Italian government then exiled him to Sicily where, during WW II, he and the local Mafia ingratiated themselves with US forces after the invasion of Sicily by identifying and helping capture "fascists" and "fascist sympathizers" (most of whom, strangely enough, turned out to be Luciano's competitors in his various criminal enterprises).

When Luciano left, Genovese wanted more and more power, but Frank Costello, Albert Anastasia and Anastasia's underboss Frank Scalise ran things. Genovese was growing irritated with Albert because of the many murders committed by Albert's crew, which Genovese considered unjustified and which went against the Mafia's laws. Albert was also selling memberships for his family for a few thousand dollars apiece. Genovese hired future boss Vincent Gigante (aka "The Chin") to kill Costello. In 1957 Costello was shot in the head by Gigante, but Costello's phenomenal luck held and he was only grazed by the bullet. However, the assassination attempt persuaded him to semi-retire from his life of crime. By tradition, an underboss was murdered before the boss, in order to prevent retaliation. Anastasia's strongest ally, Joe Adonis, was suddenly deported to Italy. His underboss, Frank Scalise, was murdered not long afterwards when he went out to buy some fruit.

One of Anastasia's capos, Carlo Gambino, who later became the most powerful Mafia boss in US history, was secretly meeting with Vito Genovese to discuss the planned killing of Anastasia. Genovese promised that Gambino would be named the boss of the family if he killed Anastasia. Carlo could not refuse. Anastasia was about the same age, so by the time Carlo became boss, he wouldn't have much longer to live. Gambino consulted Joe Profaci, another Mafia boss, and the two hired the Gallo brothers, including the infamous Joe Gallo (aka "Crazy Joe"), to kill Anastasia. Anastasia's favorite barber shop was on the bottom floor of the famous Park Sheraton Hotel. He loved getting his beard trimmed and the feel of the towel on his face. When the barber put the towel on Albert's face, two of the three Gallo brothers rushed in and fired five shots into Anastasia, blasting him out of the barber's chair. The New York criminal and law enforcement communities were relieved that "The Lord High Executioner" had been taken out. Some people, however, were not so happy about it, and one of the most troubled was future boss John Gotti. Albert had been his role model and, at the time, his one hope of getting in the family. Albert's brother Tough Tony continued to control the waterfronts after Albert's death.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Rzarector740 (qv's & corrections by A. Nonymous)

In the early 1930s, Jewish-American labor racketeer Louis Buchalter, aka Louis Lepke, and Italian-American gangsters Lucky Luciano and Johnny Torrio, the former boss of the Chicago Outfit and mentor of New York native 'Al Capone', allied together. Luciano's Jewish-American associates Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky formed "Murder, Inc.", a group of hitmen who would be on call 24/7 to handle any "problems" that afflicted la Cosa Nostra. Murder, Inc., originally was a group of mostly Jewish-American killers from the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. Operating out of the back of a candy store, they proved highly effective in maintaining mob discipline and eliminating problems such as eyewitnesses and recalcitrant marks. The band of brothers-in-arms eventually were used to fulfill most murder "contracts." As Siegel and Lansky (the latter widely regarded as the financial brains of organized crime in America) had moved on to other, greener pastures, control over Murder Inc. was ceded to Buchalter and Albert Anastasia, who was known in underworld circles as "The Mad Hatter" and, more ominously, "The Lord High Executioner".

The group of killers was credited with carrying out many contract murders throughout the country, including the slaying of Jewish-American bootlegger and northern New York State crime boss 'Dutch Schultz' at the Palace Chophouse in Newark, NJ, on October 23, 1935. The Schultz killing was a major event for Anastassia and Murder Inc., signaling their arrival as a major force in organized crime (Louis Amberg was murdered by the group the very same day). Murder Inc. may have been responsible for as many as 1000 contract killings nationwide, carried out by such killers as future canary Abe Reles, aka "Kid Twist" (played by Peter Falk in the movie Murder, Inc. (1960), which brought him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nod) and Frankie Carbo, who later established himself as "The Czar of Boxing" (the Mafia, via Anastasia, Carbo and Carbo's partner Blinky Palermo, took over the sport of boxing and manipulated the odds and fixed the fights according to abet their bookie operations. Carbo ran New York boxing, which WAS boxing until the 1960s--when he and Palermo were convicted and sentenced to prison--from his New York bookie operation). The Federal Bureau of Investigation (whose director J. Edgar Hoover denied the existence of the Mafia until 1957, possibly because he was being blackmailed by mobsters who supposedly had pictures and film of him engaged in homosexual activities) managed to hook Buchalter on a narcotics trafficking charge in the mid-'30s, after he had successfully avoided arrest due to the bribing of federal judges and the Mafia's political connections (until the 'Richard Milhous Nixon' Administration, the Mafia was associated with the Democratic Party. Gore Vidal, in one of his essays, estimated that organized crime provided approximately 15% of the Democratic Party's budget in the 1960s. In mobbed-up cities like Chicago, a Democratic Party ward headquarters was synonymous with local Mafia headquarters/clubhouse). Murder, Inc. was also investigated by New York City special prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey, as one of the many targets of the "Syndicate" that Dewey was dedicated to obliterating. Fearing the implacable and incorruptible Dewey (who would use his fame as the country's most successful crime-buster, the man who put away Lucky Luciano and other organized crime bigwigs, to the state house in Albany and two bids for President as the Republican nominee in 1944 and '48), Buchalter surrendered to federal authorities on a narcotics trafficking charge, stipulating that he would not be turned over to Dewey. Convicted, he was sent to Leavenworth for 14 years, later extended to 30 years on account of his involvement in union racketeering. From his jail cell, he was still able to co-control Murder, Inc. and his other fiefdoms.

Anastassia and his now-incarcerated partner Buchalter became the focus of an investigation by New York City District Attorney William O'Dwyer, who planned to run for mayor. Targeting Anastassia's Murder, Inc. underlings, O'Dwyer had "Kid Twist" Reles picked up for murder. Facing a date with "Old Sparky"--the electric chair at the State Penitentiary in Ossining (the fabled "Sing Sing")--The Kid turned informant in 1940 and fingered Buchalter for four murders. Anastassia escaped prosecution, but The Kid informed the Grand Jury that he overheard Lepke ordering the 1936 murder of Brooklyn candy store owner Joseph Rosen, a former garment industry trucker. The trial of the Murder, Inc. co-boss was scheduled for November 12, 1941, and Lepke was transported from Leavenworth to New York City to stand trial. Anastassia, fearful for his own skin lest Kid Twist spill the beans on the witness stand and implicate The Mad Hatter, put a $100,000 bounty on his head. On the morning of the trial, Reles--who was being guarded by six police detectives in Room 623 of the Half Moon Hotel on Coney Island--did spill his guts, after falling from the sixth-floor window of the hotel to his death. The detectives said it was a suicide, but the angle of trajectory of his body indicates that he had been pushed or thrown out of the window. It was widely believed that Mafia boss Frank Costello, who oversaw organized crime as the heir apparent of incarcerated "Capo di tutti capi" ("Boss of Bosses") Luciano, "touched" the detectives guarding The Kid, bribing them to ensure that he would never get to the courtroom to testify. What is known is that Kid Twist, the would-be "stool pigeon", became known after his death as "The canary who sang, but couldn't fly."

Lepke had run out of luck, however. O'Dwyer obtained a conviction based on the testimony of another Murder, Inc. turncoat, Albert Tannenbaum. In December 1941, a jury convicted Buchalter of first-degree murder, and he was sentenced to death by electrocution. In October 1942 the conviction and sentence was upheld by the New York State Court of Appeals, and New York City requested that Buchalter be turned over by the federal government for execution of sentence. Lepke managed to put off execution for another year and a half, but the 47-year-old Buchalter was finally executed at Sing Sing on March 4, 1944.

After his conviction, Anastassia became sole boss of Murder, Inc. However, with the post-World War II deportation of Lucky Luciano, he moved up in the Mafia ranks, eventually taking over the Mangano Family (later known as the Gambino Family), after the family don, Anastassia's nemesis, Vincent Mangano, disappeared. Although it was unusual for an out-and-out killer like Anastassia to become a boss, he was confirmed as head of the Mangano Family by the Commission (the mob's ruling body) with Costello's support, but only after successfully arguing that he had had Mangano hit in self-defense as the don was determined to kill him. Costello wanted Anastassia as a don in order to counter the ambitions of Vito Genovese, the real-life model for Don Corleone in The Godfather (1972), who believed it was he and not Costello who should have assumed the power of Luciano's family after unlucky Lucky had been incarcerated.

As a boss, Anastassia's brutal ways eventually proved his undoing. In 1952 he violated a cardinal rule of the Mafia against killing outsiders, ordering the murder of one Arnold Schuster, a young tailor's assistant, after seeing Schuster on television taking credit for fingering fugitive bank robber Willie Sutton (the man who said he robbed banks because "that's where the money is"). In a rage, Anastasia ordered the hit, telling his men, "I can't stand squealers! Hit that guy!"

The murder of an outsider opened up the Mafia to unwanted public scrutiny. Genovese used the incident to begin undermining Anastassia and Costello, who had refused to discipline The Mad Hatter for his behavior. However, Genovese's power was limited by the antagonism between himself and Meyer Lansky (the inspiration for character Hyman Roth in The Godfather: Part II (1974). In time, though, Anastassia's own ambitions led to his final demise.

Anastassia alienated Lansky, one of the true Mafia kingpins, when he horned in on Lansky's highly lucrative Cuban gambling operations without permission. An enraged Lansky gave Genovese permission to eliminate the interloper, which Genovese arranged as part of his greater plan to retire Frank Costello (who was considered "the Prime Minister of the Mob" due to his central position from his connections with every ranking power in organized crime) and establish himself as "Capo di tutti capi" ("Boss of Bosses"), the first since Lucky Luciano was jailed for pandering by Tom Dewey back in 1936.

On the morning of October 25, 1957, Anastasia was shot to death in the barbershop of the Park Sheraton Hotel (now the Park Central Hotel), on 56th Street and 7th Avenue in New York City by two men wearing scarves. Anastasia's bodyguard was not on the scene, having conveniently decided to go for a walk after parking the boss's car in an underground garage. After absorbing a fusillade of shots, the don allegedly still had enough life in him to go after his attackers. However, they were but the reflections of the hitmen in the shop's windows, and he died on the floor that morning. The Anastasia hit was carried out with an efficiency of which the Lord High Executioner himself surely would have approved, had he not been its victim.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Trivia (1)

Brother of Anthony Anastasia.

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