Lucky Luciano
Overview
 
Charlie "Lucky" Luciano (born Salvatore Lucania; November 24, 1897 – January 26, 1962) was an Italian mobster born in Sicily. Luciano is considered the father of modern organized crime
Organized crime
Organized crime or criminal organizations are transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals for the purpose of engaging in illegal activity, most commonly for monetary profit. Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 for splitting New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 into five different Mafia
Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

 crime families and the establishment of the first commission. He was the first official boss of the modern Genovese crime family
Genovese crime family
The Genovese crime family , is one of the "Five Families" that dominates organized crime activities in New York City, United States, within the nationwide criminal phenomenon known as the Mafia . The Genovese crime family has been nicknamed the "Ivy League" and "Rolls Royce" of organized crime...

. He was, along with his associate Meyer Lansky
Meyer Lansky
Meyer Lansky , known as the "Mob's Accountant", was a Polish-born American organized crime figure who, along with his associate Charles "Lucky" Luciano, was instrumental in the development of the "National Crime Syndicate" in the United States...

, instrumental in the development of the "National Crime Syndicate
National Crime Syndicate
The National Crime Syndicate was the name given by the press to a loosely-organized multi-ethnic organized crime syndicate. Its origins are uncertain....

" in the United States.
Salvatore Lucania was born on November 24, 1897 in Lercara Friddi
Lercara Friddi
Lercara Friddi is a comune in the Province of Palermo in the Italian region Sicily, located about 45 km southeast of Palermo....

, Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

.
Encyclopedia
Charlie "Lucky" Luciano (born Salvatore Lucania; November 24, 1897 – January 26, 1962) was an Italian mobster born in Sicily. Luciano is considered the father of modern organized crime
Organized crime
Organized crime or criminal organizations are transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals for the purpose of engaging in illegal activity, most commonly for monetary profit. Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 for splitting New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 into five different Mafia
Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

 crime families and the establishment of the first commission. He was the first official boss of the modern Genovese crime family
Genovese crime family
The Genovese crime family , is one of the "Five Families" that dominates organized crime activities in New York City, United States, within the nationwide criminal phenomenon known as the Mafia . The Genovese crime family has been nicknamed the "Ivy League" and "Rolls Royce" of organized crime...

. He was, along with his associate Meyer Lansky
Meyer Lansky
Meyer Lansky , known as the "Mob's Accountant", was a Polish-born American organized crime figure who, along with his associate Charles "Lucky" Luciano, was instrumental in the development of the "National Crime Syndicate" in the United States...

, instrumental in the development of the "National Crime Syndicate
National Crime Syndicate
The National Crime Syndicate was the name given by the press to a loosely-organized multi-ethnic organized crime syndicate. Its origins are uncertain....

" in the United States.

Early life

Salvatore Lucania was born on November 24, 1897 in Lercara Friddi
Lercara Friddi
Lercara Friddi is a comune in the Province of Palermo in the Italian region Sicily, located about 45 km southeast of Palermo....

, Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

. His parents, Antonio and Rosalia Lucania, had four other children: Bartolomeo (born 1890), Giuseppe (born 1898), Filippia (born 1901), and Concetta (l Charlie was 10 years old (1907), the family migrated to the United States. They settled in New York City, on the Lower East Side at 265 East 10th Street. The neighborhood was a popular destination for Italian immigrants at the time.

While a teenager, he started his own gang. Unlike the other street gangs whose business was to pickpocket, mug, and steal, Lucania decided to offer protection to the Jewish youngsters who were picked on by their Italian
Italian diaspora
The term Italian diaspora refers to the large-scale migration of Italians away from Italy in the period roughly beginning with the unification of Italy in 1861 and ending with the Italian economic miracle in the 1960s...

 and Irish
Irish diaspora
thumb|Night Train with Reaper by London Irish artist [[Brian Whelan]] from the book Myth of Return, 2007The Irish diaspora consists of Irish emigrants and their descendants in countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, Mexico, South Africa,...

 counterparts. He would charge each one ten cents per week.

Prohibition

On January 17, 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment
Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Eighteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution established Prohibition in the United States. The separate Volstead Act set down methods of enforcing the Eighteenth Amendment, and defined which "intoxicating liquors" were prohibited, and which were excluded from prohibition...

 to the U.S. Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

 was ratified and prohibition
Prohibition in the United States
Prohibition in the United States was a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, in place from 1920 to 1933. The ban was mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and the Volstead Act set down the rules for enforcing the ban, as well as defining which...

 lasted until the amendment was repealed in 1933. The Amendment prohibited the manufacture, sale and transportation of alcoholic beverages. As there was still a substantial demand for alcohol, this provided criminals with an added source of income. Around this time, Luciano worked for Arnold Rothstein
Arnold Rothstein
Arnold Rothstein , nicknamed "The Brain", was a New York businessman and gambler who became a famous kingpin of the Jewish mafia. Rothstein was also widely reputed to have been behind baseball's Black Sox Scandal, in which the 1919 World Series was fixed...

.

Luciano had plans to expand both his territory and profits by collaborating with other gangsters to cut down the cost of political protection and reduce the likelihood of hijacked shipments. However, Joe "The Boss" Masseria
Joe Masseria
Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria was an early Mafia don in the United States. He was boss of what is now called the Genovese crime family, one of the New York Mafia's Five Families, from 1922 to 1931.-Early days:...

 prevented Luciano from taking this path.

By 1921, Luciano had met many Mafia leaders, including Vito Genovese
Vito Genovese
Vito "Don Vito" Genovese was an Italian mafioso who rose to power in America during the Castellammarese War to later become leader of the Genovese crime family. Genovese served as mentor to future mob boss Vincent "The Chin" Gigante...

 and Frank Costello
Frank Costello
Frank Costello was an Italian New York City gangster who rose to the top of America's underworld, controlled a vast gambling empire across the United States and enjoyed political influence.Nicknamed the "Prime Minister of the Underworld", he became one of the most powerful and influential Mafia...

, his longtime friend, business partner, and eventually Sottocapo
Underboss
Underboss is a position within the leadership structure of Sicilian and American Mafia crime families. The underboss is second in command to the boss...

 through his involvement in the Five Points Gang
Five Points Gang
Five Points Gang was a 19th-century and early 20th-century criminal organization, primarily of Italian-American origins, based in the Sixth Ward of Manhattan, New York City. Since the early 19th century, the area was first known for gangs of Irish immigrants...

. Together they began a bootlegging operation.

By 1925, Luciano was grossing over $12 million a year; however, he was netting much less each year due to the high costs of bribing politicians and police. Luciano and his partners ran the largest bootlegging operation in New York, one that also extended into Philadelphia. He imported scotch whisky
Scotch whisky
Scotch whisky is whisky made in Scotland.Scotch whisky is divided into five distinct categories: Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Single Grain Scotch Whisky, Blended Malt Scotch Whisky , Blended Grain Scotch Whisky, and Blended Scotch Whisky.All Scotch whisky must be aged in oak barrels for at least three...

 directly from Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, rum
Rum
Rum is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane by-products such as molasses, or directly from sugarcane juice, by a process of fermentation and distillation. The distillate, a clear liquid, is then usually aged in oak barrels...

 from the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

, and whisky
Whisky
Whisky or whiskey is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. Different grains are used for different varieties, including barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat, and corn...

 from Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. He was also involved in gambling.

Rise to power

At an early age Luciano had established himself as a creative criminal on the Lower East Side and eventually became a top aide to crime boss Joe Masseria
Joe Masseria
Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria was an early Mafia don in the United States. He was boss of what is now called the Genovese crime family, one of the New York Mafia's Five Families, from 1922 to 1931.-Early days:...

 who was involved in a prolonged turf war with rival crime boss Salvatore Maranzano
Salvatore Maranzano
Salvatore Maranzano was an organized crime figure from the town of Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, and an early Cosa Nostra boss in the United States. He instigated the Castellammarese War to seize control of the American Mafia operations, and briefly became the Mafia's "Boss of Bosses"...

 during the 1920s.

Masseria was a Mustache Pete
Mustache Pete
Mustache Petes was the name given to members of the Sicilian Mafia who came to the United States as adults in the early 1900s.-History:...

, an old-school mafioso who wanted to preserve the old Mafia ideals of honour, tradition, respect and dignity. Luciano and his contemporaries who had started their criminal careers in the United States were known as the Young Turks. Like the original Young Turks
Young Turks
The Young Turks , from French: Les Jeunes Turcs) were a coalition of various groups favouring reformation of the administration of the Ottoman Empire. The movement was against the absolute monarchy of the Ottoman Sultan and favoured a re-installation of the short-lived Kanûn-ı Esâsî constitution...

 of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

, they formed a young and ambitious group which challenged the established order. The Mustache Petes would not work with anyone who was not Italian or Italian American
Italian American
An Italian American , is an American of Italian ancestry. The designation may also refer to someone possessing Italian and American dual citizenship...

, and were even skeptical of working with anyone who was not Sicilian or Sicilian-American
Sicilian-American
Sicilian Americans are American people from Sicily or of Sicilian heritage. They are considered Italian Americans but are sometimes treated as a separate group due to cultural and historical differences between Sicily and the mainland....

. Luciano believed that as long as money was being made, the family should deal with anyone. He was therefore shocked to hear old mafiosi lecturing him about his dealings with close friend Frank Costello
Frank Costello
Frank Costello was an Italian New York City gangster who rose to the top of America's underworld, controlled a vast gambling empire across the United States and enjoyed political influence.Nicknamed the "Prime Minister of the Underworld", he became one of the most powerful and influential Mafia...

 whom they called "the dirty Calabria
Calabria
Calabria , in antiquity known as Bruttium, is a region in southern Italy, south of Naples, located at the "toe" of the Italian Peninsula. The capital city of Calabria is Catanzaro....

n."

What became known as the Castellammarese War
Castellammarese War
The Castellammarese War was a bloody power struggle for control of the Italian-American Mafia between partisans of Joe "The Boss" Masseria and those of Salvatore Maranzano. It was so called because Maranzano was based in Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily...

 raged from 1928 to 1931, resulting in the death of as many as 60 mobsters. The war was nominally between Maranzano and Masseria. In truth, however, there was a third, secret faction, made up of Luciano and several other Young Turks from both the Masseria and Maranzano factions. In addition to Luciano, this group included Frank Costello
Frank Costello
Frank Costello was an Italian New York City gangster who rose to the top of America's underworld, controlled a vast gambling empire across the United States and enjoyed political influence.Nicknamed the "Prime Minister of the Underworld", he became one of the most powerful and influential Mafia...

, Vito Genovese
Vito Genovese
Vito "Don Vito" Genovese was an Italian mafioso who rose to power in America during the Castellammarese War to later become leader of the Genovese crime family. Genovese served as mentor to future mob boss Vincent "The Chin" Gigante...

, Albert Anastasia
Albert Anastasia
Albert Anastasia was boss of what is now called the Gambino crime family, one of New York City's Five Families, from 1951-1957. He also ran a gang of contract killers called Murder Inc. which enforced the decisions of the Commission, the ruling council of the American Mafia...

, Joe Adonis
Joe Adonis
Joe Adonis , also known as "Joey A", "Joe Adone", "Joe Arosa", "James Arosa", and "Joe DiMeo", was a New York mobster who was an important participant in the formation of the modern Cosa Nostra crime families.-Early years:Adonis was born Giuseppe Antonio Doto in the small town of Montemarano,...

, Joe Bonanno, Carlo Gambino
Carlo Gambino
"Don" Carlo Gambino, was a Sicilian mafioso who became Boss of the Gambino crime family, that still bears his name today. After the 1957 Apalachin Convention he unexpectedly seized control of the Commission of the American Mafia. Gambino was known for being low-key and secretive...

, Joe Profaci
Joe Profaci
Giuseppe "Joe" Profaci was a New York La Cosa Nostra boss who was the founder of what is today known as the Colombo crime family. Established in 1928, this was the last of the Five Families to be organized. He was the family's boss for over three decades.-Family ties:Profaci's sons were Frank...

, Tommy Gagliano
Tommy Gagliano
Gaetano "Tommy" Gagliano was an American gangster who founded the Lucchese crime family, one of the powerful "Five Families" of New York City, and served as its low-profile Boss for over two decades...

 and Tommy Lucchese
Tommy Lucchese
Gaetano "Tommy" Lucchese , also known as "Tom Brown" or "Three-Finger Brown", was an American mobster who became the Boss of the Lucchese crime family in New York City...

. They believed the Mustache Petes' greed was pushing them to the fringe while the Irish and Jewish gangs got rich. Luciano was already making plans to get rid of the Mustache Petes and form a national crime syndicate in which the Italian, Jewish and Irish gangs could pool their resources and turn organized crime into a lucrative business for all.

In 1929, Luciano was forced into a limousine
Limousine
A limousine is a luxury sedan or saloon car, especially one with a lengthened wheelbase or driven by a chauffeur. The chassis of a limousine may have been extended by the manufacturer or by an independent coachbuilder. These are called "stretch" limousines and are traditionally black or white....

 at gun point by three men, beaten and stabbed, and dumped on a beach on New York Bay
New York Bay
New York Bay is the collective term for the marine areas surrounding the entrance of the Hudson River into the Atlantic Ocean. Its two largest components are Upper New York Bay and Lower New York Bay, which are connected by The Narrows...

. He somehow survived the ordeal but was forever marked with a scar and droopy eye. His survival earned him the name Lucky although he may already have earned this nickname in his younger days because of his luck at avoiding police. After his abduction Luciano found out through Meyer Lansky
Meyer Lansky
Meyer Lansky , known as the "Mob's Accountant", was a Polish-born American organized crime figure who, along with his associate Charles "Lucky" Luciano, was instrumental in the development of the "National Crime Syndicate" in the United States...

 that the attack had been ordered by Masseria's enemy, Salvatore Maranzano. In an ironic twist Luciano later cut a secret deal with Maranzano in which he agreed to engineer Masseria's death in return for being made Maranzano's second-in-command. This deal would end the famous Castellammarese War
Castellammarese War
The Castellammarese War was a bloody power struggle for control of the Italian-American Mafia between partisans of Joe "The Boss" Masseria and those of Salvatore Maranzano. It was so called because Maranzano was based in Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily...

.

Luciano kept up his end of the bargain on April 15, 1931, when he invited Masseria and two other associates to have lunch in a Coney Island
Coney Island
Coney Island is a peninsula and beach on the Atlantic Ocean in southern Brooklyn, New York, United States. The site was formerly an outer barrier island, but became partially connected to the mainland by landfill....

 restaurant. When they finished their lunch, they decided to play a game of cards. At that point Luciano stepped into the men's washroom. While Luciano was in the washroom, four gunmen--Bugsy Siegel
Bugsy Siegel
Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel was an American gangster who was involved with the Genovese crime family...

, Vito Genovese, Albert Anastasia and Joe Adonis—walked into the restaurant and shot and killed Masseria and the other two associates. Luciano then took over Masseria's crime family.

Maranzano then made Luciano his number two, and set up the Five Families of New York
Five Families
The Five Families are the five original Italian-American Mafia crime families which have dominated organized crime in America since 1931. The Five Families in New York remain as the powerhouse of the Italian Mafia in the United States.-History:...

. The newly formed families were headed by Maranzano, Luciano, Profaci, Gagliano and Vincent Mangano
Vincent Mangano
Vincent Mangano , born Vincenzo Giovanni Mangano, also known as "The Executioner" as he was named in a Brooklyn newspaper, was the head of the Mangano crime family from 1931 to 1951. His brother Philip Mangano was his right hand man and de facto, or substituto, underboss of the crime family which...

. Maranzano promised that they would all be equal and all be free to make money. However, while Maranzano was slightly more forward-thinking than Masseria, at heart he was still a Mustache Pete. He showed this at a later meeting of the crime bosses in Upstate New York
Upstate New York
Upstate New York is the region of the U.S. state of New York that is located north of the core of the New York metropolitan area.-Definition:There is no clear or official boundary between Upstate New York and Downstate New York...

, when he declared himself capo di tutti capi
Capo di tutti capi
Capo di tutti capi or capo dei capi is Italian for "boss of all bosses" or "boss of bosses". It is a phrase used mainly by the media, public and the law enforcement community to indicate a supremely powerful crime boss in the Sicilian or American Mafia who holds great influence over the whole...

 (Boss of all Bosses). He also whittled down the rackets of the rival families in order to strengthen his own family. Luciano appeared to accept this, though in reality he was merely biding his time before getting rid of Maranzano as well—as he'd planned all along.

Maranzano soon realized that Luciano was a threat, and hired Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll, a notoriously violent Irish gangster, to kill him. However, Lucchese alerted Luciano that he was marked for death. When Maranzano ordered Luciano and Genovese to come to his office at 230 Park Avenue in New York City on September 10, Luciano suspected they wouldn't come out alive. He had four Jewish gangsters pose as government agents and show up at Maranzano's office. While two of the "agents" disarmed Maranzano's bodyguards, the other two stabbed Maranzano multiple times before shooting him.

The same day, several of Maranzano's lieutenants, including James Marino, were killed by unknown gunmen. The bodies of Maranzano allies Samuel Monaco and Louis Russo were later recovered from Newark Bay, both corpses showing signs of torture. During the following days and through the remainder of the year, many old world Sicilian-born mafiosi (Mustache Petes) were killed throughout the country by the Luciano-Lansky faction, thus concluding the Castellammarese War. In mafia parlance, this series of hits, orchestrated with the help of Louis Lepke, came to be known as the "Night of the Sicilian Vespers
Sicilian Vespers
The Sicilian Vespers is the name given to the successful rebellion on the island of Sicily that broke out on the Easter of 1282 against the rule of the French/Angevin king Charles I, who had ruled the Kingdom of Sicily since 1266. Within six weeks three thousand French men and women were slain by...

."

Reorganizing the Cosa Nostra

Luciano now had businesses throughout the country. His longtime friend Meyer Lansky
Meyer Lansky
Meyer Lansky , known as the "Mob's Accountant", was a Polish-born American organized crime figure who, along with his associate Charles "Lucky" Luciano, was instrumental in the development of the "National Crime Syndicate" in the United States...

 served as his right-hand man and adviser. When Dutch Schultz
Dutch Schultz
Dutch Schultz was a New York City-area Jewish American gangster of the 1920s and 1930s who made his fortune in organized crime-related activities such as bootlegging alcohol and the numbers racket...

 decided he was going to kill Manhattan District Attorney Thomas Dewey
Thomas Dewey
Thomas Edmund Dewey was the 47th Governor of New York . In 1944 and 1948, he was the Republican candidate for President, but lost both times. He led the liberal faction of the Republican Party, in which he fought conservative Ohio Senator Robert A. Taft...

, in direct violation of Luciano's orders, Schultz was executed instead.

Luciano had reached the pinnacle of America's underworld, directing criminal rules, policies and activities along with the other family bosses. He ran a powerful crime family which now bore his name, and he controlled lucrative criminal rackets such as gambling, bookmaking, loan-sharking, drug trafficking and extortion. Luciano was very influential in labor and union activities and controlled the Manhattan Waterfront
Manhattan Waterfront Greenway
The Manhattan Waterfront Greenway is a foreshoreway for walking or cycling, long, around the island of Manhattan. The largest portions are operated by the New York City Department of Parks. It is separated from motor traffic, and many sections also separate pedestrians from cyclists...

, garbage hauling, construction, Garment Center businesses and trucking.

Luciano abolished the title of Capo Di Tutti i Capi, insisting that the position created tension and trouble between the families. He felt that the ceremony of being 'made a soldier' in a family should be done away with. Meyer Lansky
Meyer Lansky
Meyer Lansky , known as the "Mob's Accountant", was a Polish-born American organized crime figure who, along with his associate Charles "Lucky" Luciano, was instrumental in the development of the "National Crime Syndicate" in the United States...

 however, urged him against it, arguing that young people needed rituals to cling to. Luciano also stressed the importance of the omertà
Omertà
Omertà is a popular attitude and code of honour and a common definition is the "code of silence". It is common in areas of southern Italy, such as Sicily, Apulia, Calabria, and Campania, where criminal organizations defined as Mafia such as the Cosa Nostra, 'Ndrangheta, Sacra Corona Unita, and...

, the oath of silence, and kept the organizational structure that Maranzano had instituted.

The Commission

Luciano, under the urging of Johnny Torrio
Johnny Torrio
John "Papa Johnny" Torrio , also known as "The Fox", was an Italian-American mobster who helped build the criminal empire known as the Chicago Outfit in the 1920s that was later inherited by his protege, Al Capone...

, set up the Mafia's governing body, organizing the Commission
The Commission (mafia)
The Commission is the governing body of the American Mafia. Formed in 1931, the Commission replaced the "Boss of all Bosses" title, with a ruling committee, consisting of the New York Five Families bosses and the boss of the Chicago Outfit...

 with the Mafia family bosses. The Commission settled all disputes between families and has been called Luciano's most important innovation. The Commission decided which families controlled which territories. If an individual was to be a "made man
Made man
A made man, also known as a Mafioso , made guy, man of honor, or uomo d'onore , is someone who has been officially inducted into the Sicilian or American Mafia . They may also be referred to by some as a goodfella or wiseguy...

", his boss had to first go before the Commission and receive their approval.

The Commission was originally composed of representatives of the Five Families of New York City, the Philadelphia crime family
Philadelphia crime family
The Philadelphia crime family, also known as the Scarfo crime family, Bruno crime family, Philadelphia Mafia, or Philly Mob, is an Italian American criminal organization based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is one of the most active American Mafia families outside of the Five Families of New York...

, the Buffalo crime family
Buffalo crime family
The Buffalo crime family, also known as the Magaddino crime family and The Arm, is an Italian American criminal organization based in Buffalo, United States. As part of the American Mafia the family operates throughout Western New York and Canada.The Buffalo crime family, gained power during the...

, Los Angeles crime family
Los Angeles crime family
The Los Angeles crime family is an Italian American criminal organization based in Los Angeles, as part of the American Mafia . Since its inception in the early 1900s, it has spread throughout Southern California. Like most Mafia families in the United States, the L.A. family gained power...

 and the Chicago Outfit
Chicago Outfit
The Chicago Outfit, also known as the Chicago Syndicate or Chicago Mob and sometimes shortened to simply the Outfit, is a crime syndicate based in Chicago, Illinois, USA...

 of Al Capone
Al Capone
Alphonse Gabriel "Al" Capone was an American gangster who led a Prohibition-era crime syndicate. The Chicago Outfit, which subsequently became known as the "Capones", was dedicated to smuggling and bootlegging liquor, and other illegal activities such as prostitution, in Chicago from the early...

; later, the Detroit crime family, Kansas City crime family
Kansas City crime family
The Kansas City crime family, also known as the Civella crime family, is a Mafia family based in Kansas City, Missouri.-Early history:...

 were added. All Commission members were supposed to retain the same power and had one vote, but in reality some families and bosses were more powerful than others.

The original Luciano family

Luciano elevated his most trusted and loyal family members to high-level positions in the Luciano crime family. The feared Vito Genovese
Vito Genovese
Vito "Don Vito" Genovese was an Italian mafioso who rose to power in America during the Castellammarese War to later become leader of the Genovese crime family. Genovese served as mentor to future mob boss Vincent "The Chin" Gigante...

 became his Underboss, while Frank Costello was his consigliere
Consigliere
Consigliere is a position within the leadership structure of Sicilian and American Mafia crime families. The word was popularized by Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather , and its film adaptation...

. Michael "Trigger Mike" Coppola, Anthony Strollo
Anthony Strollo
Anthony C. Strollo , aka "Tony Bender", was a New York mobster who served as a high ranking member of the Genovese crime family.-Early years:...

, Joe Adonis, and Anthony Carfano
Anthony Carfano
Anthony Carfano , also known as "Little Augie Pisano", was a New York gangster who became a caporegime, or group leader, in the Luciano crime family under mob bosses Charles "Lucky" Luciano and Frank Costello....

 all served as caporegimes. Meyer Lansky
Meyer Lansky
Meyer Lansky , known as the "Mob's Accountant", was a Polish-born American organized crime figure who, along with his associate Charles "Lucky" Luciano, was instrumental in the development of the "National Crime Syndicate" in the United States...

 and Bugsy Siegel
Bugsy Siegel
Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel was an American gangster who was involved with the Genovese crime family...

 were both unofficial advisors to the Luciano family.

Prosecutions and prison

Luciano's reign was relatively short-lived. Special prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey, a future Republican presidential candidate (later Luciano himself affirmed that the Commission had done everything they could in order for Dewey to become President in exchange for Luciano's return to the US), singled out Luciano as an organized crime ringleader and targeted him, along with others. Luciano had previously voted against Dutch Schultz's proposal to assassinate Dewey after Schultz became the repeated target of Dewey's investigations.

In a raid by Dewey of 80 New York City brothels, hundreds of arrested prostitutes agreed to turn state's evidence in exchange for not receiving prison time. Three of them implicated Luciano as the ringleader, who made collections, although David "Little Davey" Betillo was in charge of the prostitution ring in New York, and any money that Luciano received was from Betillo. But Dewey had also managed to persuade the staff at The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel to lie and say that Luciano's gangster friends had often come to his room.

It is believed by almost all mob experts that Dewey framed Luciano, since Mafia did not bother with prostitution, and also Luciano meeting with hookers to collect money seemed absurd, considering his position as boss. Before he could get Luciano into court for trial, Luciano escaped to Hot Springs
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Hot Springs is the 10th most populous city in the U.S. state of Arkansas, the county seat of Garland County, and the principal city of the Hot Springs Metropolitan Statistical Area encompassing all of Garland County...

, Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

, the renowned gangster haven established by famous gangster Owney Madden
Owney Madden
Owney "The Killer" Madden was a leading underworld figure in Manhattan, most notable for his involvement in organized crime during Prohibition. He also ran the famous Cotton Club and was a leading boxing promoter in the 1930s.-Early life:Owen Vincent Madden was born at 25 Somerset Street, in...

. An Arkansas judge remanded Luciano to a state prison for extradition, but a local paid-off police detective bailed Luciano out of jail after only four hours. Dewey then sent detectives to Arkansas to spirit Luciano back for trial.

Dewey's efforts succeeded in Luciano being convicted on charges as leader of one of the largest prostitution rings in American history in 1936 and sentenced to 30 to 50 years in prison, along with Dave Betillo and others. Dewey exposed Luciano for lying on the witness stand, through direct quizzing and records of telephone calls; Luciano also had no explanation for why his federal income tax records claimed he made only $22,000 a year, while it was obvious to onlookers that he was a wealthy man.

Luciano continued to run the Luciano crime family from prison and his prison cell, relaying his orders through his first acting boss, Vito Genovese. Genovese had quickly lived up to his feared reputation for violence, and soon fled to Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

, Italy, in 1937 to avoid a murder indictment. The Family's third most powerful member, Consigliere Frank Costello became the new Sottocapo and overseer of Luciano's interests. It is a mystery to most organized crime historians just who it was that had replaced Costello as the family consigliere. The only hint to the Costello successor came from Joe Valachi. Valachi was a former soldier in the Genovese Family and the first major Mafia informer in the United States. Valachi mentions, in the book The Valachi Papers, written by Peter Maas
Peter Maas
Peter Maas was an American journalist and author. He was born in New York City and attended Duke University. Maas had Dutch and Irish heritage....

, a certain "Sandino," as the Family counselor. The mysterious "Sandino" was whispered about at a meeting Valachi attended with his Capo, Anthony "Tony Bender" Strollo.

Luciano was imprisoned in Clinton Correctional Facility
Clinton Correctional Facility
Clinton Correctional Facility is a New York State Department of Correctional Services state prison for men located in the Village of Dannemora, New York. The prison itself is sometimes colloquially referred to as Dannemora, although its actual name is derived from its location in Clinton County,...

 in Dannemora, New York
Dannemora (village), New York
Dannemora is a village located primarily in the Town of Dannemora in Clinton County, New York. The population was 3,936 at the 2010 census. The name is derived from Dannemora, Sweden, an iron-making town where early settlers came from ....

, where co-defendant Dave Betillo prepared special dishes for Luciano in a special kitchen set aside by authorities. He would use his influence to help get the materials to build a church at the prison, which became famous for being one of the only freestanding churches in the New York State correctional system and also for the fact that on the church's altar are two of the original doors from the Victoria
Victoria (ship)
Victoria was a Spanish carrack and the first ship to successfully circumnavigate the world. The Victoria was part of a Spanish expedition commanded by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, and after his demise during the voyage, by Juan Sebastián Elcano...

, the ship of Ferdinand Magellan
Ferdinand Magellan
Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese explorer. He was born in Sabrosa, in northern Portugal, and served King Charles I of Spain in search of a westward route to the "Spice Islands" ....

.

World War II, freedom and deportation

During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the U.S. government reportedly struck a secret deal with the imprisoned Luciano. United States Army Military Intelligence knew that Luciano maintained good connections in the Sicilian and Italian Mafia, which had been severely persecuted by Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

. Luciano considered himself to be a loyal American who was devoted to Sicily, the Mafia, and the United States alike. His help was sought in providing Mafia assistance to counter possible Axis
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

 infiltration on U.S. waterfronts, during Operation Avalanche, and his connections in Italy and Sicily were tapped to furnish intelligence and ensure an easy passage for U.S. forces involved in the Italian Campaign
Italian Campaign (World War II)
The Italian Campaign of World War II was the name of Allied operations in and around Italy, from 1943 to the end of the war in Europe. Joint Allied Forces Headquarters AFHQ was operationally responsible for all Allied land forces in the Mediterranean theatre, and it planned and commanded the...

. Albert Anastasia
Albert Anastasia
Albert Anastasia was boss of what is now called the Gambino crime family, one of New York City's Five Families, from 1951-1957. He also ran a gang of contract killers called Murder Inc. which enforced the decisions of the Commission, the ruling council of the American Mafia...

, who controlled the docks, promised that no dockworker strikes would arise. Both during and after the war, the U.S. military and intelligence agencies reputedly also used Luciano's Mafia connections to root out communist influence in labor groups and local governments. In return for his cooperation, Luciano was permitted to run his crime empire unhindered from his jail cell.

Luciano would later say that his contribution to the war effort had been a sham, designed purely to obtain his release from prison. The enemy threat to the docks, he said, had been manufactured by the sinking of the SS Normandie
SS Normandie
SS Normandie was an ocean liner built in Saint-Nazaire, France for the French Line Compagnie Générale Transatlantique. She entered service in 1935 as the largest and fastest passenger ship afloat; she is still the most powerful steam turbo-electric-propelled passenger ship ever built.Her novel...

 directed by Anastasia's brother, Anthony Anastasio
Anthony Anastasio
Anthony "Tough Tony" Anastasio was a New York City mobster and labor racketeer for the Gambino crime family who controlled the Brooklyn dockyards for over thirty years...

. The Normandie, a French passenger vessel, which had been seized by the U.S. under the right of angary
Angary
Angary , the name given to the right of a belligerent to seize and apply for the purposes of war any kind of property on belligerent territory, including that...

, was being refitted as a troop ship in New York harbor. Furthermore, said Luciano, he did next to nothing to help the war effort in Italy.

In 1946, as a reward for his presumed wartime cooperation, Luciano was paroled on the condition that he depart the United States and return to Sicily. He accepted the deal, although he had maintained during his trial that he was a native of New York City and was therefore not subject to deportation. He was deeply hurt about having to leave the United States, a country he had considered his own ever since his arrival at age ten. During his exile, Luciano used to meet US military men during train trips throughout Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, and he enjoyed being recognized by his countrymen and tourists, taking photos and even signing autographs for them.

The Havana Conference

Although Luciano was paroled from prison on the condition that he permanently return to Sicily, he secretly moved to Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, where he worked to resume control over American Mafia operations. Meyer Lansky started investing heavily in a Cuban hotel project.

In 1946, Lansky called together the heads of all the major Families, claiming that they were going to see Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
Francis Albert "Frank" Sinatra was an American singer and actor.Beginning his musical career in the swing era with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra became an unprecedentedly successful solo artist in the early to mid-1940s, after being signed to Columbia Records in 1943. Being the idol of the...

 perform. Luciano had three topics to discuss: the heroin trade, Cuban gambling, and what was to be done about Bugsy Siegel. The Conference took place at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba
Hotel Nacional de Cuba
The Hotel Nacional de Cuba is an historic luxury hotel located on the Malecón in Havana, Cuba. It was designed by the famous New York firm McKim, Mead and White and features an eclectic mix of architectural styles...

 and lasted a little more than a week.

One of the main topics for discussion at the Havana Conference was ordering a hit on Siegel, who was unaware of this meeting. Meyer Lansky, who several times owed his life to Siegel when they were young, took a stand against the hit. He begged the attendees to give Siegel a chance by waiting until after the casino opening. Luciano, who believed Siegel could still turn a profit in Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Nevada and is also the county seat of Clark County, Nevada. Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping, and fine dining. The city bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, and is famous...

, Nevada, and pay back what he owed the Mafia investors, agreed to postpone the hit.

To placate his investors, Siegel opened Flamingo Las Vegas
Flamingo Las Vegas
The Flamingo Las Vegas is a hotel casino located on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada and is owned and operated by Caesars Entertainment Corp.. The property offers a casino along with 3,626 hotel rooms...

, his still-unfinished casino, on the star-studded night of December 26, 1946, although he did not have as many Hollywood
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California
Hollywood is a famous district in Los Angeles, California, United States situated west-northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Due to its fame and cultural identity as the historical center of movie studios and movie stars, the word Hollywood is often used as a metonym of American cinema...

 celebrities with him as he had hoped. Soon the Flamingo ran dry of entertainers and customers; it closed after only two weeks in order to resume construction. The fully operational Flamingo re-opened in March 1947. Still dissatisfied, the casino's gangster investors once again met in Havana in the spring of 1947 to decide whether to murder Siegel. Luckily for Siegel, the Flamingo had just turned a profit that month. Lansky again spoke up in support of his old friend and convinced Luciano to give Siegel one last chance. However, when the Flamingo still failed to turn a profit, Siegel's fate was sealed; he was killed by four shots fired through a window at his girlfriend's California home in June 1947.

The deposed Luciano asked that he be declared Capo Di Tutti i Capi. His old friends and business associates agreed that he deserved the title; all except Vito Genovese, who wanted the title for himself and is rumored to have leaked Luciano's whereabouts to the government. Luciano reportedly took him into a room and beat him severely for his betrayal.

When the US government learned of Luciano's presence in the Caribbean, he was forced to fly back to Italy. The US government threatened to stop all shipments of medical drugs to Cuba unless Luciano left.

Operating in Italy

While exiled in Italy Luciano left his stamp on American organized crime and the larger society for decades to come by making narcotics trafficking one of Cosa Nostra's biggest money making ventures. Between October 10 and October 14, 1957 Luciano oversaw a parley of more than thirty Sicilian and American Mafia leaders to draw up plans for the smuggling and distribution of heroin into the United States. According to Selwyn Raab, an investigative reporter for The New York Times who covered organized crime and criminal justice matters for twenty-five years, it was at the Luciano meeting, held in the Grand Hotel et des Palmes in Palermo, Sicily, that a plan was put into place through which Sicilians were responsible for distributing heroin in the U.S., while the American mobsters collected a share of the income as "franchise fees." Luciano's plan included a scheme to expand the then tiny heroin and cocaine market in the U.S. by reducing the price and focusing on working class black and white urban neighborhoods.

Personal life

After being deported to Italy, Luciano fell in love with Igea Lissoni, an Italian dancer 20 years his junior. They lived together peacefully until they learned that there was a hit contract on Luciano, and the two went into hiding. They changed apartments many times throughout the months and moved from hotel to hotel before the hit was called off.

Barred from Rome after the hit was called off, the two lived together in Luciano's house on Via Tasso in Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

 http://www.casa.it/immobile-villa-na-napoli-19073107. Igea was reportedly the center of Luciano's life, so when she died of breast cancer in 1958, he began to fall apart, as did his control of the American syndicate and his own projects based out of Italy. After living together for 11 years, there was never any confirmation that the two ever married. If they had, it would have been illegal, since Luciano's deportation barred him from marriage.

American power struggle

During his exile, Luciano missed a major power shift in America. Vito Genovese
Vito Genovese
Vito "Don Vito" Genovese was an Italian mafioso who rose to power in America during the Castellammarese War to later become leader of the Genovese crime family. Genovese served as mentor to future mob boss Vincent "The Chin" Gigante...

, who was at one time Luciano's Underboss, had decided that he wanted to take over the Luciano Family. After a botched 1957 assassination attempt on Costello by Vinnie "The Chin" Gigante, Costello stepped down as Don and let Genovese take over. But Genovese wanted to take out his competition.

It was at the famous Apalachin Meeting
Apalachin Meeting
The Apalachin Meeting was a historic summit of the American Mafia held on November 14, 1957, at the home of mobster Joseph "Joe the Barber" Barbara in Apalachin, New York. The meeting was attended by roughly 100 Mafiosi from the United States, Canada, and Italy...

, later in 1957, that Genovese planned to propose to The Commission that Luciano be stripped of his title as Capo Di Tutti i Capi, and that he be crowned Boss of all Bosses. But he did not count on Carlo Gambino
Carlo Gambino
"Don" Carlo Gambino, was a Sicilian mafioso who became Boss of the Gambino crime family, that still bears his name today. After the 1957 Apalachin Convention he unexpectedly seized control of the Commission of the American Mafia. Gambino was known for being low-key and secretive...

, one of Luciano's protégés, to hold loyalty to his old Boss.

Costello, Luciano, and Gambino met in a hotel in Palermo, Sicily, to discuss their plan of action.

Death and legacy

Luciano was reportedly told not to promote or participate in films about his life, as it would have attracted unnecessary attention to the mob. He relented after Igea Lissoni died of breast cancer and was scheduled to meet with a movie producer arriving by plane at the Naples Airport
Naples Airport
Naples Airport can refer to:*Naples International Airport in Naples, Italy*Naples Municipal Airport in Naples, Florida...

. On January 26, 1962, Luciano died of a heart attack at Naples International Airport. Back in 1946 after serving his prison sentence, Luciano had been deported and thus denied entry into the United States, but in death his desire was granted. He was buried in St. John's Cemetery
Saint John's Cemetery, Queens
St. John Cemetery is an official Roman Catholic burial ground located in Middle Village in Queens a borough of New York City. It is one of nine official Roman Catholic burial grounds to service the New York Metropolitan Area. St. John along with St. Charles/Resurrection Cemeteries in Farmingdale,...

 in Queens
Queens
Queens is the easternmost of the five boroughs of New York City. The largest borough in area and the second-largest in population, it is coextensive with Queens County, an administrative division of New York state, in the United States....

. More than 2,000 mourners attended his funeral. His longtime friend, Carlo Gambino
Carlo Gambino
"Don" Carlo Gambino, was a Sicilian mafioso who became Boss of the Gambino crime family, that still bears his name today. After the 1957 Apalachin Convention he unexpectedly seized control of the Commission of the American Mafia. Gambino was known for being low-key and secretive...

, spoke at the funeral.

Carlo Gambino
Carlo Gambino
"Don" Carlo Gambino, was a Sicilian mafioso who became Boss of the Gambino crime family, that still bears his name today. After the 1957 Apalachin Convention he unexpectedly seized control of the Commission of the American Mafia. Gambino was known for being low-key and secretive...

 was the only other boss besides Luciano to have complete control of the Commission
The Commission (mafia)
The Commission is the governing body of the American Mafia. Formed in 1931, the Commission replaced the "Boss of all Bosses" title, with a ruling committee, consisting of the New York Five Families bosses and the boss of the Chicago Outfit...

 and virtually every Mafia
Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

 family in the United States. Luciano, unlike many Italian gangsters in the days of his rise to the top, was prepared to do dealings with non-Italians mainly of Jewish descent. As much as it was resented by his fellow Italians, it paid dividends. With the help of his Jewish associates he reinvented the mob into the most powerful crime syndicate the United States has ever witnessed and, in the process, oversaw the golden era of the American Mafia. Lucky Luciano made what was then an unprecedented Mafia coup, facilitating the murders of two of the most feared bosses Joe Masseria
Joe Masseria
Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria was an early Mafia don in the United States. He was boss of what is now called the Genovese crime family, one of the New York Mafia's Five Families, from 1922 to 1931.-Early days:...

 and Salvatore Maranzano
Salvatore Maranzano
Salvatore Maranzano was an organized crime figure from the town of Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, and an early Cosa Nostra boss in the United States. He instigated the Castellammarese War to seize control of the American Mafia operations, and briefly became the Mafia's "Boss of Bosses"...

. At the peak of his criminal career Lucky Luciano's influence was far reaching to the extent that the United States government through the FBI approached him for help in protecting the Navy fleet in New York and with the invasion of Italy to defeat Mussolini in World War 2. Luciano's contribution led to his release from prison in February 1946. In popular culture proponents of the Mafia and its history often debate as to who was the greater between Luciano and his contemporary Al Capone
Al Capone
Alphonse Gabriel "Al" Capone was an American gangster who led a Prohibition-era crime syndicate. The Chicago Outfit, which subsequently became known as the "Capones", was dedicated to smuggling and bootlegging liquor, and other illegal activities such as prostitution, in Chicago from the early...

. The much publicized exploits of Al Capone with the Chicago Outfit
Chicago Outfit
The Chicago Outfit, also known as the Chicago Syndicate or Chicago Mob and sometimes shortened to simply the Outfit, is a crime syndicate based in Chicago, Illinois, USA...

 made him the most famous mobster in American history, however Capone did not command influence over other Mafia families; something Luciano did in creating and running The Commission
The Commission
The Commission may refer to:*The Commission , the governing body of the Mafia in the United States*Sicilian Mafia Commission, governing body of the Mafia in Italy*European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union...

. For being the Mafia hegemon in the era of landmark mobsters like Albert Anastasia
Albert Anastasia
Albert Anastasia was boss of what is now called the Gambino crime family, one of New York City's Five Families, from 1951-1957. He also ran a gang of contract killers called Murder Inc. which enforced the decisions of the Commission, the ruling council of the American Mafia...

, Frank Costello
Frank Costello
Frank Costello was an Italian New York City gangster who rose to the top of America's underworld, controlled a vast gambling empire across the United States and enjoyed political influence.Nicknamed the "Prime Minister of the Underworld", he became one of the most powerful and influential Mafia...

, Meyer Lansky
Meyer Lansky
Meyer Lansky , known as the "Mob's Accountant", was a Polish-born American organized crime figure who, along with his associate Charles "Lucky" Luciano, was instrumental in the development of the "National Crime Syndicate" in the United States...

, Bugsy Siegel
Bugsy Siegel
Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel was an American gangster who was involved with the Genovese crime family...

, Tommy Lucchese
Tommy Lucchese
Gaetano "Tommy" Lucchese , also known as "Tom Brown" or "Three-Finger Brown", was an American mobster who became the Boss of the Lucchese crime family in New York City...

, Carlo Gambino
Carlo Gambino
"Don" Carlo Gambino, was a Sicilian mafioso who became Boss of the Gambino crime family, that still bears his name today. After the 1957 Apalachin Convention he unexpectedly seized control of the Commission of the American Mafia. Gambino was known for being low-key and secretive...

 and Vito Genovese
Vito Genovese
Vito "Don Vito" Genovese was an Italian mafioso who rose to power in America during the Castellammarese War to later become leader of the Genovese crime family. Genovese served as mentor to future mob boss Vincent "The Chin" Gigante...

 all of whom he led, Charles Lucky Luciano is thus considered by many as the most powerful Mafia boss of all time.

TIME magazine deplored Luciano as the "criminal mastermind" among the top 20 most influential builders and titans of the 20th century.

Media portrayals

Films
  • The Valachi Papers (1972) – Luciano was portrayed by Angelo Infanti
  • Lucky Luciano
    Lucky Luciano (film)
    Lucky Luciano is a 1973 film directed by Francesco Rosi. It stars Gian Maria Volonté and Vincent Gardenia.-Cast:*Gian Maria Volonté as Lucky Luciano*Vincent Gardenia as Colonel Charles Poletti*Silverio Blasi as Italian Captain...

    (1973) – Luciano was portrayed by Gian Maria Volonté
    Gian Maria Volontè
    Gian Maria Volonté was an Italian actor. He is perhaps most famous outside of Italy for his roles as the main villain in Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More.-Early life:Volonté was born in Milan, and graduated in Rome in 1957...

  • The Cotton Club
    The Cotton Club (film)
    The Cotton Club is a 1984 crime-drama, centered on a famed Harlem jazz club of the 1930s, the Cotton Club.The movie was co-written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, choreographed by Henry LeTang, and starred Richard Gere, Diane Lane, and Gregory Hines...

    (1984) – Luciano was portrayed by Joe Dallesandro
    Joe Dallesandro
    Joseph Angelo D'Allesandro , better known as Joe Dallesandro, is an American actor, and Warhol superstar. Although he never became a mainstream film star, Dallesandro is generally considered to be the most famous male sex symbol of American underground films of the 20th century, as well as a sex...

  • Mobsters
    Mobsters
    Mobsters is a 1991 crime-drama film detailing the creation of the The Commission. Set in New York City, taking place from 1917 to 1931, it is a semi-fictitious account of the rise of Charles "Lucky" Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Frank Costello, and Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel.-Plot:This highly dramatized...

    (1991) – Luciano was portrayed by Christian Slater
    Christian Slater
    Christian Michael Leonard Slater is an American actor. He made his film debut with a small role in The Postman Always Rings Twice before playing a leading role in the 1985 film The Legend of Billie Jean...

  • Bugsy
    Bugsy
    Bugsy is a 1991 American crime-drama film which tells the story of mobster Bugsy Siegel. It stars Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, Harvey Keitel, Ben Kingsley, Elliott Gould, Joe Mantegna, Bebe Neuwirth, and Bill Graham....

    (1991) – Luciano was portrayed by Bill Graham
  • Billy Bathgate
    Billy Bathgate (film)
    Billy Bathgate is a 1991 American crime film directed by Robert Benton, starring Loren Dean as the titular character and Dustin Hoffman as gangster Dutch Schultz. The film co-stars Nicole Kidman, Steven Hill, Steve Buscemi, and Bruce Willis. It is based on the novel of the same name by E.L....

    (1991) – Luciano was portrayed by Stanley Tucci
    Stanley Tucci
    Stanley Tucci is an American actor, writer, film producer and film director. He has been nominated for several notable film awards, including an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, for his performance in The Lovely Bones...

  • White Hot: The Mysterious Murder of Thelma Todd (TV 1991) – Luciano was portrayed by Robert Davi
    Robert Davi
    Robert John Davi is an American actor and singer. He has played such roles as Vietnam veteran and Special Agent Johnson in Die Hard, the villainous Jake Fratelli in The Goonies, and Al Torres in Showgirls...

  • The Outfit
    The Outfit
    The Outfit or Outfit may refer to the following:*The Outfit , starring Robert Duvall*alternate name for the Chicago Outfit crime syndicate*The Outfit , a game for the Xbox 360 console...

    (1993) - Luciano was portrayed by Billy Drago
    Billy Drago
    Billy Drago is an American actor known for his roles as villains in television and motion pictures.-Personal life:Drago was born William Eugene Burrows in Hugoton, Kansas to William and Gladys Burrows. He took his grandmother's maiden name as his stage name to keep from being confused with another...

  • Hoodlum (1997) – Luciano was portrayed by Andy García
    Andy García
    Andrés Arturo García Menéndez , professionally known as Andy García, is a Cuban American actor. He became known in the late 1980s and 1990s, having appeared in several successful Hollywood films, including The Godfather: Part III, The Untouchables, Internal Affairs and When a Man Loves a Woman...

  • Bonanno: A Godfather's Story (TV 1999) – Luciano was portrayed by Vince Corazza
  • Lansky (TV 1999) – Luciano was portrayed by Anthony LaPaglia
  • The Real Untouchables (TV 2001) – Luciano was portrayed by David Viggiano
  • The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano (2011) – based on the book, The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano by Martin Gosch and Richard Hammer is currently in the works.


T.V. series
  • The Witness
    The Witness (TV series)
    The Witness was a television show broadcast on the CBS network in the United States within the 1960-61 television season, in which a fictional "Committee" of lawyers cross-examined actors portraying actual people from the recent past of the United States who had been considered criminal or...

    (1960–1961) – Luciano was portrayed by Telly Savalas
    Telly Savalas
    Aristotelis "Telly" Savalas was an American film and television actor and singer, whose career spanned four decades. Best known for playing the title role in the 1970s crime drama Kojak, Savalas was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Birdman of Alcatraz...

  • The Gangster Chronicles
    The Gangster Chronicles
    The Gangster Chronicles is an NBC American television crime drama mini series starring Michael Nouri, Joe Penny, Jon Polito, Louis Giambalvo and narrated by E.G. Marshall.-Overview:...

    (1981) – Luciano was portrayed by Michael Nouri
    Michael Nouri
    Michael Nouri is an American television and film actor. He may be best known for his role as Nick Hurley, in the 1983 film Flashdance. He has had recurring roles in numerous television series, including NCIS as Eli David, the father of Mossad officer Ziva David, The O.C. as Dr...

  • Boardwalk Empire (2010–present) – Luciano is portrayed by Vincent Piazza
    Vincent Piazza
    Vincent Piazza is an American film, television and stage actor best known for his roles in the television series Boardwalk Empire and the 2007 film Rocket Science.- Biography :...



Books
  • Luciano's Luck, Jack Higgins
    Jack Higgins
    Jack Higgins is the principal pseudonym of UK novelist Harry Patterson. Patterson is the author of more than 60 novels. As Higgins, most have been thrillers of various types and, since his breakthrough novel The Eagle Has Landed in 1975, nearly all have been bestsellers...

    (1981). Fictional based on the Luciano's WWII supposed war efforts.
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