Tinseltown Gangsters: The Rise and Decline of the Mob in Hollywood

Rowman & Littlefield. Mar. 2024. 284p. ISBN 9781538173565. $36. CRIME
Sussman (Holocaust Fighters) turns his attention to the mob in Hollywood during the 20th century. He begins with Joseph Kennedy, the patriarch of the Kennedy family, who reportedly used the connections he established with the mafia during Prohibition in Chicago to borrow money to purchase the low-budget film company FBO Pictures in 1920 and turn a quick profit. Sussman’s meticulous research indicates that mobsters soon realized there were more opportunities for illegal wealth in Hollywood. For instance, notorious gangster Bugsy Siegel hobnobbed with A-list celebrities and got loans from them that he never repaid. He also took control of the Screen Extras Guild and refused to provide extras to the studios until they paid up. Meanwhile, former boxer Mickey Cohen financed the publication Hollywood Nite Life to allegedly extort celebrities in return for not publishing incriminating articles about them.
VERDICT A great addition to collections about the history of film or organized crime, chronicling famous and lesser-known mobsters who made a killing, literally and figuratively, in Hollywood. Sussman’s diligent research and juicy storytelling will appeal to fans of his other works.
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