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Hollywood Memorial

Mickey Cohen

From syndicate bodyguard to Los Angeles kingpin, he was Hollywood’s gangster, taking over Los Angeles for Bugsy Siegel upon his unfortunate demise. During Prohibition, Cohen moved to Chicago and became involved in organized crime working as an enforcer for the Chicago Outfit, where he briefly met Al Capone. During this period Cohen was arrested for his role in the deaths of several gangsters in a card game gone bad. After a brief time in prison, Cohen was released and began running card games and other illegal gambling operations. While working for Jake ‘Greasy Thumbs’ Guzik, Cohen was forced to flee Chicago after an argument with a rival gambler.
Mickey Cohen was sent to Los Angeles by Meyer Lansky and Lou Rothkopf to watch Bugsy Siegel. During their association Mickey helped set up the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas and ran its sports book operation. In 1947, the crime families ordered the murder of Siegel due to his mismanagement of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas; most likely because he or his girlfriend Virginia Hill was skimming money. According to one account which does not appear in newspapers, Cohen reacted violently to Siegel’s murder. Entering the Hotel Roosevelt, where he believed the killers were staying, Cohen fired rounds from his two .45 calliber semi-automatic handguns into the lobby ceiling and demanded that the assassins meet him outside in ten minutes. However, no one appeared and Cohen was forced to flee when the cops arrived. After Siegel’s death, Cohen was given control of the Las Vegas gambling operation. During this time, Cohen faced many attempts on his life, including a bombing of his home on posh Moreno Avenue in Brentwood and a shooting on the sidewalk of Ciro’s on the other Hollywood Blvd. Cohen soon converted his house into a fortress, installing floodlights, alarm systems, and a well-equipped arsenal kept, as he often joked, next to his 200 tailor-made suits. Cohen also briefly hired bodyguard Johnny Stompanato before his murder by actress Lana Turner’s daughter. Cohen bought a cheap coffin for Stompanato’s funeral and then sold Lana Turner’s love letters to Stompanato to the press. Stompanato ran a sexual extortion ring as well as a jewelry store. He was one of the most popular playboys in Hollywood. One time, singer Frank Sinatra visited Cohen at his home and begged him to tell Stompanato to stop dating Sinatra’s actress friend, Ava Gardner. In 1950, the US Senate Committee known as the Kefauver Commission investigated Mickey Cohen along with numerous other underworld figures. As a result of this investigation, Cohen was convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to prison for four years. When he was released, he started up all over again, and became an international celebrity. He sold more newspapers than anyone else in the country, according to author Brad Lewis. His appearance on television with Mike Wallace in the late 50s rocked the media establishment. He ran floral shops, paint stores, nightclubs, casinos, gas stations, a men’s haberdashery, and even an ice cream parlor on San Vicente Blvd. in Brentwood. In 1961, Cohen was again convicted of tax evasion and sent to Alcatraz. During his time on ‘the Rock,’ another inmate attempted to kill Cohen with a lead pipe. As an elder statesman, he even appeared on The Merv Griffin Show. Cohen knew everyone in Hollywood, from the entire Rat Pack to Marilyn Monroe. Mickey Cohen died in his sleep in 1976 and is interred in the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.