Mickey Cohen is a Jewish gangster, who had once run the Hollywood underworld. He was well known for his tabloid exploits and violent temper and among the West Coast’s premier gangsters. He had worked along with several high profile Mafia members like Al Capone and Benjamin ‘Busy’ Siegel.
His early life
Cohen was born in Brooklyn’s Jewish neighborhood on 4th September 1913. When he was just a year old, his father died and was raised by his orthodox Ukrainian Jew mother. For several years, they resided in Brownsville neighborhood and later moved on to the city of Los Angeles.
Cohen began his criminal activities starting with petty crime at an early age in the neighborhood of Boyle Heights. During Prohibition, his brothers had run drug store, and it is from them he learnt to prepare bootleg liquor. He robbed the Columbia Theatre box office at the age of 9, using a cudgel, to end up in reform school. By the age of 10, he had been to the reform school twice.
He was considered by his friends to be a tough guy, who preferred to spend much of the time inside the boxing ring taking part in illegal prizefights. At the age of 15, he moved to Cleveland to become a boxer and fought numerous times between 1930 – 1933 as featherweight, having mixed record. He bit the opponent’s ear in one such fight.
His life as a Mafia
It was in Cleveland that he began to make ties with the Mafia and got hired along with Lou Rothkopf, a Cleveland associate of Moe Dalitz, its gang leader. Later, he moved on to New York to work with mafia gangs like Owney Madden and Tommy Dioguardi.
He got hired by the Outfit gang that was run by Al Capone as he moved to Chicago during the Prohibition period. He became an enforcer for Outfit and also ran a gambling center, working along with Mattie, Capone’s brother.
In 1937, he was compelled to leave the city after a dispute took place with another gambler. Since not much was there to be done in Cleveland, he went to Los Angeles for working with Bugsy Siegel. Both had wrestled power of the West Coast, working for the East Coast bosses.
There were many things common between Cohen and Siegel, with both having violent mean streaks, and Jewish climbers, with Brooklyn background. After Bugsy’s death, Cohen became the operation head in Los Angeles for the mafia family and made a place for himself as Hollywood celebrity.