Weird, Funny, and Just Plain Cool Nicknames of American Mobsters
Some of these mafiosi embraced their informal criminal aliases. Others most certainly did not.
On Friday, Francis Salemme was found guilty of killing a South Boston nightclub owner 25 years ago. The conviction ends a half-century war on organized crime that was started by Attorney General Robert Kennedy. Salemme, known as “Cadillac Frank,” is just one of the many famously nicknamed mobsters of the 20th century. They got their nicknames from many places, including reporters, cops and friends, and while some enjoyed the nicknames, others, like Cadillac Frank, did not. Salemme got his nickname from working at an auto body shop in Boston, where he specialized in fixing Cadillacs. But former WBUR crime reporter David Boeri says that Salem actually got the nickname because he had a friend at a Cadallic dealership who would key and scrape every 30th or 40th new car coming off the truck. Salemme would buff out the damage and resell the car for a lower price. Boeri says that Salemme didn’t actually like Cadillacs, and he drove a BMW instead, one of which he was driving when he survived an assassination attempt in 1989.
Here are some other interesting mob nicknames:
Al “Scarface” Capone: Capone was working the door at a Brooklyn night club when he inadvertently insulted a woman. Her brother slashed Capone in the face. He hated the nickname and would hide the scarred side of his face in photographs.
Albert “Tick-Tock” Tannenbaum: He got his nickname because of his ceaseless, ticking watch-like nervous banter.
Israel “Ice Pick Willie” Alderman: He murdered people using an ice pick to stab them through the ear drum, puncturing the brain and making it difficult to find evidence of foul play during autopsies.
Luigi “Baby Shacks” Manocchio: Baby was used because the former boss of the New England-based Patriarca crime family had a young, plumb face while growing up. Shacks was used because he was known for “shacking up” with a lot of women.
Donald “The Wizard of Odds” Angelini: He operated a highly successful sports betting empire and his nickname came from his gambling skills nd his work in the betting world.
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