Cover image for Handsome Johnny : the life and death of Johnny Rosselli : gentleman gangster, Hollywood producer, CIA assassin
Title:
Handsome Johnny : the life and death of Johnny Rosselli : gentleman gangster, Hollywood producer, CIA assassin
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 2018.

©2018
ISBN:
9780312566685

9781250038258
Physical Description:
532 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color), portraits ; 25 cm
Language:
English
Contents:
Out of the past -- Once upon a time in Los Angeles -- Our man in Hollywood -- Bleeding the dream merchants -- The big squawk -- Crime don't pay -- A warlock's carnival -- Neon Babylon -- The spy who came in from the pool -- A coffin for Johnny.
Abstract:
A singular figure in the annals of the American underworld, Johnny Rosselli's career flourished for an extraordinary fifty years, from the bloody years of bootlegging in the Roaring Twenties--the last protégé of Al Capone--to the modern era of organized crime as a dominant corporate power. The Mob's "Man in Hollywood," Johnny Rosselli introduced big-time crime to the movie industry, corrupting unions and robbing moguls in the biggest extortion plot in history. A man of great allure and glamour, Rosselli befriended many of the biggest names in the movie capital--including studio boss Harry Cohn, helping him to fund Columbia Pictures--and seduced some of its greatest female stars, including Jean Harlow and Marilyn Monroe. In a remarkable turn of events, Johnny himself would become a Hollywood filmmaker--producing two of the best film noirs of the 1940s. Following years in federal prison, Rosselli began a new venture, overseeing the birth and heyday of Las Vegas. Working for new Chicago boss Sam Giancana, he became the gambling mecca's behind-the-scenes boss, running the town from his suites and poolside tables at the Tropicana and Desert Inn, enjoying the Rat Pack nightlife with pals Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. In the 1960s, in the most unexpected chapter in an extraordinary life, Rosselli became the central figure in a bizarre plot involving the Kennedy White House, the CIA, and an attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro. Based upon years of research, written with compelling style and vivid detail, Handsome Johnny is the great telling of an amazing tale.

The Mob's 'Man in Hollywood,' Johnny Rosselli introduced big-time crime to the movie industry, corrupting unions and robbing moguls in the biggest extortion plot in history. He befriended many of the biggest names in the movie capital and seduced some of its greatest female stars. In a remarkable turn of events, Rosselli himself would become a Hollywood filmmaker, producing two of the best film noirs of the 1940s. Following years in federal prison, he oversaw the birth and heyday of Las Vegas. Working for new Chicago boss Sam Giancana, he became the gambling mecca's behind-the-scenes boss. Server provides an amazing tale of organized crime as corporate power. -- adapted from jacket.
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Summary

Summary

A singular figure in the annals of the American underworld, Johnny Rosselli's career flourished for an extraordinary half century, from the bloody years of bootlegging in the Roaring Twenties as the last protégé of Al Capone to the modern era of organized crime as a dominant corporate power. The Mob's "Man in Hollywood," Johnny Rosselli introduced big-time crime to the movie industry, corrupting unions and robbing moguls in the biggest extortion plot in history. A man of great allure and glamour, Rosselli befriended many of the biggest names in the movie capital--including studio boss Harry Cohn, helping him to fund Columbia Pictures--and seduced some of its greatest female stars, including Jean Harlow and Marilyn Monroe. In a remarkable turn of events, Johnny himself would become a Hollywood filmmaker--producing two of the best film noirs of the 1940s. Following years in federal prison, Rosselli began a new venture, overseeing the birth and heyday of Las Vegas. Working for new Chicago boss Sam Giancana, Rosselli became the gambling mecca's behind-the-scenes boss, running the town from his suites and poolside tables at the Tropicana and Desert Inn, enjoying the Rat Pack nightlife with pals Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. In the 1960s, in the most unexpected chapter in an extraordinary life, Rosselli became the central figure in a bizarre plot involving the Kennedy White House, the CIA, and an attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro. Based upon years of research, written with compelling style and vivid detail, Handsome Johnny is the great telling of an amazing tale.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Server (Robert Mitchum: "Baby, I Don't Care") traces the astounding life of gentleman gangster Johnny Rosselli in this exhilarating, exhaustively researched account, revealing how the dapper Al Capone protégé befriended mobsters and glamorous movie stars, and seduced beautiful showgirls while smoothly corrupting Hollywood unions and local politicians for more than 50 years. Rosselli rose from the poverty of a Boston ghetto to the top echelons of the underworld, directing extortion of golden age Hollywood unions and studio chiefs, supervising the criminal heyday of Las Vegas, and participating in a Fidel Castro assassination plot, as well as producing two critically acclaimed film noirs. Server employs evocative phrasing ("Politics, showbiz, sex, crime: come together that season like dirty water clogging a drain, and Johnny wielding the plunger") to luridly examine the shady underbelly of movies, moguls, and politics from the 1930s through the '60s, all through the prism of the charming Rosselli. Filled with crackerjack writing and Damon Runyonesque characters, this entertaining page-turner is a rich look at one of organized crime's most intriguing characters. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Kirkus Review

A definitive rags-to-riches biography of Al Capone's "Man in Hollywood," Johnny Rosselli (1905-1976).In his latest biography, Server (Ava Gardner: "Love Is Nothing", 2006, etc.) sorts through a massive amount of informationgrand jury testimony, police records, news reports, hearsayto create a cohesive, engaging narrative of the life of a gangster and the "Los Angeles underworld" in which he lived and worked. After enduring a childhood of poverty in Boston, Rosselli plunged into the criminal world in 1920s Los Angeles, at age 19, where he excelled as a bootleg driver. By 22, he was already running his own independent race book under his newly won moniker, Handsome Johnny. "His appearance evidenced good fortune and expensive tastes," writes the author. "Gone were the old work clothes and boots, the stubbly face and dirty fingers, replaced with a fine wardrobe [and] immaculate grooming (movie-star haircut, treated skin, manicured nails with the luster of Red Sea pearls)." At only 23, together with Jack Dragna, Rosselli became Capone's ambassador to the wide open frontier of Los Angeles. "It had happened quickly and efficiently," writes Server. "And it was just the beginning." From his tenure as a producer of major film noirs and hand in launching the career of Marilyn Monroe to his pioneering involvement in entrenching the Mafia in the new frontier of Las Vegas and 1960s entanglement with Sam Giancana in a CIA-backed plan to poison Cuban president Fidel Castro, Rosselli lived an unquestionably fascinating life, and the author ably captures it from one compelling exploit to the next. Server also examines Rosselli's friendships with Frank Sinatra and other celebrities, his part in negotiating eccentric aviator Howard Hughes' entry into the Las Vegas crime-scape, his alleged role in JFK's assassination, and his grim end (his decomposing body was found in a fuel drum near Miami).Paced like a fine piece of fiction, this is a handsomely written chronicle of an interesting mob character. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.