Nick Adams was far more a dreamer than "The Rebel" he would portray in his heyday. At 18 he hitchhiked to Hollywood to become a movie star. A quintessential self-promoter, he defied all odds in making his dream come true, but he could never seem to get out of his own way. His death, exploited by writers as one of Hollywood's dark mysteries, came by his own hand.
"Actor Nick Adams Dead In Mystery," read the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner headline on Feb. 8, 1968. The story reported:
Nick Adams, 36, who won fame as "The Rebel" on television, was found dead in his Coldwater Canyon home last night under circumstances that puzzled police.
His body, fully clothed, was found in a sitting position beside his bed by his attorney, Ervin "Tip" Roeder. There was no indication as to the cause of death. No weapons or sleeping pills were found. Adams's lawyer told Det. Verne Jones he arrived at the $54,000 Cape Cod style home bordering Beverly Hills about 8 p.m. When no one answered the doorbell, Roeder crawled through a window and discovered the body.
Nick Adams's death was the final, strangest chapter in a life and career that took many unusual turns.
Updated March 9, 2010
Treiber Police Photo
Awaiting trial for murder, Frenchman Jean-Pierre Treiber goes on the run and makes the police look like idiots.
Before the invention of television, head hunters rode on horseback into dusty towns and in their saddlebags were the wanted poster for the man they’d gone to find.
Today, a head hunter is a cop in a fast car with an earsplitting siren and a rotating red light, or he is cop in a helicopter equipped with infra-red camera equipment that turns night into day. And, today, because of 24/7 breaking news reports on television, the wanted poster has become obsolete because now we know the face of a man on the run like we know our own.
This became the case with the man on the picture above – Jean-Pierre Treiber – who was on the run from prison where he was awaiting trial for the kidnap and murder of two young women.
So familiar had become his face that his marked squint was even being targeted by stand-up comics and talk show hosts.
But Treiber’s story is far from something to laugh about.
June 01, 2008
Albert Anastasia (l) and Abe "Kid Twist" Reles (r)
On the eve of giving star witness testimony against mobster kingpin Albert Anastasia in 1941, Abe "Kid Twist" Reles plunges to his death from his "police protected" suite on the sixth floor of the Half Moon Hotel on Coney Island. Officially ruled a "suicide," the death of the former senior member of Murder Inc. turned canary was, most certainly, a push, not a hop.
by Robert Walsh
It's a cold and dark night on November 12, 1941. Abe "Kid Twist" Reles, once a senior member of Murder Inc. and now one of the most important canaries in American history, is preparing a makeshift ladder that will help him climb from the sixth floor of the Half Moon Hotel on Coney Island, N.Y., where he is being held in protective custody to turn state's evidence against that most vicious and notorious of New York's mobsters, Albert "Lord High Executioner" Anastasia.
He keeps his preparations as quiet as possible, to avoid attracting the attention of the half dozen detectives assigned to guard him around the clock while he gives evidence that could put Anastasia in Sing Sing's infamous electric chair. Having narrowly avoided a date with "Old Sparky" himself, he has no qualms about inflicting the same on his former friends if it will save his own skin.
"Cockeyed Louie" Fratto stared down three U.S. Senate committees -- Kefauver, McClellan, and Capehart -- by taking "the Fifth." His 30-year reign as the mob's lead man in Iowa netted him numerous civic honors, but not one day in jail.
by Allan May
According to Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Clark R. Mollenhoff, Louis Fratto, better known as Lew Farrell, "was not a master criminal. He was no more than a second or third operator from the lower ranks of the Capone mob in Chicago." This may have been Mollenhoff's opinion when the Capone gunman arrived in Des Moines, Iowa, in September 1939, but things would change.
As a cub reporter for the Des Moines Register during the early 1940s, Mollenhoff witnessed, "the tentacles of Lew Farrell reach into the Des Moines Police Department to promote his friends; into the Sheriff's Office for a gun permit; into the Prosecutor's Office to kill a criminal indictment; into the local courts to manipulate decisions on evidence; and into the state political arena."
Luigi Thomaso Giuseppe Fratto was born in Chicago on July 17, 1907. In Steven Fox's Blood and Power, the author discusses Fratto's nickname Lew Farrell, a name Fratto used most of his life, which allowed him an almost dual identity. Fox states, "As young boxers Vincent DeMora, Girolamo Santuccio, Joseph Aiuppa, and Louis Fratto took the ring names of Jack McGurn, Bobby Doyle, Joey O'Brien, and Lew Farrell, and when they graduated from boxing they kept the names."
Other than Tammany Hall in New York, the Pendergast machine in Kansas City was the longest-running and most thorough melding of vice and politics ever seen in the United States. So complete was the marriage of underworld to political world, that Tom Pendergast – the son of Irish immigrants and unabashedly known as "Boss Tom" to everyone in town – controlled not just the political machine that bore his family name but the local Mafia as well.
by Allan May
Before the Pendergast dynasty took root, the early Mafia influence in Kansas City involved Black Hand extortion, which, as in other cities, was carried out by Italians against Italians. This activity came to an end with the onset of Prohibition in 1920. The Mafia faction under control of the DiGiovanni and Balestrere gang then focused on bootlegging.
Once the Pendergast machine got rolling, the other Italian hoods that rose to prominence did so under the Pendergast banner. The underworld bosses, beginning with Johnny Lazia in the late 1920s right through the death of Charles Binaggio in 1950, were different from their counterparts in other cities because of their close ties to the Kansas City political scene. It would not be until the emergence of the iron-fisted Nick Civella in the mid-1950s – after Boss Tom had been dead 10 years – that Kansas City would take on a more traditional organized crime structure.
All Jesse Stoneking had to do was be himself -- look tough and menacing -- to earn the easiest $25,000 that had ever come his way. For the right-hand man to St. Louis mobster Art Berne, the job seemed too good to be true. And it was.
It was an improbable criminal coalition. There was Bob Neal Carson, the sultan of sin whose efforts in the early 1970s to become a feared, ruthless rackets boss in the Fort Leonard Wood area ended in disaster that brought down the entire lucrative prostitution and gambling business. His hapless collection of hit men and enforcers became the laughing stock of the Missouri underworld, the proverbial gang that couldn't shoot or bomb straight who were their own worst enemy.
On the other side was Jesse Stoneking, the deadly efficient, stone-cold killer who was second in command of Art Berne's powerful mob on St. Louis' East Side and who spoke with the authority of the Chicago Outfit. Not only did he possess the reputation of being a ferocious enforcer of prodigious strength who feared no man and had the agility and cunning of a mountain lion, he was an adept thief and burglar who plotted his scores with the patience and precision of a an architect. He was everything the impulsive, bungling Carson was not.
Thus it was early in 1978, four years after Carson had been acquitted of federal conspiracy charges and four years before Stoneking would become the Federal Bureau of Investigation's most devastating undercover informant in the Midwest, that they joined forces.
Frankie and the Boys 1976 - Left to right: Paul Castellano, Gregory DePalma, Sinatra, Tommy Marson, Carlo Gambino, Aladena Fratianno, Salvatore Spatola, Seated: Joseph Gambino, Richard Fusco
The recent release of Sinatra's extensive FBI file exposes his mob connections in voluminous detail, putting to lie Ol' Blue Eyes' most celebrated claim that he did it his way.
Rumors of mob connections hounded Frank Sinatra throughout his storied, tumultuous life. His denials were as ready on his lips as his trademark song ''My Way'' became in his waning years. J. Edgar Hoover didn't buy it. He thought Ol' Blue Eyes was a murderer and a Mafioso with a golden voice. Despite Hoover's FBI amassing the largest file on Sinatra of any entertainer in U.S. history, none of the damning information there ever made it to a grand jury. Numerous times the government got close to indicting Sinatra, but it never did. Sinatra had friends in the highest places, first President Kennedy and then President Nixon and finally President Reagan. Each, in different ways and to varying degrees, came to his aid when he most needed them, enabling him to front for the mob with impunity.
Recently the FBI released on its web site all 1,275 pages of Sinatra's FBI file. His file may be viewed at http://foia.fbi.gov/foiaindex/sinatra.htm. Beginning more than a year ago, the FBI began posting files of scores of other deceased celebrities it had maintained files on to the bureau's web site. There one can read about Charles A. Lindbergh (1,368 pages), Robert Kennedy (1,263), Joseph Kennedy (1,011), President Kennedy (178), Henry Ford (376), Abbie Hoffman (13,262), Martin Luther King Jr. (16,659), Malcolm X (11,674), Nelson Rockefeller (1,472), Cardinal Francis Spellman (536), Marilyn Monroe (80), Jackie Robinson (131), and, of course, the Mafiosi: Al Capone (2,397), Sam Giancana (2,781), and Carlo Gambino (1,239) to name a few.