We have glamorised them, made movies about them, dressed like them, bought their memorabilia but overall, the gangsters of the American mob were as dangerous as a fully loaded revolver. They forged a lifestyle and a business that attracted the attention of law enforcement and Hollywood as well. Famous gangsters are Don Carlo Gambino, Frank Lucas, Johnny Torrio, Alphonse Capone, John Gotti and Sam Giancana. In their heyday, they made millions in illegal money every single day and rubbed shoulders with the stars of Hollywood as well as high ranking government officials. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, crime does not pay. Many of these died in prison or in shootouts. We watched them in the movies and idolized them, but rarely has the spotlight shone on their better halves. Read on to learn about the women who built homes for these gangsters. Learn about the wives and girlfriends who celebrated the high times and consoled their men as they were whisked off to jail. Some of them even shed a tear over their husbands’ coffins.
She is well known as the wife who would not go into witness protection even with a target on her back. Andrea met and became romantically involved with Frank Lino, a notorious gangster. They never got legally married but lived together. Being a mother of 4 kids, Frank provided an amazing father figure to her kids and was a great family man. They had some wonderful times when the money was simply rolling in. However, things took a turn for the worst in the year 1992 when she and her husband were indicted on drug charges. In exchange for information, Frank Lino negotiated that Andrea be enrolled into Witness Protection and get relocated. He wanted her relocated because whenever a member of the Mob spoke to the authorities, he or his family were as good as dead. So Lino went to jail and Andrea was presented the opportunity to flee the city. She stayed put and did the unthinkable, she took over her husbands drug business.
Many people doubt her story but as an attorney, she was best suited for the job since she knew the laws that could be broken and those that could be bent. Frank taught her all that she needed to know and after he went away, she took over and kept the money coming in. she covered herself well enough to never get caught until she made a proper nest egg for her kids. Moreover, she kept the Mob well compensated and thus they did not kill her. Andrea is still alive today.
Ms. Virginia Hill
She was flamboyant, beautiful, classy and a girl that any gentleman would want draped upon his arm. Well, the gentleman who got this honor was Mr. Bugsy Siegel, the gangster who invented Las Vegas. In the 1950s, Bugsy got a loan from the New York Mob and built the biggest casinos in Las Vegas. Due to his success, Virginia Hill professed her affection for the respected gangster from the Genovese crime family. She was his girlfriend during the prime of his life. In 1951, she was subpoenaed in court and asked to testify against her boyfriend and the Mob in Las Vegas. Always the loyal girlfriend, she claimed to not know a thing about the underworld. She said that she got gifts from Bugsy and many other gangsters due to her sexual prowess and movie star looks. The charges were dropped but she fled to Europe after new charges of tax evasion were brought up by the Las Vegas court.
She lived a lavish life with Mob money until 1966. The papers reported that she had died due to a drug overdose but suspiciously, her body was found near a stream 2 days after she had met the Genovese crime family boss, Joe Adonis. The gangster reported that when she left him, she was safe and in great shape. No evidence was found to capture her killer but suspicion fell upon Joe. Nobody could do anything about it due to Joe’s power. However, it is speculated that Joe killed her after she tried to blackmail him with threats to talk to the police about the Mafia unless he paid her money. She was beautiful but life in the Mob can be tragically short.
Mayme Hatcher Johnson
Ever since the 1920s, New York was a gangster’s paradise. The situation was the same even in the 1960s and Ellsworth ‘Bumpy’ Johnson was the king of Harlem. This was an African American neighborhood and he was the top boss. Mayme was born in 1914 and moved to New York 24 years later. While working as a waitress at the age of 34, she caught the eye of the biggest African American gangster in the city. A few weeks later, she was wearing $100,000 fur coats and bearing a new name, Mrs. Johnson. As a result of her new status, Mayme was respected all over the city. She also carried herself like royalty. She was able to keep her life and that of her husband separate. She gave him space to be the boss and cooked a hot meal for him when he came home.
Many women tried to threaten her so that they can take Bumpy for themselves but Mayme knew how to keep them in check. She kept her mouth shut every time the police tried to get her to confess anything about her husband’s activities. Bumpy was arrested over 40 times and served a 10 year stint in Alcatraz, the hellish prison that scared even the hardest gangsters. He came out and Mayme was there to greet him. A few years later he died, handing over the keys to the kingdom to Frank Lucas. Mayme lived until her peaceful death in 2009 at the age of 94. She wrote a biography of Bumpy Johnson to show the world the man that her husband truly was. Of all the gangster wives and girlfriends, Mayme ranks among the most respectable.
The fairytale that every girl has is where she wins the beauty pageant and marries a rich, handsome young man. It came true for Julianna Farrait. She got together with Frank Lucas, the biggest heroine boss of New York in the 1960s. Frank inherited the crime empire from Bumpy Johnson and expanded it. He made more than $1,000,000 daily from his operation. He imported pure heroine from South East Asia using American war planes and sold it for cheap in Harlem, the African American neighborhood of the city. As a result, he became one of the richest gangsters in the history of New York. He married her in 1972 and changed her life forever. Julie was there to spend his money and spend she did. The Lucas family became accustomed to bespoke Mercedes Benz limousines, diamonds everywhere and ringside tickets at the biggest boxing events of the decade.
Eventually, Frank went to jail and Julie was left at home. Later, she served a 5 year stint for assisting her husband to launder drug money. During her stay in prison, she did not sell him out. This was proof that she was loyal. After they got out of jail, they broke up for a while but their love was too strong. They reunited and have been together for over 40 years. In 2010, she was caught trying to sell 2 kilograms of cocaine. She was 70 years old. Due to her age, she was not indicted in court. Law enforcement keeps their eye on the old gangster couple up to today. Their life has been immortalized in a movie known as American Gangster with Denzel Washington playing Frank Lucas and Lymari Nadal playing Julie Lucas.
‘Big’ Linda Schiro
She was the girlfriend and later the wife of feared Mob enforcer Gregory Scarpa. Scarpa was known by many names for example the ‘Grim Reaper’ and the ‘Mad Hatter’. This is because of his thirst for blood. He was well known to kill at a whim and make bodies disappear. He was the primary killer for Carmine Persico, the boss of the Colombo crime family. She dated the New York killer ever since she was a beautiful, stunning 17 year old girl. Ever since she was this age, she lived the high life. Scarpa provided her with dinner and diamonds on a daily basis. After her daughter was born, Linda was known as Big Linda because her little girl was named exactly like her. For 3 decades, they knew nothing but champagne and yachts. However, all good things come to an end and hers was bitter. Scarpa was charged with murder and sent to prison for life. He died of AIDS in prison in 1994. His death resulted in a 7 month war in the New York Mob. To finance it, the Mob took all her husband’s assets and Big Linda was left penniless. She moved to a rented apartment and found a minimum wage job to raise her daughter. Up to now, nobody knows what happened to Scarpa’s millions, not even Big Linda Schiro.
They say that blonde beauties have much more than meets the eye. In the case of Victoria Gotti, she was as dangerous as the life she was born into. She was the daughter of one of the biggest bosses in the history of the Mob. His name was John Gotti, head of the Gambino crime family. In the 1970s, she met and married a respected gangster known as Carmine Agnello. Her name was enough to instill cold fear in any man throughout the 1960s, 1970s all the way to the late 1990s. John Gotti was powerful, well connected, extremely ruthless and smarter than any other gangster of his era. Thus, Victoria enjoyed a lavish, protected life. Gotti was so cold that he refused to speak on anything about the Mob even after he was arrested. He held up the Italian code of silence known as Omerta as the judge served him a life sentence in solitary confinement. He is one of the few, true American gangsters.
Victoria was definitely her father’s daughter. This was evident in a case where a neighbor accidentally drove into her son as he was playing with a bicycle around their neighborhood. Mr. John Favarra hit and killed 12 year old Frank Gotti as he played on the road in the beginning of 1980. Mr. Favarra confessed to the accident and was honestly remorseful. However, you don’t kill a gangster’s only grandson and expect to live. Victoria asked her father for Mr. Favarra’s head and he promptly agreed. A Mob friend advised the scared Favarra to leave town. A few months later, the Gotti family went for vacation to Florida. During their vacation, Mr. John Favarra disappeared. The police knew he would get killed but nobody could touch John Gotti. It was family business and Victoria took it personal. She is alive today and is still the queen of the New York Mob.
Mary Evelyn Frechette
The attraction to bad men has always been evident. Many women fall for bad boys and Mary Evelyn was one of them. In the city of Chicago, she met a gangster known as John Dillinger. The year was 1933. His exciting, lavish life appealed to her and she was smitten. He took her to the movies and dances whenever he could. Also known as Billie, Evelyn had a first hand look at her boyfriend’s life of crime when she was involved in a shootout after leaving the doctor’s office that year. In fall of the same year, a member of Dillinger’s gang killed a police sergeant. It has always been an unwritten law that gangsters should not kill the police at any cost. It was not worth the heat. Unfortunately, Dillinger’s friend did it and they all had to leave Chicago.
After a few years of bank robberies and the fast life, John Dillinger was named Public Enemy number 1 and Billie was promptly arrested for harboring him. John was a fugitive from the law after breaking out of prison in St. Paul. Billie was sentenced to and served 2 years and a day in prison. Sadly, John watched as she was arrested and died in a shootout before she could be released. When Billie got out, she lived with John’s family before moving back to her hometown in North Carolina to live out her days in the Indian Reservation. Her life and romance with one of the biggest gangsters of the 1930s has been made into a motion picture known as Public Enemies with Johnny Depp playing Dillinger and Marion