Updated: Jan 28, 2022
Meyer Harris "Mickey" Cohen
Born: September 4, 1913, Brooklyn Died: July 29, 1976, Los Angeles Nicknames: Mickey Associates: The Chicago Outfit, Lou Rothkopf,Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, Meyer Harris
“Mickey” Cohen started small, but he grew in power over the years like every good mobster. He was a determined boxer and Los Angeles gangster, yet he was always willing to take a beating for what he thought was right. Towards the end of his life, he became an iconic legend and grew the public’s
affection. In Brooklyn, New York, Cohen was born on September 4, 1913, to a small Orthodox Jewish family. When Cohen was six, his family moved to Los Angeles, and Cohen found his love for boxing. He would often participate in illegal underground prizefighting matches. At the young age of 15, Cohen traveled to Cleveland, Ohio, to gain professional training. His first professional fight was on April 8, 1930, where he won against his opponent Patsy Farr. Cohen’s boxing career would end swiftly, with him losing 11 out of his next 19 fights before calling it quits.
In Cleveland, Cohen would get involved with illegal racketeering under the Moe Dalitz’s outfit. He would play a small part in controlling unlawful gambling, but the police quickly caught wind and pursued Cohen. To escape the police’s tail, Cohen eventually moved to Chicago to work for Al Capone’s Outfit. In Chicago, Cohen ran gambling operations as well as bootlegging. However, this did not last long as he was forced to flee after a heated argument with a rival mobster. Finding himself back in Cleveland, Cohen found little work but was allowed to start working with Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel in Los Angeles.
Siegel was killed on June 20, 1947, because the mob believed he was taking small portions of their profits. Cohen did not react kindly and lashed out violently. Due to his reaction, assignations on his life would be attempted many times until he installed a full security system in his home, created a bulletproof car, and hired a bodyguard.
In 1951, Cohen was convicted of tax evasion and spent the next four years in prison. After his release in 1955, Cohen became somewhat of a celebrity due to his large number of owned businesses in the Los Angeles Area. Unfortunately for Cohen, this brought more attention to himself, and he was rejailed in 1961 for tax evasion. He was sent to the infamous Alcatraz before being bailed out and transferred to the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. It was around this time that Cohen was diagnosed with stomach cancer which went untreated while in prison. After his re-release, Cohen would lay low and attend talk-shows around the country. He would pass away on July 29, 1976, peacefully while sleeping.
From a boxer to a mob celebrity, Cohen was nobody to mess around with. He was a great business owner and knew how to gain profit both legally and illegally. He kept those he trusted close while doing anything for those he loved. Even to this day, Cohen is loved by the public. His likeness has appeared in many movies, books, and even video games over the years.
Film and Entertainment that Reference Cohen:
● In the film Bugsy (1991), Mickey Cohen is portrayed by actor Harvey Keitel. Keitel received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
● In the film L.A. Confidential (1997), based on James Ellroy's 1990 novel, Mickey Cohen is portrayed by actor Paul Guilfoyle.
● In the film Gangster Squad (2013), Cohen is portrayed by actor Sean Penn.
● Patrick Fischler lends his voice and likeness to play Mickey Cohen in the 2011 video game L.A. Noire (set in 1947).
● In James Ellroy's L.A. Quartet book series, Cohen plays a major supporting role in three of the novels: The Big Nowhere (1988), L.A. Confidential (1990), and White Jazz (1992).
● In retired newspaperman Howard Scott Williams' 2017 memoir The Gangster's Butler, recounting stories he reported on from 1948 to 1976, he recounts posing as a butler for Cohen in order get information for a story.
● In Frank Darabont's television series Mob City, Cohen is portrayed by Jeremy Luke. #wikipedia