Last night was the first of a series of an eight episode mini series called, “The Making of the Mob.” This docu-drama tells the history of how the five families of the New York Mafia got its start and it is narrated by Ray Liotta, of “Goodfellows.” Here is what we saw last night . . .
In 1931, Charles “Lucky” Luciano, one of the most notorious gangsters in America, calls a meeting in Chicago of the most powerful men in the Mafia. He tells them things will be run like they are in Sicily, but there will no longer be a “boss of bosses.” Instead they will have a board of directors, a commission run by the bosses of the five New York families. They will have the final say in all matters. This is when the American Mafia, the most powerful crime syndicate, gets its real start.
Then the show takes us back to 1906, when Charles “Lucky” Luciano’s family arrives from Italy looking for a better life. Lucky’s father can’t find work, turns to alcohol and abuses the family. There are 100’s of gangs on the streets of New York City. The only way to survive is to join a gang and live a life of crime. The gangs terrorize citizens because they are always having turf wars and killing each other in the streets. When Lucky is 15, he develops friendships with two Jewish boys, Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Seigel. Meyer had the intelligence and mathematical ability, Bugsy had a bad temper and was quick to act on it. The three of them together were a force to reckon with.
One day Lucky’s little crew runs into Frank Costello, a gangster who was taking care of someone for his boss, Joe Mazaria. Frank kills the guy, but doesn’t have it in him to remove his gold teeth. Lucky offers to do it for him. Lucky tells Bugsy to take care of it. Frank is impressed and takes the boys under his wing having him do work for him. Frank decides to bring in a new soldier, Vito Genovese.
The U.S. government passes Prohibition with the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. This is exactly what the Mafia needed to make big money. With the huge demand for alcohol, 100’s of speakeasies opened up and millions of dollars were being earned on the sale liquor. Joe Mazaria becomes “The Boss” and his operation covers half of Manhattan.
One night, Lucky and his crew make the mistake of robbing one of Joe’s trucks. They had no idea it was his truck and have to go into hiding because they know this means certain death for all of them. Finally, realizing they can’t hide forever, Lucky makes the decision to go see Joe Mazaria himself and take care of the problem. Lucky explains that the robbed the truck by mistake and offers to make things right by killing someone for Joe. Joe give Lucky a good beating before taking him up on his offer.
When he returns to his crew, they thank him for taking the blame. Lucky tells them he had to make a deal to save their lives . . . they have to kill Umberto Valentini, one of the most dangerous mobsters in New York City. Lucky and his crew follow Umberto for weeks until they find the right opportunity to make their move. They see him out on the street. Lucky shoots him in cold blood. Joe is impressed with Lucky’s first hit and promotes him, putting him in charge of heroin sales. Heroin becomes a huge money maker for Joe, especially after the government makes it illegal for medical purposes. Lucky is doing well until he is arrested for selling heroin and has to serve six months in prison. While in prison, Lucky has time to think. He is angry that while he is sitting in prison, Joe is making a lot of money. He decides he needs to be his own boss when he gets out.
Meanwhile, while Lucky is in prison, Meyer Lansky makes a new “business” connection with a man named Arnold Rothstein. Rothstein was a very successful business man who was also profiting from the bootlegging business, thanks to Prohibition. Rothstein is also the man who allegedly “fixed” the game that lead to the Black Sox Scandal. He placed bets of his own, winning the equivalent of a modern day 4 million dollars. Meyer takes Lucky to meet Rothstein.
Rothstein likes the two young men and see their potential, so he takes them under his wing. Rothstein believes in selling alcohol to rich people, unlike Joe Mazaria who focused on the poor. Rothstein was making twice as much money. The only problem for Lucky and Meyer is that they have to hand over a big chunk of their profits to Joe. Lucky decides they need to kill Joe and he asks Rothstein for advice. Rothstein tells them it’s a big risk and if they do this they are on their own.
So far I am loving every minute. What did you think of episode one?
If you missed the first episode, you can watch it at The Education of Lucky Luciano and I see they posted episode two as well, so i will be watching that next!