Gilorma (Sam) Giancana was a leading crime boss of 1950s Chicago, the archetypal mobster with connections to political and business circles, especially the US government.
Rumours persist that he was responsible for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Running whiskey around Chicago in the Prohibition, Sam was used to blackening an eye or breaking a nose. It wasn’t long before he became Al Capone’s best boy and succeeded to the top of Chicago’s crime rackets.
Born in Chicago's ‘Little Italy’ in 1908, Sam Giancana soon learnt how to take care of himself in a tough neighbourhood. He was often beaten by his father for various misdemeanours and ended up expelled from Reese Elementary School due to rebellious behaviour.
Later he was sent to St. Charles Reformatory which proved futile and six months later he returned back to the Little Italy neighbourhood, but away from home and his father's leather strap.
Giancana’s nickname ‘Momo’ derived from the slang term ‘Mooney’ which meant crazy. He was known for his unstable, vicious behaviour and short fuse. His criminal career began in the 1920s on Chicago's West Side as a member of a violent street gang called ‘The 42s’.
On 23 September 1933 Sam married Angeline ‘Ange’ De Tolve, but this did not stop him from continuing to visit whorehouses. As the dutiful mobster wife, she just turned a blind eye to his indiscretions.
Brothels were obviously more than just flesh palaces offering sex, they also appeared to be major networking arenas going by the likes of other mobsters, such as Al Capone who Sam met while in a whorehouse.
The two men got on and soon Sam became known as Capone’s boy. When at just 18 he was first arrested on suspicion of murder, the key witness rather mysteriously was killed. Charges against Sam were dropped although during the thirties he still went to prison for ten years.
When Al Capone was finally nailed by the authorities, his successor Frank ‘The Enforcer’ Nitti decided to shape a new underworld. However, this time Nitti was canny enough to employ ‘front men’ to camouflage the activities of syndicated criminals. Sam Giancana had the qualities Nitti was looking for. Firstly, Sam was an excellent getaway driver and secondly a potentially ruthless killer.