Gangster films were very popular during the thirties. And Hollywood had many dealings with the underworld in that period. The studios paid protection money to prevent sabotage of the theaters. There was more to it than that. The gangsters became involved in supplying the studios with different things, not all of them legal. Some of the studio bosses liked to gamble with the gangsters. Some stars frequented the speakeasies and gambling joints in the area that were controlled by the underworld. Some of the girls in comedies were somehow linked to gangsters.
Thelma Todd had trouble with gangsters. There were extortion notes ( some were said to be the work of a crazy fan, but later ones might not have been ) and problems related to the Sidewalk Café. They thought that the gangsters might have killed her. But they don't seem to have said much of anything about the gangsters at the time. Later writers attributed the problems to Lucky Luciano, but some more recent writers have cast doubt on that story.
What about Lucky Luciano? Was he actually involved? Could Thelma Todd have been connected to him in some way?
Here we see Pat DeCicco, Gene Malin, Thelma Todd, and Lois Wilson at the club New York in Hollywood in 1932.
Gene Malin's wife was involved with prostitution, like DeCicco, which could be another connection.* But Patsy Kelly was more closely associated with Gene Malin than Thelma Todd and Pat DeCicco. She was with Malin when he accidently drove his car off a pier into the ocean and drowned in 1933.
Geneva Mitchell was in NIGHT LIFE OF THE GODS ( 1935 ) with Pat DiCicco,
Today she is probably best known as the dance instructor in the Three Stooges comedy HOI POLLOI. History also tells us that she had some complaints about the underworld.
June Brewster of the "Blondes and the Redheads" series at RKO married Guy McAfee, who was head of the vice squad. While in that position he owned brothels and gambling joints in Los Angeles.** Later he relocated to Los Vegas, where that stuff was legal, and she went with him.
Lona Andre ( left ) and Iris Ardian ( right ) with Laurel and Hardy in OUR RELATIONS ( 1936 ).
Here we see Dorothy Appleby and Barbara Pepper with George Raft and Edgar G. Robinson in MANPOWER ( 1943 ). Dorothy Appleby and Barbara Pepper appeared in many comedies.
Dorothy Appleby was engaged for a time to a lawyer named Sidney Korshak who was linked to gangsters. George Raft had underworld connections and is frequently mentioned in connection with Pat DeCicco. Raft was also associated with gangster Bugsy Siegel, who he knew from New York.
Bugsy Siegel and George Raft
Bugsy Siegel was associated with Lucky Luciano, who is said to have sent him out west. Some people have thought Siegel was around Thelma Todd. He was in Hollywood during the last years of her life, and was around some of the same people. Thelma Todd made her last public appearance at the Trocadero, a Hollywood night club owned by William Wilkerson. William Wilkerson later became involved with Bugsy Siegel in building the Flamingo hotel in Las Vegas.
Bugsy Siegel is frequently mentioned in connection with Jean Harlow, who appeared in Laurel and Hardy comedies before she was a star.
Frequently their association is said to have been friendly, but there were also stories of a less pleasant nature. Some people said that he was extorting money from her. Evidently Siegel had a habit of "borrowing" large sums from people which they were afraid to ask him to pay back.
Virginia Hill was another woman who was associated with Bugsy Siegel.
Reblogged from https://www.al.com/expo/news/erry-2018/07/c0bffcff0d2972/virginia_hill_went_from_lipsco.html
She wasn't a movie star, but people sometimes thought that she was. She hung out with the stars. She was considered to be something of a celebrity herself.
The story is that Virginia Hill was introduced to Bugsy Siegel by Pat DiCicco. And Bugsy Siegel was associated with Lucky Luciano. Although Luciano was in prison by the time that DeCicco made the introduction.
Luciano allegedly had Bugsy Siegel killed, just as he'd allegedly had Dutch Schultz eliminated. They said it had something to do with the Flamingo Hotel, on which Siegel had spent vast sums of money after taking the project away from William Wilkerson. Like many other stories about Luciano it was never really proven, but accepted as fact nonetheless.
*Luciano eventually controlled all the prostitution in New York, which was also what he was convicted of, and imprisoned for, in 1936.
**Guy McAfee ran the Clover Club, a Sunset Strip gambling casino that Thelma Todd is known to have gone to.
The Man Who Kept The Secrets ( Sidney Korshak ) - Dorothy Appleby mention
Newspaper article announcing engagement:
Gangsters' extortion of money from the studios:
Jean Harlow ( Official site ):
Laurel And Hardy:
Gene Malin and Patsy Kelly:
Geneva Mitchell ( Denny Jackson's Glamour Girls Of The Silver Screen ):
Johnny Roselli and Lina Basquette:
Bugsy Siegel and Virginia Hill: