Top 10 The Best Famous People
Hollywood has a long history with organized crime. For decades the two entities have been involved in a sort of cozy and subtle (and occasionally not so subtle) relationship. One reason is that Hollywood enjoys making mafia films and promoting tough-guy mafia characters. Many people find the film industry to be glamorous, with stories of mob kills, family ties, and dramatic criminal deeds taking center stage. However, there have long been rumors that the industry is also heavily connected to the mafia behind the scenes. It makes sense at first glance. Celebrities have a lot of societal impact in addition to wealth, fame, and power. Why wouldn’t organized crime be interested in taking a cut of that? In the film industry, popularity is everything, and mafia links have long been believed to be at work behind the scenes, seeking connections and laundering money. The interconnections also go far deeper than you might think. Ten well-known Hollywood stars who allegedly have ties to the mob will be examined in this list. Throughout their careers, some of these celebrities were rumored to have maintained close ties to the crime syndicate. Others became involved in strange, dubious, and sometimes even lethal ways. However, all of them left with relationships that are still rumored to this day—sometimes even decades later. This is the actual narrative of ten famous Hollywood people and their connections to the mafia.
10 Frank Sinatra
Shall we begin with the most talked-about mob friend in Hollywood? The popular legend and enduring legacy of Frank Sinatra mostly revolve around his alleged mafia ties. It’s not simply words either. Because they were so skeptical of it, the FBI kept track of Old Blue Eyes’ whereabouts and relationships for years prior to his passing. The longstanding leader of the Chicago Mafia, Sam Giancana, was among the prominent mobsters with whom the singer was pals.
A large portion of the public and all of Hollywood were aware of Sinatra’s alleged mob hangouts during his lifetime. Heck, there’s even a claim that Sinatra served as the inspiration for The Godfather’s notorious Johnny Fontane. You know the one: Fontane begs Don Corleone for assistance in getting a part in a movie. There hasn’t been much doubt among moviegoers that Mario Puzo, the novel’s author, was modeled after Frank Sinatra. Sinatra, on the other hand, denied for years that he was ever associated with shady persons. At times, he even used the charges against him to his advantage. First of all, he asserted that anti-Italian racism was the root of the mob accusations. Frank said that his good name was being disparaged by the mafia because critics had noticed his name and ancestry. What then was actually happening?Regardless of his feelings toward them, mobsters probably just truly enjoyed Sinatra, as contemporary historians have come to realize. After all, the Italian and Italian-American men of his generation found great appeal in his origins as well as in the details of his life and profession. Therefore, it’s more likely than not true that Sinatra attracted mobsters instead of the other way around. As a result, he was able to maintain his relationship with them for a long time by allowing them into his orbit and being wise enough not to reject their assistance. Considering this, ignoring them might have been worse. However, in the end, it resulted in a sizable FBI file and a great deal of unwelcome attention from the police.
9 James Caan
James Caan was a successful movie actor who specialized in portraying violent, aggressive, rough, and intelligent people. And the actor was all those things and more in real life, according to friends and family who spoke to him both before and after his 2022 passing. In The Godfather, Caan played the iconic mobster Sonny Corleone, and he was excellent in the part. However, some mobsters themselves allege that this is because Caan wasn’t playing; they say Caan was “connected.” Sammy “The Bull” Gravano once claimed Caan had a significant role in the Colombo crime family. According to that legendary mafioso, the family had formally referred to Caan as a “associate.” That is a particular mafia rank granted to reliable non-Italians who become well-liked within the mafia enterprise. It’s said that Caan had such strong mafia ties that he personally asked Joe Colombo for permission to play Sonny in a big-screen production. But is all of that true, or was Gravano just trying to elevate the mafia by equating the real world’s underworld with one of the best-ever films? Well, at different times in his life, Caan himself acknowledged in public that he had ties to the Colombo family. For starters, he acknowledged that he had long-standing familial ties to Colombo street artist Andrew Russo. Caan was even named Scott, Russo’s son, his literal godfather. There are also claims that Caan pressured filmmakers to cast him in highly sought-after film parts by using his mafia ties. But the most astounding accusation may concern another Hollywood icon. In July 2022, Caan’s own obituary said that the Hollywood star had allegedly once begged a mob accomplice to assassinate Joe Pesci in order to pay a $8,000 debt. Fortunately for Pesci and all of his admirers, that hit was never released. However, if accurate, it would imply that Caan’s life and career have been marred by some severe mafia maneuvers.
8 George Raft
Stardom for George Raft preceded that of many of the other names on this list. His connections to the mafia are also said to be deeper than most. Raft rose to fame as a result of his major star-making role as Rinaldo in the iconic Scarface (1932). Raft played a master mobster in that film, so much so that for years following, people believed that his on-screen persona had influenced the real mafioso’s actions. That is truly iconic! Raft was raised in a rough neighborhood of New York City, so if he had any knowledge on how to play a gangster on movie, it was from his own experience. He was a street worker for notorious Irish Mafia boss Owney Madden when he was younger. Throughout his adult life, he even maintained close relations with two Las Vegas mobsters, Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky. It wasn’t just talk, either; Raft was once prevented from entering Britain during a transatlantic flight due to concerns expressed by London authorities regarding his alleged ties to the mob. Like Sinatra said before, Raft’s mafia links were probably more relational than active. That is to say, he was raised in a difficult environment and has maintained tight relationships with other tough people throughout his life—all without engaging in any criminal activity. However, the relationships aided his career. Raft’s ability to portray a tough guy on screen was undoubtedly influenced by his personal history, but he did have one positive outcome from his mob connections: rumor has it that he once put an end to plots to kill actors Gary Cooper and James Cagney because the actors had allegedly offended mafia dons during their lengthy careers. That in and of itself would seem to be a significant accomplishment for the movie star. Sort of using his mob meets for good.
7 Lana Turner
Lana Turner was one of Hollywood’s top stars for many years in the midst of the Golden Age of film. Her off-screen life was as dramatic. During her lifetime, she was married seven times. She also allegedly had relationships with a number of the greatest male stars in Hollywood. As far as we’re concerned, though, what really sparked things off was her turbulent relationship with mafioso Johnny Stompanato. Stompanato was once intimately associated with crime boss Mickey Cohen. In addition to being violent and erratic, Johnny was rumored to have extensive contacts in the world of organized crime. Turner grew weary of the tumultuous relationship after some time together. Despite her repeated attempts to halt the romance, Stompanato’s seemingly sporadic and unnerving outbursts of rage rejected her attempts. However, everything came to a head on April 4, 1958. He even allegedly threatened her with violence ordered by the mafia if she ever left him. Turner and Stompanato were heard yelling loudly at one another that day. The two had a lot of fights, but this one seemed to have bigger stakes and more emotion than any of the others. The unimaginable happened at the height of the struggle: Stompanato was fatally stabbed. Turner reported that her 14-year-old daughter Cheryl Crane had stormed into the room and killed the mobster when police arrived to assess the scene. The Hollywood diva clarified that Crane was only taking essential precautions to keep mum safe. That might be the case, and the prosecution was so taken with the account that they decided it was a justified killing and let it go. However, for ever since, there have been persistent suspicions that Turner was more involved in the stabbing than has ever been disclosed, and that Stompanato’s mob connections had more to do with the incident. grotesque!
6 Bing Crosby
In all of Hollywood, Bing Crosby possessed one of the clearest and most impeccable public personas. He had the voice of a god and was seen as an ordinary, down-to-earth guy. Clean-cut, good-looking, and seemingly nice, he was loved and respected by admirers alike. Unfortunately, the real-life narrative behind the scenes was very different. To start, Crosby was a frequent drinker in his free time. It is also said that he was a violent father who punished his children and other people in his personal life severely both physically and emotionally. He also loved to gamble a lot. This was shown in public as a passion for horse racing. But in private, he looked for big-time high-stakes games and even saw some scary scenes involving organized crime, according to reports. Crosby also once became wasted one night in 1929 while attending a party. He woke up the following morning in a house full of gangsters, for some reason. Startled, he entered a restroom to freshen up. Only a few minutes after he’d left, a second bunch of toughs barged in and shot up the room. And it was by no means the first near miss he had. A 1999 rumor claimed that Bing had once paid a gangster $10,000 to save his own life after his gambling problems got out of hand. The crooner’s connections to the mafia were so strong that the FBI decided to look into everything he knew. After all, Crosby had spent years drinking and playing golf with some of the most formidable mafia figures in the nation. Additionally, the star’s debt from gambling made it even more necessary for him to hang around with suspected mobsters—if only to keep himself safe.
5 Debbie Reynolds
You’re undoubtedly surprised to see Debbie Reynolds’s name on this list if you know anything about her career. Heck, her career is proof that mafia affiliations are anything but what they seem to be. However, she was also involved in it. And unlike many others on this list, she might not have realized at the height of the issue just how complicated and intricate things were. Harry Karl was the second husband of Reynolds. He was the proprietor of the Karl’s Shoe brand. Before tying the knot with Debbie, he had been briefly wed to Joan Cohn, the widow of the late Harry Cohn, the head of Columbia Pictures. Incredibly, Karl and Joan’s marriage lasted barely a few weeks in the 1950s. The best explanation offered by the FBI and LAPD was that organized crime bosses had orchestrated the marriage in order to conceal the identities of some of Columbia’s real investors. In order to gain control over the Cohn estate and repay the mob without leaving a trace in the form of a revealing paper trail, Harry was sent in to “marry” Joan. Or something. Then, in 1960, following the dissolution of his hurried marriage to Joan, Karl married Reynolds. It did seem that these two were married for love, or a close enough resemblance of it. Even throughout their relationship, Reynolds’s associates maintained a high level of secrecy. Karl gave the deed to a man named Sidney Korshak, a Los Angeles house, after Debbie and Karl said “I do.” Sidney was a well-known lawyer with strong connections to organized crime. A few years later, Reynolds’s business managers struck again. Shortly after the mysterious transfer, Sidney then negotiated a startlingly big salary for Reynolds to make her live performing debut in Las Vegas—a city frequently claimed to be closely controlled by the mafia. They managed to entangle her in the production of Scopitone films. These were vintage jukebox music videos from the late 1960s. That business closed its doors in 1969 after the FBI discovered that it was being used as a front to launder money for the Mafia. Authorities could not connect Reynolds personally to the behind-the-scenes activities, but given her public image, it was puzzling that her name surfaced once more.
4 Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett has long been linked to organized crime, as have many successful and extremely manly crooners before him. People say Bennett is “connected” not only because of his connections to persons like Frank Sinatra, but also because of his long and stable career in Las Vegas during the period when the town expanded thanks to coordinated gambling interests and money from mob development. The rumor was circulated by Bennett’s own biographer, David Evanier, who provided an exceptionally in-depth examination of the star’s childhood in his book. In it, he claimed that mob money helped the smooth vocalist launch his career decades ago. According to Evanier, Tony Bennett was an outsider who worked for organized crime syndicates for many years, much like James Caan did. However, Bennett’s destiny went beyond simply fulfilling his associate status. He experienced a severe depressive episode in the late 1970s and early 1980s. At the time, he was also a heavy drug user, and the combination was detrimental to both his physical and emotional well-being. Bennett apparently began dating a woman who was well-known in Sin City as mafioso Anthony Spilotro’s girlfriend around that same period, when he was vulnerable in a lot of ways. Unsurprisingly, Spilotro was not amused by the singer making advances on his girlfriend. He proceeded to confront Bennett on their doomed romance. This is where the crooner struck it lucky: Bennett was hit on the top of the head by Spilotro’s phone book, rather than being killed, as the mobster likely intended. Though odd, the attack was successful. The singer was knocked out, but it also made him decide to break up with the girl. Better yet for Bennett, it also appeared to give him some insight. He entered rehab a few weeks later and permanently kicked the habit.
3 Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe is a legendary sex figure who has endured through the ages unlike anybody else. But her career did not have a happy ending. The horrible, darker sides of the celebrity that had catapulted her to the top years before now devoured her. And although the official narrative states that Monroe overdosed on barbiturates and died in August 1962, detractors have long maintained that there was a darker, more sinister reason for her premature demise. It all begins with the actor Gianni Russo. In his lifetime, it was believed that he was associated with organized crime activities, as he portrayed Carlo in The Godfather. When he was very young, he even worked for the infamous mobster Frank Costello. Russo later claimed to have learned, during that work, that Marilyn Monroe was murdered by enigmatic mafia goons. According to that wild legend, Marilyn was utilized by mafia bosses to gain access to John F. Kennedy and his brother, Robert Kennedy. The gang intended to use Monroe to extract important information from John both before and after he became president. The tale goes that Monroe had grown weary of the mafia interfering in her personal life, and when Robert would shortly make a strong run for the presidency a few years later, the mob was hoping to rely on him for connections and favors as well. She was rumored to be ready to reveal her mafia narrative to the public when she passed very unexpectedly. However, the issue is not limited to conjecture. Many now claim that Mafia bosses and/or US intelligence agents bugged Monroe’s apartment and were closely monitoring it. It was also believed that Monroe had visited infamous Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana just a few days before she was found dead at her Los Angeles home. According to rumors, Giancana begged Marilyn not to discuss her relationship with John Kennedy for fear that the mob would no longer have as much influence over him. Though it’s unknown what would have come out of that conversation because the socialite-turned-star was discovered dead a few days later.
2 Wayne Newton
Wayne Newton has one of the most spotless public personas. The performer became well-known in Las Vegas at a time when the city was reinventing itself as a destination for family vacations, compared to its previous image. Newton rode that wave to local celebrity, and it even extended beyond his own live performances to television commercials and other more widespread forms of recognition. However, behind the scenes, there were questions about Newton’s purportedly dubious ties to organized crime among those in the know in Vegas. And when rumors initially surfaced that the singer might be connected to a syndicate of some kind, chaos almost immediately ensued. It all began with Newton taking a stake in the Aladdin Casino. Although it was an odd move on the part of the casino management to include Newton in its ownership group, observers in Vegas started to question whether the move wasn’t highly intentional. Newton, after all, had no criminal history and no ties to the public criminal system. Consequently, he was sufficiently “clean” to have a gambling license in the state of Nevada, in contrast to some of his purportedly more “connected” friends, one of whom was Guido Penosi. Although he and Newton had a long-standing friendship—which Newton acknowledged—local newspaper writers and Vegas police officers were wary of it due to Penosi’s supposed ties to the mob. Newton sued NBC News after media reports initially surfaced regarding his acquaintance with Penosi. The musician argued in his lawsuit that he was concerned about his personal safety since it appeared from the stories that he was assisting law enforcement in their hunt for mafia bosses. Newton insisted that he was only interested in entertaining visitors and had no desire to be involved in any way. A Nevada jury had originally given him a $19 million damages verdict, but the decision was later overturned by an appeals court. Whatever the case, representatives of the Nevada gaming commission maintained that they were worried about Newton’s purported affiliation with Penosi. Now, the world might never learn the truth, whatever it may be.
1 Jerry Orbach
Jerry Orbach is well-known for his time spent working as a detective on Law & Order. If you’re a little older, you may also recall him from his breakout role in Dirty Dancing. However, his career in entertainment began decades earlier, dating back to the 1950s. And not long after he first gained notoriety, there were accusations that he had ties to the mob. Orbach played Salvatore “Kid Sally” Palumbo in the comedy film The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight in 1971. Joe Gallo, a real-life mafioso and top member of the Profaci criminal family in New York City, was the inspiration for Orbach’s character in the film, which was about a group of unfortunate mobsters. Unsurprisingly, Gallo was upset that a whole movie was written about how he was allegedly stupid. He thus scheduled a meeting with Orbach to, well, discuss the movie. Gallo, amazingly, spared Orbach. Rather, the mafia and the actor grew close and became great friends. Gallo was killed less than a year later. In April 1972, while dining at Umberto’s Clam House in Little Italy, New York City, the gangster was shot dead in what seemed to be a hit by another crime family. On that tragic day, Orbach and his spouse had been spending time with Gallo earlier in the evening. The group even saw a Don Rickles comedy set together. According to some tales, Orbach even accompanied Gallo to that last meal. Orbach would have been a crucial witness to the murder and a crucial person for police to question as a result. If the veteran actor witnessed it fall, he never mentioned it to anyone. He declined to assist the authorities, and he never ever discussed Gallo in public for the remainder of his life. Orbach carried his mafia secrets to his grave when he passed away in 2004.