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Mobster Modes

Wendy Horowitz, Librarian, Photo Collection,
Police line up in connection with the murder of August Palumbo. (Herald Examiner Collection order # 00130306)

"Clothes make the man", wrote Mark Twain. Whether they be politicians, corporate executives, movie stars or even gangsters, one sure-fire way to impress is simply to dress.  Custom made suits, shirts, shoes, even cars (fitted with bullet-proof windows) declare "I've arrived".  In the underworld of organized crime, those who arrive and make it to the top often have a very short stay, and the departed are bid farewell with a funeral fit for a king, or "capo". With money flooding in from bootlegging, gambling, racketeering and other forms of vice, mobsters spent lavishly on their lifestyles, which included the silk, serge and cashmere weaves that made a small frame tall, and a tall frame tower. The following pictures, taken by Herald Express photographers, seem to delight in the glamour of the gangster, and the paper even went so far as to include detailed descriptions of their ensembles as they arrived at the Hall of Justice or were released from jail, as they would with celebrities at a Hollywood premiere.  These images and more can be found on the LAPL Photo Collection database at

Albert Marco

Los Angeles Bootlegger Albert Marco had a preference for the slimming effect of pinstriped suits. (Herald Examiner Collection, #00106479)



Ever-dapper Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel arrives at court in an impeccably tailored suit and pocket square (Herald Examiner Collection #00010143)



 Los Angeles "Capo" Jack Dragna, who took over the bootlegging and racketeering operations of the Ardizzone regime, in a summer-weight double-breasted worsted.  (Herald Examiner Collection, order # 00106448)


Vito Ardito, center, and Mike Pupillo, right, suspects in the murder of a police informer who was "taken for a ride", confer with their attorney. Note Pupillo's resemblance to Rudolph Valentino. (Herald Examiner Collection, order # 00068688)


James Modica, Dominic Raspona and Jimmy "The Weasel" Fratianno after being charged with extortion.  (Herald Examiner Collection, order # 00106476)


Mickey Cohen appears taller than his 5' 6" frame in his bespoke suit and silk banded hat as he arrives at his trial in 1951. (Herald Examiner Collection, order # 00010401)

Johnny S

Mickey Cohen's Bodyguard and enforcer Johnny Stompanato opted for a suit and tie, rather than his usual open-necked style, at Cohen's trial.  (Herald Examiner Collection, order # 00023934)

Mickey at home

Mickey Cohen invites Herald Express reporters into his newly decorated apartment with modern furnishings. (Herald Examiner Collection order # 00133711)

Mickey's car

Even Mickey Cohen's car was custom-made, with bullet-proof windows an inch and a quarter thick. (Herald Examiner Collection, order # 00010404)