The Lion, the Midget, the Warlord

lioncoverCrazy Joe Gallo got a bullet in the head in April of 1972. I wrote a post about it here. He was celebrating his birthday in the early hours at Umberto’s Clam House when gunmen came in through the back door and started blasting.

Joe overturned the table and made it outside but died in the street. It was the end of the Gallo brother’s dream of forming their own Mafia family.

But back in the 1950s that dream was still alive. Joe, elder brother Larry (the brains of the outfit), and younger bother Albert (‘Kid Blast’) were up and coming foot soldiers in the Colombo crime family. They ran their own corner of Brooklyn for the family, collecting debts and protection money, and hustling any opportunities that came their way.

The three brothers were the Mafia warlords of their block. They had money, guns … and a real life lion in the basement. And a little person club-owning friend to walk him through the Brooklyn streets.

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They Shot Crazy Joe On His Birthday

joe galloThe gunmen came in through the back door of Umberto’s Clam House at 4:30 in the morning. Mafia legend Crazy Joe Gallo had his back to them when they  started shooting.

Umberto’s was supposed to be neutral ground, a freshly opened restaurant in New York’s Little Italy district owned by Matty “the Horse” Ianniello. It was one of the few places Crazy Joe felt safe enough to sit with his back to a door.

Joe had been at the Copacaba club all night celebrating his 43rd birthday. Comic Don Rickles was on stage, insulting everyone. When the show was over Crazy Joe, his wife, her daughter, Joe’s bodyguard Pete the Greek, and Pete’s girl headed for Umberto’s for seafood.

When they walked in, a guy sitting at the bar gave them a long look, got up, and walked two blocks to see some friends. Crazy Joe didn’t even notice.

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