Getting All the Boys Together
While Luciano was shaking down kids on the street corners for protection, one of the kids refused to pay up. This kind of bravery was one way for anonymous kids to get noticed, and also a way for them to make sure they didn't remain a victim. This particular kid was another immigrant child, a Jewish kid from Poland named Meyer Lansky. Meyer stood up to Luciano, and they became fast friends and lifelong partners in crime. From this fateful meeting sprang the most successful crime outfit in American history.
Drugs and Booze
Lucky Luciano did time in a reform school for dealing heroin and morphine in 1915. This early foray into the business would expand in the coming years. In addition to drugs, booze was another profitable commodity. Every gangster was in the bootleg business during the 1920s, including Luciano. He mingled with other young hoodlums who formed a virtual Who's Who of gangland: Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegel, Joe Adonis, Vito Genovese, Frank Costello, Dutch Schultz, Arnold Rothstein, and an assortment of Irish gangsters. Luciano had no prejudices about mingling with hoods of all stripes. His fraternization with Irish and Jewish gangsters was unique for the time.
After the Castellammarese War, Lucky Luciano was the top Mafia don. He did not get the nickname from surviving the near-fatal beating that left him with a fashionable scar on his cheek, an emblem befitting his status as a tough guy. He was called Lucky because of his handicapping acumen. He could pick winners at the racetrack with uncanny accuracy. And most of the time the races weren't even fixed.
Lucky Luciano had the posthumous distinction of being named by Time magazine as one of the 100 “Builders and Titans” of the twentieth century. He was placed in the same company as Walt Disney and Bill Gates.
Mafia bosses do not have a wide circle of trusted friends; most of the time they are keeping an eye out for underlings with a little too much ambition. Luciano maintained business and personal relations with the tough little kid who steadfastly refused his shakedown intimidation. His business and personal relationship with Meyer Lansky was one of the key factors in helping him stay at the top of the Mafia heap.
Meyer Lansky, the role model for the character of Hymn Roth in The Godfather II, was a shrewd and savvy businessman. But instead of choosing a career in the corporate world, Lansky stayed true to his criminal roots and became a legendary mastermind of criminal activities, probably best illustrated by the lack of time he spent behind bars.
He was born in Poland, and his real name was Majer Suchowlinski. Gambling was his true passion, and his involvement in pre-Castro Cuban casinos, racetracks, wire services, and Las Vegas brought tens of millions of dollars into the wallets of wise guys from New York to Chicago. This cohesion of mob control over mob rackets was helped along by the Commission. Now that there was a gangland “syndicate” that spanned the country and united organized crime families across America, there needed to be a governing board.