On this day in 1902 Umberto Anastasio was born in Tropea, Italy. Better known as Albert Anastasia he gained a reputation as being one of the most violent hitmen and mob bosses of all time. Anastasia helped run the notorious Murder Inc with Lepke Buchalter during the 1930’s and 1940’s, a group of hitmen that were the mob’s enforcement arm.
During this era they were responsible for up to 1,000 murders, and Albert gained the name as the Lord High Executioner.
Anastasia’s Climb Up The Criminal Ladder
Anastasia teamed up with Lucky Luciano in a plot to take out the two old time bosses and put an end to the Castellammarese War which was shedding too much blood on the streets of New York. In April 1931, Joe “The Boss” Masseria was taken out and Anastasia was allegedly a part of the hitman team. Just under 6 months later Salvatore Maranzano was executed in his office, and again Anastasia was said to have helped.
This loyalty had helped move Anastasia up the organized crime ladder as Lucky Luciano appointed Anastasia as the underboss to Vincent Mangano. However, the two mobsters never saw eye to eye and constantly fought. Mangano didn’t like the fact that Anastasia was close to Luciano and Frank Costello, but in 1951 Mangano and his brother went missing. With the help of the Commission and a nod from Frank Costello, Anastasia became the new boss of the family (which would later become the Gambino’s).
“The vivid image of a helpless victim swathed in white towels was stamped in the public memory.”
The Barber Shop
This reign lasted 6 years until the Mad Hatter was executed himself in a barber’s chair. Vito Genovese this time wanted to make a power move to take out Frank Costello and with Lucky Luciano serving prison time his first target in the master plan was to take out the Prime Minister which failed. However, the incident made Costello relinquish power to Vito Genovese.
The next target was Anastasia, this time the hitmen didn’t miss when he was shot with a volley of bullets as he was sitting back in a barber chair. His family would end up being handed to Carlo Gambino who helped plan the move with Genovese.
One twist to the storyline is that Genovese could not have made an attempt to kill Anastasia or Costello without Meyer Lansky’s support.