A rich biography of the legendary figure at the center of the century’s darkest secrets: an untold story of golden age Hollywood, modern Las Vegas, JFK-era scandal and international intrigue from Lee Server, the New York Times bestselling author of Ava Gardner: Love is Nothing…
A singular figure in the annals of the American underworld, Johnny Rosselli’s career flourished for an extraordinary fifty years, from the bloody years of bootlegging in the Roaring Twenties--the last protégé of Al Capone—to the modern era of organized crime as a dominant corporate power. The Mob’s “Man in Hollywood,” Johnny Rosselli introduced big-time crime to the movie industry, corrupting unions and robbing moguls in the biggest extortion plot in history. A man of great allure and glamour, Rosselli befriended many of the biggest names in the movie capital—including studio boss Harry Cohn, helping him to fund Columbia Pictures--and seduced some of its greatest female stars, including Jean Harlow and Marilyn Monroe. In a remarkable turn of events, Johnny himself would become a Hollywood filmmaker—producing two of the best film noirs of the 1940s.
Following years in federal prison, Rosselli began a new venture, overseeing the birth and heyday of Las Vegas. Working for new Chicago boss Sam Giancana, he became the gambling mecca’s behind-the-scenes boss, running the town from his suites and poolside tables at the Tropicana and Desert Inn, enjoying the Rat Pack nightlife with pals Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. In the 1960s, in the most unexpected chapter in an extraordinary life, Rosselli became the central figure in a bizarre plot involving the Kennedy White House, the CIA, and an attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro. Based upon years of research, written with compelling style and vivid detail, Handsome Johnny is the great telling of an amazing tale.
Server (Robert Mitchum: "Baby, I Don't Care") traces the astounding life of gentleman gangster Johnny Rosselli in this exhilarating, exhaustively researched account, revealing how the dapper Al Capone prot g befriended mobsters and glamorous movie stars, and seduced beautiful showgirls while smoothly corrupting Hollywood unions and local politicians for more than 50 years. Rosselli rose from the poverty of a Boston ghetto to the top echelons of the underworld, directing extortion of golden age Hollywood unions and studio chiefs, supervising the criminal heyday of Las Vegas, and participating in a Fidel Castro assassination plot, as well as producing two critically acclaimed film noirs. Server employs evocative phrasing ("Politics, showbiz, sex, crime: come together that season like dirty water clogging a drain, and Johnny wielding the plunger") to luridly examine the shady underbelly of movies, moguls, and politics from the 1930s through the '60s, all through the prism of the charming Rosselli. Filled with crackerjack writing and Damon Runyonesque characters, this entertaining page-turner is a rich look at one of organized crime's most intriguing characters.