A Mob Museum Matters

Document Type

Book Section

Publication Date


Publication Title

Reckoning With History: Unfinished Stories of American Freedom


Columbia University Press

Publisher Location

New York, New York

First page number:


Last page number:



On the evening of October 4, 1982, an explosion blew up the car belonging to Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, who once had operated four Las Vegas hotel-casinos for organized crime syndicates based in Chicago, Kansas City, and Milwaukee. When he put his key into his Cadillac’s ignition and turned it, he still had not completely gotten into the car, just in case of . . . well, he declined to say exactly why. But that action may have saved his life: the blast set the car ablaze and threw him several feet. He was lucky to escape with minor injuries, although the car bomb allegedly was intended only as a message not to testify against his old associates. But in the 1995 film Casino, which depicts Rosenthal and other mob figures like his longtime friend Anthony Spilotro, he was already in the car, with seemingly no reason to suspect the mob had vio-lent plans for him. The movie also suggests that Rosenthal was a brilliant and an innovative casino operator, but a similarly lauded operator, Steve Wynn, complained to the film’s director, Martin Scorsese, “Lefty Rosen-thal was so dumb that he couldn’t spell ‘it’ if you spotted him the ‘t.’ ”1


Las Vegas, Mob Museum, organized crime, law enforcement


Other History | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance

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