10/17/1929 - Salvatore Lucania, better know as the New York gangster Charles "Lucky" Luciano, barely survives a really bad day.
Lucky - 1931
While inspecting a load of heroin being smuggled into Manhattan at a local dock on the Hudson River, thirty-two-year-old Luciano is suddenly jumped by three gun pointing hoodlums and thrown into the back seat of a long, black touring car. Handcuffed, mouth taped shut, for the next hour the car drives through the streets of Brooklyn while the mobster is beaten senseless with fists, blackjacks and pistol butts by the three men who took him hostage. Softened up and unconscious, one attacker then finishes off Luciano by using a long-bladed knife to slash his cheek, ear, and throat, while another stabs the gangster through his expensive tweed coat in the back with an icepick ... a dozen times. The one-way-ride complete, the assailants then drive out to Huguenot Beach on Staten Island and dump the body.
1936 mug shot
There is a problem though with the hit ... the men didn't kill Luciano! The throat slash just misses the mobster's jugular vein, and none of the icepick thrusts hit any vital organs. At dawn, mustering enough strength to finally go for help, Luciano staggers off the beach, and makes his way along a deserted street until he is found by beat cop named Blanke ... found only seconds before he collapses and is unconscious again.
The later good life as the most powerful criminal in New York
Stitched up and saved at a local hospital (he will bear the scars of the attack the rest of his life, along with a lazy right eye due to his cheek wound), Luciano is visited by several New York detectives and grilled at his bedside for hours on one topic ... who did the beating and cutting. True to the mob's code of silence, he answers all questions that he doesn't know and doesn't understand why anyone wouldn't like him. The truth of who sent his attackers is never known, but over the years theories are developed that the orders might have come from Giuseppe Masseria, worried that his #1 lieutenant is growing too powerful, Salvatore Maranzano, to eliminate his rival Masseria's most valuable asset, or Jack "Legs" Diamond, a former friend trying to muscle in on Luciano's narcotics and prostitution rackets. What is known is that all three mobsters will not die of old age ... Masseria is set-up by his henchman Luciano and assassinated in 1931 at the Nuova Villa Tammaro restaurant on Coney Island, Maranzano is killed in his Park Lane office in 1931 by a hit squad sent by Luciano that poses as government auditors to gain access to the mobster, and also in 1931, Diamond passes out after a night of partying and is shot three times in the back of the head by "persons unknown."
Masseria - Coney Island
Maranzano in his office
Legs before the final hangover
As for Lucky, he goes on to create "The Commission" which will run criminal activities in America from coast-to-coast for years (along with founding the Luciano Family of the Mafia, now the Genovese Family), and dies of a heart attack at the Naples International Airport at the age of sixty-four as he is on his way to meet with a Hollywood producer about making a movie about his life.
Lucky in retirement with his dog