Mafia Kingpin Frank Costello About To Appear On Television – 1951

Frank Costello On His Way To Testify Before Senate, To Be Broadcast On National Television

Mafia lord Frank Costello on his way to Senate Investigation on Organized crime 1951

If there was one thing mob boss Frank Costello (1891-1973) didn’t like it was publicity. So appearing before nationally televised Senate hearings on organized crime was especially disturbing to Costello. On the other hand, Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver who organized the hearings reveled in the publicity,

The caption for this photo reads:

Doesn’t Care For TV

New York: Frank Costello reputed overlord of the U.S. underworld, arrives at Federal Court, March 13, to testify before the Senate Crime Investigation Committee. After Costello was sworn in, his attorney, George Wolf, objected to the televising of Costello’s appearance. 3/13/1951 credit photo: Acme

An estimated 30 million viewers watching Costello’s testimony live and were riveted to their TV sets. This was the man who controlled organized crime? Costello mumbled many of his answers or didn’t answer at all when questioned. Costello got flustered and angry, walking out of the hearings without being dismissed. The committee later cited him for contempt and he served jail time.

This is the highlight of Costello’s testimony when he got a laugh from the crowd.

What had Frank done to be a good American? After much hesitating, “I paid my tax.”

The committee itself accomplished very little except to make Americans aware of the vast reach of the Mafia.

The Godfather (1972), starring Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone was not necessarily based upon one mafia leader. However, Costello did possess several of the traits that ended up in Brando’s portrayal of Corleone. The most recognizable of these traits came about with Brando watching Costello’s filmed testimony and basing his raspy voice upon Costello’s.

Like the Vito Corleone character, Costello was the target of an unsuccessful assassination attempt on May 2, 1957. Vincent “the Chin” Gigante fired a bullet as Costello was walking into an elevator in his Manhattan apartment building, The Majestic, that resulted in a scalp wound.

Unlike many mobsters, Frank Costello, lived a long life dying of a heart attack at the age of 82.

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