10 Sultry Dames Of The New York Mob

The love affair between Broadway starlets and underworld bad guys was more than just a pop cultural cliche. Plenty of mob “molls,” as they were unaffectionately called, came from dancing, burlesque, or silver screen careers. Others were quite unassuming or were female versions of their thug counterparts.

10 Inez Norton

This showgirl and actress claimed dibs on the life insurance policy of mobdom’s most prolific financier—Arnold “The Brain” Rothstein. Though many of his associates denied ever having heard of his and Norton’s relationship, others considered Norton to be the married Rothstein’s main mistress.

During his heyday, Rothstein mentored many of New York’s up-and-coming gang bosses, including Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, and Jack “Legs” Diamond. Rothstein’s business acumen, however, was not always kosher, and his belly received several bullets following a card game at the Park Central Hotel in 1928.

To this day, the murder is unsolved, but before Arnold said his final goodbye, he made Norton his policy’s beneficiary. After some serious legal battles, she successfully walked away with a $20,000 life insurance payoff and continued her acting career. She made out pretty good, while many of her lover’s former associates were not so fortunate, being knocked off or disappearing permanently as the years passed by.

9 Dona Drake

From the early 1930s to the late 1950s, exotic beauty Dona Drake changed her name several times (to “Rita Rio,” among other aliases), started an all-girl orchestra, and seamlessly moved from stage to screen. However, the glamorous life she led was rudely interrupted in 1935 upon the discovery of a hacked up, burnt-to-a-crisp corpse who was once known as Louis “Pretty” Amberg.

Louis wasn’t very pretty at all, but he did apparently woo the very attractive Rita Rio with mobster charm and a few fancy gifts. After his unpleasant demise (allegedly at the hands of Murder Inc. thugs), cops found a love note from Rio. She played naive when questioned about her relationship with the known gangster, saying she only knew her boyfriend as “Mr. Cohen” and knew nothing of what he did for a living.

Like many molls before her and many thereafter, Drake’s claims of having no knowledge regarding the mob life fell on cops’ and columnists’ deaf ears. Still, she wasn’t implicated in any way in the murder itself and simply continued on to Los Angeles for an acting career.

8 Gay Orlova

Stunning Russian-born Galina Orloff was determined to be a star upon arrival in New York at age 16. It only took her a few years before she was noticed by Broadway producer Earl Carroll. She was then mentioned frequently in gossip columns, and as we all know, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

But what’s a girl to do when her student visa runs out? Marry a naive second balcony usher, that’s what. Poor Edward Finn was smitten with the blonde bombshell, but she scarcely appeared in her new husband’s presence. By 1935, she had met Charles “Lucky” Luciano, and Finn was little more than a signature to secure her status in the States.

Once the sullen usher found out about the affair, he promptly filed for annulment. Lucky had already been shipped off to prison for his alleged role in nationwide prostitution, and Orlova was booted out of America and went to Paris. Orlova tried unsuccessfully to find love with other men, and columnists wrote that she still hoped for a “Lucky” reunion one day. The last word on her was that she committed suicide in the late 1940s.

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