The brazen shooting of New York mafia don Joe Colombo in the summer of 1971 was the first scene shot by Martin Scorsese on his high-profile new mob “supergroup” movie, The Irishman. The murder of Chicago mafia boss Sam Giancana in the summer of 1975 will be one of the last.

Character actor John Polce (The Departed) will play Colombo and virtual-unknown Al Linea (Boardwalk Empire) is set to portray Giancana in the much-anticipated film project. Based on the 2004 New York Times Best-Selling book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charlie Brandt, The Irishman is about the relationship between iconic Teamsters union leader Jimmy Hoffa and east coast mob hit man Frank (The Irishman) Sheeran, who dubiously claims to have been the triggerman in Hoffa’s still-unsolved slaying in the weeks after Giancana was killed 42 years ago.

Frank Sheeran died of natural causes in December 2003. Hoffa rode his connections in the underworld to the presidency of the Teamsters, the colossal truckers union he grew into a goliath force in global transportation from his home base in Detroit. He disappeared on June 30, 1975 never to be seen again – nobody has ever been arrested for his kidnapping or murder.

Produced by Netflix with a ballooning $125,000,000 budget, The Irishman is currently shooting in New York and slated for a late 2018 or early 2019 release. Robert De Niro is playing Sheeran, while Al Pacino is cast as Hoffa.

The namesake of New York City’s colorful Colombo crime family, Joe Colombo was the first boss of one of the notorious Five Families to be born in America and launched to power in the wake of the epic Profaci-Gallo war of the early 1960s. He was shot and gravely injured at the Italian Unity Day rally he was instrumental in organizing on June 28, 1971, by Gallo crew hit man named Jerome Johnson, who himself was shot and killed seconds later by Colombo’s bodyguard Phillip (Chubby) Rossillo. Colombo would be bedridden and paralyzed for the next seven years until he died of a heart attack on May 22, 1978 in Newburgh, New York near Albany.

Gallo gang leader Joseph (Crazy Joe) Gallo was slain in New York’s Little Italy in the early hours of April 7, 1972 after a late-night meal where he dined with actor Jerry Orbach (Law & Order). Gallo used African-American hoodlums like Johnson as muscle in his crew.

In addition to taking credit for the Hoffa hit, Frank Sheeran claimed to have been the shooter in the Crazy Joe Gallo slaying. Television actor Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire, Third Watch) will play Gallo in The Irishman.

Joe Colombo

Jimmy Hoffa wasn’t close to Joe Colombo, but he had a strong friendship with Sam Giancana, the don of the Chicago mob in the late 1950s and most of the 1960s. He rose through the ranks of the Outfit under “Scarface” Al Capone and made his mark in the syndicate by successfully staging a takeover of the region’s African-American policy lottery racket. Giancana was a throwback in the Windy City to the Capone days where the area’s mafia chief was frequently splashed across newspaper headlines and courted the limelight. Hoffa and Giancana worked closely in labor-union affairs and were allegedly involved together, among other organized crime figures, in a CIA plot to assassinate Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Leaving the country for Mexico in 1967, Giancana built an offshore casino empire that he refused to share with his colleagues in the mafia in Chicago. Following his deportation back to the United States, Giancana wouldn’t budge and cut Outfit brass in on his various gambling palace proceeds despite their insistence. Less than six weeks before Hoffa went missing from a suburban Detroit shopping mall parking lot, Giancana was shot to death at close range inside his Oak Park, Illinois home on June 19, 1975 in the days prior to being scheduled to testify in front of Congressional hearings on the CIA-Castro plot.

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