Learn how “The Artichoke King” ruled New York City’s vegetable scene, and so much more.
1. JAKE “GREASY THUMB” GUZIK
Guzik acted as Al Capone’s right-hand man, which meant he was the one handing out bribes to Chicago officials all over the city. At any given time, Greasy Thumb had $1,000 stashed in his jacket pocket, and he would count a few bills off the top whenever needed.
2. CIRO “THE ARTICHOKE KING” TERRANOVA
This unusual nickname stuck after Terranova – head of the Morello family in the early 1900s – started importing artichokes from California and selling them to grocers at a 30 to 40 percent mark up. He never got any complaints, which meant he never had to break any kneecaps over those prickly little veggies.
3. CHARLES “LUCKY” LUCIANO
Luciano was top dog in New York City’s crime syndicate in the early 1930s, but his quick rise to power (by off-ing “Joe the Boss” Masseria) wasn’t the reason Lucky got his nickname. The way he told it, he narrowly escaped several attacks on his life, including the one that left scars on his face and a droopy right eye.
4. JAMES “JIMMY THE GENT” BURKE
Although Burke had a deadly streak (he once chopped up his fiance’s ex), The Gent earned his high-class nickname from another illegal pursuit: robbery. To earn extra money, he would hold up truck drivers and steal their shipments, in the process taking their drivers’ licenses in case they ever thought of squealing. But in order to show his nice guy side, he would leave a $50 bill in their wallets as payment for the trouble he caused.
5. BENJAMIN “BUGSY” SIEGEL
The feared, entrepreneurial mafioso (he ran his first gang at 14 years old) had a tough time controlling his temper, which led people whispering behind his back that he had “gone bugs” or was “crazy as a bedbug.” Bugsy hated the nickname though, and if any of his guys called him that to his face, they would’ve probably lost theirs.
This article original appeared on The Lineup.