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Lucky Luciano is Dead

Jan. 26, 1962 - Lucky Luciano (pictured on ground) died of an apparent heart attack at Capodichino airport in Naples today as U.S. and Italian authorities prepared to arrest him in a crackdown on an international narcotics ring. He had just met Martin A. Gosch, an American film and television producer, arriving for final talks on a movie about his life, when he collapsed and died. Luciano, overlord of the New York rackets in the pre-war years, had a longer career than almost any other gang chief. From 1919 to his conviction in 1936 for compulsory prostitution, Luciano was a leading figure on the national crime scene. It is unclear how Luciano earned the nickname “Lucky.” It may have come from surviving a severe beating and throat-slashing by three men in 1929 as the result of his refusal to work for another mob boss. The nickname may also be attributed to his gambling luck. Luciano favored expensive clothes and fast, sleek cars. Throughout his life, he was seen frequently with beautiful women. When asked once why he didn’t marry, he replied: “I’ve got enough troubles.”

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