The recent shooting of Suge Knight at a Sunset Strip nightclub has remarkable parallels to an assassination attempt on the life of LA mob boss Mickey Cohen in a nightclub at the same location, 9039 Sunset Blvd., 65 years ago. This incident of history repeating itself is covered at Playground to the Stars.
I detail the 1949 ambush of the Cohen party outside of Sherry’s nightclub (which became Gazzarri’s, then, in a new building, the Key Club, now 1 Oak), in my book, Mickey Cohen: Life and Crimes of LA’s Notorious Mobster. In the biggest outbreak of violence in LA history, up to that time, among several injured were two women: Hollywood beauty Dee David, and Mickey’s on-payroll newswoman, Florabel Muir. The newest and most controversial of Mickey’s bodyguards, Special Agent Harry Cooper, a highly ranked state officer — appointed by California’s attorney general to protect the mobster — was critically injured. The Mick was just winged, but his lieutenant, Neddie Herbert, died of his wounds. I reveal Shirley Temple left the club just before the fireworks began. In another parallel, Justin Bieber (like Temple, a youthful superstar) had left the party shortly before Suge Knight was shot. A romantic postscript to the Cohen story: Dee David married (and later divorced) state officer Cooper, when they recovered from their injuries; Mickey had introduced the pair that evening. I wonder if there will be any marriages born of the recent shooting on the Sunset Strip?
And more: In 1955, Dee David shot top Cohen mobster, Joe Sica, in a business dispute. Allegedly, Joe and his brother, Fred, had threatened and beat David (over her bad faith business dealings with Fred), and she then shot Sica. He survived the shooting, and the conflict was settled in court. Mickey Cohen appeared on the stand and disparaged Miss David’s character. The Sicas won the case.
A brilliant artist named ANDY FRIEDER passed away from cancer on March 11, 2014.
Presently no one knows his name or work, but that will soon change! A highly original artist, he lived for his work. Profoundly shy, for Andy the social matrix of the contemporary art world
was too complicated to navigate. One could call him an Art Monk. In the last period of his life, the wise curators at the Lancaster Museum of Art and History –MOAH– (in the city of Lancaster, Ca., which is located in northern L.A. County) discovered that they had an undiscovered, world-class artist in their midst. A selected sampling of Andy Frieder’s art will be on display there in a group show beginning March 29. A major retrospective of the work of Andrew Frieder is planned by MOAH for June 2016.
It was my pleasure to have known Andy well, and to have seen hundreds of pieces of his work. I’m thrilled that others will now get to enjoy his art. I can’t wait for this talent to finally emerge. Although he worked in many themes (from playful to those that are wildly provocative), with the mark of a true artist, every piece exudes “Andy Style.”
I honor Andy Frieder, and miss him…he was so sweet and special!
UPDATE: Nov. 8, 2015. Andrew Frieder’s work debuted at the Outsider Art Fair in New York, this past Feb. He was immediately lauded with a flurry of articles in journals like the Huffington Post. His August show at the Good Luck Gallery in LA’s Chinatown was well received with strong reviews in the LA Times and Art News, among others. His work will be shown at ArtBasel Miami next month, and then again at the Outsider Art Fair, followed by the museum retrospective in June. The posthumous recognition is wonderful…and bittersweet.
Yes, I wroteMickey Cohen, the book on the Los Angeles underworld that reveals the REAL STORIES of LA’s mob bosses, BUGSY SIEGEL and MICKEY COHEN. And, yes, I do plan to watch TNT’s MOB CITY, on Dec. 4. I’m curious! It’s again about cops…again, chasing gangsters in LA. Why always from the POV of the LA cops…who in reality were notoriously corrupt! FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, himself, was personally at war with Benny Siegel in the year before the Bug’s execution in June 1947 — not local law enforcement. That story is amazing — and you can only read it in my book. After the poorly received Gangster Squad movie, in the summer of 2013 Mob City was granted a shooting schedule that essentially gave them a chance to rework whatever they had already shot the year before. I have no interest in a cop show, but I will comment on casting. The kid playing Mickey Cohen looks like decent casting. Ed Burns as Benny Siegel? Burns may be good. To be correct, the actor should be OUTRAGEOUSLY handsome. He had huge crystal blue eyes and flashed a giant grin. Dressed like a duke, Ben Siegel was extremely charismatic and could be devastatingly charming. Ladies’ man Siegel had affairs with Golden Age screen goddesses, Ava Gardner and Lana Turner. AND Mae West!!! (Burt Lancaster-ish? Tony Curtis worked for years trying to play him; he would have been great.) I don’t know what to expect, but I hope the Zombie guy, Frank Darabont, will deliver something historically correct. Remember: Truth is stranger than fiction. Particularly in this case.
UPDATE: This show was not picked up. My favorite thing: Ed Burns. He was terrific as Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel.