April 09, 2012

Having the Mob Around at Your Wedding

David Ellis

IT seems that getting married in a drive-through chapel with a queue of others in open-top Cadillacs, maybe having an Elvis look-alike escort you down the aisle, or even being driven into church on His and Her's Harley Davidsons, is no longer good enough in Las Vegas – America's capital of where Everything's Possible.

The newest thing when tying the knot here, is to do so in a heritage-listed building that was once the venue for US Federal Government hearings into "The Mob," and in which you can get married in the courtroom that saw a procession of America's Who's Who of murder, drugs, bootlegging, stand-over tactics and illegal gambling dragged through to give evidence.

And the man whose idea was to turn this abandoned building into a museum of American crime, with weddings on the side, is Oscar B. Goodman, the one-time defence attorney for many of those who made up "The Mob." So while this place is officially the National Museum of Organised Crime and Law Enforcement, it's also known simply as The Mob Museum.

After working all those years representing some of America's worst of the worst, Mr Goodman then went on to serve for a term as Mayor of Las Vegas, again proving that here everything is possible – while the President of the Museum's board also has all the right qualifications, but from the other side of the table to defence attorney Oscar Goodman: she is former FBI Special Agent-in-Charge, Ellen Knowlton who spent 24 years in the service.

It was Mr Goodman's flamboyancy – when he was Mayor of Las Vegas he would often turn up at official events with a couple of 'Vegas showgirls clinging to each arm, and a martini glass in hand – that got The Mob Museum up and running.

How? He coaxed $40-odd million from the Las Vegas City Council and the Nevada and US Governments, who all agreed it was a worthy cause.

And now that it's open, the one-time mayor even performs some of those out-of-the-ordinary weddings – as well as renewals of vows – himself, afterwards entertaining bridal parties and guests with tales of his years defending America's crime heavyweights.

As well, deferring to his love of publicity, Mr Goodman chose an appropriate date for the opening of The Mob Museum earlier this year: February 14 – the 83rd anniversary of Chicago's infamous Valentine's Day murders.

And some of those who now choose to get married in The Mob Museum do so in front of the very Valentine's Day wall before which seven mobsters were machine-gunned by look-alike police officers in 1929 on the orders of mobster Al Capone.

Yes, Mr Goodman managed to actually acquire the very Chicago wall (we did say earlier that everything is possible in 'Vegas,) that came complete with it's circa-1929 bullet holes, each conveniently highlighted in red for best photo opportunities.

And in the foyer of the museum is a confronting black and white photo about half the size of an outdoor billboard. It's simply a toe with a white tag tied to it reading: "Homicide. Benjamin Siegel. 810 Linden. Beverly Hills" – Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel being the gangster portrayed by Warren Beatty in the movie Bugsy about how the Mob took over Las Vegas.

Amongst the many other displays are whiskey kegs from the Prohibition era, FBI wiretaps made while President John F Kennedy was in office, the barber's chair in which Albert Anastasia, head of so-called "Murder Inc" was gunned down in 1957, and a page from the ledger of Meyer Lansky (The Mob's accountant and gambling racketeer) detailing how to cheat the taxman – and fellow Mobsters too when convenient.

There are also galleries of gruesome photographs devoted to some of the Mob's most infamous murder hits, and not for the squeamish.

And you can join a "police line-up" for a souvenir photo with Mob characters, and to understand the psyche of some of these thugs, observe some of their quotes on the museum walls, including:

  • "You can get much further with a kind word and a gun, than you can with a kind word alone" – Al 'Scarface' Capone.
  • "We only kill each other" Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel.
  • "There's no such thing as good money or bad money.  There's just money" – Charlie 'Lucky' Luciano.




[] THE Mob Museum – Las Vegas latest in off-beat attractions.

[] THE Courtroom that witnessed a cavalcade of America's crime heavyweights…  now just the place to get happily married.

[] OR happily marry here in front of Chicago's Valentine's Day Murders wall.

[] ONE of the weapons recovered after the Valentine's Day Murders.

[] THE barber's chair in with Albert Anastasia, head of "Murder Inc" was gunned down.

(Images: The Mob Museum and Jeff Green)



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