Arlyne Weiss Brinkman – Part 2
Irving Weiss made his biggest scores during the chaos of World War II. While the vast majority of Americans struggled with rationing coupons, Irving Weiss was a kingpin in the black marketing of these coupons.
“My father had ties with the mob,” Arlyne said. “He was involved with very bad boys,
like Joe Adonis and Meyer Lansky; people who would kill you at the drop of a hat.”
Soon after the war began, the Emergency Price Control Act of January 1942 gave the Office of Price Administration (OPA) the authority to set and regulate the prices of most goods, including, eggs, butter, sugar, and women’s nylons. In March 1942, the OPA started a rationing program, the purpose of which was to “control consumer prices and inflation, and guarantee a fair distribution of goods for everyone during the course of the war.”
Car owners were limited to only four gallons of gas a week; the idea of which was to limit the drivers’ cars to the maximum of 5000 miles a year. Of course, less driving meant less wear and tear on tires, and this persevered rubber for use in the war effort. In 1944, the Federal government reduced the ration of gas to only two gallons a week; hardly enough to transport Weiss and his family to their summer vacation in the cool mountains of the Catskills and winters to the balmy beaches of Florida.
Then there was the problem of Irving Weiss’s family and his gangster buddies being able to enjoy their frequent steak dinners.
In late 1942, meat rationing became a reality. The United States government told its citizens each family would be limited to only 2.5 pounds of beef per week, or 130 pounds of beef a year. In the Weiss household, 2.5 pounds of beef was about half their nightly dinner. Luckily, Irving Weiss lived in the northeast, because in the Great Plains states people were urged to eat horse meat instead of filet mignon and ground beef.
At first, Irving Weiss got his rationing books the gangster way – he stole them.
Rationing Board offices dotted the five boroughs throughout New York City. Irving Weiss, along with a few of his mob cronies, picked the right time and the right place, and they barged into the Rationing Board office, guns drawn and demanded the rationing coupons. The hoods met no resistance, and in fact, were surprised the Rationing Board employees gave up the goods so quickly and easily.
After a few Rationing Board raids, Irving realized the workers in the Rationing Board offices were eager to make a few bucks themselves. So, instead of the mobsters raiding the Rationing Board offices holding guns and wearing masks, they arranged for the inside workers to do the stealing for them. The inventory of rationing coupons was so lax and ineffective, most times the thefts went undetected. And if a Rationing Board boss got wise, he would be threatened by Weiss and his boys to look the other way and take a cut himself, or run the risk of being a casualty of war.
After WWII, now flush with cash, Irving Weiss set up shop in the Art Deco District in Miami. Weiss bought part-ownership in a seedy nightclub on Washington Avenue in Miami Beach called The Paddock Club. The Paddock Club was not a place for gentle-hearted souls. The entertainment was risqué, and the language used by the comedians, including the infamous B.S. Pulley, was foul enough to make a sailor blush.
One of Irving Weiss’s partners was the suave but sadistic Italian mobster Joe “Adonis” Doto (he was called “Adonis” because Doto bragged he was as handsome as the Greek god). This is where young Arlyne (she was not yet a teenager) got her first whiff of the intoxifying aroma of Mobsterdom, which wafted like toxic gas from Adonis’s pores.
“There was nothing like a mob guy,” Arlyne said. “They dressed like you never saw in your whole life. They looked like they stepped right out of The Godfather.”
The Weiss family spent the cold winters in Florida, but nine months out of the year Irving Weiss held court in his Upper Manhattan car dealership. Among his frequent visitors were the uncle and nephew team of Jimmy Plumeri and Johnny Dioguardi (called Jimmy Doyle and Johnny Dio), who took over the Garment Center rackets when Louie Lepke and his partner Jacob “Gurrah” Shapiro were put out of commission by the law (Lepke, the head of Murder Incorporated, was fried in Sing Sing’s electric chair, while Shapiro was awarded a lifetime membership in the federal pen).
In the early 1940s, a team of crooks had the audacity to break into Chester Motors during the middle of the night. Part of the crooks’ booty was a huge diamond ring which belonged to Irving Weiss’s bother, Henry. Unfortunately for the perpetrators, nothing is a secret in the Underworld. Irving phoned his pals Doyle and Dio, and in less than a day an envelope containing the ring was slipped under Chester Motors’ front door.
There is no record of what happened to the thieves, but you can bet it wasn’t anything pleasant.
Even though she grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Arlyne decided to take a Midwestern mob moll as her role model. Her name was Virginia Hill, a voluptuous raven-haired beauty, who slept her way up the mob ladder for almost three decades. Eventually, Hill was trusted to move huge amounts of money from her base in Chicago to mob bosses in New York City and to the West Coast city of Los Angeles.
Of course, on these money-transfer vacations Hill did what she did best; on her back or on her knees. One of Hill’s New York City paramours was the aforementioned Joe “Adonis” Doto.”
In the mid-1940s, Hill hooked up with crazed New York City gangster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel. When the mob assigned Siegel to supervise the construction of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, they dispatched Hill to Vegas, ostensibly as Siegel’s girlfriend, but in reality to spy on Siegel to make sure he wasn’t playing fast and easy with the mob’s money.
Although an efficient and eager killer, Siegel was lousy with a buck, especially when it wasn’t his own money. The Flamingo was originally projected to cost the mob around $2 million. But by 1947, when the Flamingo finally opened, the total fee the mob in Chicago, New York, and in California, had invested was a whopping $6 million. Siegel was either unable or unwilling to justify the overpayment, and it was rumored he had sent Hill to Europe to stash cash he had stolen from the mob in numerous safe deposit boxes, particularly in France.
On June 20, 1947, Siegel was reading the Los Angeles Times in the living room of Hill’s Beverly Hills home. Suddenly, a sniper, hiding in the bushes outside the home, fired a .30 caliber military M1 carbine through the window, killing Siegel, while blasting his right eye clear across the room where the police found it nestled against the wall.
Four days earlier, mob bosses in Chicago had ordered Hill to get out of Beverly Hills and to take a trip to France. As a result, Hill was properly shocked and dismayed when the French police knocked on her hotel door and told her that her boyfriend Bugsy had bought the ranch. Hill acted devastated, and she even took an overdose of narcotics to properly display her grief.
Of course, this was all an act, and Hill frolicked around France with her new French boyfriend, hardly giving Bugsy a second thought. When her French boyfriend’s bank account ran out, Hill migrated back to the American mob, where there was still money to be made.
Back in the states, Hill hung around the mob making a nice living, until 1951, when she was called to testify in the nationally-televised “Kefauver Hearings into Organized Crime.”
Wearing a floppy hat and the finest clothes and jewelry, Hill mesmerized the country with her snappy and sometimes vulgar testimony. Hill denied she had any connections to organized crime or to mobsters in general. This was in spite of the fact that a Time Magazine article had anointed Hill as the “Queen of the Gangster Molls.” As for her dead boyfriend, Siegel, Hill told the committee he was just “a businessman who fell in with a rough crowd.”
Hill also told the committee she had supported herself throughout the years with her winnings in horse races (fixed) and through the generosity of her male friends.
When one of the Senators asked Hill privately, in the hallway outside the courtroom, how she was able to finagle so much cash from so many men, Hill replied, “Because I give the best blowjobs, that’s why!”
Arlyne Weiss had just turned 18 when she became aware of Virginia Hill and Hill’s reputation as being a bounce-around broad with the mob. Arlyne, due to her father’s gangster contacts, also knew Hill was full of bull when Hill claimed she wouldn’t know a gangster, even if she tripped over one.
“I would be walking on the Lower East Side with these big hats and tight dresses, and I would think I was really Virginia Hill,” Arlyne said. “I wanted to be just like her.”
As we shall see, Arlyne became as adroit, and possibly more willing than Hill, to orally service her mobster pals. In fact, one mobster was rumored to have told another mobster, “The next sound you hear after Arlyne says ‘hello’ is the sound of your zipper being ripped open.”