Albert Anastasia (born Umberto Anastasio, September 26, 1902 – October 25, 1957), was an Italian-American mobster nicknamed the "Mad Hatter" and "Lord High Executioner". He founded the infamous mob hit squad Murder, Inc. and was later the boss of the Gambino Crime Family through 1951 to 1957. His assassination remains one of the most notorious mob slayings in history.

Early years in America

Albert Anastasia was born in Tropea, Calabria, Italy. His father died when Albert was only 10 and lived with 12 other family members. Shortly after his fathers' death he left school and worked on building large ships. In 1917, he illegally moved away from Italy and came into New York aged 15. Anastasia came to America poor and attended school but couldn't read or write. He later looked for work at a waterfront looking for a job as a longshoreman. Later he got a job but was owned by mob bosses and had to pay tribute, so gave them half of his salary. Anastasia lost his temper over a man on the waterfront over cargo business, pulled a knife out and stabbed him several times, eventually killing him. He was sentenced to death at Sing Sing prison. In prison he had to fight his way through and got the attention of a barber at Sing Sing, Jimmy "The Shiv" DeStefano, who was very connected to The American Mafia and to Lucky Luciano. The Barber told Luciano that he needed someone like Albert Anastasia. Luciano managed to have a re-trial for Anastasia and killed many witnesses for Anastasia and a judge set Anastasia free.


Anastasia married a 19 year old Canadian woman in 1937. In 1938, Albert Anastasia Jr. was born. Anastasia covered his crime life and told his wife that he owned a mattress shop and a suit factory in Philadelphia. Albert Jr. had an illegitimate son, Carl, in Harlem by his black housekeeper in 1959.

Criminal Power

New York boss, Albert Anastasia.

Albert Anastasia soon worked with Meyer Lansky, Louis Buchalter and Frank Costello. He became a hit man and enforcer for Luciano and his associates and soon earned his nickname "Lord High Executioner." After Salvatore Maranzano and Joe Masseria were killed, Lucky Luciano formed The Commission and appointed Vincent Mangano as boss of the Gambino crime family. Mangano made Anastasia underboss in 1931 and head of his Brooklyn rackets. He soon became Leader of Murder, Inc. and Abe Reles became an enforcer. Charles Luciano used Murder Inc for murder and to enforce his authority. Joe Santora worked in laundry and when he didn't pay his tribute to Anastasia, he shot and killed Santora on August 2, 1933 and was suspected of murder. The witness changed his story in court and denied Anastasia killed him because he was frightened of his reputation. Thomas Dewey, who closed down on organized crime and convicted Charles Luciano of prostitution, tried to convict Louis Buchalter of Racketeering. Anastasia helped Buchalter hide in his Brooklyn neighborhood. Anastasia helped his friend and murdered around 14 key witnesses and 1 secretary to Dewey. Louis Buchalter was convicted of racketeering and drugs by J. Edgar Hoover and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Thomas Dewey convicted him of murder on November 30, 1941 and was sentenced to death by electric chair. Facing the death penalty, Reles became an informant and was scheduled to testify, but was found murdered on the roof of a hotel where he was staying.

Gambino crime family

By 1951, Anastasia turned the New York Harbor into whole Crime. He had been serving Vincent Mangano for 20 years as underboss. Anastasia soon invested in legitimate business in real estate and bought a mansion above the Hudson River in New Jersey. Philip Mangano (Vincent's brother) was found shot in Jamaica Bay, Brooklyn river. He had been shot twice in the face and once in the neck. Vincent Mangano was never found. Albert Anastasia became boss and broke Lucky Luciano's rule against killing a boss. Anastasia claimed Mangano had attacked him and he had killed him in self defense. Vito Genovese then marked Anastasia as a dead man because he killed his own boss. But in 1954 the FBI attempted to convict him of tax evasion as they did with Al Capone. Anastasia soon got involved in gambling in Cuba. Meyer Lansky warned him against it but Anastasia refused. Lansky went to The Commission, and Vito Genovese and the other bosses agreed to get rid of Anastasia.


Albert Anastasia after his Hair Cut

Vito Genovese asked Carlo Gambino to set it up. On October 25, 1957 at about 10 a.m., Anastasia walked into a barber Shop in Manhattan and sat at chair No. 4. After his bodyguard went outside for a walk, two men walked into the shop and shot him. Anastasia mistakenly lunged toward the shooters reflections in a mirror but collapsed and died. It is alleged Joey Gallo and Richard Kuklinski led the hit team.

People Murdered by Albert Anastasia

Order: No.Name/Rank/Affiliation/When/Involvement/Reason

1.George Terello/none/independent/May 16,1920/Personal/ Anastasia had an argument with victium and killed him. Note victium Aka George Turino and George Puerlo killed on Union and Columbia Streets Brooklyn 1920 not March 17,1921. May 16, 1921 Albert "Anastasio" and prison cellmate Giuseppe Florina aka John Spietze sentenced to death on July 3,1921. Served 8 1/2 months on Sing Sing Prison death row in connection with this murder in 1921 New-York tribune., May 26, 1921, Page 5, Image 5New-York tribune., August 18, 1922, Page 20, Image 20

2.Carlelo Ferraro/none/independent/August 16, 1922/Personal/Albert "Anastasic/Anastasio" was arrested with former prison cellmate Giuseppe Florina aka John Spietze. It is believed that the Victium [a grocer variously reported killed in rear of his store or while sitting in summer garden with his friends] was killed in order to prevent him from testifying in Boston Mass in regard to a murder of a Michael Scarpone .The New York herald., August 18, 1922, Page 20, Image 20 New-York tribune., August 18, 1922, Page 20, Image 20 Anastasia was charged with a murder but the case was dropped due to a lack of evidence and witnesses [1]

3. Antonio Busardo/none/independent/March 1923/Personal/ Anastasia was picked up but the case was dropped due to a lack of evidence and witnesses.[2]

4.unknown victim/none/independent/1928/Personal/ Anastasia was charged with a murder in brooklyn but the case was dropped due to a lack of evidence and witnesses.FBI records

5.Peter Morello/Boss/Morello crime family/August 15th 1930/Personal/ Anastasia killed him in the Castellamarese war. [Reportably an accomplice was either Frank Scalise or Buster from Chicago.]

6.Giuseppe Masseria/Boss/Masseria crime family/April 15th 1931/Personal/ Anastasia was on the team of hitmen that murdered Masseria to end the Castellamarese war.

7.John Bazzano Sr./Boss/Pittsburgh crime family/August 5th 1932/Personal/ Anastasia personally murdered Bazzano with an ice pick because of a dispute between the Pittsburgh crime family and the Mangano crime family

8-10. unknown victiums/none/witness/1932/Ordered it. According to FBI records, Anastasia was involved in the kidnapping of Isidor Juffe for which Joe Adonis was indicted in 1940; Anasatasia was recognized among assialants however Anastasia was not indicted or convicted for this crime "The underlying reason behind this dismissal of this indictment in this case was the three state witness in this case were found slain...". FBI records

11.Joe Santora/none/independent/August 2, 1933/Personal/ the victim was a laundry worker who had an argument with Anastasia, he murdered the laundry worker, case was dropped due to a lack of evidence and witnesses.

12.Dutch Schultz/Crime boss/October 23,1935/Ordered It/On Behalf of the "Commission" Anastasia ordered it; Schultz died of injuries.

13.Otto Berman/Accountant/October 23,1935/Shot with boss Dutch Schultz; Died of injuries

14.Abe Landau/Chief Henchman/October 23,1935/Shot with boss Dutch Schultz; Died of injuries.

15.Bernard "Lulu" Rosencrantz/Bodyguard/October 23,1935/Shot with boss Dutch Schultz; died of injuries

14.Morris Diamond/none/independent/May 1939/Ordered It/ Anastasia had Diamond a truck drivers union official killed to take control of the Garment District in Manhattan.

15.Pietro "Peter" Panto/none/independent/July 14th 1939/Ordered It/ Anastasia had Panto killed because he was in charge of a union representing dock workers on the waterfront, and because he was being extorted. Panto's body found in lime pit. FBI records

16.Irving Feinstein/none/independent/September 4th 1939/Ordered It/ Anastasia was in charge of murder inc and someone hired murder inc to murder Feinstein, so Anastasia handed out the contract.

17.Abel Reles/Soldier/Murder Inc./November 12th 1941/Ordered It/ Reles was murdered for being an informant, his death looked like an apparent suicide.

18.Anthony Romero/Associate/Gambino crime family/Spring 1942/Ordered It/ Anastasia had Romero murdered to cover his tracks and to prevent Romero becoming an informant.

19.Vincent Mangano/Boss/Gambino crime family/April 19th 1951/Ordered It/ To become boss of the Gambino crime family.

20.Phil Mangano/Consigliere/Gambino crime family/April 19th 1951/Ordered It/ To become boss of the Gambino crime family.

21.Arnold Schuster/none/independent/March 8th 1952/Ordered It/ Schuster had helped police capture bank robber Willie "The Actor" Sutton; because of this Anastasia ordered Schuster killed

22.Frederick J. Tenuto/Hitman/Gambino Crime family/Unknown date after March 8th 1952/Ordered it/Reportably ordered by Anastasia to kill Schuster; Tenuto was ordered killed by Anastasia according to Joseph Valachi; Tenuto was # 14 on the 1950 Ten FBI Most Wanted List.

23.Vincent Macri/Bodyguard/Gambino Crime Family/April 25, 1954/Ordered it/Reportably killed so he wouldn't testify in Income Tax Case against Anastasia [3]

24-25.Charles Ferri & wife/Witness/Independent/Spring 1955/Ordered it/"Vanished" From Miami Florida home;Reportably killed so he wouldn't testify in Income Tax Case against Anastasia [4]

26.Frank Scalice/Underboss/Gambino Crime Family/June 17,1957/Ordered it/ Alleged to have been executed because "the reason he was murdered was because he was selling made man membership in the Gambino crime family for $50,000 this broke the rules of the Mafia."

According to FBI records, the NYPD estimated Anastasia to be involved in at least 20 murders. FBI records

On August 26, 1958 Anastasia mansion in Hackensack New Jersey which was appraised at $63,318.53 was sold at auction for $64,000. The property had a tax lien of $125,000; was delinquent of $1,733 in back taxes for 1957; and had $8,500 worth of damage by vandals [The Pittsburgh Press August 26, 1958]

Popular culture

After the Anastasia assassination, the barber chairs at the Park Sheraton Hotel were repositioned to face away from the mirror. The Anastasia chair was later auctioned off for $7,000. In February 2012, the chair will be on exhibit at the Mob Museum in Las Vegas.

Anastasia's murder, as well as the 1957 Apalachin Meeting, were referenced in the 1999 film Analyze This, starring Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal.

The fictional character Johnny Friendly (played by Lee J. Cobb) in the classic 1954 American film On the Waterfront was partially based on Anastasia.

Mayra Montero's novel Son de Almendra (English Title: Dancing to "Almendra") is based on Anastasia's murder.

In the Mission Impossible series episode "Encore" 1971 a drugged crime boss "Relives" almost being killed in a barbers chair in 1937.

In the 1972 movie The Godfather (Film) one of the crime boss killed at the end is killed in a hotel doorway after getting shaved in a barber shop

Italian movie of 1973 with Alberto Sordi: "Anastasia mio fratello ovvero il presunto capo dell'Anonima Assassini".

In The Day of The Jackal, a 1973 novel by Frederick Forsyth, a detective considers Marco Vitellino, a fictitious bodyguard who was absent during Anastasia's assassination as one of several suspects who could be an assassin contracted to kill French President Charles de Gaulle. The bodyguard is ruled out because he doesn't fit the description of the assassin.

In the 1974-1975 TV Comedy "That's My Mama" a Loan shark crime boss dies of natural causes while sitting in a barbar's chair.

In the TV series "Quincy M.E." "Guilty Until Proven Innocent" a vindictive prosecutor hounds an innocent man for an accidental death-simply because the mans father was a Big shot Crime Boss-the father in question had been killed in a barbers chair.

In the TV series The West Wing Season 4, Episode 10 "Holy Night," Jules Ziegler, the estranged father of White House Communications Director Toby Ziegler, visits Toby at the White House. Following a query from the Justice Department, Toby asks his father, a former member of Murder, Inc. when Albert Anastasia was killed. Jules answers, "October 1957," and later tells his son, "You should know when Anastasia was killed." Toby retorts, "I know when Anastasia was killed!"

In an episode of The Sopranos, Uncle Junior says that he wishes the mob were like they were in the 1950s when it was peaceful. Tony replies by saying he remembered seeing the picture of Anastasia "all amicably" in a pool of blood on the barbershop floor.

Anastasia's murder is mentioned in Harold Robbins book, The Raiders. Although in the book the hit is carried out by an obfuscated assassin known only by the pseudonym Milditesta (Italian for a greatly painful headache).

MMG rapper Rick Ross entitled his 2011 mixtape, "The Albert Anastasia EP"

The TV show M*A*S*H made two anachronistic references to Anastasia's death, as the Korean War had been over for four years when he was killed.

  • Season 4, Episode 12 "Soldier of the Month," Capt. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce refers to a sleeping soldier as "Albert Anastasia's doorman."
  • Season 5, Episode 3 "Out of Sight, Out of Mind," Hawkeye Pierce, temporarily blinded, bumps into an object, finds that it is an empty chair, and says, "Ah, Albert Anastasia's bodyguard."
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