Jack Whalen

Jack Whalen (born May 11, 1918- died December 2, 1959), also called Jack O'Hara and "The Enforcer," was a freelance contract killer and bookie, who most often worked for the Los Angeles crime family, although he also was associated with Bugsy Siegel, the Shannon brothers (Joe, Izzy, Moe, and Max were the names of the Shannon brothers; also known as the Shaman brothers) and Mickey Cohen during the 1940s and 1950s.


Jack F. Whalen was born in Missouri. Whalen's father Fred—who was also a career criminal known as "Freddie the thief"—had enrolled Jack in military school to give his son a better life. Jack played polo in school and piloted bombers in World War II. After the war, he married into one of L.A.'s oldest and richest families, the Sabichis, who had a 27-room mansion on South Figueroa; however, by 1955, his own criminal career had begun. He was soon called "The Enforcer" because he was "so tough he didn't need a gun." Whalen was a Los Angeles area bookie. Whalen was the most fearsome of the figures who had tried to move in on L.A.'s rackets while Mickey Cohen was off at prison. Some of the police on the Gangster Squad (LAPD) liked to say there were now three gangs in town: the Italians led by Jack Dragna and then Nick Licata, the Jews led by Mickey, and the one-man Irish gang who took bets himself, collected debts for others and shook down anyone he could. Some cops even admired Whalen's nerve in defying the mob factions.

Whalen was eventually killed at Rondelli's, a restaurant in Sherman Oaks in the presence of Mickey Cohen and four of his associates, who were charged and later acquitted of his murder. Sam Frank LoCigno, a member of Cohen's gang, would later admit to killing Whalen and be convicted of the crime. Although there always remained doubt as to which of Cohen's associates or if Cohen himself had actually killed 'The Enforcer'. On his death certificate, his family gave his occupation as "actor" and listed as his employer a production company that had cast him in four episodes of a TV western, "The Restless Gun."


Years after his death Whalen also became known for his relationship with law enforcement, specifically with Detective Jerry Wooters, a founding member of the Gangster Squad (LAPD). During this time Wooters was suspected of possibly aiding Whalen in his criminal dealings.

Wooters would argue that his deal with Whalen was no different from any cop's with an informant -- it was one bad guy pointing you to others, like to bookies in league with Mickey. But the bottom line was that people who didn't play ball with Whalen were liable to have the law on their tail.

"What he didn't get a piece of, I got word of" was how Wooters described their arrangement.

In Popular culture

Whalen was played by actor Sullivan Stapleton in the 2013 film Gangster Squad in which he is portrayed as an informant within Cohen's operations and as a close friend of Wooters.

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