Salvatore "Sam Sings in the Night" Catalanotte (February 15, 1894 – February 14, 1930) was an Italian-American mobster and boss of Detroit's Unione Siciliana from 1920 to 1930. "Sings in the night" is a translation of his last name.
Salvatore Catalanotte was born in Trapani, Sicily on February 15, 1894. He immigrated to Detroit, Michigan, in 1905 where he worked for the bootlegging Giannola brothers during the Vitale-Giannola War.
He was a popular figure who held tremendous influence in the Italian community due largely inpart charitable donations and standing as the head of Detroit's Unione Sicilione. A former gunman under Gianolla brothers Sam and Tony during the Gianolla/Vitale conflict which claimed the lives of more than 100 men between them, Sam survived more than a dozen attempts on his life to to emerge as the "king of Detroit's Little Sicily."
Sam would go on to broker an often uneasy peace accord amoung the rival East and Westside Mobs. This alliance held up between the two sides primiarilly due to the respect each had for Catalonotte "as a man of honor and peace who clearly understood the concerns of both sides," the remaining members of the Gianolla and Vitale gangs agreed to join together in this alliance which came to be known as the Pascuzzi Combine. Catalonotte's newly formed unified Italian crime syndicate demonstrated it's power by corrupting officials within city and state government offices while insureing protection for it's growing list of underworld rackets. Power and Respect from each and every soldier he placed on the streets of Detroit allowed Salvatore "Sam Sings in the Night" Catalonotte to safely navigate the back alley speakeasies and blind pigs without fear of assasination.
Catalonotte had served as an adviser for Gaetano Gianolla during the Gianolla/Vitale gang war often leading many to believe that he had been a gunman sympathetic to the cause of the Gianolla gang. During the war, Sam's warm personality and diplomatic nature enabled him to enforce peace among Detroits Sicilian gangs for 10 years. Sam Catalonotte's reign over Detroit came to an end when he contracted pneumonia in February of 1930 and died on February 14 1930 just one day shy of his 36th birthday. In an ostentatious show of love and loyalty that that cost an estimated $20,000 dollars during the early stages of the depression, every prominent member of Detroit's underworld community paid homage to their fallen leader in a ceremony held at the Church of the Most Holy Family in Detroit followed by 1,200 car procession on to his graveside in Mt Olivet Cemetery.
Among the mourners who remember Catalonotte as airplanes circled over head showering the cemetery with garland and rose petals were Chester LaMare, Angelo Meli and Sam Moceri as well as a host of merchants. bankers, and other well to do friends and associates of the alleged racketeer. At the time of his death Catalonotte had been picked up and questioned many times as a suspect in gangland shootings and extortion attempts but he was never charged with a single crime. In tribute to a fallen foe a dectective-lieutenant with the Detroit black hand squad was heard to say "the king is dead, long live the king."