Despite a volatile temper and a love of show business Sam Giancana rose to be the richest and most powerful mafia boss of his day. Boss of the infamous Chicago Outfit. In the mob all publicity is bad publicity. They frowned on Giancana’s headline grabbing relationship with singing star Phyllis McGuire and his lawsuit against the FBI for harassment, but he had a gift for making money. During Jack Kennedy’ election as President in 1960, Giancana manipulated Chicago voting, believing he would be allowed to operate freely in return; but the new President appointed his mob-chasing brother, Robert, as Attorney General. The FBI and the Department of Justice went after the mob with unprecedented vigour.
Even after 1963, when President Kennedy was assassinated and his brother Robert left office Giancana could not count on an easy ride. RFK had irreversibly changed law enforcement’s approach to organised crime and inspired a generation of lawyers and FBI agents to bring down the mob. In 1965 Giancana found himself in front of a Federal Grand Jury in Chicago. He refused to testify and held in contempt of court the nation’s most powerful mafia boss was jailed. Released after one year the mob banished Giancana to Mexico, forcibly retired. But in the summer of 1974 his exile was abruptly ended when Washington began to investigate his role in CIA plots to assassinate Castro. At this point the mob deemed the ageing Giancana a security risk. Before he could testify, Sam Giancana was gunned down in his own basement.