The Prime Minister Meets The Kingfish



"Here come the Kingfish, the Kingfish. Friend of the workin’ man. The Kingfish, the Kingfish. The Kingfish gonna’ save this land."


Randy Newman

The Kingfish

"Never let the truth get in the way of a good story."

That’s true crime story teller, Gary Jenkins advice. I happen to whole heartedly agree. Mob myth has had some doozies over the years, and like fish tales they tend to get bigger and better as time goes by. Here we wanted to answer a question ‘Crazy’ Joe Gallo, was overheard asking on a wiretap:

"Who gave Louisiana to Frank Costello?"

As you’ll see, the ‘who’ part is pretty clear, but the ‘how’ gets a little fuzzy. I know of four different stories about how the ‘Prime Minister’ inherited an interest in the Crescent City. Which of them, if any, is true I cannot say, and will leave it for the reader to decide.

Story number one:

As many readers will no doubt already know, Louisiana Senator, Huey Long, was a notorious boozer. This story claims Long was so drunk at a country club one night he got impatient waiting at a urinal, and let loose between the mans legs who was using it. Apparently, he had terrible aim and the man began stomping a hole in Huey. An attendant called for Frank Costello, who was also at the club, and Frank smoothed things over. Long was grateful, and the two struck up a mutually beneficial friendship.

Story number two:

New Orleans legend, "Diamond Jim" Moran received a phone call from Frank Costello, warning him of a plot to assassinate Huey Long, at the Roosevelt Hotel. "Diamond Jim" passed this information on to his friend Long, who’s bodyguards immediately raided the residence at an address Costello had provided. Though they did not find their suspects, they found evidence that a plan had indeed been put in the works. Long told Moran to pass a message on to Costello, and the message was,


"tell him he has a friend.”

Story number three:

In a much less dramatic, though likely more accurate telling, Frank Costello himself insisted he had met Long over dinner at a country club. Both men had a penchant for politicking, gambling and chasing women. The two simply liked each other and struck up a friendship which lasted until Long’s death.

Story number four:

Taken from the Mary Ferrell website, here is former hit man Harold "K.O." Konigsberg with one last version. 

So I suppose the answer to Joe Gallow’s question would be, Huey Long. He would invite Costello to bring his slot machines to Louisiana in 1935. Costello recalled standing on the balcany of a penthouse overlooking New Orleans with Huey Long to author Peter Maas:

"He puts his arm around me and i'm thinking maybe I know something he doesn't want me to know, so I put my arm around him, because if I'm going over the balcony I'm taking him with me. Then he waves his other hand and says, you see that out there? Anything you want you got..."

Background photograph of Frank Costello, "Silver Dollar Sam" Carollo and "Diamond Jim' Moran courtesy of the Brocato family.

For further information on New Orleans visit Crescent City Mafia, Murder, and Mysteries.