september 23, 1914

 

the costello's

Frank Costello married Loretta Giegerman on September 23, 1914. Costello, who was twenty three, listed his birthplace as New York, and his occupation as plumber on the marriage license. Loretta, who was known to everyone as Bobbie, listed her age as nineteen, but naturalization reports cite her as only fifteen at the time. The two met through Bobbie’s brother, Dudley. Earlier in the year Frank and Dudley had become friends, and like Bobbie, Dudley would remain Costello’s trusted partner to the end.

A rare photograph of Dudley comforting his sister at Frank's funeral, February 21, 1973. Photograph by Nick Sorrentino, courtesy of Getty images. 

"Funny thing, nobody ever asked me why i picked Loretta as my wife, considering she's not one of my kind. She's Jewish. well i'll tell you why. When i was a boy, East 108th street was like an open book to me. That's where i learned about every thing that's rotten in life. In that hell-pit with all the insults and the hate, and the way we were squeezed out of everything there was to squeeze, I saw that Italians and Jews had so much in common we were like one people. So when I met Loretta, I had a feeling like she was one of my own. She didn't even speak Italian, don't let us talk about our southern dialect, and my mother said, 'What d'ya want with a Jewish girl? With all those beautiful Italian girls right here in the neighborhood! If you don't want to marry any of them, all right, we can always bring one over from Italy for you.' Italian, Jewish, what did I care?

But your folks, they cared. They always wanted you to hitch up with an Italian Catholic. I say, what difference does it make? It's nobody's business but your own."

the only color photograph we have found of Frank and Bobbie. photographer unknown.

" I married because i was in love, and nobody knows everything about me except my wife, loretta. When i was in jail the first time for not having a gun permit, only my wife came around; she'd stand on that bridge by the jail where you can see the prisoners taking their walks in the courtyard everyday, and she'd watch me from that distance without saying a word. never made a sign even. i'd look in her direction, i'd recognize the hat she wore, and i knew it was her."

Frank and Bobbie talk to reporters as he is returning home on October 9, 1953, after serving 14 out of an 18 month sentence for contempt which he earned during the Kefauver hearings. Frank told reporters,"Please fellows, don't annoy me...I've been away, you know...I've had my troubles." Credit Bettmann, courtesy of Getty Images.

By all accounts, the Costello's seemed to genuinely love each other. Over the course of their lives together they would rise from meager beginnings to a penthouse on Central Park, with a weekend home in Sands Point, but the money never came between them. Frank was in charge, and Bobbie was happy to play her role as his wife. She lived a lavish life style of shopping, travel, and evenings at the Copa, but it came with a price. Aside from the arrests, assassination attempt, prison sentences and constant hounding from the press and IRS, she would be forced to endure Frank's mistress, Thelma Martin.   

Thelma Martin. Photographer unknown.

When Frank met Thelma is unclear, but the two maintained a relationship for many years. Costello moved the former showgirl into a penthouse across Central Park from his own at the Majestic. At one point Frank had grown suspicious Thelma was seeing another man and bought a telescope so he could spy on her from his penthouse window. he confided in writer Peter Maas that he began looking across the park to Thelma's penthouse but stopped himself. It was the thing he was most ashamed of he admitted to the author.

Toots Shore remembered Costello as a man who had enough respect for his wife to not parade around in public with another woman. Agents charged with the task of following him recalled Frank as dignified and pleasant unless questioned about his extra-marital affairs. "It's nobodies goddamn business" he would growl.  

Law enforcement recorded Frank as visiting Thelma nearly every day like clockwork until in his later years when his visits became less frequent. Costello subscribed to an old Italian belief that men possessed a certain amount of "bullets" as he was fond of saying, and when they were used they were gone for good. He continue to claim he had plenty of ammunition well into his seventies.    

Despite Frank's attempts to keep his mistress a secret, Bobbie was no fool. When her husband refused to buy their Central Park West penthouse, complaining it was too expensive, Bobbie presented him with a list of expenditures spent on his mistress over the past year. Costello never said a word and bought the penthouse.

At one point during their marriage, Bobbie left Frank though he didn't know it. Frank cancelled a California vacation to go to Hot Springs on business and Bobbie, angry and hurt, left while he was away, retreating to Atlantic City, knowing he would find her there. it was during the off season however, and Bobbie found herself despondent in the cold and empty city. She returned home before Frank and didn't tell him until years later. According to the book Uncle Frank, they both laughed long and hard.  

Frank and Bobbie at their home in Sands Point during a photo shoot for Newsday. Special thanks to Avi Bash from Organized Crime in Miami for use of this wonderful photograph. 

"She worries, worries, and worries. It gives her white hair, the stuff they write about me. I'll tell you one thing. They can say all they want about me, but they better not start picking on her. That could make me blow my top."

The Costello's never had children. This was supposedly due to Bobbie, but Costello's ego was such that this could have been due to him but he would never let it be known. During the course of their marriage they would be constantly approached by people claiming to be Frank's progeny, (something that still happens today) but nothing has ever been proven.

  

"Loretta! Ah, Loretta, she's my whole life. We never had kids, and that's the saddest thing could've happened to me. Jail is like nothing compared to not having kids."

Bobbie once gave Frank a father's day card from their two dogs. Frank became uncharacteristicly upset and she never did it again.

When her husband passed Bobbie requested a small funeral. She would move to New Orleans where she lived the remainder of her life with family and friends.

Background photograph courtesy of Flora Gilberti.