The Mob in Hollywood / Wild Horse Advocacy

Hosted byGeorge Knapp

The Mob in Hollywood / Wild Horse Advocacy

About the show

In the first half, author and Mafia historian Jeffrey Sussman joined George Knapp to detail how the Mob operated in Hollywood fueled by corruption and greed. He included tales of numerous mobsters and the producers, actors, and studio bosses they became entangled with. Sussman described how in the 1930s mobster Willie Bioff, on orders of his Chicago boss Frank Nitti, came to Hollywood along with George Browne and Johnny Roselli to control the growing unions, and extort millions from the studios. The actor George Raft not only played tough guys in the movies but grew up with mobsters and befriended them, he revealed. In fact, when Bugsy Siegel came out to Los Angeles, Raft helped get him an audition for a film part.

When the actor James Cagney was head of the Screen Actors Guild, he refused to do the bidding of the Chicago Mob, and they put out a hit on him, but because Raft was his good friend, Raft got them to rescind the contract. Sussman talked about how Harry Cohn, a powerful studio boss, used his influence to break up an affair between Kim Novak and Sammy Davis Jr. in the 1950s, getting mobsters to threaten the actor with violence if he didn't comply. He also shared Hollywood stories about the gangsters Mickey Cohen, and Johnny Stompanato. Stompanato was dating the actress Lana Turner, when he was reportedly stabbed to death by Turner's daughter Cheryl Crane. Yet, Sussman believes it was actually Turner who inflicted the fatal wound after Stompanato viciously beat her. On a more subtle level, organized crime may still be involved in Hollywood today, he commented, through such things as money laundering via film productions.


In the latter half, law professor at Willamette University. Scott Beckstead talked about his advocacy efforts for wild horses and burros on public lands in the American West. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manipulates wild horse population estimates to justify roundups, he argued, and they are on an unprecedented campaign to depopulate these herds regardless of what Congress says. Their mission is to free up more acreage and forage for commercial livestock such as cattle, he added. Beckstead noted that he doesn't have an issue with small family-owned ranches, but rather with corporate interests that are pushing for the roundups.

The BLM is misleading the press, and getting away with this very self-serving government grift that benefits these wealthy interests, "and it's happening on the back of the very animals that the agency is supposed to be protecting," he continued. Beckstead was also critical of a Fish & Wildlife Service proposal to kill 500,000 barn owls in western lands ostensibly to protect another type of owl. "We scapegoat one species in order to save another," he lamented, and with such plans, government is not addressing the real cause of these animals' endangerment-- which he pinpointed as the overgrowth of industry and humans encroaching on their habitats.

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