Michael "Mickey" Spillane (July 13, 1934-May 13, 1977) was an Irish-American mobster from Hell's Kitchen, New York. Spillane, who was called the "last of the gentleman gangsters", was a marked contrast to the violent The Westies gang members who succeeded him in Hell's Kitchen.
As a young boy in Hell's Kitchen, Spillane started as a numbers runner for various organized crime figures in his neighborhood. In 1960, Mickey took over the rackets left to him by his predecessor Eddie McGrath, the waterfront racketeer and longshoreman's union leader. He married Maureen McManus, the daughter of the Democratic district leader Eugene McManus.
The late actor Bobby Spillane remembered the days his father ran the rackets. Mickey walked around in $5,000 suits into restaurants where everybody knew him. Heads would turn and people would say things like "Hey, you know who that is? That's Mickey Spillane!"
Though the Italian-American Mafia ruled New York City with an iron fist, the Irish Mob had long operated in Hell's Kitchen since the days of John Morrissey. The Italians allowed Spillane to operate on the West Side as long as they got their cut. Spillane knew that crossing the Italian mafia would be a death sentence, so he gave 30% of whatever he made from his rackets to avoid a war with the Five Families. Spillane would sometimes kidnap certain wealthy people in Hell's Kitchen and hold them for ransom. Although he ran the rackets such as gambling, policy, and loansharking, he was against the sale of drugs in his neighborhood and wouldn't allow it.
In 1966 a young upstart named Jimmy Coonan attempted to take the neighborhood from Mickey, muscling in on his territory and murdering a Spillane underling. Ultimately, Coonan was sent to prison in 1967. When Coonan was released from prison, he sought to align himself with the Gambino crime family through a notoriously ruthless and much-feared Gambino crime family capo from Brooklyn named Roy DeMeo, DeMeo is also one of the Gambino crime family's most lethal, ruthless and efficient hitmen.
The 1970s saw an increased threat from the Genovese crime family, as Tony Salerno sought control over the soon to be built Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Since the Convention Center was located on the West Side, Spillane stood his ground against the takeover by the Italians. Salerno responded by hiring an Irish-American hitman named Joseph "Mad Dog" Sullivan to assassinate Tom Devaney, "the Butcher" Edward Cummiskey and "the Greek" Tom Kapatos, three of Spillane's chief lieutenants, and over 33 members of Spillane's criminal organization By the mid 1970s Spillane had moved his family out of Hell's Kitchen to Woodside, Queens, for fear for his safety.
On May 13, 1977, Mickey Spillane was killed outside his apartment in Woodside, Queens. It is believed that Roy DeMeo murdered Spillane as a favor to Jimmy Coonan, who subsequently took over as the leader of the Hell's Kitchen Irish Mob.
*He had often been confused with the writer and World War 2 veteran Frank Morrison Spillane, who took the pen name "Mickey Spillane". The writer Spillane is probably best remembered for creating the fictional detective Mike Hammer.