Joe Adonis, also known as “Joey A,” “Joe Adone,” “Joe Arosa, “James Arosa,” and “Joe DiMeo,” was a New York mobster who was an important participant in the formation of the modern Cosa Nostra crime families. Take a look below for 30 more bizarre and scary facts about Joe Adonis.
1. Adonis was born Giuseppe Antonio Doto in the small town of Montemarano, Italy, near Naples, to Michele and Maria Doto.
2. In 1909, Adonis and his family migrated to the United States, in New York City.
3. As a young man, Adonis supported himself by stealing and picking pockets.
4. While working on the streets, Adonis became friends with future mob boss Charles “Lucky” Luciano and mobster Settimo Accardi, who were involved in illegal gambling.
5. Adonis had a loyalty to Luciano that lasted for decades.
6. At the beginning of Prohibition, Luciano, Adonis, Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel started a bootlegging operation in Brooklyn.
7. Their operation soon began supplying large amounts of alcohol to the show business community along Broadway in Manhattan.
8. It was in the early 1920s that he started himself “Joe Adonis, as Adonis was the Greek god of beauty and desire.
9. One story states that Adonis received his nickname from a Ziegfeld Follies chorus girl who was dating him.
10. Another story states that Adonis adopted the name after reading a magazine article on Greek mythology.
11. Adonis spent a lot of time on personal grooming. On one occasion, Lucky Luciano saw Adonis combing his thick, dark hair in front of a mirror and asked him, “Who do you think you are, Rudolph Valentino?” Adonis replied, “For looks, that guy’s a bum!”
12. Adonis and his wife Joan had four children; Joseph A. Doto Jr., Dolores Maria Olmo, Anna Arrieta, Elizabeth Doto, and actor Frank Adonis, who went on to play stereotypical gangster roles.
13. Adonis was a cousin of Luciano crime family capo Alan Bono, who supervised Adonis’ operations in Greenwich Village, Manhattan.
14. During the 1920s, Adonis became an enforcer for Frankie Yale, the boss of Italian-American rackets in Brooklyn.
15. While working for Yale, Adonis briefly met future Chicago Outfit boss Al Capone, who was also working for Yale.
16. By 1930, Adonis had joined the Masseria faction. As the tide of the Castellammarese War started to turn against Masseria, Luciano secretly contacted Maranzano about switching sides. Sides Adonis’ loyalties were to Luciano, he was quick to join the plot.
17. For his part in the attack on Masseria, Adonis was given a seat on the National Crime Syndicate’s “Board of Directors.”
18. Many politicians and high-ranking police officers were on his payroll.
19. Adonis used his political influence to assist the criminal rackets of members of the Luciano crime family, such as Luciano and Genovese, and associates such as Meyer Lansky and Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, the head of Murder, Inc.
20. Adonis came to control the area around Broadway and Midtown Manhattan.
21. He ran his empire from Joe’s Italian Kitchen, his restaurant in Brooklyn.
22. Adonis made a lot of profit from illegal alcohol sales and prostitution, building himself a criminal empire worth millions of dollars.
23. Adonis bought car dealerships in New Jersey. When customers bought cars from his dealerships, the salesmen would intimidate them into buying “protection insurance” for the vehicle.
24. Adonis soon moved into cigarette manufacturing, buying up machines by the hundreds and hijacking factory products, and made a 100% profit.
25. By 1932, he was a major criminal power in Brooklyn.
26. In 1936, U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Dewey succeeded in prosecuting Luciano on pandering charges and sent him away to prison in Upstate New York for 30 years. Adonis remained relatively untouched by this crackdown because he was a relative unknown to the government.
27. In Luciano’s absence, Adonis took over as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Syndicate.
28. In December, 1946, after Luciano’s deportation to Italy, Adonis and Luciano were briefly united at the famous Havana Conference in Cuba. It was Luciano’s goal to take over active control of his crime family from Cuba and Adonis willingly relinquished power to him.
29. By the late 1940s, the government had begun watching Adonis.
30. In August, 1953, after the U.S. government discovered that Adonis was an illegal alien, they immediately deported him to Italy. Adonis moved to a luxury villa outside Naples, very close to Luciano.