Bobby Spillane's Fatal Fall Recalls Tales of His Gangster Dad With a Famous Name
'Well,' said the son, 'have you read his stuff?'
'I tried,' replied the father, a churchgoing Catholic. 'Too much sex.'"
It wasn't the only time the real-life gangster, a dapper gent who ran the neighborhood's bookmaking, loansharking, and much of its politics -- via his brother-in-law, James McManus who still heads the local Democratic club -- was asked about the coincidence. English tells how Spillane the hoodlum was called by the D.A. into a grand jury investigating police bribery. A witness had been killed, allegedly on Spillane's say-so. Under questioning, Spillane dummied up, as per his West Side code, refusing to answer questions. "Finally," writes English, "the exasperated assistant D.A. asked: 'Well, can you tell me this: Are you related to the other Mickey Spillane? The famous writer?' After a momentary pause, Mickey leaned over to the microphone and said, 'No. But I'd be happy to change places with him at the moment.'" The line brought a big laugh from the jurors, and 60 days in Rikers for contempt for the reluctant witness.
Mickey Spillane the mobster disappeared in 1977 amid a fight between his crew and rival Irish gangsters allied with a Mafia family over control of local rackets, including shakedowns at the piers and trade shows at the old Coliseum. In a column that ran in 2002 in the News and is reprinted today, Bobby Spillane told how the family was home watching TV on a Friday the 13th in May, when the intercom in the apartment rang. Bobby answered and a nameless voice asked for his dad, "Mike" to his pals. Dressed in a white T-shirt and suit pants, his father spoke to whoever was downstairs. "I'll be right back," his father said. "He walked out the door and I never saw him again." Bobby's friend Denis Hamill reports that the wake will be held tomorrow and Wednesday at his uncle James McManus' funeral home, McManus & Ahern, on W. 43rd St. The funeral is Thursday morning at Sacred Heart Catholic Church on West 51st Street.