The son of Sicilian immigrants, Gilormo “Sam” Giancana was born in 1908 in Chicago and grew up in a rough neighborhood. He started in crime as a teenager and led a street gang called the “The 42s”. The gang carried out low-level tasks in the 1920s for members of the powerful Chicago Mafia, led by the notorious gangster Al Capone. Giancana then worked as a driver for the mob and then graduated to “triggerman.” By the age of 20, he was the prime subject in three murder investigations, but was never tried.
He rose steadily in the ranks of the mob even while serving prison time. In the 1940s, he succeeded in taking over Chicago’s illegal lottery gambling operations through beatings, kidnappings, and murder, and increased the Chicago mob’s annual income by millions of dollars. During World War II he made another fortune manufacturing counterfeit ration stamps. In the mid-1950s, Giancana became the top Mafioso in Chicago and controlled gambling, prostitution, narcotics trafficking, and other illegal industries in his hometown. Under his leadership, the Chicago Mafia grew from a small-scale racket to a full-fledged criminal organization.
In 1960 Giancana was involved in talks with Allen W. Dulles, the director of the CIA, about the possibility of murdering Fidel Castro. It is claimed that during the 1960 presidential election Giancana used his influence in Illinois to help John F. Kennedy defeat Richard Nixon. The two men also shared the same girlfriend, Judith Campbell.
When Robert Kennedy became U.S. Attorney General he tackled organized crime and one of his prime targets was to get Giancana arrested. When President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, rumors circulated that Giancana and other gang bosses were involved in the crime. In 1975 Giancana was murdered in his home just before he was to appear at a special government hearing.