Frank & Ava

Candy Barr

The major distractions did not interfere with Mickey’s Hollywood efforts. On September 15, 1958, the new Ben Hecht Show had aired on WABC in New York. It was an offshoot of a February 1958 interview with Mike Wallace, who would pro­duce the show for Hecht. The thirty-minute format brought in-depth, one-on-one interviews with controversial figures, everyone from eight Bowery bums to Jack Kerouac. The station’s program manager developed cold feet and cancelled guests in November like Norman Mailer, and later Roy Cohn, followed by the entire show.

Yet, Mickey was booked and, according to Hecht biographer William MacAdams, “created a furor when he revealed that he’d never murdered anyone who didn’t deserve it.” The quote was one of Mickey’s trademark favorites, and Wallace surely knew Mickey’s act from their famous go ’round the prior year. Tele­vision was already cannibalizing itself.

The same year {1975}, producers released an offbeat documentary about the Kennedy assassinations entitled I Due Kennedy (The Two Kennedys). The piece, orig­inally released in Italy in 1969, featured Mickey footage along with Fidel Castro, Ramsey Clark, Al Capone, Carlos Marcello, Hubert H. Humphrey, Barbara Hutton, Lyndon Johnson, Ted Kennedy, Phyllis McGuire, and Benito Mussolini. The Two Kennedys had all the voices dubbed except Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, and Hitler.

Martin and former Brownsville resident Jerry Lewis made their first appearance on the West Coast on August 9, 1948, at Slapsy Maxie’s, after a huge splash at the Copa in New York. Mickey also helped by filling the club tables with his on-demand entourage. The audience, which needed little coaxing to see the most remarkable act in show business history, included Barbara Stanwyck, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Jane Wyman, Ronald Reagan, James Cagney, Clark Gable, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles, Harpo and Chico Marx, Edward G. Robinson, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Carmen Miranda, Al Jolson, Mel Tormé, Count Basie, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Spencer Tracy, Greer Garson, William Powell, Billy Wilder, June Allyson, and Gloria DeHaven. At a pool party at George Raft’s house earlier that same day Martin and Lewis had met Loretta Young, Edward G. Robinson, Veronica Lake, Mona Freeman, William Holden, William Demarest, and Dorothy Lamour.

Despite the legal flourishes and televised controversies, Mickey never stopped fervently shopping the idea of a movie based on his life, contrasting the beliefs of celebrity-followers like Dorothy Kilgallen, who wrote in her “Around New York” column that Hecht and Mickey were having creative disagreements over the book version.

During the period of Mickey’s fundraising efforts, Sinatra asked him for help with his social life, in particular his soured relationship with Ava Gardner. The two industry powerhouses met at night in Mickey’s luxurious Brentwood home. He knew that his house was under surveillance, but it did not deter either one of them, and a one-on-one personal talk ensued. Sinatra appealed to his unlikely dating advisor to intervene. “Lookit. I want you to do me this favor. I want you to tell your guy Johnny Stompanato to stop seeing Ava Gardner.”

Ben Hecht

Dorothy Kilgallen

Jack Anderson


Fidel Castro

Bradley Lewis          Books

Walter Winchell

He {Mickey Cohen} said that Pearson wrote this memo to him: “I got a definite promise from LBJ that one way or another, if Humphrey wins or loses, you’re going to get a parole or a medical parole at least.”

The Los Angeles Herald Express ran Walter Winchell’s column on July 7, 1958. He wrote, partially incorrectly, regarding the manuscript: “Ben Hecht’s book on Mickey Cohen is finished. A Los Angeles psychiatrist [Krause] angled it for $30,000. Mickey gave him stock in it.”

He and LaVonne were back in divorce court on Tuesday, June 17. She never discussed Mickey’s girlfriends, although the names of strippers Candy Barr and Arlene Stevens appeared in the divorce proceedings; Mickey had testified at a trial for Candy.


News regarding the original possibility of Mickey’s presidential pardon hit the papers again on October 27, 1972. Jack Anderson, who took over for Drew Pearson at the Washington Post, said that the pardon angle from President Johnson had been possible. He explained that Pearson had visited Mickey in prison several times. Pearson, who spoke often with Mickey, also had President Johnson’s ear, and Anderson concluded that a compassionate friend like Pearson could easily have asked Johnson about a pardon for Mickey.