It could have ended with a fistfight. Instead, the chance encounter sparked a friendship that would span decades.
As former mobster Frank Cullotta recalls, he was about 12 or 13 years old when he first crossed paths with Tony Spilotro, who would later gain notoriety as the Chicago Outfit’s reputed enforcer in Las Vegas. Both boys were shining shoes on Grand Avenue in Chicago when Spilotro called out to Cullotta from across the street.
“He didn’t like the idea that I was on his street,” Cullotta recalled. The two boys met in the middle of the Grand Avenue, Cullotta peering down at the shorter Spilotro.
“And he went to grab my collar, and I pushed him away,” Cullotta said.
As unlikely as it may seem, this was the start of a friendship that would span decades and eventually take both of them to Las Vegas.
Part 2: ‘The Family Business’
The second installment of “Mobbed Up,” a new true-crime podcast series produced in partnership with The Mob Museum, begins in mid-20th-century Chicago, when a young Frank Cullotta discovers that his father was a “wheelman,” or getaway driver, for a group of robbers.
From a young age, Frank would follow in his father’s footsteps.
The rest of the episode explores the early days of Cullotta’s lengthy criminal career and his friendship with Spilotro, the Chicago mob figure who would later inspire Joe Pesci’s character in the Martin Scorcese film Casino.
Where and how to listen
Search for “Mobbed Up” on your preferred mobile podcasting app and tap “subscribe” or “follow,” or click here to listen to the series on the Review-Journal website.