Thursday, March 09, 2006

Long Before the Mafia, There Was the Irish Mob - PADDY WHACKED on The History Channel

Once called the "National Scourge," "The Shame of the Cities" and "The White Man's Burden," the Irish Mob rose from hellish beginnings to establish itself as the first crime syndicate in the United States. From "Old Smoke" Morrissey to "Whitey" Bulger, a parade of characters used ruthlessness, guile, and the diabolical power trio of "Gangster, Politician, and Lawman" to rise to power in the underworld. Their 150-year legacy of corruption is chronicled in the new special from The History Channel, PADDY WHACKED, a world premiere Friday, March 17 at 8 pm ET/PT on The History Channel.

After the devastating mid 19th century potato famine killed nearly a third of Ireland's population, the Irish looked across the ocean to America for salvation and opportunity. They arrived in New York City in droves, starving, destitute, determined ... and loathed by native New Yorkers. Gang wars soon enveloped the streets, and from the chaos rose the first mob boss, James "Old Smoke" Morrissey, as proprietor of gambling joints, saloons, and whore houses who aligned himself with the corrupt power corridors of Tammany Hall and Boss Tweed. Soon, the Irish carried the dubious distinction of dominating the lower rungs of the immigrant ladder. For the next century-and-a-half, they rose and found power and glory in New York, Chicago, Boston, and Hollywood, before being done in by Italian foes, infighting, and eventually the law. PADDY WHACKED is the story of a long rise to power and a violent and bloody collapse, with a steady drumbeat of unforgettable characters along the way.

Highlights of PADDY WHACKED include:

* Re-creations of the early New York City gang wars made famous in
Martin Scorsese's film Gangs of New York.

* "King" Mike McDonald's efforts to establish the Irish Mob in Chicago,
under the philosophy of "There's a sucker born every minute" and
"Never steal anything big, the small stuff is safer," and the
portrayal of the mobster as "the man behind the man."

* The rise of bootlegging as a primary source of income for the Irish
Mob during Prohibition, an effort led by Dean O'Banion in Chicago and
Owney Madden in New York.

* The first glorification of the Irish mobster in Hollywood films
starring James Cagney.

* The arrival of ruthless foes like Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, and Meyer
Lansky, who wipe out Irish bosses by the dozen as the mafia rises to
power, while government foes such as FDR and Thomas E. Dewey doggedly
struggle to end corruption in the United States.

* The legitimization of the Irish in the upper levels of American
society crests in the 1950s and 1960s as Irish gangsters begin to take
over legitimate businesses. The son of upper-crust Irishman Joseph
Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, is elected President of the United States
after a multitude of back-channel dealing seals his Democratic Party
nomination.

* The JFK assassination signals the beginning of a murderous era of
bloodshed that leads to Wild West-style shootouts in Boston between
the Mullin Gang, the Winter Hill Gang, and the Charlestown Boys.

* James "Whitey" Bulger's rise as the last great Irish Boss is fueled by
protection from his state-senator brother and his best friend in the
FBI ... a shining example of the "Gangster, Politician, Lawman"
triumvirate that was so hard to crack. But even the untouchable Bulger
can't hide from the government's most powerful weapon, RICO.

Executive Producer for The History Channel is Carl H. Lindahl. PADDY WHACKED is produced for The History Channel by Joe Bink Films Inc.

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