Crazie Deanie

" the meantime,

In-between time,

Ain’t we got fun?"

--" Ain’t We Got Fun?"

G. Whiting

Deanie’s behavior often ranged from the reckless to the erratic. He could, in the process of 24 hours, snuff a man out without remorse, then treat a bum to a full-course meal because he felt sorry for him. Once, while awaiting his hearing in a courtroom, he took up a collection for food and clothing for a young runaway girl charged with vagrancy. When he read in the newspaper that a local child was dying from leukemia, he stepped forth, introduced himself to the parents and offered to pay the hospital bills for an extended stay. Then wept uncontrollably when the child died.

One morning before rush hour in the Loop, he was crossing the Michigan Avenue Bridge over the Chicago River on foot when a car backfired. Mistaking it for a shot, he wheeled and, as he later put it, "took a pop at the only guy I saw". When he realized he had shot an innocent man in the leg, he called an ambulance, sent him the finest cigars available, and cuffed the hospital bill.

The anthological Bloodletters and Badmen by Jay Robert Nash explains that at certain times of the year Deanie and Viola, accompanied by "Bugs" Moran and the other lads, would fill up their car and deliver presents to children’s orphanages. At least once a year, the O’Banion couple visited the gravesite of Emma O’Banion in Maroa.

Then there are the more bizarre examples of behavior. Take, for example, the O’Banion mob's gangland-style retribution against a -- horse! Deanie and Viola would often hire horses and ride leisurely through the pastel greenery of Lincoln Park, off the lakefront. One afternoon, "Nails" Morton -- an equestrian in his own right -- joined them. The animal he was given seemed particularly skittish and, when Morton attempted a gallop, the unobliging nag reared and bucked its rider against a tree. Skull crushed, Morton died that afternoon. That evening, Deanie and Hymie visited the stables and took their revenge, emptying all cylinders into the beast. (This scene was repeated in the 1932 gangster melodrama, Public Enemy)

Others episodes are downright larcenous. On the night of January 19, 1924, Deanie’s gang stole $1 million worth of whiskey (nearly 2,000 barrels) from the Sibley Warehouse in Capone territory, on South Sangamon Street. They left behind, as a joke, an equal amount of barrels of water. Having a notorious counterfeiter fake a bill of sale from Sibley, Deanie used the huge cache of liquor to buy shares into the Cragin Distillery on the far North Side.

Sometimes Deanie became the victim of his own squirrelly behavior. When he had learned that a local prizefighter, Davey "Yiddles" Miller, had planned to hijack a delivery of North Side beer, he went after him in a blind rage. Hunting him down, he spotted Davey and his brother Max emerging from the LaSalle Theatre under the marquee lights, where they and their dates had just seen the comedy Give and Take. In front of a throng, Deanie fired a shot point-blank into Yiddles’ stomach and another at Max, the last of which bounced off Max’s belt buckle. Davey miraculously survived and did not press charges. But, in court for assault, Deanie waved it off with a charade of atonement. "Your Honor," said he, "we were raging about money owed. It was just a piece of hot-headed foolishness." Of course, Deanie was exonerated.

Often, Capone and Torrio found his pranks dangerous. Their constant reminders to him to be less conspicuous merely provoked other, worse antics. One such caper was the Exley/Duffy affair.

John Duffy was a scramble-headed gunner from Philadelphia who, probably to escape the local officials, had wandered aimlessly into Chicago. Because he helped pull a few incidental jobs for Deanie, Duffy had become somewhat of a hanger-on to the O’Banion bunch. In mid-February, 1924, he had gotten into a violent, drunken quarrel with his live-in, a saloon tramp by the name of Maybelle Exley. When she went to bed, he smothered her with a pillow. The drink wearing off, he panicked. Calling boss O’Banion, begging for money to get out of town, Deanie agreed to go a step further. "I’ll drive you to safety," he told him. "Meet me in an hour at the Four Deuces." He hung up. Duffy knew where he meant -- Torrio’s headquarters saloon on South Wabash-- but wondered why of all the closer places to meet, he had chosen the Four Deuces.

Duffy, after a quick shot of whisky at the club, stepped outside to spot Deanie’s automobile round the corner; he climbed in and Deanie nosed his car westward out of town. Once outside the city limits on a stretch of wooded road, Deanie shot him. Dumping the body from his car, he drove home, singing at the top of his lungs.

His plan had been devious; a case of killing two birds with one stone. Since Duffy was now a fugitive and seemed to be the type wont to crack under police prodding -- and since he knew too many secrets of the O’Banion enterprise -- Deanie decided to eliminate him. He had purposely left the body where it would be discovered, the stroke of genius being that Duffy was sure to have been seen at the Four Deuces, thus implicating Torrio and Capone!

Capone was livid. Deanie roared.

1. Leprechaun

2. A Normal Childhood

3. Lads of Kilgubbin

4. Volstead's Law

5. Them Damn Sicilians

6. The Flower Shop

7. Crazy Deanie

8. Cicero

9. An Impractical Joke

10. 'Night, Swell Fellow

11. Hello, Mt. Carmel

12. Bibliography

13. The Author
<< Previous Chapter 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 >> Next Chapter
truTV Shows
Suburban Secrets
Forensic Files
The Investigators
Dominick Dunne

TM & © 2007 Courtroom Television Network, LLC.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved. is a part of the Turner Entertainment New Media Network.
Terms & Privacy Guidelines