Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Jack "Legs" Diamond - clay pigeon of the underworld

Jack "Legs" Diamond (born Jack Nolan; July 10, 1897 – December 18, 1931) was an Irish-American gangster in Philadelphia and New York City during the Prohibition era.

Diamond became a thug and later personal bodyguard for bootlegger Arnold Rothstein in 1919. Diamond survived so many attempts on his life between 1916 and 1931 that he was known as the "clay pigeon of the underworld". In 1930 Diamond's nemesis Dutch Schultz remarked to his gang, "Ain't there nobody that can shoot this guy so he don't bounce back?"
In the late 1920s with prohibition in force, Diamond obtained liquor which was dumped overboard in partially full barrels, which floated onto Long Island as ships entered New York. He paid the children a nickel for every barrel they brought to his trucks. Diamond went to work overseeing bootleg alcohol sales in downtown Manhattan. That brought him into conflict with Dutch Schultz, who wanted to move beyond his base in Harlem. He also ran into trouble with other gangs in the city.

Diamond was a prolific womanizer; his best known mistress was showgirl and dancer Marion "Kiki" Roberts.

Kiki Roberts circa 1930s.

Diamond leaves court a free man on Dec. 17, 1931. He would be dead hours later.
The public loved Diamond; he became New York's biggest celebrity. In 1930, Diamond was charged for the kidnapping and torture of a truck driver, but he was acquitted.

In early 1931, Schultz's gunmen fired on Diamond with machine guns, killing two bystanders in the process. Diamond once again escaped unscathed.
On December 18, 1931, Diamond's enemies finally caught up with him. Diamond had been staying in a rooming house in Albany, New York. At 1:00 a.m., Diamond went to visit Marion "Kiki" Roberts. At 4:30 a.m., Diamond went back to the rooming house and passed out on his bed.

Two gunmen entered his room an hour later. One man held down Diamond while the other shot him three times in the back of the head.