Jack 'Machine Gun' McGurn.
'Machine Gun' McGurn was a handsome character with an eye
for the ladies, usually blondes. He liked to dress in fine clothes, parting
his naturally curly black hair down the center, slicked back and straight.
In action, he was just as smooth, mowing down his adversaries with his
weapon of choice, the Thompson sub-machine gun.
He was born James DeMora and lead a good family life in Chicago
up until the day the Genna gang of Chicago's Little Italy murdered his
father for selling moonshine without the gangs approval. The legend goes
that the young teenage Jack McGurn soaked his hands in the blood of his
murdered father and swore revenge on his killers. Jack spent the next few
years perfecting his aim with a gun, shooting birds on overhead wires with
a small caliber rifle, and training as a boxer. He boxed as a welterweight
for a time as Battling Jack McGurn but eventually went back to his vendetta
against the Genna's and joined up with Alfonse
McGurn became one of Capone's top hit men, becoming especially
adept in the use of the latest Mob acquisition, the Tommy gun. Thus, 'Battling'
Jack McGurn became 'Machine Gun' Jack McGurn.
Jack was credited with over 25 known kills for the Capone Mob including
6 of the Genna gang and presumably those who had a hand in the killing
of his father. In each of the murdered Genna's hands was found a nickel
(5 cents), pressed there by McGurn to show his contempt of the men as "lousy
nickel and dimers".
McGurn became a prominent member of the Capone Mob, with Capone
not going anywhere without Jack close by. It was McGurn who held Albert
Anselmi, John Scalise and Hop Giunta when Capone beat and murdered the
three men for plotting against him. McGurn was also suspected of being
the principal gunner and planner of the St.
Valentines Day Massacre. Jack was arrested on suspicion of his involvement
in the Massacre but the charges against him had to be dropped when his
girlfriend, showgirl Louise Rolfe, swore that Jack had been with her at
the time of the killings. The newspapers dubbed Rolfe "The Blonde Alibi".
Her claims were later proved to be false and McGurn was charged with perjury.
Louise Rolfe was to be forced to testify against McGurn in court, but Jack
sidestepped that predicament by marrying Rolfe and, as his wife, she legally
refused to testify.
McGurn had many legitimate ventures besides his gun toting ventures
for Capone. He had part ownership in six or seven nightclubs. He spent
so much money in nightclubs, it probably worked out cheaper to own them.
At one of his clubs, The Green Mill, McGurn had contracted a rising comic
star called Joe Lewis. When Lewis' contract came up for renewal, McGurn
offered him a sweet deal including a $650 weekly raise. Lewis turned McGurn
down accepting a better offer from a rival club called The New Rendezvous
Cafe. McGurn was furious and told Lewis "You'll never live to open". Lewis
did open but eight days later, he answered a knock on his door and was
confronted by three men, two carrying pistols. The third carried a knife
and proceeded to carve up the comic's face, neck and tongue. Lewis survived
the attack but it took him ten years to learn how to talk again and climb
his way back to the top of the nightclub comedy circuit.
When Capone went to prison for income tax evasion in 1929, McGurn's
popularity began to wane. Although he was Capone's favorite, other members
of the gang were not so fond of him. He was pushed out of a number of rackets
and left with little left but his nightclub ownership. The clubs began
to fold because of the depression and his "Blonde Alibi" wife, Louise Rolfe,
dumped him too. He was finally reduced to getting by with some small narcotics
deals. Narcotics was not a racket that the Chicago Mob condoned and on
the eve of St. Valentines Day in 1936, McGurn was shot down by five men
in a bowling alley. Two of the gun men were 'friends' he had entered the
establishment with. In his right hand was left a nickel and besides the
body was left a comic valentine which read:
You've lost your job,
You've lost your dough,
Your jewels and handsome houses.
But things could be worse, you know,
At least you have your trousers.
This gave the newspapers plenty to speculate about - the nickel
could implicate the surviving members of the Genna gang and the valentine
could be a clue to the remnants of Bugs Moran's crew. More than likely,
it was the work of some members of Capone's Mob who were tired of McGurn
and wanted to leave some false leads for the police. The identities of
the hit men are not public knowledge to this day.