Last month, John “No Nose” DiFronzo — a former capo of the Chicago Outfit — died from complications from Alzheimer’s. How did DiFronzo get the nickname “No Nose?” Glad you asked: Apparently, he sliced off a piece of his nose during a burglary when he jumped out the window. Which is, if nothing else, classic “No Nose” behavior.
To that end, if you’ve ever watched any movie or TV show about mobsters, you know that “No Nose” is far from the only mobster with a great nickname. We put together a list of the best, most absurd mobster nicknames — and more importantly, an explanation of how these goodfellas got them.
Name: Sam Battaglia
How He Got It: A fellow member of the Chicago Outfit, Battaglia joined Johnny Torrio and Al Capone at the age of 16, where he would become a formidable loan shark who beat the shit of debtors in the back room of the Casa Madrid restaurant in the Windy City. When a fellow mobster questioned Battaglia’s methods, he supposedly yelled back, “Shaddup, or I’ll bust ya in da teets!” From that point on, the nickname stuck.
Name: Venero Mangano
Nickname: “Benny Eggs”
How He Got It: This one is fairly straightforward: Mangano, an underboss of the Genovese crime family, got his nickname because his mom ran an egg farm. Sometimes, it’s just that obvious.
Name: Angelo Ruggiero
Nickname: “Quack Quack”
How He Got It: A member of the Gambino crime family and friend to John Gotti, Ruggiero became “Quack Quack” for two different reasons: First, because he couldn’t keep his mouth shut, and second, because he had plantar fasciitis, which caused him to waddle like a duck.
Name: Ciro Terranova
Nickname: “The Artichoke King”
How He Got It: This New York City gangster earned his nickname for purchasing artichokes in California, then selling them in New York for 30 to 40 percent profit. Terrifying!
Name: Louie Attanasio
Nickname: “Louie HaHa”
How He Got It: It may seem obvious that HaHa was so named for laughing all the time, but less obvious is the reason for all those chuckles: Apparently, Attanasio got his nickname for laughing every time a fellow mobster died. Haha!
Name: Richard Cantarella
How He Got It: Cantarella, another New York City gangster who became a capo for the Bonanno crime family, got his nickname for his jet-black hair, which was always slicked back with pomade.
Name: Philip Testa
Nickname: “The Chicken Man”
How He Got It: A Sicilian-American mobster, Testa got his nickname for the deep, pockmarked scars on his face, which stemmed from a horrible case of chickenpox.
Name: Anthony Corallo
Nickname: “Tony Ducks”
How He Got It: In a near 20-year span, New York City crime boss Corallo was arrested 12 times for myriad crimes. Remarkably, however, none of the cases ever made it to trial. After one such dismissal, Tommy Lucchese — a fellow member of the Lucchese crime family — was overheard saying, “Tony ducks again.” And with that, the name stuck.
Name: Pat Spirito
Nickname: “Pat the Cat”
How He Got It: A hitman for the Bruno Crime family in Philadelphia, Spirito got his nickname not from any association with a Dr. Seuss book, but instead because of his con-artist charm.
Name: Albert Anastasia
Nickname: “The Mad Hatter” or “Lord High Executioner”
How He Got It: The founder of what would ultimately become the Gambino crime family, Anastasia was amongst the most ruthless mobsters in American history. Thus, his infamous nicknames “the Mad Hatter,” and the far more intimidating (and less Alice-inspired) “Lord High Executioner.” I mean, would you fuck with a man who went by that?