clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

'50s Mobster Mickey Cohen Liked Sharp Suits, Nice Hats, Killing

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

In a special Whale Week event, Racked LA is teaming up with Eater LA and Curbed LA for an in-depth look at mid-century gangster Mickey Cohen: his (sometimes exploding) properties, the fabulous restaurants and nightclubs he frequented and his seriously sharp suits.

Gangster Mickey Cohen holds a special allure for Hollywood. The Brooklyn-born thug, who moved to LA at a young age, was a celebrity of his time, signing autographs for fans on the street and hobnobbing with stars like Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner, who he was rumored to have had a fling with. He's been immortalized in films like Bugsy (where he was played by Harvey Keitel) and recently in Gangster Squad (where he was played by Sean Penn).

His criminal activity (and his ability to dodge jail time) were legendary, as was his style. The man had a fondness for fine clothing. Said a former associate, "He liked to dress well and would spend his last twenty dollars on a hat." So enamored was he with natty tailoring that he owned a menswear boutique "filled with suits that only fit Cohen" named Michael's Exclusive Haberdashery on the Sunset Strip. Of course, it was also a front for one of his illegal operations. It's now an office building.

According to the book Mickey Cohen: The Life and Crimes of L.A.'s Notorious Mobster, Mickey's closet was a cedar-paneled walk-in that housed "dozens" of tailored suits, "hundreds" of Czech-made button-downs monogrammed with his name, "scads of suspenders," and plenty of fedoras including a couple Borsalinos imported from Italy. He was a neat freak who supposedly changed outfits multiple times a day, then gave the clothes away and his intricate AM dressing routine could take up to three hours. Rumor has it that Cohen had to put his fedora on first, his shoes last, and always had to wash his hands afterwards. He also covered his entire body in talcum powder before donning clothes.

Due to the nature of his business, most historic photos of Cohen show him en route to, at, or leaving an LA courthouse, though there are a few of the mobster at his Brentwood residence and outside of various food and drink hotspots of the time. Above, some of the legendary mafioso's best looks.
· Then and Now: 1940s Gangster Mickey Cohen's (Occasionally Exploding) Los Angeles Real Estate [Curbed]
· LA Whale Mickey Cohen Brought Crime to Dinner [Eater]
· All Whale Week Posts [Racked]