Hymie Weiss was a Polish-American gangster who rose to prominence during the Prohibition era as the leader of the North Side Gang. He became a formidable adversary to the infamous Al Capone and was often referred to as "the only man Capone feared."
Weiss's intelligence and cunning earned him the praise of Chicago journalist James O'Donnell Bennett, who hailed him as the smartest leader the North Side gang ever had. In this article, we will delve into Weiss's life story, exploring his background, personal traits, role as a gang leader, his eventual demise, and other notable aspects of his life.
Henryk Wojciechowski, later known as Hymie Weiss, was born in present-day Sieradz, Poland. His family immigrated to the United States when he was three years old and settled in Buffalo, New York, before moving to a predominantly Irish neighborhood in Chicago. Also Read - Margaret Murray's Biography.
As a teenager, Weiss engaged in petty crime and earned the nickname "The Perfume Burglar" after an unsuccessful burglary attempt. He formed a close friendship with Irish-American Dean O'Banion and, along with George "Bugs" Moran, they established the North Side Gang. Weiss, who later adopted the name Earl, led the gang, which controlled bootlegging and other illegal activities in northern Chicago.
Despite his Jewish-sounding nickname, Weiss was actually of Polish-Catholic heritage. He is credited with introducing the practice of the "one way ride," a planned murder where the victim is taken on a fatal trip.
North Side Gang Leader
On November 10, 1924, Dean O'Banion was killed at his flower shop. Weiss took over as leader of the North Side gang and sought revenge against the Torrio-Capone Gang and the Genna Brothers. Despite being terminally ill with cancer, Weiss fearlessly launched bold attacks on Torrio's gang.
In January 1925, they shot at Al Capone's car, injuring his associates. Weiss, Moran, and Drucci then ambushed Torrio at his home, leaving him wounded but alive. Torrio eventually handed control to Capone, leading to a city-wide gang war in Chicago. Weiss formed alliances with other gangs.
In August 1926, Weiss and Drucci survived an attack by Capone's gunmen. Weiss later orchestrated a massive shootout at Capone's hotel in September 1926.
In 1926, Weiss's brother Fred revealed that he had only seen him once in twenty years, and that was when Weiss had shot him six years prior. Weiss had a fierce reputation, warning photographers that he would kill them if they tried to take his picture.
At a party he attended, Weiss confronted a deputy U.S. Marshal with a gun, forcing him to leave. The marshal returned with backup, arrested Weiss's friend, and seized alcohol and weapons. Weiss later sued to reclaim stolen silk shirts and socks, but neither the charges against him nor his lawsuit were successful. Chicago journalist James O'Donnell Bennett praised Weiss as the most cunning leader the North Side gang had ever known.
On October 11, 1926, during the jury selection for Joe Saltis' murder trial, Hymie Weiss and four of his associates were present. They later left for their headquarters at Schofield's Flowers. As they crossed the street, gunmen hiding in a nearby rooming house opened fire, fatally wounding Weiss and Paddy Murray. William O'Brien, their attorney, was also injured.
In the chaos, Weiss's bodyguard, Sam Pellar, unintentionally shot Weiss while defending against the attackers. Two men, Jack McGurn and Sam "Golf Bag" Hunt, were believed to be involved in the shooting. Frank Nitti was credited with planning the attack.
Weiss was buried at Mount Carmel Cemetery, alongside Al Capone and Dean O'Banion. Vincent Drucci succeeded Weiss as the leader of the North Side gang.
Weiss and other mobsters from the Prohibition era inspired a lot of gangster movies in the 1930s. One famous actor, James Cagney, based his character in The Public Enemy (1931) on both Weiss and Dean O'Banion, a gangster from Chicago. In the TV series Boardwalk Empire, Weiss is portrayed by Will Janowitz in the third and fourth seasons, which aired in 2013 and 2014.
Q. Who was Hymie Weiss?
A. Hymie Weiss was a Polish-American gangster who rose to prominence during the Prohibition era as the leader of the North Side Gang.
Q. Why was Al Capone scared of Hymie?
A. Weiss was very aggressive and involved in a lot of violent criminal activities even in the short span of time and was said to be the only man that the infamous Al Capone was ever truly afraid of.
Q. Who killed Hymie Weiss?
A. Weiss's bodyguard, Sam Pellar, unintentionally shot Weiss while defending against the attackers.
Q. When did Hymie Weiss died?
A. Hymie Weiss died on 11th October 1926 (Aged 28) at Chicago because of a gunshot.
Also Read - Craig Petties Biography.