Saturday, May 26, 2007

And Another

My Father Was a Gangster: The Jim Vaus Story is a powerful reminder of how God reaches into the lives of the most unlikely people, redeems them from a destructive way of life and makes them powerful instruments of His Gospel in ministry. It is refreshing to see the story told again by Will Vaus, Jim’s son.

I remember well the first biography and the subsequent movie, The Wiretapper. As it touched my life then, so I trust this story will touch many lives today.

John Guest
Senior Pastor
Christ Church at Grove Farm
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Monday, May 21, 2007

Another Endorsement

Here is a new endorsement of the book which I just received today. . . .

"My Father Was a Gangster: The Jim Vaus Story is an intriguing narrative of one of the most colorful, most complex and most fascinating characters of recent times. Written by his son, Will, the book illustrates vividly how the transforming power of faith in Christ can dramatically change the life of the most seasoned criminal. The reader will find it difficult to put the book down."

Armand M. Nicholi, Jr. M. D.
Professor of Psychiatry
Harvard Medical School
Author of The Question of God

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Destroying Evidence?

My mother just sent me the above-pictured newspaper article. It is taken from the Los Angeles Mirror (May 6, 1949). The caption under the photo reads:

Apparent attempt to destroy evidence.

This was just one of many times my father, Jim Vaus, appeared in the newspapers in connection with his boss, Mickey Cohen. The apparent attempt to destroy evidence was actually faked by my father. The reason: Cohen was trying to frame a police officer by the name of E. V. Jackson, who was causing his "pal", Harry Meltzer, trouble. The outcome of this whole mess was an interesting one. The rest of the story will be told . . . you guessed it . . . in my forthcoming book!

Saturday, May 12, 2007


I often come across interesting memorabilia related to my father, Jim Vaus, on the Internet. I think the poster above was recently being auctioned on e-bay. It is an advertisement for a speaking engagement in Chicago on July 27, 1952--immediately following the Republican and Democratic National Conventions that same year, also in Chicago. In light of the relatively placid time in America's history ushered in with the election of Eisenhower in 1952, the question posed by the poster: "Are we electing our last president?" seems rather ironic.

But this poster reminded me once again of the amazing power of God which led my father from criminal pardon by a president (Truman) to speaking about Christ at the Chicago Convention Campaign to over 10,000 people in just a matter of a few years. Of course there will be more of an explanation of how that happened in my forthcoming book. . . .

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Mickey As I Knew Him

Here is a photo (by Russ Busby) of Mickey Cohen as I knew him in the early 1970's along with my mother. As you can tell from the photo, Mickey always wore very traditional suits. One funny incident took place the day Mickey joined us on our boat, along with actress Lita Baron. Ms. Baron had talked Mickey into wearing white (something he never did) since she thought it would be appropriate for a day out on the Pacific Ocean. Mickey's all-white outfit included new white shoes. While Mickey was on the boat he kicked his shoes off, his feet swelled, and so he couldn't get the shoes back on. Mickey, being somewhat disabled at that time in his life, had to be lifted up and carried off our boat!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Flamboyant Five-Five Fireplug

Mickey Cohen ran a Hollywood haberdashery as his front business, and he looked like it. At one time Cohen had 200 suits, each tailor-made at $300 a piece. But the haberdashery was just a front for Mickey's real business--a bookmaking enterprise he inherited from Bugsey Siegel. And that inheritance did not come without a fight. Siegel's death led to what was known as the Battle of Sunset Strip. And that is where my father came into the picture. But to learn more about that you will have to wait for the book to come out. . . .

Friday, May 4, 2007

The Hat

My father worked for the infamous Hollywood gangster, Mickey Cohen, during the late 1940's. Despite the fact that my father quit organized crime in 1949 he and Cohen remained friends. Thus it was that when Cohen got out of jail in 1972 I got to meet him and spend time with him on a number of occasions. Cohen was the epitomy of respectability around women and children. In fact, he gave me a signed photograph addressed to "my little buddy Billy". And around the same time, he gave me the hat pictured above. Mickey had it made especially for me by Joy Lord Hatter of New York, with my name inscribed. Perhaps in a future blog I'll share a photo of Mickey in his own famed fedora.