“Dapper Dan” McCarthy was one of Dean O’Banions North Side gangsters, along with other such notorious names as Hymie Weiss, “Schemer” Drucci, “Bugs” Moran, “Nails” Morton & Louis “Two Gun” Altierre.

Sometimes known as Handsome Dan McCarthy, “Dapper Dan” was mainly a “labor slugger” and union leader and an adept booze hijacker. According to the Chicago Tribune Dapper Dan & Dean O’Banion’s names regularly appeared in investigations into the “big time” booze, jewelry, and gambling crimes throughout Chicago between 1921 & 1924.

In April 1922, “Dapper Dan” McCarthy and Dean O’Banion were involved in one such beer hi-jacking. Even though they were well-established mobsters of the time, it seemed the lure and the thrill of a hi-jacking was too good to pass.

Dean O’Banion and “Dapper Dan” were having breakfast together in the Hotel Sherman cafe, when they received a tip-off from a speakeasy owner, Hymie Levin, that he overheard a truck driver say that he was delivering bonded liquor to drugstores on the West Side. Hymie Levin left while “Schemer” Drucci and an associate Harry Hartman walked in.

“Dapper Dan”, O’Banion, “Schemer” Drucci, and Hartman quickly decided that they would hi-jack the driver’s cargo, they all got into a car and followed the delivery truck. The truck came to a stop on Canal Street, and the hijacker’s car pulled alongside the truck while Drucci, O’Banion, and Hartman jumped out of the car, ordered the truck driver out by gunpoint, and told him to “get lost”.

Dean O’Banion drove the truck away while “Dapper Dan” drove the car with Drucci and Hartman. They followed O’Banion for a block to a garage used as a hideout where they left the truck and returned to the Hotel Sherman.

For their trouble, about twenty minutes work, the haul came to 225 cases of whiskey, which they sold to Samuel “Nails” Morton for $22,500, a $100 a case. It was split three ways between O’Banion, “Dapper” Dan, and Hymie Levin, the tipster. “Schemer” Drucci and Harry Hartman went along to act as muscle so didn’t take a share.

“Dapper Dan” was well connected in Chicago’s Union rackets and was once friends with “Big Tim” Murphy, another union leader. Dan McCarthy was once a co-defendant with “Big Tim”, “Frenchy” Mader, and “Con” Shea, in a murder trial for the death of police lieutenant Terrance Lyons, in which they were all acquitted.

“Big Tim” Murphy was involved with armed robberies and labor racketeering, he had firm control of the railroad, laundry, and dye workers unions.

Murphy was shot dead as he answered his door at home in June 1928, a gunman blasted him in the head, and he died instantly. His murder was never solved although there were plenty of suspects.

“Dapper Dan” McCarthy made his name as a “business agent” for Chicago’s Journeyman Plumbers’ Union, which he allegedly assumed control of the organization by killing its president Steve Kelleher at Al Tierney’s Auto Inn on 35th Street & Calumet Avenue.

In February 1923, Al Tierney’s Inn turned into what was described as a shootout between McCarthy & Kelleher, a dispute between labor officials.

Apparently “Dapper Dan” had arrived at Al Tierney’s Auto Inn with Thomas Malloy, a business agent for the Motion Picture Operators Union, and a boxing promoter Phil Collins, all three arrived at the inn accompanied by three women.

They sat at a table near the door, where they had dinner, shortly after Steve Kelleher and his wife entered, words were said between the parties, Mrs. Kelleher had a severe dislike of Dan McCarthy and she let him know that. Mrs. Kelleher then said to McCarthy “Dan you’re an ingrate”. Steve Kelleher joined his wife at the table where the argument grew worse. Al Tierney tried to intervene, however, Steve Kelleher drew his gun and warned Al Tierney to stay back, he then began firing.

McCarthy then pulled his gun and began returning fire, when the shooting stopped Kelleher was dead and a stray bullet hit a woman who was dancing in the shoulder.

“Dapper Dan” made a run for it, pushed a woman out of the way, out of Al Tierney’s, and ran down 35th Street. However, when McCarthy reached Grand Boulevarde he was stopped by Sgt. Thomas Dennis who was holding his pistol. McCarthy gave up without incident.

The murder of Kelleher was the 24th murder in connection with labor union troubles and was the culmination of “labor troubles” between different factions, where rivals would sabotage each other’s union construction jobs or attack non-union jobs with gunfire, which included the death of police lieutenant Terrance Lyons.

“Dapper Dan” McCarthy & Thomas Malloy had also been alleged to have shot a man in 1923, this time a motion picture operator, Thomas Ivers. Ivers had a “labor difference” with the union and he was found lying helpless on the street with a severe bullet wound in the neck, all he said when questioned was “Just call up Tom Malloy and Dan McCarthy and tell them Tom Ivers got it”

On 24th January 1924 Dean O’Banion, Hymie Wiess & “Dapper Dan” were indicted after being arrested at Indiana Avenue and 21st Street for hijacking a booze shipment worth $30,000, the booze hijacking took place in broad daylight at 11 am that morning.

At the time they were arrested, police had been looking for O’Banion to question him in connection to a shooting of Davy Miller a week earlier at the La Salle Theater. Davy Miller would later be questioned in connection with the murder of Dean O’Banion.

In January 1924 John Duffy sometimes known as John Dougherty, a mobster from Philadelphia who moved to Chicago and did some work for O’Banion’s Northside Gang killed his newlywed wife Maybelle Exeley Duffy.

Some reports say he smothered her, while other reports say he shot her in a drunken rage.
Duffy, who was in a panic began to reach out to people in the hopes of getting out of town, reportedly, O’Banion agreed to help Duffy and arranged to meet at The Four Deuce’s, Al Capone’s place on South Wabash Avenue. John Duffy was last seen alive at 8 PM outside the Four Deuce’s getting into a car by eyewitnesses, who said they had seen him getting into a Studebaker with two men. John Duffy’s body was found the following morning on a snowbank in Chicago.

“Dapper Dan” McCarthy and Louis “Two-Gun” Alterie both cleared themselves and removed themselves from the investigation, while fellow mobster, Julian “Potatoes” Kaufman, was believed to have been the last person seen with Duffy. Dean O’Banion was sought for a few days before being questioned.

“Dapper Dan” McCarthy was tried and acquitted in three separate murder trials, he ruled the Journeyman’s Plumber Union for a time and then moved to the West Coast, where gave his orders through his bodyguard, for a while at least.


Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) · 19 Feb 1923, Mon · Page 1
Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) · 19 Feb 1923, Mon · Page 2
Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) · 7 Mar 1924, Fri · Page 3
Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) · 9 Mar 1924, Sun · Page 4
The Daily Chronicle (De Kalb, Illinois) · 19 Feb 1923, Mon · Page 1

Owen Forsyth

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