The Luncheon Society-LA/Tere Tereba on “Mickey Cohen: The Life”/Napa Valley Grille/1.26.13


It is always great to support a member of The Luncheon Society when they have a book that comes out to well-deserved acclaim.  Such was the case of Tere Tereba, who we first met several years ago at a TLS gathering in Santa Monica at Mimi’s—a restaurant that is long-missed for its bungalow style rooms as wonderful owner—where she was the longtime companion of Jerry Leiber, of Leiber and Stoller.

Tere TerebaFor us, Mickey Cohen is still one of the great mysteries of the underworld and films of the days focused on the five families of New York and often turned a blind eye to what was going on in their own backyards—for good reason.  Unlike the fictional version portrayed by Sean Penn in Gangster Squad, the real Mickey Cohen was a far more complex figure, who operated and socialized on many levels.

Her book jacket synopsis gives you a good background of what her book is all about.

“Mickey Cohen: The Life and Times of LA’s Notorious Mobster” is a seductive, premium octane blend of true crime and Hollywood lore that spins around a wildly eccentric mob boss.  When Bugsy Segal was executed, ruthless Mickey Cohen a former pro boxer and cunning provocateur, took over the criminal activity in LA, a move sanctioned by Meyer Lansky and frank Costello.  Attaining immense power and dominance from the late 1940’s until the 1976, the semi-literate Angelino became an above –the-fold-newspaper name, accumulating 1,000 front pages in Los Angeles papers alone, and hundreds of articles in national and international periodicals.

In Tereba’s book the reader will learn the real story behind the fictional Mickey Cohen, who is now a character in the L.A. Noire video game, and will again appear in a fictionalized context, as portrayed by Sean Penn in the film Gangster Squad.

Filled with provocative revelations and iconic players, among the 20th century legends appearing are RFK, President Richard Nixon, Rev. Billy Graham, Shirley Temple, Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner and her lover Johnny Stompanato (the Cohen associate who turned up dead in the film goddess’s bedroom) and Frank Sinatra — as well as gangland powers, Hollywood moguls, socialites, hoods, sports figures, politicians, police, party girls and pimps. L.A. author JAMES ELLROY has rightly called Mickey Cohen, “The greatest gangster…EVER!”

A non-fiction work set in Los Angeles, Tereba reveals the complete history of the L.A. underworld – definitively seen for the first time– taking the reader into dark, uncharted territory. A seductive, premium octane blend of biography, true crime and Hollywood lore, with unprecedented research and more than 75 rare photos and documents, Mickey Cohen covers a half century of history, from the early days of the film business into the late 1970s.”

As James Ellroy wrote, “This is a slashing good book—a razor sharp bio of malevolent macher ‘Mickey the C,’ the confounding kingpin of LA Crime.  This book will hang you out to dry.”

Tere Tereba is the author Mickey Cohen: The Life and Crimes of L.A.’s Notorious Mobster. Working on a large palette, the book covers a swipe of history from the early days of the film business into the late 1970s. Revealing the complete story of the LA underworld from Cohen’s perspective, the book takes the reader into new, uncharted territory. As a teenager, rocker Jim Morrison’s girlfriend, Pamela, discovered Tere and recruited her to design for her boutique, Themis. Simultaneously, she was hired as an apprentice by Young Edwardian, then the most important junior fashion label in the country, to sketch designs in the back room. She soon appointed as designer there. Proving her mettle in the fashion industry quickly, she enjoyed early commercial success. During this period she caught the attention of Andy Warhol. While continuing her design career, she began writing for Warhol’s magazine, Interview, where she interviewed many important filmmakers. She was then cast in the black comedy, Andy Warhol’s Bad (1977), in a role expressly written for her. She never pursued an acting career and appears in just this one film. Tere set trends in her personal life with her idiosyncratic apartment which was featured in Architectural Digest, and as an early collector of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, as well as American surrealist, Joseph Cornell. She emerged from a hiatus to design for the twenty-somethings of the 21st Century. Many pop culture icons were soon seen wearing her latest designs for bebe stores.

luncheon-logo-fc7The Luncheon Society ™ is a series of private luncheons and dinners that take place in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Manhattan, and Boston. We essentially split the costs of gathering and we meet in groups of 20-25 people. Discussions center on politics, art, science, film, culture, and whatever else is on our mind. Think of us as “Adult Drop in Daycare.” We’ve been around since 1997 and we’re purposely understated. These gatherings takes place around a large table, where you interact with the main guest and conversation becomes end result. There are no rules, very little structure, and the gatherings happen when they happen. Join us when you can.

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