Handsome Johnny

If you’ve been waiting for a fascinating mob saga, an erotic Hollywood expose, or a political thriller to occupy your reading pleasure, the good news is that you’ll only need one book, Handsome Johnny: The Life and Death of Johnny Rosselli: Gentleman Gangster, Hollywood Producer, CIA Assassin by New York Times Bestselling Author, Lee Server.


(Server’s previous biographical home runs include Robert Mitchum: Baby, I Don’t Care and Ava Gardner: Love is Nothing.)

Tracking down the actual name, origin, and early years of Johnny Rosselli, as well as following his rise through the ranks of the Capone organization, and becoming a fixer to Hollywood gold mines occupied hours of valuable G-Men time as well as several years of author Server’s detective skills interviewing eyewitnesses to the Italian opera which evolved into his latest publication.

Collaboration between “lawmakers and lawbreakers” made for strange bedfellows, and Handsome Johnny takes us behind all the bedroom doors, backrooms filled with cigar smoke, and even to the crooked cardgames in the Friar’s Club in Beverly Hills.

Harry Cohn, Jimmy “The Weasel” Fratianno, Fidel Castro, Howard Hughes, Harry Karl, Sam Giancana, The Kennedys, Frank Sinatra—name a player in Hollywood, Chicago, New York, D. C., Miami, or Cuba and he might be mentioned in this book. As for the women in this book, some are treated well, some are treated swell, and some are not so lucky. Oh, did I mentioned Lucky? Luciano, that is. He makes a few appearances, too.

Assassination theories, covert operations, CIA and FBI involvement, crossed swords of government agencies, and more untaxed cash than you can shake a Federal Reserve at. Ancestry DNA might mark this book with a family crest of a “crossed dagger and gun,” a “pinprick of blood,” and a Sicilian oath.

Publication of Server’s last book occurred in 2006, and the years justified the wait for Handsome Johnny. How long will fans have to wait for the Netflix or HBO Series? It’ll run longer than The Sopranos!

What’s already been written…

Praise for Handsome Johnny:
“No one knew more about the mob, Hollywood and Las Vegas than Johnny Rosselli, and Lee Server got it all in Handsome Johnny.” ―Nicholas Pileggi, author/screenwriter of Goodfellas and Casino

“No one slices and dices true tales like Lee Server. In Handsome Johnny, he cracks the vault of time to reveal long-buried secrets. Maybe even this country’s biggest secret…Fast-paced, insightful, bold, witty, and masterfully told.” ―James Gladstone, Executive V.P. Lionsgate Entertainment and author of The Man Who Seduced Hollywood

“The incredible life of Handsome Johnny, a gangster worthy of the movies….Server’s biography not only provides a window into Rosselli’s life but also contextualizes a time when Hollywood, politics and organized crime were inextricably linked.” ―The Washington Post

“Written in the snappy style of a hardboiled detective novel…an in-depth history of the growth, development and eventual decline of organized crime in America.” ―The Economist

Based upon years of research, written with compelling style and vivid detail, HANDSOME JOHNNY is a rich rollercoaster of a biography.” ―TCM.com Movie News

“Server employs evocative phrasing to luridly examine the shady underbelly of movies, moguls, and politics from the 1930s through the ’60s, all through the prism of the charming Rosselli. Filled with crackerjack writing and Damon Runyonesque characters, this entertaining page-turner is a rich look at one of organized crime’s most intriguing characters.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A definitive rags-to-riches biography… Paced like a fine piece of fiction, this is a handsomely written chronicle of an interesting mob character.” ―Kirkus Reviews

Author Lee Server has done his homework on Handsome Johnny and no stone is left un-turned. It’s a fascinating look the mob, it’s influence, it’s muscle and some of the biggest names of the day that were involved with the Mafia whether they wanted to be or not. One thing for sure is Johnny Rosselli didn’t lead a boring life.” ―Red Carpet Crash 

Lee Server does a bang-up job with this guy, not allowing endless detail to overwhelm the reader. I enjoyed the thrill ride from front cover to ending.” ―Stuff I Like blog

If the Mob history is your genre, then add this to the shelves of your library.” ―Melisende’s Library blog 

Hank & Jim by Scott Eyman is…… Sleek & Slim*

Hank & Jim is an enthralling double biography by Scott Eyman, author of John Wayne: The Life and Legend, and co-author with actor Robert Wagner on three books, the latest which is I Loved Her In The Movies. Eyman has crafted an entertaining history of unlikely friends who were brought together by the theatre and who further cemented their camaraderie while exploring their expertise as film actors. While Stewart was laid back in his approach to acting and life, Fonda fought to avoid being laid bare and revealing his innermost emotions.

Agent turned producer Leland Hayward, Life photographer John Swope (husband of Fonda protégé Dorothy McGuire), and director Josh Logan all became close friends of Hank & Jim during their salad days in the University Players, “a bunch of stagestruck kids from the Ivy League and Seven Sisters.” Stewart’s and Fonda’s eventual gravitation to Hollywood led them to careers they never envisioned and their existences before World War II in California, like their pre-war films, had galvanized an established profession for both of them. When Stewart and Fonda returned home after the war, each had been deeply affected personally and professionally. Eyman successfully chronicles their twin journeys through the vagaries of Hollywood and the studio system, their personal lives, and professional successes and failures with an even-handed approach to fleshing out the demons and delights of both actor’s experiences.

Exploring the details of such a high profile closeness of two popular figures while meshing details and interviews reveals the author’s adept planning and execution of such an in-depth study. Eyman’s outline for his double biography might have taken a page from the latest October Psychology Today article entitled, “7 Traits of True Friendship” as he explores all aspects of successful friendship and applies the strictures to Fonda and Stewart. Empathy, selflessness, trustworthiness, interest-sharing, differing perspectives, humorousness, and being a team player illuminate all aspects of Hank &  Jim. They worked on hobbies together, they both loved gardening and talking about gardening, they socialized together, and they both had penchants for elaborate practical jokes. Even though Stewart was a Republican, and Fonda a liberal Democrat, the two loners both agreed to disagree and not explore politics in polite or formal conversation.

Actress Margaret Sullavan…

One of the most interesting aspects of Hank &  Jim is the specter of actress Margaret Sullavan who married Fonda, then Hayward, but also captured the hearts of Stewart and Swope. Her allure seems to light up passages of the book like her spirit must have engaged the men who adored her.

The Thursday Night Beer Club…

With comments from Kelly Stewart Harcourt, Jane Fonda, Brooke Hayward, Peter Fonda, Mark Swope, Burgess Meredith and other insiders, the lively times and loving bond between Hank & Jim make it worth a couple of lazy afternoons. Enjoying a lovely sunset after reading the last page of any good book would be something Hank and Jim would relish.

*Hank & Jim: Sleek & Slim- The writing is smooth and inviting, but the stories are so fascinating, readers will just want more. Plus, they sound perfect for their nicknames, like comments Barbara Stanwyck might have made…

Resources for more reading…

The Retro Set-
More about the Fonda/Stewart buddyship : http://theretroset.com/5-ways-the-jimmy-stewart-henry-fonda-bromance-will-ruin-your-life/

Psychology Today-7 Traits of True Friendship: http://theretroset.com/5-ways-the-jimmy-stewart-henry-fonda-bromance-will-ruin-your-life/

“Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda’s friendship”: A valuable lesson for a divided nation:  http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/07/01/jimmy-stewart-and-henry-fondas-friendship-valuable-lesson-for-divided-nation.html

Leonard Maltin reviews Hank & Jim: http://leonardmaltin.com/close-up-on-henry-fonda-and-james-stewart/

Where to purchase this book: https://www.amazon.com/Hank-Jim-Fifty-Year-Friendship-Stewart/dp/1501102176