by Jon Blackwell

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Longie Zwillman

Once there was a poor Jewish boy from the slums of Newark who rose to become a powerful and wealthy gangster. Politicians sought his counsel, a glamorous movie star fell for him, and the Italians who ran the national crime syndicate made him a member of the club. It’s enough to make you believe in the American dream.

Abner Zwillman was the name of this striver, but friends called him “Longie.” The nickname hinted at the physical toughness behind his success. At six-foot-two, he was known in his neighborhood as der langer, the tall one. The swarthy, wiry bruiser could always be called upon to combat teenaged Irish bulllies whenever they hassled Jewish street peddlers. …

His immculately cut suits, slick hair and rugged good looks were popular with the ladies. For a time, he dated Jean Harlow, and reportedly he impressed his wiseguy buddies by keeping a strand of her hair in his wallet. It came from a part of her body that was not her head and offered proof that she was no natural blond.