The Nation: Our Friend Joey Gallo

In his final months of life, Mobster Joey Gallo developed an unusual friendship with Actor Jerry Orbach and his wife, Writer Maria Curro. Orbach had played a role patterned in part after Gallo's life in the movie version of Jimmy Breslin's The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. Out of the blue, the Orbachs got a call from Gallo, who wanted to meet his screen counterpart. The three saw each other almost daily after that. The Orbachs told TIME correspondent James Willwerth how they felt about Gallo. It is a picture that his rivals—and victims—would scarcely have believed.

JOEY had an intense sense...

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