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James Colosimo
AKA: Big Jim Colosimo
February 16,1877 ----- May 12,1920
(Street sweeper, Street Inspector, Pimp, Gambling boss, Saloonkeeper, Restauranteur)

 James Colosimo had come to Chicago with nothing and lived as a simple roomer at 415 South Clark street. He started off as magician or at least claimed in his census interview that he was into magic. The actual magic he possessed was in his personality. He made friends and he made them fast. Aldermen Michael "Hinky Dink" Kenna and John "Bathhouse" Coughlin took a shine to Colosimo. Through them he became a street sweeper and eventually an official street inspector. Through this job Colosimo made money by looking the other way of infractions through bribes. Colosimo married Victoria Moresco and together they ran many profitable houses of prostitution in and around Chicago. This was so profitable that many tried to extort Colosimo via the Black Hand. Colosimo, a boxing fan had met John Torrio, a boxing promoter traveling the country. They became fast friends. Torrio had connections in New York and could take care of business. Colosimo hired Torrio to help him out with his expanding businesses, roadhouses in Burnham and Chicago.
by 1919, Prohibition was going to outlaw booze and Torrio urged Colosimo to get into the alky business. Colosimo did not want any part of the Federal heat bootlegging would bring him. He was happy with his restaurant, gambling and whorehouses. He only needed small quantities of booze for his restaurant and refused to go into the booze business. A couple of weeks before Colosimo's murder Torrio met up with Frankie Yale in New York to ask for a favor. Rub out Big Jim!

Colosimo's Saloon was opened in 1909-10 (Archer Avenue). It started out as a men's gambling beer swilling joint, then moved to 2126-28 South Wabash which was a hotel name The Harmon. December of 1913, Colosimo took charge of the vice dump and remodeled it into his refined cafe / restaurant making it become world reknowned with showgirls complete with a highly talented orchestra on a new rising stage. Many big names of the times appeared or dined here. Big Jim also opened another Colosimo's in Burnham when authorities kept closing his dive in Chicago. Big Jim Colosimo, the owner who partnered with first Mike Potson and then Jim Aducci, was constantly at the restaurant personally looking over the menu and music arrangements. It was here that Big Jim Colosimo fell in love with Dale Winters.
Big Jim had toiled hard to achieve success. It was also at this cafe where Big Jim was whacked by Frankie Yale in 1920.

The Colosimo family

Victoria Moresco, Big Jim's 1st wife.

Colosimo's Restaurant /Cabaret /cafe
2126 - 2128 South Wabash

Photo of Colosimo's 1930.

Interior of Colosimo's dining room.

Colored postcard
(courtesy of Mr. Joe Walters collection)

View of private dining area of Colosimo's this when Big Jim was still alive.

A wall painting inside Colosimo's restaurant.
(Mario Gomes collection)

Colosimo's Cafe/ Restaurant at 2126 South Wabash Avenue as it looks today.
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Joe Walters)

Colosimo's Listed in 20's Chicago telephone book.
(Mario Gomes collection)

Big Jim.

Interior of Colosimo's
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Joe Walters)

Colosimo is killed in his cafe/restaurant May 12,1920.
(Copy by the kind courtesy of Mr. Bill Smith).

The day Big Jim was shot.
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Joe Walters)

Victoria Moresco was sought after Big Jim's murder. Jealousy was first thought to have played a hand in his demise.
The accepted fact was that newly married and now soft Big Jim wanted no part in bootlegging. His associates thought otherwise, and had him exterminated.

Colosimo dead in the entrance of his restaurant.This bloody photo was taken before the doctor and police turned the body over.
(Special thanks to Author Bill Helmer)

New York's infamous Frankie Yale, probable Colosimo killer. Yale was in Chicago during the Colosimo murder, and the O'Banion murder of 1924. Yale was paid to kill but loved it so much he would have probably done the jobs for free. The possible theories of the Black hand or the love triangle between Colosimo's ex and his new flame helped deflect the guilt off of Yale. Colosimo did step on a lot of toes during his ascension to the top which led many to think Karma had come back to bite Big Jim.

The after shot once some of the blood was cleaned up and Colosimo was turned over on his back.

Next day it is highly suspected that his ex- wife had a hand in his murder.
The slaying was never solved. Frankie Yale was in town the day of the killing.
Torrio now became leader of the Southside along with his protege, one Alphonse Capone.
(Copy by the kind courtesy of Mr. Bill Smith).

Colosimo's funeral procession passes by his restaurant before reaching Oakwoods cemetary.
(Mario Gomes collection)

Inside photo.
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Joe Walters)

Big Jim Colosimo with his new bride in French Lick.
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Joe Walters )  

"Big Jim" James Colosimo
At the time of this photo the front door of vault was broken and appeared to have been vandelized. Inside some scumbags had set a fire, smashed bottles and chipped away at his crypt wall. The back window had been also broken.

His death date on marble slab is off by one year 1919 instead of 1920. It is speculated that this was done to throw off curiosity seekers. The fact may just be the family gave the wrong date to the stone mason engraver. This is probably why it was never corrected as it would have cost the family to re engrave a new one. Neglected by time and relatives, the once popular Colosimo is sadly alone in this delapidated vault.
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Bill Emblom)

Colosimo's crypt. Note the wrong date of death 1919 instead of 1920.
(Joe Walters)

Another view
(Joe Walters)

Frank Colosimo placing flowers at his brother's mausoleum. The Italian way was to seek revenge and the brothers vowed to at first but then quietened down when they figured the mob was involved.

Witnesses who had seen a man waiting around at Colosimo's before Big Jim was killed. Waiter Gabriele even went as far to face Frankie Yale, but then lost his nerve and memory.

Colosimo's then girlfriend  and future bride Dale Winters, appearing on this 1917 advertisment for Colosimo's
(Courtesy of Dr. Pete N. Nickolas)

Dale Winter Duffy (ex Mrs.Colosimo) in later years.
(Mario Gomes collection)

Colosimo's reopened for business in 1948.
(Detroit News)

Inside the reopened Colosimo's July 6,1948. Mr. Robert Klatt (manager) is standing in the background.

Colosimo's circa 1958
(Photo taken by Joseph Fay, Sun Times)

What was left of Colosimo's in 1966.
(Photo courtesy of Mr. Joe Walters)

 Royal Doulton mug circa 1910 - 1922 from Colosimo's
(Mario Gomes collection)

Spoon from Colosimo's Cafe
(Mario Gomes collection)

Colosimo Tokens

For a certain time, the coins were made of Dirigold when the craze for that material was on in Chicago for the 1933 Century of Progress fair. Belt buckles, forks, spoons, letter openers were all made of Dirigold... Colosimo's restaurant jumped on the bandwagon and had their cutlery and coins made of it too. They are not worth much because these were made after Colosimo was killed in 1920. Some people are fooled and pay hundreds for that. The items from Colosimo's that are worth money are the early silver cutlery (before 1920) with the Colosimo stamp on it and not the later 1930's Dirigold with "Stolen from stamp" etc....

Colosimo's 25 cent token. 13/16 in size
(Mario Gomes collection)

Back of token shows this one is made of Dirigold.

One dollar version of smaller coin above. 1 1/4 in size
(Mario Gomes collection)

This back of this dollar token shows it's also made of Dirigold.

Colosimo's one dollar coin. 1 1/2 inch.
Mario Gomes collection

This one is a regular non Dirigold metal.

1930's Colosimo's party favor
(Mario Gomes collection)

Close up of clicker or clacker noisemaker.
(Mario Gomes collection)

This one advertised entertainer Nils Thor Granlund that appeared at Colosimo's in the 30's and later in 1946.
(Mario Gomes collection)

Colosimo's listed in 1924 Chicago Daily News.
(Mario Gomes)

Interior of Colosimo's night club.
(Mario Gomes collection).

Colosimo's closed for prohibition violations.

Two sided ticket for two at Colosimo's (Probably from the 40's)
(Mario Gomes collection)

Big Jim opened another Colosimo's in Burnham when authorities kept closing his dive in Chicago.
Notice his love interest singing here too.

Inside Colosimo's restaurant circa 1910

Dale Winters Soprano appearing at Colosimo's

Photo courtesy of Mr. Joe Walters

Mike "The Greek "Potson  real name D. Mihail Bodoglou, gambler /bookie and part owner of Colosimo's restaurant and cafe.

Real and authentic Colosimo's matchbook.
(Mario Gomes collection)

Another authentic example of a Colosimo's matchbook
(Mario Gomes collection)

Inside view of Colosimo's
Postcard courtesy of Mr. Joe Walters

Another view.
Photo courtesy of Mr. Joe Walters

Naughty show advertisment for Colosimo's
(Courtesy of Mr. Bryan Lloyd)

Silver plated spoon with Colosimo's stamp. This silver cutlery may be from the opening time of Colosimo's. Big Jim was probably alive when this spoon was made for his restaurant.
(Mario Gomes collection)

Colosimo's stamp.
(Mario Gomes collection)

Four Silver plated dinner forks from Colosimo's
(Donated to the myalcaponemuseum through the kindness of Margaret Mary Leahy)

Made by the internatonal Silver Company that was founded in 1898. Front view of dinner forks.
(Donated to the myalcaponemuseum through the kindness of Margaret Mary Leahy)

Back view
(Donated to the myalcaponemuseum through the kindness of Margaret Mary Leahy)

Dirigold cutlery stamped with Stolen from Colosimo's. Probably made after Big Jim's demise. People read the story of Colosimo being killed after his short marriage to Dale Winter. Afterwards many made the pilgrimage to Chicago and visited Colosimo's while taking home a souvenir from the famous restaurant. These were made after patrons started to pocket the cutlery to take as a souvenir and Colosimo's owners had to constantly replace them. While they look like real gold once they are shined up.
(Mario Gomes collection)

Colosimo's dirigold spoon
(Mario Gomes collection)

Stolen from Colosimo's stamp

(Mario Gomes collection)

Above authentic items grouped in a frame.The matchbook on the right is a fake,but i included it in the set for posterity.
 (Mario Gomes collection).

Jim Colosimo's cafe novelty matchbook.

Novelty matchbook. Many of these are up on Ebay and many people unknowingly dish out hundreds for them much to the delight of sellers. Please be aware that these never existed as originals ,and were simply a novelty Item to promote a place called the Gaslight restaurant. They were around in the late 40's and were reprinted in the 60's and 70's. Their total worth in pristine condition as a novelty item is $15 dollars tops!
Al Capone would never in a million years accept that his name be put on matchbooks showing he was a manager.(Proof of employment).That would have lead him to the slammer faster, since he had paid no income tax.
Real Colosimo matchbooks are plain, with no mention of stars and employees. Ask yourself this question, Stars names that appeared there changed weekly ,so why would Colosimo's print up costly matchbooks for one event?

First Posted July 2003