(Joseph Valachi (center) - Before him, the Mafia was a rumor)
Hard to imagine that before the Valachi Hearings grabbed the headlines and the attention of most Americans in 1962, the Mafia was something of a rumor as far as hard evidence of organized crime was concerned.
But once the investigations started and Joseph Valachi's revelations came to light, it was as if the floodgates of life in the Underworld came pouring out for all to see. The hearings, chaired by Senator John McClellan (D-Arkansas) and guided by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy went on for weeks and were televised by all the networks. People were fascinated by it and couldn't get enough of the daily goings on.
McClellan: “The existence of such a criminal organization known as Cosa Nostra is frightening. This organization attempts to be a form of government unto itself and outside of the law. This tightly knit association of professional criminals demands and gets complete dedication and unquestioned obedience of its members to orders instructions and commands from the ruling authority or boss . . or bosses thereof. Family, religion and country are all secondary and require to be subservient to the interests of this vicious criminal syndicate.”
It was the stuff of books, TV shows and movies - and its never let up.