Bugs Moran

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Bugs Moran
Born Adelard Cunin
(1893-08-21)August 21, 1893
St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
Died February 25, 1957(1957-02-25) (aged 63)
Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas, U.S.A.
Other names George Moran; Adelard Cunin (Birth Name); George Clarence Moran (Full Name); George Gage; George Morrissey
Occupation Gangster, bootlegger
Allegiance North Side Gang

Adelard Cunin (August 21, 1893 – February 25, 1957), better known as George 'Bugs' Moran, was a Chicago Prohibition-era gangster. He was incarcerated three times before turning 21. On February 14, 1929, in an event that has become known as the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, seven members of his gang were gunned down in a warehouse, supposedly on the orders of Moran's rival Al Capone.

Early life and career

Moran was born Adelard Cunin to Jules and Marie Diana Gobeil Cunin, French Canadian immigrants, in St. Paul, Minnesota. While attending Creighton, a private school, he joined a local juvenile gang. Moran left school at the age of 18 and was later caught robbing a store. He was then sent to the state juvenile correctional facility. Moran escaped and fled to Chicago where he was later caught trying to rob a warehouse, taking part in a horse-stealing ring, taking part in robbery involving the death of a police officer, and robbing a freight car for which he received a variety of prison and jail term sentences. He married twice during his career as a gangster, divorcing his first wife who was not comfortable with his life style. Moran joined a gang in Chicago led by Charles “the Ox” Reiser with other prominent members including Dean O'Banion, Hymie Weiss, and Vincent Drucci; all of whom became well known members.[1]


Prohibition was established in 1920 with the enactment of the 18th Amendment, which banned the distribution of alcoholic beverages. Subsequently, criminal enterprises sprang up to smuggle liquor. They imported it, manufactured it, stole it and sold it as a scarce commodity for great profit. The popularity of alcohol and lack of legal competition ensured an endless supply of customers. This smuggling of alcohol was called bootlegging. Soon, the criminals and gangsters were enjoying profits beyond anything the basic rackets had ever provided. Among them were Dean O'Banion and his group of mostly Irish thugs, including Bugs Moran, who became known as the North Side Gang. Al Capone succeeded Johnny Torrio as the leader of the Italian mob on the South Side. These two rivals fought violently resulting in what is known as, “The Bootleg Battle of the Marne.” [2]

Battling Al Capone

The bootlegging operation of Earl Weiss and Bugs Moran continued to pose a significant challenge to Capone's South Side Gang. Moran and Capone then led a turf war with each other that cost them both. Moran's hatred of Capone was apparent even to the public. Moran was disgusted that Capone engaged in prostitution. He would not increase profits himself by engaging in prostitution rings due to his Catholic religion. Torrio’s gang killed Dean O’Banion and in an attempt to avenge him, Bugs Moran and Earl “Hymie” Weiss made an attempt on Torrios’ life. They went on to make a failed attempt on Al Capone’s life at his headquarters the Hawthorne Inn in Cicero, Illinois. More than one thousand shots were fired at the inn and at a nearby restaurant in their attempts to kill Capone.[3] In retaliation Weiss’s life was taken by Al Capone’s gang and Bugs Moran became head man of the North Side Gang. Responding to Weiss’s death, Moran tried to kill a member of Capone’s gang resulting in an attack, allegedly from Capone, known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.[4]

St. Valentine's Day Massacre

On February 14, 1929, Capone tried to strike a decisive blow against Moran with the notorious Saint Valentine's Day massacre. On February 13, 1929, a tempting phone call to Moran told him that a truckload of whisky had just arrived from Detroit and he could have it at a bargain price. He ordered the whiskey to be delivered at 10:30 the next morning at the garage of the S.M.C. Cartage Company on North Clark Street, where he kept his bootlegging trucks.[5] Two gunmen dressed as police, and two others in plain clothes, lined up seven of Moran’s people against the wall in the warehouse and slaughtered them. However, the main target of the "hit", Moran, narrowly eluded death. Moran spotted the “police car” outside the warehouse and, believing a raid was in progress, doubled back to a coffee shop with his bodyguards. Another North Sider, Al Weinshank, was misidentified as Moran by one of Capone's lookouts who signaled for the attack to begin. The men were lined up against the wall and shot repeatedly. Responders were late to the scene due to the lack of reporting by neighbors who thought that whatever had occurred had been taken care of when they saw the two “police officers” exit the area from which the gunshots were heard. Six of the men were killed and another was near death when police officers arrived on the scene. The 7th man, Frank Gusenberg, was taken to a hospital where he refused to identify his killers following the gangster’s code of silence and later died. When Moran saw the carnage, he broke the gangster code accusing Capone of the murders. No one was convicted of the crime and Capone denied all involvement in regards to the massacre.[6]

After Prohibition

Moran managed to keep control of his territory and what remained of his gang through the end of Prohibition and through the early 1930s. The North Side gang never fully recovered to its full power and Moran eventually left the area and the gang. After losing power he reverted to his earlier life and resumed committing common crimes like mail fraud and robbery. On April 30, 1939, Moran was convicted of conspiracy to make and cash $62,000 worth of American Express checks. Freed on appeal when he posted a bond, he fled but was captured and not released until December 21, 1943.[7] Moran was later arrested for robbery in 1945 getting a sentence of 20 years after being found guilty. After being released from his twenty-year sentence in Ohio State Prison he was tried for robbery once again and found guilty in 1957. By the 1940s, only 17 years after being one of the richest gangsters in Chicago, Moran was almost penniless.

Death in prison

After being tried for robbery in 1957, he was found guilty and sentenced to five years. Moran died one month later of lung cancer at Leavenworth Prison in Kansas on February 25, 1957. He was 63 years of age at the time of his death.[8]

In popular culture

Date Title Country Notes IMDB
1958 Playhouse 90 Seven Against the Wall USA Portrayed by Dennis Patrick [1]
1959 Al Capone USA Portrayed by Murvyn Vye [2]
1959 The UntouchablesThe George "Bugs" Moran Story, Arsenal, The Eddie O'Gara Story, and Doublecross USA Portrayed by Lloyd Nolan, Robert J. Wilke, and Harry Morgan [3]
1967 The St. Valentine's Day Massacre USA Portrayed by Ralph Meeker [4]
1975 Capone USA Portrayed by Robert Phillips [5]
1987 The Verne Miller Story USA Portrayed by Sean Moran [6]
1993 The UntouchablesPilot (Parts 1 and 2), Chinatown USA Portrayed by Jack Thibeau [7]
2000 Early EditionEverybody Goes to Rick's USA Portrayed by Kevin Fry [8]


  1. Salem Press. American Villains. Pasadena, Calif: Salem Press, 2008), 386-387
  2. FEB 14 1929: The St Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago. History Today 59, no. 2 (February 2009), p. 10.
  3. Salem, Press, p.388
  4. Ibid, p.388
  5. FEB 14 1929
  6. Boyle, William. "Valentine's Day Massacre." Salem Press Encyclopedia (January 2015)
  7. Salem, Press, p. 388
  8. n.d. "Moran, George." Britannica Online Britannica Online

Boyle, William. "Valentine's Day Massacre." Salem Press EncyclopediaResearch Starters. Accessed March 22, 2015. EBSCOhost

Britannica Online. "Moran, George." Britannica Online (n.d.) Accessed March 22, 2015.EBSCOhost.

George "Bugs" Moran, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing left. 1957. New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection, whereabouts unknown. Accessed 22 Mar. 2015. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/95511458/

George "Bug" Moran, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front. 1930. Library of Congress, whereabouts unknown. Accessed 22 Mar. 2015. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/93511625/

"FEB 14 1929: The St Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago." History Today 59, no. 2 (February 2009): 10. Corporate ResourceNet, Accessed March 23, 2015. EBSCOhost. Salem Press. American Villains. Pasadena, Calif: Salem Press, 2008. 386-389. Accessed March 22, 2015. EBSCOhost.

External links

Preceded by
Vincent Drucci
North Side Gang Boss
Succeeded by