Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Victoria Moresco was born in Italy, one of eighteen children, and came to New York with her family in the 1880s, but eventually settling in Chicago in 1891. She became wife to "Big" Jim Colosimo, taught him the prostitution racket, and their stormy relationship may have been the cause of his death.
When the Moresco family arrived in Chicago, they settled at 526 Division St., around the location of Mother's Original Night Club, pictured here. At the time, the area was a majority Italian slum known as "Little Hell" for the myriad crimes that took place here. Dion O'Banion was another product of Little Hell.
After Victoria (or "Vittoria" as the newspapers sometimes called her) became an adult, she moved to the Southside and opened a small brothel in the 22nd St. Levee. In 1902, she married a fellow Italian immigrant with ambition in criminal enterprises, Big Jim Colosimo. Together, they reigned over the vice district, and Victoria was in charge of running the couple's several large mid-price brothels.
In his latter days, Big Jim fell in love with a cabaret singer from his cafe, Dale Winter. After an acrimonious divorce, he left Victoria, and she moved west to Los Angeles, where she became involved with, and eventually married, Antonio Villiano. Victoria lived in Los Angeles until her death in 1964.
At the time of Colosimo's murder in 1920, only a short time after the divorce, Victoria (or possibly Villiano or one of Victoria's brothers) were considered prime suspects, but no evidence ever surfaced against them. Colosimo's murder has never been solved, but the most likely theory is that Johnny Torrio, Colosimo's second-in-command, was unsatisfied with his boss' personal life (Torrio was a strict Roman Catholic and disapproved of divorce), and especially with the way it was distracting Colosimo from the business the two men ran. Torrio may have hired Frankie Yale or another New York-based hitman to come to Chicago to take down Colosimo, allowing Torrio to take command of the organization.