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April 16, 2014

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Oscar Goodman goes Shecky as Mob Museum opening prompts a mob scene

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Steve Marcus

Former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, center, arrives for the grand opening of the Mob Museum in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012. Goodman also is known as a former mob attorney for representing alleged mobsters such as Meyer Lansky, Frank Rosenthal and Anthony Spilotro.

Mob Museum Preview

A exterior view of the Mob Museum in downtown Las Vegas Monday, Feb. 13, 2012. The museum, in a renovated former federal courthouse and U.S. Post Office, will have its grand opening Tuesday. The building was completed in 1933 and is listed on the Nevada and National Registers of Historic Places. It is also one of 14 sites in the nation that hosted the 1950-51 U.S. Senate Special Committees to investigate Crime in Interstate Commerce, also known as the Kefauver hearings. Launch slideshow »

More Mob Museum

Prohibition-era evidence is displayed at the Mob Museum in downtown Las Vegas Monday, Feb. 13, 2012. The museum, in a renovated former federal courthouse and U.S. Post Office, will have its grand opening Tuesday. Launch slideshow »

Mob Museum Opens

Members of the San Diego Police Museum Association participate in the grand opening of the Mob Museum in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012. Launch slideshow »
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Oscar Goodman conducts weddings at the Mob Museum on Feb. 14, 2012.

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Former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman holds up a news article with a story on The Mob Museum during the museum's grand opening in downtown Las Vegas, Tuesday February 14, 2012. Goodman is also known as a former mob attorney for representing alleged mobsters such as Meyer Lansky, Frank Rosenthal and Anthony Spilotro.

It was at Wednesday’s VIP opening of the Mob Museum that Oscar Goodman said, “I’ve got a great line!”

So you listen, because Goodman is a treasure trove of noteworthy quotes. He talked of touring the museum that day with a reporter from USA Today and being approached by a group of tourists from Europe.

A woman from Finland asked Goodman, “Are you the mayor?”

“I said, ‘No! But I’m sleeping with her!’ ” Goodman said, beaming.

This was during a party in a temporary, tented structure constructed next to the Mob Museum building. Goodman liked that line so much he repeated it a couple of more times as his wife, current Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, stood nearby and chatted up dignitaries marking the formal opening of the mob- and law enforcement-themed attraction at the old federal building in downtown Las Vegas.

That event, and Thursday’s media night, drew a crush of ardently curious visitors to the Mob Museum, which officially opened for business Tuesday (the 89th anniversary of the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre, the wall from which is on display at the three-story attraction).

One of the more intriguing contributors to the project is Frank Cullotta, onetime aide to Tony “The Ant” Spilotro. Cullotta, one of the invited guests at the VIP shindig, was a deputy to Spilotro for much of Spilotro’s career in Las Vegas. Cullotta was a member of the notorious “Hole In The Wall Gang” and briefly a client of Goodman. This was before Cullotta turned state’s witness and testified against Spilotro (another mob-connected client of Goodman) and for years was a “graduate” of the federal Witness Protection Program.

Cullotta is one of the “expert” mob figures whose video interviews are part of the Mob Museum’s walking tour. He and Goodman have long butted heads, as Cullotta has complained that the most valuable advice Goodman ever offered as legal counsel was how to properly tie a necktie, with Goodman countering that he did not tie Cullotta’s neckpiece tight enough. Fortunately, or maybe sadly, they did not meet face-to-face at the Mob Museum’s opening.

As the museum celebrated its opening (the attraction is to be featured on NBC’s “Today” show at 8 a.m. Saturday), the rival mob attraction at Tropicana is targeting a mid-March opening. That is the newly renamed Mob Attraction, formerly the Mob Experience, a technically advanced (and too often, technically snagged), stuffed-with-artifacts interactive museum that is now under the care of Tom Zaller, who has overseen “Titanic: The Artifcat Exhibition” and “Bodies … The Exhibition” at Luxor.

Zaller recently said he would be open for some sort of cross-marketing effort between the two museums — discount tickets for anyone who wanted to check out both attractions, for instance. This was an idea that was floated by Mob Experience officials in the early stages of that attraction’s development, but swiftly rejected by the Mob Museum board of directors.

But the Mob Museum’s view of this concept has not changed since it was originally broached. Ellen Knowlton, former special agent in charge of the local FBI field office and president of 300 Stewart Avenue Corp., the nonprofit governing board of the Mob Museum, said it is not entertaining such an idea.

As she said during Tuesday’s media preview of the museum: “The position of our board is still that we are not interested.”

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWithTheDish.

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