Lefty Rosenthal's obituary is all over the news today. He achieved national prominence in 1961 when he testified before the Senate, exercising his right to remain silent under the 5th Amendment dozens of times. Most people know him as the Ace Rothstein character played by Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese's great movie Casino.
Sports Illustrated once crowned him the greatest living expert on sports handicapping. But eventually Rosenthal was listed in Nevada's "black book" of unsavory types banned from the state's casinos because of his ties to the Mafia. He ended up in South Florida.
On Graney and the Pig's Blog there's a wonderful report including several photos.
Many of the events portrayed in the movie were %100 true. Rosenthal had a criminal background in Chicago for illegal gambling. He did come west and eventually headed a Las Vegas sportsbook. He married a Sharon Stone-like woman who took his money and died of a drug overdose and he did host a Las Vegas tv talk show. Oscar Goodman (later the mayor of Las Vegas) really was his lawyer. He also really did survive a 1982 assassination attempt by the mafia with a car bomb.
For me, the greatest thing, among many great things in this film, is the performance of Sharon Stone. A couple years earlier she hit the big time with Basic Instincts, but after seeing her in Casino, I knew she was more than just another pretty face.
But, what do you think about that old problem of stereotyping Italian-Americans. I realize Rosenthal / Rothstein is Jewish, but Joe Pesci's character and most of the others are Italian-American. Is there a problem with this? What do you think?