When he died peacefully as a retired businessman in Miami on Jan. 15, 1983, the New York Times headlined the sizeable obituary, "Meyer Lansky dead at 81; Financial Wizard of Organized Crime."
"A Jewish friend of mine loves 'The Sopranos,'" Italian American actor Joe Bologna said with a groan. "I told him, 'How'd you like to see a show called "The Goldsteins" about white-collar criminals and the biggest shyster is Izzy Goldstein?"
Bologna isn't about to play Izzy, but he is the co-author and star of a monologue he said breaks ethnic and gangster stereotypes. In "Meyer," he portrays Jewish mobster Meyer Lansky -- previously depicted in films such as "Bugsy" (1991) -- as both a ruthless thug and a pathetic alter-kacker. At the beginning of the play, the character sips Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray Soda and kvetches about Israel denying him citizenship under the Law of Return.