Skip to content

Andy Martin remembers the passing of a Prohibition Era gangland princess

September 29, 2007




(Chicago, September 7, 2007) Dorsey Connors died this week. She lies in state a couple of blocks from my office. And neither the Chicago Sun-Times, where Connors worked, nor the Chicago Tribune, gave tribute to the passing of a Prohibition Era gangland princess.

Chicago has always been, perhaps always will be, a mob town. Mob history is studied, and voters still support state officials who are at least “connected” and probably closely connected to organized crime. I studied organized crime in the 1960’s and helped fight the Mafia in the 1970’s. I have maintained an interest in the interstices of political power and mob power in the city.

There is even an “Untouchables” tourist bus tour. We are still fascinated by Al Capone and the Prohibition Era. And some of those outrageous events live on in today’s politicians.

Yet none of this colorful history reached the obituary pages when Dorsey Connors passed this week. Her past was forgotten, laundered, sanitized.

Rather, the Sun-Times dryly noted that Connors’ father was a “state senator and ward committeeman…for years.” Unfortunately, “Botchie” Connors was much more. Robert Montgomery, the famous actor of the 1940’s and 50’s, was sued by Botchie Connors when Montgomery called “Botchie” a “political mobster..a hoodlum masquerading as a state senator.” Time Magazine referred to Connors as the “boss of Chicago’s hony-tonk 42nd Ward…”

Connors was part of a hoary tradition in Illinois politics that sent hoodlums and crime syndicate stooges to the Illinois State Senate, House and U. S. House. These men were there to protect mob interests and, occasionally, to fatten their wallets by filing proposed laws as “fetchers.” The only way to prevent a fetcher from becoming law was to bribe the state senator or representative into withdrawing his proposed law.

Streeterville, where Dorsey Connors lived her entire life, is today one of the city’s toniest neighborhoods. But when she was born there around 1910, Streeterville was what we used to call a ”red light district,” replete with prostitution, gambling, and every other conceivable type of vice. The Prohibition Era enjoyed its fullest flowering in the Streeterville neighborhood. Botchie Connors presided over this carnival and cornucopia of corruption. Prohibition was the era and political gangland the milieu in which Dorsey Connors grew up. Botchie was her daddy, and she was daddy’s girl. What did she know? And when did she know it?

Her obituaries noted wistfully that Dorsey wanted to go to New York and star on Broadway, but dad had other ideas. He got her planted in Chicago’s media scene which, conveniently, was headquartered in his own ward. Who can deny that Botchie gave his daughter a send-off into local media stardom? Very likely he did.

Now all of this is not to say that Dorsey was a bad person. On the contrary, on the surface she appears to have led an exemplary life. She was undoubtedly very talented. But there are a lot of talented people out there, and not many of them have ward-boss-fathers who control the real estate sitting under the Tribune Towers or NBC-TV. Perhaps Botchie Connors’ stranglehold over the neighborhood was the reason the Tribune Company chose to locate its new TV station in the 1940’s far, far away from downtown. Different ward boss.

Of course, a city too polite to look into its past, and to connect the past with the present, is living in denial, especially when the current mayor’s office has proven to be a modern day center of thievery and corruption and the federal courts process a seemingly endless conveyer belt of crooked politicians.

And so, dear Dorsey, rest in peace. Botchie’s sins were not your sins. We know that. But your family history is sure a lot more interesting than it was made out to be in the obituaries that noted your passing. You were a link to Chicago’s gangland past, albeit silently and known only to the cognoscenti of Chicago corruption, and your passing deserved more than the laundered, sanitized, expurgated version that appeared in the local newspapers.
Chicago-based Internet journalist, broadcaster and media critic Andy Martin is the Executive Editor and publisher of He is a chronicler of all things Midwestern and the authentic Voice of Middle America. Copyright Andy Martin 2007. Martin covers national and international events with forty years of experience. Columns also posted at; Comments? E-mail: Media contact: (866) 706-2639


From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: