On the subject of who Hollywood should be looking into making a biopic about, Mother Mandelbaum is another charmer that might fit the bill. This is a woman that had nothing when she came to America, which would be a pretty typical story really if you look at a lot of the tales that have made it to film. But upon joining up with her husband in America, Mandelbaum was a peddler that made perhaps $6 a week if she was lucky. Her and her husband had to share a space with upwards of ten to fifteen people that was barely enough for one. It was in 1857 when Mandelbaum finally started to realize the depth of her own business savvy and took advantage of what she could do. The banks were closing, people had lost their homes, and children were roaming the streets trying to do anything to survive. Into this madness came Mother Mandelbaum, who quickly learned that in order to change the fortunes of her family and herself she had to first organize these wayward children into a little known entity that would be answerable only to her and would do whatever she told them to do. It didn’t take much convincing obviously since in 1865 she and her husband signed a two-year lease on a building that would act as a front to her rising criminal organization.
Her husband Wolf was pretty much a nonentity, meaning that he didn’t have much to do with her business either by choice or because she didn’t want him in the thick of it. Mandelbaum seemed to have everything under control and didn’t need the extra help. When he died in 1875 she became even more involved in the surrounding neighborhood and her connections only increased. She was known to be one of the first real organized crime bosses in New York, though no doubt since she’s a woman she likely didn’t get much credit. Her hands were never sullied with the acts of which her people were responsible, though she took the credit for their skills and for the heists that were undertaken. Within her empire she had an entire host of specialists, from jewelers to lawyers to the common pickpockets that started out learning from her to become something greater.
Mandelbaum essentially educated her people on how to be better thieves, and would not give money to any thief that had been caught on the grounds that their spouse needed to find a way to be productive and earn for her family. Mandelbaum didn’t much care for the role of the housewife as she thought it was a bit of a waste of any woman’s life. When taking on a story like this one you simply know that they’d have to show Mandelbaum as a hardworking, difficult woman that didn’t care much for others but saw the advantage of nurturing them as it was needed. Think almost like Dolores Claiborne mixed with a calmer version of Madame LaLaurie from American Horror Story. Yes, Kathy Bates would be a perfect match for this character.