From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
A gun moll is a female companion of male professional criminal, and in some contexts the term more specifically suggests that the gun moll handles a firearm. Dead Air, the novel by Iain Banks explores the notion of falling in love with the gangster's wife and the danger it involves. Bonnie Parker and Blanche Barrow were gun molls in this stronger sense, and especially notable examples in general, because of their accompanying the rest of the Barrow Gang to the planned locations of violent crimes, and in Parker's case, apparently directly assisting at least to the extent of loading guns in the midst of shootouts.
When the term came into usage in the first decade of the 20th century, "gun" was not derived from the firearm, but from the Yiddish word meaning "thief," variously transliterated into English as ganef, gonif, goniff, or ganof, itself derived from Hebrew "Ganav" (גנב). However, this distinction gradually disappeared, especially when such women became especially associated with gangsters noted for their frequent use of guns. "Moll" derives from Molly, a diminutive of Mary, used as a euphemism for whore or prostitute and attested at least since 17th century England.
In the U.S., the term has mostly been applied a woman associating with an American gangster of the 1920s and '30s, and in most cases remarkable only because of his notoriety. Extended use of the term without awareness of the Yiddish root, however, has invited interpretations of "gun" as suggesting more than simply criminal associations. Bonnie Parker and Blanche Barrow were gun molls in this stronger sense, and especially notable examples in general, because of their accompanying the rest of the Barrow Gang to the planned locations of violent crimes, and in Parker's case, apparently directly assisting at least to the extent of loading guns in the midst of shootouts.
Prominent Gun molls
- Beulah Baird - Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd
- DaLonne "Dee David" Chisam (later Cooper)(b. 30 Apr 1923, d. 12 Nov 1976) - Frank Niccoli (b. 1910, d. Sept., 1949?), Mickey Cohen and Fred (Alfred) Sica (b. 11 Sep 1915, d. 1987)
- Jean Delaney - Tommy Carroll
- Evelyn "Billie" Frechette - John Dillinger
- Mary Kinder - Harry Pierpont
- Kathryn Thorne - George "Machine Gun" Kelly Barnes
- Opal "Mack Truck" Long - Russell Clark
- Bonnie Parker - Clyde Barrow
- Helen Wawzynak - Lester Joseph Gillis, aka George "Baby Face" Nelson
- Virginia Hill - Bugsy Siegel
- Judith Exner - Sam Giancana
- Italian and Italian American gangsters and mafioso often refer to their mistress as a comare, often Americanized to goomah, goomar, or gomatta.
- gunman - a man who uses a gun to commit a crime
- gunsel - a derogatory name for a criminal carrying a gun; from the Yiddish gendzel, "little goose", thought to be a slang term for a neophyte criminal.
- moll - common term for whore or prostitute, and also the nickname of a 17th century criminal Moll Cutpurse
In popular culture
- The Lady in Red (1979)
- Ruby (1977)
- Jigsaw (1949)
- Gang Smashers (1938)
- The Cocaine Fiends (1935)
- Outside the Law (1920)