By John Donovan
The tabloid newspapers of 1930s America dubbed them The Irish Mafia but they preferred the title the Boys’ Club. They were members of an elite group of some of the biggest names in Hollywood, all of whom proudly declared their Irish heritage.
The core of the group comprised the legendary movie stars Jimmy Cagney and Spencer Tracy and the well-known actors, Patrick O’Brien and Frank McHugh. They were major Hollywood players – rich, famous and influential. However, the original reason the group first came together was to raise funds for a small church in Hartford.
McHugh was sent a request by the parish priest to provide his autograph and that of fellow Irish American actors Cagney, Spencer and O’Brien for a church auction.
From then on they met regularly at restaurants and clubs in Hollywood to reminisce, support each other and to work on joint projects.
Theirs is a story rooted in friendship, lifelong loyalty and the shared bond of an Irish American upbringing. The friendship of Patrick O’Brien and Spencer Tracy went back a long way.