Long before anybody (besides their parents) was paying attention to Chicago's Emanuel brothers, the city could boast of lots of other siblings who made good — or, at least, made headlines.
Chicago can claim brothers of wide-ranging accomplishments and notoriety, starting with the Daley boys — Rich, Mike, John and Bill. And the Jacksons — former congressman Jesse Jr. (he of the $43,350 Rolex), Jonathan and Yusef.
Comedians John and Jim Belushi were proud Chicagoans. And billionaire brothers J. Christopher and M. Jude Reyes run the global food and beer distributor Reyes Holdings, headquartered near O'Hare. Bobby and Dennis Hull — OK, they're Canadians — played eight seasons together for the Blackhawks.
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I point this out now because of the new book, "Brothers Emanuel: A Memoir of an American Family." The book is written by noted bioethicist and oncologist Zeke Emanuel, the elder brother of Hollywood talent super agent Ari and Chicago mayor Rahm. The book tells the story of the Emanuel family as it intertwines the lives of the three competitive overachievers who've maintained an enduring bond — which, as author and brothers expert George Howe Colt suggests, could be because each established his own niche.
In fact, there's been enough brotherly love (and discord) in Chicago to fill many more volumes:
In the music world, brothers Leonard and Phil Chess in 1950 founded Chicago's Chess Records, probably the greatest blues label ever. And Fred Holstein and younger brother Ed were key players in the folk music revival here in the '70s.
Most recently, Chicago pawn-broker brothers Wayne and Randy Cohen join the list of Chicago Brothers in the Spotlight. They're the stars of 2013 truTV's "Hardcore Pawn: Chicago," filmed at their Royal Pawn Shop, 428 S. Clark St.
Brothers in crime
But for sheer moxie and mayhem, the infamous Panczko brothers have to be at the top of any Chicago brothers list. Longtime Chicagoans will remember — from the '40s into the '90s — the exploits of Pops Panczko and his little brother, Peanuts, the city's most renowned burglars. Growing up in a big Northwest Side Polish family, Pops (real name Joseph) craved attention and he got it — by stealing and, often, getting caught.
Pops' and Peanuts' preferred crime was looting the cars of jewel salesmen. But any heist would do. A third criminal Panczko brother, Butch (Edward), was pinched for stealing a cement mixer truck and driving it down the Edens Expressway. His criminal high jinks aren't as well known as those of his brothers Pops and Peanuts, perhaps because of Butch's more conventional nickname.
As for garrulous Pops — he'd call reporters from prison just to chat — he cheerfully gave his profession as "thief," which he pronounced "teef." His pronouncements and felonious attainments frequently were chronicled by columnist Mike Royko, who grew up in the same neighborhood as the Panczkos.
On a slow day, Royko wrote in the Chicago Tribune, Pops snagged a crate of cabbage off a vegetable truck. When Royko asked him later what the plan for the cabbage was, he said, "I dunno. Maybe make some coleslaw."
Tribune reporters Edward Baumann and John O'Brien wrote a book about the legendary brothers (who rarely worked together) — titled "Polish Robbin' Hoods."
And Pops was so proud of being chronicled that he scheduled a book-signing in the suburbs — followed by a demonstration of his rare lock-picking talent.
Pops was arrested more than 200 times, and when he was paroled from prison, it often made news. He died at 85 in 2002. Butch died decades earlier of cancer.
And after two dozen plus years in the slammer (off and on), Peanuts (Paul) turned government witness, hoping for a get-out-of-jail early release to marry his fourth wife and purported true love, Doris "Dolly" Fischer, a convicted madam.
Peanuts turned government witness in a South Bend jewel heist case and snitched on his own brother, Pops.
You won't be surprised to learn that this had a chilling effect on their fraternal affection. In the '80s, Peanuts and Dolly entered the federal witness-protection program.
But that didn't stop Peanuts from picking up the phone to explain to reporter O'Brien the how-tos of breaking into a safe deposit box.
Like many brothers, Pops and Peanuts chose the same line of work but developed their careers separately.
Brothers in song
That's what Fred and Ed Holstein did. Both became accomplished folk musicians, but they too very rarely performed together. "I developed into more bluesy kind of stuff," says Ed, now 66. "He (Fred) was more of a ballad singer. It was a very natural difference. … I tended toward the stuff that was more humorous and picking style."
"That's a wonderful example of specializing," says Howe Colt, who wrote the book on brothers, 465 pages titled — "Brothers." Specialization allowed the siblings to avoid the fate of many musicians. "Rock and Roll is just littered with brothers acts that broke up," Colt says. "Maybe the Holsteins knew what they were doing."
Then there is the third brother, Alan Holstein. He's 11 years younger than Fred and seven years younger than Ed. "I'm in plastics," says Alan, 59, "Eddie calls me the black sheep of the family. I'm married. I have a house. I have a real job."
Colt says the age gap between Alan and his brothers "probably has a lot to do with" why he wound up in "a real job." (Ed teaches guitar at the Old Town School of Folk Music; Fred died in 2004 at age 61.) Even when the sibling age differences aren't huge, writes Colt, "Psychologists say that the experience of each child within a family is so distinct that each grows up in his own unique 'micro-environment'. In effect, each sibling grows up in a different family."
But when the age differences are larger, the family differences are likely more pronounced. "You don't grow up with the same culture really and the same influences that could pass down to you from your brother," says Colt.
However, for a time the three brothers did work closely together, running a music club/bar (Ed calls it their "clubhouse"), Holsteins, at 2464 N. Lincoln Ave.
When brothers do work together, says Colt, "It is often the case that they distribute the work based on talent and temperament." That's precisely what happened at Holsteins, which was open for seven years, 1981-1987. Ed booked the talent; Alan tended bar and ordered the booze; and Fred was the house act (and bartended a couple nights a week).
Ed says that Fred introduced him to music and movies — and they became Ed's two passions. "I remember Freddy bringing home some records. I'm 4, and he's 8. That's awful young!"
Would he have become a musician without his brother's influence? "That's a good question," says Ed.
As for competitiveness, Ed says, "It wasn't that pronounced."
Brothers in conflict
The pawn-broker Cohen brothers are the flip side of that. It's hard to keep track of all the fissures and fights among the five brothers who range in age from 64 (Steven) to 47 (Scott Lee).
Steven, the peacemaker, buys and sells gold and guns in Arizona. He's unique: He gets along with all the brothers. Larry, the next oldest, also lives in Arizona (he has his own gold business), and these two see each other often.
Scott Lee Cohen, the youngest, made a fortune in the pawn business that — like the others — he learned from his father. He used much of that money in a run for Illinois lieutenant governor that ended with his tearful withdrawal in 2010 after disclosures he used illegally obtained steroids, failed to pay child support and had been arrested — the charges later dropped — for allegedly holding a knife to the throat of his then-girlfriend, a prostitute.
Meanwhile, Larry says he once sued his three Chicago brothers (Scott Lee, Randy and Wayne) over his father's estate and, not surprisingly, he's estranged from them.
"At one time I was in business with my brother Wayne, and Randy was a little bit involved and we were known as 'the Cohen boys,' " Larry says. "It was really nice to hear. Unfortunately that doesn't exist anymore."
Back at the Chicago pawn shop, blustery TV reality stars Randy and Wayne trash-talk each other and the other brothers (except Steve). They talk of brutal physical fights when they were younger — not uncommon among brothers.
Colt's "Brothers" cites a 2006 study that found more than a third of the 2,000 children (ages 2 to 17) had been "hit or attacked" by a sibling in the previous year. He writes that it was commonplace in the Eisenhower and Kennedy families.
Wayne Cohen contends his father favored Larry. (Larry denies it.) And Wayne still hasn't gotten over the fact that his dad — 50 years ago — didn't deliver a purple teddy bear that he had promised him.
Randy tells the story of two of his brothers tying him to a chair in their dad's West Side pawn shop when he was a boy, putting a knife in his mouth and leaving him to try to cut himself loose.
Instead, "I cut my lip," he recalls. With all this sibling rivalry, it is not a shocker that the family has not been together since their mother died six years ago.
"We avoid each other. We argue about anything and everything," says Randy.
"The extremes are so extraordinary to me," says Colt, the expert on brotherhood. "The relationship can be so intense and goes back so far and it's all tied up with mother and father and who got what.
"I can see why Sigmund Freud's grandsons didn't talk to each other for 50 years."
Ellen Warren is a Tribune senior correspondent with three brothers (and two sisters) and two sons.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times