Nora Schweihs, the tough-talking mob daughter from the hit VH1 series, "Mob Wives Chicago," is headed to Elmhurst.
Well, on the show she's tough-talking, but on the phone Tuesday, she was quite amicable. And, she's quite dedicated to the cause of breast cancer. That's why she is making an appearance at a fund-raiser at Flight 112 Wine House this Saturday, Nov. 17.
"You just realize how bad cancer is, whether it's breast cancer or any kind of cancer. It's very, very trying," Schweihs said. "Both of my parents had cancer."
This will be her fifth event for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Schweihs is using her celebrity status to make a difference, now that "Mob Wives Chicago" has finished its run. The show is a raw look at the lives of five Chicago women with alleged ties to the mob. They mostly didn't like each other; fights were common.
"Yes, it was all real. I still have the scars," she said recently during a taping of the Reggie Benjamin show in Los Angeles. "It was 100 percent real."
Ironically, cast members are not mob wives, but mob daughters. Schweihs's father, Frank "The German" Schweihs, is reputed to be one of the most notorious hit men in Chicago. There is even speculation that he murdered Marilyn Monroe.
Cancer proved to be the end of the road for Frank. He died in 2008 before he could go be tried in the infamous "Family Secrets" case, which ultimately solved 18 murders. Like Frank Calabrese, the locally mob-connected son of his own "Family Secrets" father, Schweihs is trying now to put the dark cloud of the mob behind her. That's why she did the reality show, she said.
The show allowed her to "find" her deceased father. There was a funeral, and a casket, but Schweihs was never convinced her father was in that grave—until she had him exhumed on the show.
"When he passed, there were some unanswered questions about what transpired—if he was buried, what happened to him," she said Tuesday.
She finally got closure after his body was identified through dental records. Ultimately, she had him cremated.
But finding her father wasn't the only reason she did the show.
"Also, it was just all about being able to tell the truth from my side for once, instead of having the media say things that aren't true," she said. "For the first time, I was able to put everything behind me, come forward and let everybody know from my point of view what happened and what my life was like growing up in that type of lifestyle."
Schweihs said her dad was a good guy; she said she has good memories of her younger years. Unlike Calabrese, who helped send his own father to prison (after serving time himself), Schweihs will always see "The German" only as "dad."
"My dad, pretty much is a legend," she said. "He's pretty well known everywhere. And whether for good or bad, he's still my dad."
Mob Wives Chicago wrapped after 11 episodes, and Schweihs immediately dove into other ventures. She earned a master's degree in business. She signed a book deal. She even created a wine in honor of her father, a pinot noir called "The German."
"We loved wine," she said of her family. "Since I was very young, my dad owned a restaurant. I owned a restaurant when I was married, so we were heavily into upper-scale wines. That's why I chose wine and that's why we chose Flight 112 (for the fund-raiser)."
Her wine is not ready for public consumption yet, she said. It won't be out until Valentine's Day.
"I've only made 23 bottles. It took four months to get it trademarked," she said. "I'll bring a bottle, but we can't open it."
She wants the wine to be a major part of her new life.
"It will be an exquisite pinot noir. For my family, my nieces and nephews, in the long run, we'll try to get away from that 'notorious hit man' (reputation) or whatever it is people say."
The reception at Flight 112 begins at 7 p.m. and will be filmed for the Dave Perez Show on Comcast. Guests will enjoy pink cocktails, sparkling and rose wine and a selection of Flight 112's special tapas. Admission is $25; proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
"We're going to be talking about my book and my wine, and my story of moving on and leaving the past behind," Schweihs said. "I'm just ready now to go on with a new life, get heavily involved with Susan G. Komen, and just start a new life."