Ellsworth & # 39; Bumpy & # 39; Johnson, above, was known to many different monikers, including & # 39; the professor & # 39; and the & # 39; Godfather of Harlem & # 39 ;. He led the neighborhood from the 1930s to the 1960s. He died on July 7, 1968
He was a chess player, poet and philanthropist. He was a gangster, drug king, and alleged murderer.
Ellsworth & # 39; Bumpy & # 39; Johnson was the godfather of Harlem.
& # 39; He was definitely the most powerful underworld figure in Harlem from the & # 39; 30 to & & # 39; 60 & # 39 ;, Geoff Schumacher, senior content manager at the Mob Museum, told DailyMail.com. & # 39; One of the ways he did that was by … being a ruthless, dangerous criminal. He had no sympathy for his rivals. He was prepared to use extreme force … to ensure that people did not stand in his way.
& # 39; On the other hand, he was also very philanthropic. He helped poor people pay their mortgages, pay their rent. He developed this kind of Robin Hood mysticism about him. & # 39;
While Bumpy died decades ago, his legend continues to flourish. He is said to be the inspiration for Shaft and a whole series of films and roles – some fictional, others not – including the more recent American Gangster. The latest iteration is a new show on Epix, entitled, appropriate, the Godfather of Harlem.
In the show, it's 1963 and Bumpy has just been released from Alcatraz after serving many years in the notorious prison for charges. The camera rotates over the wide boulevards of the neighborhood strewn with the big cars of the time, and Harlem, like the rest of the country, is swept away by the social justice movements of the stormy decade.
The show starts when Ellsworth & # 39; Bumpy & # 39; Johnson, played by Forest Whitaker, above, in a still, from Alcatraz in 1963, is released after serving many years in the notorious prison for drug offenses. He returns to a neighborhood that has changed. An Italian mafia boss named Vincent & # 39; Chin & # 39; Gigante is muscled on his grass and now leads the lucrative heroin trade. The Italian Mafia maintains a stronghold in the neighborhood on the east side around and on Pleasant Avenue
Above, Ilfenesh Hadera, left, who plays Bumpy & # 39; s wife Mayme Johnson, and Whitaker, right, with their daughter, Margaret Johnson, played by Demi Singleton, in a still from the show, Godfather of Harlem. In fact, Mayme and Bumpy had been married for about 20 years and raised Margaret, who was actually Bumpy & # 39; s granddaughter. This is reflected in the plot of the show. Bumpy has just come out of jail and is back in Harlem where he is greeted with a welcome home party in the family's apartment
The show makes a lot of the relationship between Malcolm X and Bumpy, and they work together in a way. & # 39; That's probably too much; they probably exaggerate it there, & # 39; Geoff Schumacher, senior content director at the Mob Museum, told DailyMail.com. But they all knew them. One story goes that Bumpy offered protection to Malcolm, but he refused. Malcolm X was murdered on February 21, 1965 at the age of 39. Above left, Nigel Thatch, who plays Malcolm X and Whitaker, right as Bumpy in a still from the show, Godfather of Harlem
At his welcome home party it is clear that some things have not changed – people ask Bumpy for favors and money – and others have. An Italian mafia boss named Vincent & # 39; Chin & # 39; Gigante is muscled on his grass and now leads the lucrative heroin trade. The Italian Mafia maintains a stronghold in the neighborhood on the east side around and on Pleasant Avenue.
As his men take him to Chin's butcher shop, someone says: & Do you know what they call Negros on Pleasant Avenue? & # 39;
& # 39; What? & # 39;
& # 39; Dead. & # 39;
Bumpy makes it clear to Chin that he wants his share of everything from 110 to 160 – just like in the past & # 39; but Chin says no. And so the battle for the Harlem begins.
Heroin is central to that fight and who controls the supply. Chin has an advantage for Bumpy, but the godfather finds a way to get part of the highly profitable drug: a police caption steals it from the evidence room. Police corruption is evident during the show, with agents making hits for the crowd and making arrests disappear.
The collision injures Malcom X, which is trying to get rid of the drug that is destroying people and the community.
Above a wanted poster for Bumpy Johnson. & # 39; The only downfall for him was that he kept going to jail, & # 39; Geoff Schumacher from the Mob Museum told DailyMail.com. In 1951 & # 39; he was arrested … as a heroin circle leader, sentenced to 15 years in prison, of which he served in Alcatraz & # 39;
& # 39; If you need it, I have weapons, & # 39; says Bumpy.
& # 39; I have soldiers, & # 39; Malcolm replies.
The show makes a big part of the relationship between the two with Bumpy who refers to him as Detroit Red, which was his nickname when he was engaged in criminal activities in Harlem in the 1940s. Malcolm also runs a clinic to help addicts bypass the habit, including Bumpy & # 39; s daughter, Elise. Bumpy and his wife, Mayme Johnson, raise Elise's daughter, Margaret, as their own daughter.
Many of the characters in the show are based on real people, including the protagonists, mafia characters Frank Costello and Joe Bonanno, congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr., who represented Harlem for more than two decades from 1945, and Muhammad Ali, then fighting as Cassius Clay .
Above, Margaret, left, and Mayme Johnson, right, in their Lenox Terrace apartment in Harlem in 1967. Mayme Hatcher met Bumpy in a Harlem restaurant in 1948 and they married the same year. They were together until his death in 1968. In the book she wrote about him, Harlem Godfather: The Rap on My Husband, Ellsworth & # 39; Bumpy & # 39; Johnson, she wrote that his wife meant that I could go wherever I wanted to go. Everywhere I went, I was treated like a queen and I was regularly showered with gifts and jewelry. & # 39; She died in 2009 at the age of 94, according to the Philadelphia researcher. Margaret Johnson, who was Bumpy's granddaughter, died in 2016 at the age of 66 according to the New York Daily News
In the show, Godfather of Harlem, there is a storyline with Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali. In reality, the leader and boxer knew each other. Still fighting as Cassius Clay, he defeated Sonny Liston in February 1964 in Miami Beach. After becoming a heavyweight champion, he changed his name to Muhammad Ali the following month. The pair can be seen above in New York City in February 1964
Above, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., a pastor and civil rights leader who represented Harlem from 1945. He was defeated in the 1970 elections and died two years later on April 4, 1972 at the age of 63. He was not without scandals, which, however, are part of a new show called Godfather of Harlem. Giancarlo Esposito plays the congressman
Although Bumpy and his story contain many lions, much is unclear about the real man, starting with the year in which he was born, which was on October 31, 1905 or 1906.
Geoff Schumacher from the Mob Museum said Ellsworth Johnson was born in 1906 in Charleston, South Carolina. & # 39; In my research, I mean, nobody called him Ellsworth, & # 39; he said, adding that his wife Mayme might have.
At the age of 10, his older brother Willie was accused of killing a white man at the height of the lynch age, and out of concern for his safety, the family sent Willie to New York City, according to Schumacher.
& # 39; Bumpy, who was a hot child, you know, when he got into trouble himself, they decided to send him to New York three years later, & # 39; he said.
There are two stories about how he got his name with some pointing at the people he bumped into and others pointing at a bump on his head. Schumacher falls into the latter category because he probably had the nickname since he was a teenager.
He was a smart boy who had ambitions to become a lawyer, and according to Schumacher, Bumpy graduated from high school and went to City College, but had to drop out due to lack of money. Other sources have that he has left high school.
& # 39; But in the meantime, he had been a troublemaker for a while and was already involved with some, you know, bad people in Harlem, & # 39; said Schumacher.
One of Bumpy's first criminal assistants was William & # 39; Bub & # 39; She and Hewlett offered & # 39; protection & # 39; to companies and so-called & # 39; policy bankers & # 39 ;.
& # 39; People would pay a penny or penny, they would give the number and then the policeman selected the winning number every day, just like you would now with the lottery, and if you matched the number that you would win , & # 39; he explained. & # 39; The simplest form of gambling there is. It was extremely popular and people like now would choose songs based on superstition (s) theories. & # 39;
The number game was large in many communities, including Harlem.
The neighborhood was an integral part of the rise of the crowd in New York City: it was one of three areas where immigrants from southern Italy and Sicily felt attracted, and by 1920 there were about one million concentrated in East Harlem, Little Italy in Manhattan, and Williamsburg in Brooklyn, according to the 2005 book, Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America & Most Power Mafia Empires by Selwyn Raab, a former New York Times reporter for decades talked about the crowd.
Dutch Schultz, above in a mugshot from around 1935, was a boat-maker who made a coin during the ban that the & # 39; production, sale or transport & # 39; alcohol from the early 1920s. After the withdrawal in 1933, he turned to the very profitable street lottery in Harlem, which threatened those who ran it to give him control or part of the action. Most did that. However, when Schultz wanted to kill a prosecutor who was investigating him, the families ordered him to be hit. He did not go quiet and his murmur on his deathbed became part of Mafia tradition, Geoff Schumacher, senior content director at the Mob Museum, told DailyMail.com. He died on October 24, 1935 at the age of 34
There was someone who stood up and refused to capitulate for the Dutch Schultz and that was Stephanie St Clair, above. In the 1930s, Bumpy Johnson was her enforcer and fought against the people of Schultz in multiple firefights. Although not many details are available, it is known that St Clair could withstand Schultz and retain control of her number racket, said Schumacher from the Mob Museum. In 1936, Queenie retired and handed her number operations to Bumpy, and he began to expand his empire with drugs, prostitution, gambling, and protection rackets, Schumacher said.
In the mid-1920s, the & # 39; largest Italian gang was & # 39; based in East Harlem, led by Giuseppe & # 39; Joe & # 39; Masseria, according to the book Five Families. Lucky Luciano worked for Masseria and eventually maneuvered his way to a dominant position and at one point became the head of the Italian families in New York City. Luciano was the visionary criminal genius of the Mafia & # 39 ;, reporter Selwyn Raab wrote in his 2005 Five Families book, which organized the crowd both in New York City and nationally. Above Luciano in 1948
The crowd soon made a coin when Ban, that the & # 39; production, sale or transport & # 39; alcohol was made illegal, entered into force at the beginning of 1920
& # 39; A political and social earthquake – Prohibition – would revolutionize crime in America for these little Italian, Jewish, and Irish underworld figures. Combined with the other upheaval – the triumph of fascism in Italy – the two events would significantly change the role of the Mafia in America and transform it into the leading criminal organization of the nation, & Raab wrote.
In the mid-1920s, the & # 39; largest Italian gang based in East Harlem & # 39 ;, he wrote, & # 39; led by Giuseppe & # 39; Joe & # 39; Masseria. Two men who would become key figures in the crowd – Lucky Luciano and Frank Costello – worked for Masseria.
In 1933, when the ban was lifted and the alcohol flowed freely again, a bootlegger named Dutch Schultz, who had worked in the Bronx, turned his attention to the very profitable street lottery in Harlem. A violent gangster, he threatened the neighborhood's bankers to give him control or part of the action. Most did one or the other.
& # 39; The Jewish and Italian gangs were very powerful in New York at the time & # 39 ;, Schumacher of the Mob Museum told DailyMail.com.
But there was one person who refused to capitulate: Stephanie St Clair. Bumpy worked for St Clair when her enforcer and several gunfights with the people of Schultz followed. Although not many details are available, it is known that St Clair could withstand Schultz and retain control of her number racket, Schumacher said.
Above, Vincent & # 39; Chin & # 39; Gigante in a 1957 NYPD photo. On the order of Vito Genovese, Gigante shot but only Frank Costello. Costello refused to identify Giante, but a porter did so and he was arrested. He was eventually acquitted of the charges. In the show, Chin, which is played by Vincent D & # 39; Onofrio, and Bumpy, compete against Harlem
Schultz, however, went a step too far when he wanted to kill Thomas Dewey, a special public prosecutor hired to go after the New York Mafia. Schultz & # 39; s proposed murder of Dewey on Lucky Luciano, who was then the head of the Italian Mafia, was his death sentence.
Luciano was & # 39; the visionary criminal genius of the Mafia & # 39 ;, Raab wrote, which the crowd organized both in New York City and nationally. Five families – Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, Lucchese – emerged and dominated for decades.
The families ordered a hit on Schultz, but he didn't go quiet, and his murmur on his deathbed became part of Mafia lore, Schumacher said.
& # 39; Famous, on Schultz & # 39; s deathbed, Queenie – Stephanie St. Clair – sent him a telegram that said: & # 39; As you sow, you will reap. & # 39; She didn't feel sorry for him. He was the devil to her and she wanted nothing to do with him. & # 39;
After the unsuccessful murder attempt by Vincent & # 39; Chin & # 39; Gigante, Frank Costello told himself back from the crowd, told Geoff Schumacher, senior content director at the Mob Museum, to DailyMail.com. Costello, above, was a close employee of Lucky Luciano and he was & # 39; acting boss & # 39; when Luciano went to jail. Vito Genovese ordered the hit on Costello because he & # 39; believed he was Luciano's rightful heir, & quot; the book Five Families. In the show, Godfather of Harlem, Costello, played by Paul Sorvino, is a kind of intermediary between Chin, Bumpy and the families
Harlem drug kingpin Frank Lucas, upstairs, in one of his fur coats, reportedly worth $ 50,000. De film American Gangster uit 2007 was losjes gebaseerd op zijn leven en Denzel Washington portretteerde hem. De openingsscène van de film is Bumpy Johnson die sterft, en zijn weduwe, Mayme, was zo 'furieus over de film' dat ze Harlem Godfather schreef: The Rap on My Husband, Ellsworth 'Bumpy' Johnson, volgens de overlijdensadvertentie van Mayquir Johnson in Philadelphia . 'Frank Lucas zou zeker snel en los met de feiten kunnen spelen,' zei Schumacher van het Mob Museum, maar het is duidelijk dat hij jaren voor Bumpy heeft gewerkt. Frank Lucas stierf eerder dit jaar in mei op 88-jarige leeftijd
Vincent 'Chin' Gigante, hierboven in 1997, werd het hoofd van de Genovese familie in 1982, volgens het boek Five Families. Hij heeft tientallen jaren geestesziekte vervalst totdat hij in 1997 en 2003 werd veroordeeld voor racketeering. Hij wist dat de FBI keek en dus toen hij rondliep, 'kleedde Gigante zich routinematig aan en handelde abnormaal. Hij stopte in zijn sporen, stelde zichzelf bloot en urineerde op straat ', aldus het boek. Hij stierf in de gevangenis in 2005 op 77-jarige leeftijd
Nadat Schultz in 1935 stierf, nam Luciano zijn operaties over en ontmoette Bumpy. 'En Luciano, niet zo heethoofd als Schultz, zegt dat hij de bankiers in Harlem toestaat onafhankelijk te blijven,' legde Schumacher uit. 'Bumpy werd jarenlang tussenpersoon tussen de maffia en de Harlem-gemeenschap.'
En zo begon Bumpy's opkomst.
In 1936 ging Queenie met pensioen en droeg ze haar nummeroperaties over aan Bumpy, en Schumacher zei dat hij zijn rijk begon uit te breiden met verdovende middelen, prostitutie, gok- en beschermingsrackets. (In 1936 werd Luciano gearresteerd en ging vervolgens naar de gevangenis voor prostitutie. Frank Costello nam vervolgens het zogenaamde Genovese gezin over.)
Bumpy riep decennia lang Harlem, maar hij bleef ook naar de gevangenis gaan, het ernstigste geval, merkte Schumacher op, was in 1951 toen hij werd gearresteerd als leider van een heroïnekring en veroordeeld tot 15 jaar. Toen hij in 1963 uitstapte – zoals in de show – hervatte hij zijn criminele ondernemingen.
Schumacher is skeptical that a parade was thrown in Harlem when he got out of prison but he was sure that people were happy to see him.
'People would be loyal to him even though they knew he was a dangerous criminal because he helped them out, you know, helped a friend out, helped a relative out,' he said, adding that it was true that he passed out turkeys at Thanksgiving.
Bumpy was also known as 'the Professor.'
'He was an avid reader of history and philosophy and literature. He actually wrote poetry, especially when he was in prison. Some of which was published during the Harlem Renaissance. He was (an) extremely good chess player. He loved to play chess,' Schumacher said.
Much of what is known about Bumpy in the 1960s comes from a fellow gangster, Frank Lucas, who Schumacher said was Bumpy's 'right hand man' during that time period. Lucas said that he never saw Bumpy with drugs, and he kept himself far removed from its dealing, according to Schumacher.
Nonetheless, Bumpy, like the mob, made a tremendous amount of money off of heroin.
According to Raab, the reporter who wrote the book, Five Families, it was estimated that in the early 1960s, the country's top mafia families earned $7 billion annually in profits for all its criminal activities.
On July 7, 1968, Bumpy Johnson died of a heart attack at Wells Restaurant in Harlem.
'Bumpy was a killer. He was not afraid to use street justice to take care of problems,' Geoff Schumacher, senior director of content at the Mob Museum, told DailyMail.com. Schumacher also said that Bumpy had poetry published during the Harlem Renaissance, was an avid chess player and reader, and helped out those in neighborhood. Bumpy is said to be the inspiration for many film characters, such as Shaft, and now for a new show on Epix called the Godfather of Harlem starring Forest Whitaker, above
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