Bumpy Johnson

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Bumpy Johnson
Bumpy Johnson in USP Leavenworth, January 11, 1954
Ellsworth Raymond Johnson

(1905-10-31)October 31, 1905
DiedJuly 7, 1968(1968-07-07) (aged 62)
Resting placeWoodlawn Cemetery (Bronx, New York)
OccupationCrime Boss, Gangster, Bootlegger, Smuggler, Bookmaker, Numbers Runner, Pimp, Gambler, Extortionist, Racketeer
Known forMob Boss of Harlem
Spouse(s)Mayme Hatcher
Parent(s)Margaret Moultrie and William Johnson
Criminal chargeNarcotics-related offenses
Penalty12 years, 15 years

Ellsworth Raymond "Bumpy" Johnson (October 31, 1905 – July 7, 1968) was an American mob boss and bookmaker in New York City's Harlem neighborhood. The main Harlem associate of Charles "Lucky" Luciano and what would become later known as the Genovese crime family, Johnson's criminal career has inspired films and television.

Early life[edit]

Johnson was born in Charleston, South Carolina on October 31, 1905. Johnson derived his nickname "Bumpy" from a bump on the back of his head.[1] When he was 10, his older brother, Willie, was accused of killing a white man. Afraid of a possible lynch mob, his parents mortgaged their tiny home to raise money to send Willie up north to live with relatives.[2] As Johnson grew older, his parents worried about his short temper and insolence toward whites and in 1919 he was sent to live with his older sister Mabel in Harlem.

Criminal career[edit]

Johnson was an associate of numbers queen Madame Stephanie St. Clair.[3]

By the summer of 1952, Johnson's activities were being reported in the celebrity people section of Jet,[4] an American weekly aimed at African American readers, founded in 1951 by John H. Johnson of Johnson Publishing Company in Chicago, Illinois.[5] That same year, Johnson was indicted in New York for conspiracy to sell heroin and was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. Two years later, Jet reported in its crime section that Johnson began his sentence after losing an appeal.[6] He served the majority of that sentence at Alcatraz Prison in San Francisco Bay, California as inmate No. 1117, and was released in 1963.[7]

Johnson was arrested more than 40 times and served two prison terms for narcotics-related charges. In December 1965, Johnson staged a sit-down strike in a police station, refusing to leave, as a protest against their continued surveillance. He was charged with "refusal to leave a police station" but was acquitted by a judge.[8]


Johnson was under a federal indictment for drug conspiracy when he died of congestive heart failure on July 7, 1968, at the age of 62. He was at Wells Restaurant in Harlem shortly before 2 a.m., and the waitress had just served him coffee, a chicken leg, and hominy grits, when he keeled over clutching his chest.[2] Friend Frank Lucas was there, and someone ran down the street to the Rhythm Club to get his childhood friend, Junie Byrd. When Byrd arrived, Lucas cradled Bumpy in his arms, and Johnson briefly opened his eyes and smiled, then fell into unconsciousness. He was taken, by ambulance, to Harlem Hospital where he was pronounced dead. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York City.

In popular culture[edit]






  1. ^ Tyler, Gus (1967) [1962]. Organized crime in America: a book of readings. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press. p. 242. ISBN 978-0-472-06127-3. OCLC 247980358. Retrieved March 27, 2011.
  2. ^ a b Harlem Godfather: The Rap on My Husband, Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson
  3. ^ "Queenie and Bumpy". crimelibrary. 2007. Archived from the original on 2008-04-17. Retrieved 2008-04-09.
  4. ^ "People". Jet. 1952. Retrieved March 27, 2011.
  5. ^ Editors (November 1992). "From Negro Digest to Ebony, Jet and EM - Special Issue: 50 Years of JPC - Redefining the Black Image". Ebony. Retrieved 2009-01-03.
  6. ^ "Crime". Jet. Johnson Publishing Company. 5 (9): 49. January 7, 1954. ISSN 0021-5996. Retrieved March 27, 2011.
  7. ^ [1] Archived December 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ John Howard Johnson (1980). Fact not fiction in Harlem. Northern Type Printing, Inc. p. 119. ASIN B00072X07G.p.103+
  9. ^ a b c d Queenan, Joe (17 November 2007). "Joe Queenan on 'Bumpy' Johnson, the most feared criminal in 1930s Harlem". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  10. ^ "Bumpy Johnson Profile - Famous Bookmaker and Mob Boss from New York City". www.gamblingsites.org.
  11. ^ Denene Millner (24 August 1997). "FROM HARLEM TO 'HOODLUM' MEET THE BLACK MOBSTER WHOSE 'BUMPY' LIFE OF CRIME IS NOW A NEW MOVIE". Daily News. New York. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Ellsworth Raymond 'Bumpy' Johnson - On this day..." dayshistory.wordpress.com. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  13. ^ a b Hunter, Stephen (27 August 1997). "'HOODLUM' AIMS HIGH IF NOT ALWAYS TRUE". The Washington Post. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  14. ^ "Alcatraz Escape - Unsolved Mysteries". Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  15. ^ Petski, Denise. "Forest Whitaker To Topline Straight-To-Series Crime Drama At Epix". Deadline. Retrieved 2018-04-25.
  16. ^ "Going Old School: Frank Tieri on 'Punisher Noir'". Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  17. ^ "Ellsworth Johnson (Earth-90214) from Punisher Noir Vol 1 2 001.jpg". Retrieved 5 April 2018.

External links[edit]