Los Angeles – Just weeks after the passing of Mayme Hatcher Johnson, widow of the legendary Harlem gangster, Bumpy Johnson, Havenotz Entertainment has optioned the film rights to her book, Harlem Godfather: The Rap on My Husband, Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson.
“Growing up, I heard about the exploits of Bumpy Johnson. Not just about his criminal activities, but also all of the good he did in his community, and how his community loved him,” said Sardar “Candyman 187” Khan, CEO of Havenotz Entertainment, when announcing the optioning. “When I found out that the film rights to this book were available I was ecstatic.”
“This is a man whose history is intertwined with the history of Harlem. His acquaintances with people like Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Lena Horne, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, and even Malcolm X are spoken of to this day” Khan said, adding that he hopes to team with major production companies to make the movie happen. “This is a story that just has to be brought to the silver screen.”
Bumpy Johnson was born in South Carolina in 1905, but moved to Harlem in 1919 and was soon involved in the Harlem underworld. In 1932 he fought a well-documented gang war with Jewish mobster Dutch Schultz over the control of the numbers racket. After Schultz’s death, Bumpy reigned as the Godfather of Harlem; but in the words of the late famed African-American historian John Henrick Clarke (who knew Johnson), “Bumpy may have been a gangster, but he was a gangster with a social conscience. He may have taken from the community, but he was one of the few who also gave back.” Johnson died of a heart attack in 1968.
In 2008 Mrs. Johnson co-authored Harlem Godfather: The Rap on My Husband, Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson. It’s the first and only biography of Bumpy Johnson.
“There’ve been other movies that have depictions of Bumpy Johnson, but all of those characterizations were written without anyone even talking to people who actually knew him,” said Khan. “As soon as I read Mrs. Johnson’s book, I knew it was important to get the truth on film. People will now know the real story about this larger than life figure, and not a fictitious character that writers came up with because they didn’t know who to turn to for the truth.”
Camille R. Quinones Miller, president of La Pizzazz Productions (www.lapizzazz.com) which negotiated the book option, said she’s pleased that the true story of Bumpy Johnson may finally reach the screen.”
“Not only is this an exciting true story, but it’s also one that has a lot of meaty roles for African-American actors and actresses,” said Miller. “And since Bumpy has always been upheld by the hip-hop community, I look forward to its involvement.”
Interested parties can reach Sardar “Candyman 187” Khan at (310) 623-7473 or [email protected]