Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger, Infamous South Boston Gangster

BulgerJohnny Depp will be starring in a new movie about Whitey Bulger, the infamous South Boston gangster, and the movie will be based on Bulger’s biography. The movie is titled, Black Mass, but that title is just a placeholder until a more appropriate title is selected. The movie will be released September 18. Reviews from Future Previews claim that this is Depp’s best movie in years, playing the gangster feared by all. Future Previews also says that Depp’s make-up is so incredible, he is barely recognizable.

“Whitey” was born James Joseph Bulger, Jr. September 3, 1929 in Dorchester, Massachusetts. He grew up Roman Catholic, Irish-American and lived in a South Boston housing project. When Bulger was 10 years old he ran away and joined the circus. He started getting into trouble at a young age.

The first time Bulger was arrested, he was just 14 years old. Throughout his teen years, Bulger was arrested for forgery, assault and battery, larceny, and armed robbery. He spent five years in juvenile detention. When Bulger was released from juvenile detention he joined the Air Force.

Bulger struggled and got into trouble in the Air Force. He did some time in a military jail for assault and was also arrested because he went AWOL. However, in 1952, Bulger received an honorable discharge. Then he returned to Boston and his passion for crime.

Bulger ran a string of bank robberies from Rhode Island to Indiana. In June of 1956, he was sentenced to 25 years in a federal penitentiary, but he only served nine years. Then Bulger once again, returned to Boston and his career of crime. Over the years, Bulger has served time in Atlanta, Alcatraz, and Leavenworth.

Then he became the enforcer for Donald Killeen, a South Boston crime boss until Killeen was killed in 1972. After Killeen’s death, Bulger was taken in by the Winter Hill Gang where he quickly rose through the ranks and became the most ruthless mobster in the history of South Boston. He was the most feared mobster from 1975-1990. Johnny Depp will be playing, Whitey Bulger, in the movie that is based on the biography of the most infamous gangster in the history of South Boston.

While Bulger was putting together his own crime family, but he was also an FBI informant. He led agents to the Patriarca crime family. By 1979, Whitey had grown to become a dominant and feared part of the organized crime circuit in South Boston. Also, in 1979, Howie Winter went to prison because he was caught fixing horse races. Then Whitey became the renowned crime boss.

Throughout the next 16 years, Whitey took control of a large part of South Boston’s drug cartel, loan shark operations, and bookmaking. Then the murders began to accumulate. He sanctioned multiple murders including, Paulie McGonagle, Sike O’Toole, Eddie Connors, Buddy Leonard, and Tommy King.

Throughout his time as a crime boss he had many natural connections. No one knew that he was an FBI informant. Whitey also took full advantage of the fact that his brother was a state senator, and he had childhood friendships that could link him to different members of the police department.

In 1994, Whitey’s dominance over South Boston was about to end. The Drug Enforcement Administration, the Boston Police Department, and the Massachusetts State Police began an investigation into his gambling operations.


By 1995, there was an indictment for Whitey, along with Stephen Flemmi. However, Whitey broke free from state authorities. According to federal agents, Whitey’s FBI handler and longtime friend, Special Agent John Connelly, told Whitey about the indictment so he could flee from the state and avoid arrest.

In 1999, Whitey was officially announced to be on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. At one time, he was the second-most wanted person under Osama bin Laden. There was even a million dollar bounty put out for information that would lead the FBI to Whitey’s arrest.

June 2011, Whitey was arrested in Santa Monica, California. According to authorities, he was still involved in crime. Whitey was facing 33 charges that included extortion, money laundering, corrupting law enforcement, dealing drugs, participation in 19 murders, as well as, running a criminal enterprise and federal racketeering from 1972 to 2000.

On August 12, 2013, when the two-month trial was over, it took the jury five days of deliberation. Whitey was found guilty of 31 counts including extortion, federal racketeering, 11 of the 19 murders, and conspiracy. However, the jury declared him not guilty of seven murders and was unable to come to a verdict on one of the murders.

Whitey was given two life sentences plus five years in prison, November 13, 2013. The Chicago Tribune reported that U.S. District Court Judge, Denise Casper told Whitey that “The scope, the callousness, the depravity of your crimes are almost unfathomable.” Johnny Depp will be starring in a movie about Whitey Bulger that is based on the biography of the most infamous gangster in the history of South Boston. The movie will be released September 18.


By Jeanette Smith


Future Previews: Black Mass
biography: Whitey Bulger – Biography – Organized Crime

Photos courtesy of:

WBUR Boston’s NPR News Station Photostream’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
WBUR Boston’s NPR News Station Photostream 2’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
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