Snoop Pearson: Life immitating art

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/10/the-wire-snoop-arrested-baltimore-drugs

Felicia “Snoop” Pearson, the actress who played a killer in the television series the Wire was among 60 people arrested in a drugs sweep in Baltimore, Maryland. The police declined to say what charges she would face. Felicia played Snoop, the lesbian enforcer and hit girl of a drugs organisation in Baltimore, whose acts included burying bodies in disused abandoned buildings. She was one of a number of non trained actors hired to give that show it’s authenticity. Playing one of the most terrifying villains on the small screen, she was found by the actor Michael K Williams in a Baltimore nightclub, who passed on her details to the producer. Other notorious criminals whose exploits inspired some of the characters also appeared in the show including Melvin Williams (who was a heroin drugs baron) and Donnie Andrews (a stick up artist and is one of the people that the character Omar Little is based on).

Pearson had a difficult upbringing; she was convicted of second degree murder where she spent six and a half years of two eight year terms for the killing of another teenager. Raised in a tough Baltimore neighbourhood not dissimilar from scenes from the Wire, she was brought up in a foster home after her parents were imprisoned for their drug addiction. Pearson also admitted in her memoir Grace After Midnight to having sold drugs when she was younger. Most recently Pearson advocated anti-violence and literacy measures for urban and street youths. She also volunteered at a prison and taught performing arts to troubled and at-risk children.

The Baltimore Sun reported that the drugs raid was as a result of a five month investigation into heroin and marijuana trafficking.

One of her best moments from the Wire

In light of Pearson’s recent drugs involvement, Illbomb will look at 6 other actors whose involvement with crime has been well documented.

6. Lenny McLean

In 1998 Lenny McLean featured in Guy Ritchie’s Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels as Barry the Baptist,  an intimidating enforcer for a local gangster. McLean was well known in the East End for a number of things primarily as a bare knuckle fighter, but also as a bodyguard and enforcer. He was an associate of the Kray twins and his great uncle Jimmy Spinks was also a renowned East End Gangster, who often looked out for him.  Often, McLean’s name was mentioned to ensure that criminal dealings went smoothly, or to scare members of the IRA.

5. Tupac  Shakur

Tupac (2Pac) was known as a hip hop artists but he also put in some acting roles in films such as Gang Related, Juice, Gridlocked, Bullet, Above the Rim and Poetic Justice.  A well respected rapper and actor, Tupac was often tempestuous. When he joined the West Coast LA record label Death Row headed by music mogul Suge Knight, his career started to blossom but he was also never far away from trouble. In 1993 Shakur got into an altercation with two off duty police officers on a roadside. He shot both of them with his gun one in the buttocks and the other guy in the leg. Reports had said that the altercation came from Shakur intervening to stop a man from getting beat up.  In 1994 he was shot 5 times and he suspected the rapper Biggie and his close friend Randy Stretch for being involved. A year later Stretch was killed by unknown assailants in a drive by, Tupac’s  murder would come a year after that, after leaving a Mike Tyson fight in Las Vegas. The trouble Tupac got himself into may stem from reported links to Los Angeles gang the Bloods.

4.  Lenny Montana

Lenny Montana’s best role was that of the Luca Brasi, the Corleone family’s hit man enforcer in the film The Godfather. Before this role that would make him famous the world over, he had forged a successful career as a wrestler, and before that he worked for the Colombo Crime family in the late sixties. His role for the Colombo’s was not that dissimilar to his role in the Godfather, where it was reported that his duties included arson. He did time in Ryker’s island prison and upon his release he acted as a bodyguard to members of the Colombo crime family

3. Tony Sirico

Tony Sirico had various acting odd jobs before he landed the part of Paulie Walnuts on the hit HBO show The Sopranos. This included roles in Woody Allen movies such as Bullets Over Broadway, and Mighty Aphrodite and an appearance in Scorsese’s Goodfellas. His role as Paulie Walnuts the high tempered and volatile soldier in the Soprano crime family is somewhat grounded in reality. Before Tony started acting he was reportedly an associate of the Colombo Crime Family which was the largest mafia faction in New York. What his role was within the family is uncertain, but what is known is that he had been arrested at least twenty eight times. He was sent to prison in 1967 for thirteen months for robbing a Brooklyn After Hours Club. In 1971 Sirico pled guilty to felony weapons possession and served up to twenty months of the four year prison term. He also had pending charges for drug possession. It was while he was in prison, after seeing an acting troupe of ex con performers that he decided to pursue acting as a profession.

2. Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra’s alleged mafia links repeatedly hung over his career. Though never proven, talks and rumours still persisted of his personal and professional relationship with members of organised crime including links to Carlo Gambino and Lucky Luciano. There is a photograph that shows him posing with known members of the Gambino crime family including Sam Giancana. The FBI were even worried enough to keep records of him amounting to around 2,403 pages, yet found no evidence. In 1953 Sinatra appeared in the film From here to Eternity as private Angelo Maggio The role earned him an Oscar and a standing in Hollywood. In Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather the character Johnny Fontaine goes to the Godfather for help. He is being blacklisted from a war movie because of he had a sexual relationship with a girl that the movie’s producer was interested in. Though the Godfather’s consigliore tries to persuade the producer to put Fontaine in the movie he still relents. The next act from the Mafioso’s is an act of intimidation to ensure Fontaine gets a part in the movie. One of the producer’s beloved horses is beheaded and put in his bed. Fontaine was widely seen to have been based on Sinatra; the book’s author never denied this.

1. John Bindon

John Bindon’s career as an actor fell by chance.  He was spotted in a London pub in 1966 by director Ken Loach, and was subsequently cast in the director’s film Poor Cow as an abusive husband.  His next big role came in 1970 as a violent gangster, playing alongside Mick Jagger in the film Performance. Bindon also had roles in many classic British movies including small parts in Get Carter, Barry Lyndon and Quadrophenia. Film roles aside, Bindon was accused of running a protection racket in West London. Connections to the Richardson gang and the Kray twins was also suggested. Bindon led a colourful life, including an alleged affair with Princess Margaret and being a bodyguard for the rock band Led Zepplin. However he never let go of his criminal roots and in 1978 he went on the run after killing London gangster John Drake in a pub brawl.

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2 comments

  1. If you believe a mid level gangster from London called Lenny McLean was used to scare the IRA, I’ll sell you a bridge in Brooklyn. When British gangsters needed professional hitmen where do you think they came from.

    1. Marlon Dolcy · · Reply

      Listen Oisin, the IRA in the 70’s and 80’s in London were the most frightening group of people that has ever graced the country we call England. Their acts were more fearsome and they were more intimidating than the Krays… the difference between them and the old school gangsters is that you never knew who they were. Lenny McLean name being used to scare the IRA is hearsay around all of the East End. I am not saying that it is gospel, but I am am saying that this is the story that is going around. If you have any proof proving otherwise than I will omit that whole line from the post. Thanks for reading.

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