Whenever iconic director Martin Scorsese decides to grace the world with his genius it’s always a magical experience. This is, after all, the same man who brought classics such as Goodfellas and The Departed into American culture. And now, with the premiere of his upcoming release The Irishman the world is ready for another sample of his gritty storytelling, not just on the silver screen but also through a groundbreaking Netflix deal that will bring the movie into the homes of millions of subscribers weeks after its initial release. In case you’re unaware the film’s main character, hitman Frank ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran, had strong ties with the Philadelphia area. And there are a few interesting facts you can take with you as you prepare to watch The Irishman, which is sure to become another bona fide hit for Scorsese and his legion of adoring fans.
Sheeran was raised in Philly.
Well, technically he grew up just outside of Philly in Darby, Pennsylvania. But since Darby’s so close to Philly it’s more like a ‘play cousin’ so based on that technicality let’s just say he’s from Philly. Born October 25 1920 Francis Joseph Sheeran had a modest, working class upbringing. His mother Mary was a homemaker and his father, Thomas Francis Sheeran, was a house painter. Ironically Sheeran’s autobiography was titled ‘I Heard You Paint Houses’, though that title has absolutely nothing to do with his father’s occupation (more on that in a bit). In August of 1941 just months before his 21st birthday Sheeran enlisted with the US Army. Soon after the horrific attack on Pearl Harbor, he decided to volunteer for basic training and was off to fight in World War II.
He was ‘friends’ with Jimmy Hoffa
According to biography.com Sheeran was discharged from the army in 1945 after accumulating 411 days of combat. The average soldier saw around 100 days, but Sheeran admitted that his time in the military taught him how to become numb to killing people, which is probably one of the best skills you can have as a hitman. Eventually, after marrying and starting a family, Sheeran’s dark past and nonchalance for murder helped him secure ties within the Pennsylvania mafia.
Through those connections he became affiliated with infamous Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa. Together they formed an unholy union of violence as Sheeran acted as ‘the muscle’ to secure power against Hoffa’s opponents. Though the two were very close things changed after Hoffa’s conviction for racketeering. While Hoffa served jail time Sheeran remained loyal to the Bufalino crime family. Once Hoffa was released from prison both he and Sheeran’s paths crossed once again. Unfortunately it wasn’t long before the Bufalino family put a hit out on Hoffa with Sheeran as the triggerman.
He had strong ties to a historic moment of American history
During the final five years of his life Sheeran began revealing details about his criminal career in the brutally disturbing biography ‘I Heard You Paint Houses’, written by his lawyer Charles Brandt. In the book he revealed that the title referred to a popular phrase within the crime family network. Basically, the phrase was code for ‘I heard you’re a hitman’. One of Sheeran’s more shocking revelations dealt with President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. Biography.com also reports Sheeran admitted that the assassination had ties to the mob and Hoffa, who wanted to send a message to JFK’s brother Robert Kennedy, the United States attorney general at the time. Another interesting fact is that Sheeran actually transferred the firearms that killed President Kennedy as well.
With a life as intricate and scandalous as Sheeran’s there’s no doubt this film should not be missed. Iconic actor Robert DeNiro is taking on the role of Sheeran and teaming up with former Goodfellas co-star Joe Pesce. Looks like Oscar season will have a solid contender with The Irishman. You can check it out when it hits theaters September 27.