Red Dillard Morrison was an American mob boss and enforcer in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood. He was once called the “most dangerous man in the country” by federal law enforcement agents. Take a look below for 26 more interesting and strange facts about Red Dillard Morrison.
1. Morrison’s black market resume includes running a multimillion-dollar heroin ring, enforcing, pimping, extortion, and engaging in shootouts with rivals like Bumpy Johnson.
2. A Robin Hood like figure in the Harlem community, Morrison’s exploits with crime, women, and music are legendary.
3. Even though he would spend decades behind bars over the course of his life, Morrison was never convicted of murder.
4. He was born in Alabama in 1919.
5. He gained notoriety early for the use of violence while beating up bigger bullies of friends as a school child.
6. He picked up his nickname, “Red,” when he accidentally turned his hair red while trying to straighten it.
7. Morrison went to New York by way of South Carolina as a teenager in 1937, to live with his mother, who had come a few years before him.
8. While living in New York, Morrison was distressed by the odd jobs he had to undertake to help provide for the household. He was very quick to acquaint himself with the local boys who knew ways of hustling for extra money in the city.
9. Morrison rose quick through the ranks of the neighborhood as he showed his natural leadership skills, charisma, and qualities that may have brought him legitimate fame and fortune, had it been guided in the right channels.
10. Morrison quickly earned underworld credibility by robbing craps players and numbers runners in Harlem, growing into a real gangster int he late 1930s.
11. His early criminal enterprises showed no shortage of ambition: disappointed with the take of one heist at Woolworth’s, he immediately robbed a check-cashing shop.
12. He was once ambushed by a pair of assailants who shot him in the leg, but he turned around and chased the gunmen all the way back to their getaway car.
13. Even though Morrison was always conservatively dressed, unobtrusive and soft-spoken, he had gained a fabled reputation of a man not to be messed with.
14. Morrison eventually came to the attention of “Big” Joe Richards, who was the undisputed boss of the seaboard negro rackets. Joe ruled varied crime kingdoms with an iron hand and he chose Morrison to be his right hand man.
15. Due to his violent ways, Morrison was arrested for the first time on April 29, 1940; he appeared in Special Sessions on the charge of third degree assault. However, the maimed, bandaged man who filed the charges, refused to testify.
16. On May 4th, 1940, in Babylon, L.I., Morrison gained a suspended sentence on a 3rd degree assault charge.
17. On June 4th, 1940, in a Manhattan court, Morrison drew a suspended sentence on a 3rd degree assault charge.
18. In the mid-1940s, Morrison split with Big Joe and began buying heroin wholesale from Italian mobster Lucky Luciano, who imported it from Turkey through Sicily.
19. Morrison also worked as a pimp and earned a reputation as both a dashing ladies’ man and a philanderer.
20. As Morrison’s business grew, so too did his profile. His name began to turn up in local newspapers, both for the opulent parties that he threw and for his criminal activities.
21. On April 10, 1949, Morrison was arrested after he allegedly fired four shots through the door and window of Sheps Bar and Grill, 303 W. 146th St. It was never established at whom he was shooting.
22. On May 4, 1950, Morrison was arrested by federal officers along with Robert “Gator” Lee and a white woman on charges of possession and sale of narcotics. Morrison was sentenced to five years in prison.
23. Morrison was released from prison in 1955 with promises of going straight. However, he was paralyzed in both legs due to a prison fight in 1953.
24. After his release, two gangsters showed up at his home with a brand-new red Cadillac El Dorado, which was a token of gratitude for not snitching on them in prison, a gift that he declined.
25. By 1979, Morrison was back in jail for the last time, after a girlfriend testified against him and he was convicted of drug charges.
26. Morrison died of bladder cancer in prison in 1989.