Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Nucky Thompson and Nucky Johnson


HBO/Heston Collection

The Character: On the HBO series ‘Boardwalk Empire,’ Steve Buscemi plays Nucky Thompson, treasurer of Atlantic City and bootlegger in prohibition-era New Jersey. Nucky is a major player in the organized crime world, orchestrating some of the biggest bootleg shipments in the country with the help of his sheriff brother Eli and his enforcer, Jimmy, a former soldier who looks up to Nucky as a father figure. Nucky is a charismatic guy, but get on his bad side and you’ll probably wind up dead.

The Inspiration: Nucky Thompson is inspired by Enoch L. Johnson, a political boss and racketeer living in Atlantic City, who controlled the Republican politics in his town and was a heavy-hitter in organized crime, including bootlegging, prostitution, and gambling. Like Nucky Thomspon, Enoch Johnson wore a fresh red carnation on his lapel every day, rode around in a powder-blue luxury car, lived in a suite of rooms in the Ritz-Carlton, and helped Walter Edge win the senate election. And also like Thompson, Johnson’s first wife suffered an untimely death and he was eventually pursued on charges of tax evasion.