Bumpy Johnson’s daughter: What happened to Elease Johnson and her sister?

Bumpy Johnson's daughter-Elise-Johnson

The name Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson echoes through the streets of Harlem, not just as a reminder of the past but as a figure whose legacy continues to influence stories and narratives about the neighborhood. While Bumpy himself was a formidable figure in the American organized crime scene, the stories of his daughters, Elease and Ruthie Johnson, bring a personal touch to the legend of Harlem’s Godfather. This article aims to provide a detailed exploration of their lives, their challenges, and the enduring impact of their father’s notorious career.

Profile summary

Full name Elease Johnson
Gender Female
Year of death 2006
Place of birth United States
Nationality American
Ethnicity African-American
Religion Christianity
Sexuality Straight
Hair colour Black
Eye colour Dark brown
Mother Mayme Hatcher Johnson
Father Ellsworth Raymond Johnson
Siblings Ruthie Johnson
Children Margaret Johnson

Who Was Bumpy Johnson?

Born on October 31, 1905, in Charleston, South Carolina, Ellsworth Raymond Johnson, better known as Bumpy Johnson, became an iconic crime boss in Harlem. His nickname, derived from a bump on the back of his head, would become synonymous with fear and respect in the New York City neighborhood he dominated. Bumpy’s early life was marked by petty crimes, but he rose to prominence in the 1930s, working with Harlem mob boss Stephanie St. Claire and later forming a lucrative partnership with Italian mafia leader Charles “Lucky” Luciano. His partnership with the Italian mafia and dedication to his community painted a complex picture of a man who was more than just a criminal; he was a cherished community figure, a strategic thinker, and a loving family man.

Despite his criminal enterprises, Johnson was also known for his contributions to the community and his intellectual pursuits, earning him the moniker “The Professor.” His life and legacy have been depicted in various films and TV series, notably the Epix crime drama “Godfather of Harlem.”

Bumpy Johnson’s Wife

Mayme Hatcher Johnson, born in 1914 in North Carolina, moved to New York in 1938 and married Bumpy in 1948. She was a significant figure in her own right, authoring the book “Harlem Godfather” to share the real story of her husband, countering the myths and legends. Mayme passed away in 2009 but left behind a rich narrative of life alongside one of Harlem’s most infamous figures.

Bumpy Johnson’s Daughters

Bumpy Johnson’s personal life is as intriguing as his criminal career, particularly the stories of his daughters, Elease and Ruthie Johnson. Elease, sometimes known as Elise, was Bumpy’s eldest child and shared a close bond with her father. Unfortunately, both daughters struggled with their demons and passed away in 2006.

What Happened to Elease Johnson?

Elease faced numerous challenges, including substance addiction and the difficulties of living in the shadow of her father’s criminal past. Rumored to have been romantically involved with Malcolm X, Elease’s life was a complex tapestry of relationships and struggles. She left behind a daughter, Margaret Johnson, who was raised by her grandparents.

Ruthie Johnson’s Story

Ruthie, Bumpy’s daughter from another relationship, also passed away in 2006. Details about her life and the cause of her death remain scarce, adding to the mystery and intrigue surrounding the Johnson family.

Mayme, Margaret (Bumpy Johnson’s granddaughter) and CoCo in Mount Morris Park circa 1955

Bumpy Johnson’s Granddaughter

Margaret Johnson, Elease’s daughter, raised by her grandparents, symbolizes the continuity of the Johnson legacy. Her closeness to her grandfather and involvement in his business dealings underscore the familial bonds that transcended the conventional, highlighting a family deeply interconnected, for better or worse.

The Bond Between Bumpy Johnson and Malcolm X

Bumpy Johnson and Malcolm X were more than just well-known figures in Harlem; they were friends. Their friendship was unique because it brought together two very different worlds. Bumpy was famous for being a powerful crime boss in Harlem, while Malcolm X was a respected civil rights leader and Muslim minister. Despite their different paths, they shared a connection and respect for each other.

Bumpy and Malcolm met during the 1940s, a time when Harlem was buzzing with energy and change. Bumpy was known as the “Godfather of Harlem,” controlling the neighborhood with a mix of fear and respect. On the other hand, Malcolm X was fighting for the rights of African Americans, trying to improve their lives and fight against racial injustice.

Their friendship showed that people from different backgrounds could come together and understand each other. Even though Malcolm X was fighting for social justice and Bumpy was involved in crime, they both had a deep love for Harlem and its community. Bumpy even offered Malcolm protection after he left the Nation of Islam, showing the depth of their bond.

While there were rumors of a romantic relationship between Bumpy’s daughter, Elease, and Malcolm X, these stories are more fiction than fact. The real story of Bumpy and Malcolm’s friendship is about two men who cared deeply for their community and found common ground despite their differences.


  • Who were Bumpy Johnson’s parents? Bumpy was born to William Johnson and Margaret Moultrie.
  • What was Bumpy Johnson known for? Known as the “Godfather of Harlem,” Bumpy was famous for his criminal activities and philanthropy. Bumpy Johnson dominated Harlem from the 1930s to the 1960s. He was known for his criminal empire and philanthropic efforts.
  • Who was Bumpy Johnson’s spouse? Bumpy was married to Mayme Hatcher from 1948 until his death in 1968.
  • Did Malcolm X marry Bumpy Johnson’s daughter? There is no evidence to suggest that Malcolm X and Elease Johnson were ever married or romantically involved, despite rumors and fictional portrayals suggesting otherwise.
  • What caused Bumpy Johnson’s daughters’ deaths? The exact cause of Elease’s death is speculated to be related to substance abuse, while details about Ruthie’s death remain scarce.
  • Did Elease Johnson have a child? Yes, Elease had a daughter, Margaret Johnson, who was raised by her grandparents.
  • Who were Elease Johnson’s parents? Elease was the daughter of Bumpy Johnson and a woman from a past relationship, with Mayme Hatcher Johnson becoming her stepmother.