Stephanie “Queenie” St. Clair, Was Basically The Real Life Fish Mooney From Gotham

Apparently not alot of people have warmed up to the created for TV show character Fish Mooney, played by the beautiful Jada Pinkett Smith. Some have written that she is out of place, and not in a usual position of mob boss for a person of her gender and race. Others have said that she is over the top, which is hilarious when we are talking about a villain who lives in the same city as Joker, Penguin, Riddler, & Killer Croc & Clayface. Maybe they would have been more comfortable if she was playing a maid, cook, or prostitute, or drug addict. So here is a history lesson for all of the people who are having a hard time taking Fish Mooney seriously. When then character was first introduced, I was instantly reminded of Queenie St. Clair.


Jada Pinkett (L) Madame Stephanie St Clair (R)

“Stephanie St. Clair (1886–1969) was a female gang leader who ran numerous criminal enterprises in Harlem, New York in the early part of the 20th century. Despite resisting the interests of the Mafia for several years after Prohibition ended, she continued to be an independent operator never coming under mafia control.

She complained to local authorities about harassment by the NYPD, and when they paid no heed she ran advertisements in Harlem newspapers, accusing senior police officers of corruption. The police responded by arresting her on a trumped up charge, and in response she testified to the Seabury Commission about the kickbacks she had paid them. The Commission subsequently fired more than a dozen police officers.

After the end of Prohibition, Jewish and Italian-American crime families saw a decrease in profits and decided to move in on the Harlem gambling scene. Bronx-based mob boss Dutch Schultz was the first to move in, beating and killing numbers operators who would not pay him protection.

St. Clair and her chief enforcer Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson refused to pay protection to Schultz despite the amount of violence and intimidation by police they faced. Eventually Bumpy Johnson, her former enforcer, negotiated with Lucky Luciano and Lucky took over Schultz’ spots with a percentage going to Bumpy. The Italians then had to go to Bumpy first if they had any problems in Harlem. That’s when the legend of Bumpy Johnson began. The book “Harlem Godfather” by Bumpy’s wife, Mayme Johnson, provides a factual account of this.

Luciano realized that the struggle with the Five Families was hurting their business so Schultz was assassinated in 1935 on the orders of The Commission, St. Clair sent a telegram to his hospital bed as the gangster lay dying. It read, “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.” The incident made headlines across the nation.

By the 1940s, “Bumpy” Johnson had become the reigning king in Harlem while St. Clair became less and less involved in the numbers game. She died quietly and still rich in Harlem in 1969.”

A strong black woman who stood toe to toe with the Mafia & the NYPD? Sounds like Fish Mooney to me. She doesn’t look so out of place now, does she?

Written by Marco The Blerd

One Comment

  1. Channeled upon your site. Always loved/love Jada Pinkett. Had no IDEA of her Gotham characters-association with ” the QUEEN.” Black American. Fan of Gotham City. Thanx for info.



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