This episode features the rise and fall of Johnny Eng, one of the most notorious drug traffickers in the history of Manhattan's Chinatown. A one-time informant for the DEA, "Machine Gun Johnny" thought he could snitch on all his rivals to monopolize the heroin trade on the eastern seaboard. The special task force set up by the DEA would chase Eng all the way to Hong Kong. Eventually extradited to the U.S., Eng would hire John Gotti's lawyer to defend him against a prosecutor known as "The Dragon Lady."
This episode explores the case of Luis Felipe, also known as "King Blood." From a prison cell, Felipe founded the New York chapter of the Latin Kings street gang. Felipe's own writings would incriminate him as the orchestrator of murders and crimes against his own members. He is now serving a life sentence in solitary confinement.
From the early days of film, directors have transported audiences from darkened movie theaters to memorable worlds of their own creations. Their artistic visions and technical innovations have made a lasting impression on cinema from early silent films, starring and directed by Charlie Chaplin, to the psychological thrillers of Alfred Hitchcock to the blockbuster hits of Steven Spielberg and so many more. Here is a look at the famous film directors who have made their mark on the big screen.
With simply their voices and guitars, folk singers are the unplugged artists who tell our collective stories through their songs. Their music conveys universal truths and, in turbulent times, is often a call to action in the form of protest songs. Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and other legendary folk singers have rallied audiences around historic causes such as the Civil Rights, peace and feminist movements. Here are some of the famous folk singers who were revolutionary through their songs.
In the 1920s, women like Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith were the first—and for a while, the only—artists to record the blues. American women of this era made great strides toward gaining equality and basic human rights for themselves and others in society, including attaining the right to vote and working toward social justice. The 20th century was a wide-open opportunity for women to embrace the modern world, outside of the traditional bounds of the home.
They are American icons—they're on our dollars and coins, they are the subject of our monuments, and we live our daily lives in the world their ideas helped create. America's "Founding Fathers" include George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and of course, Benjamin Franklin. These men, together with several other key players of their time, structured the American democracy and left a legacy that has shaped the world. But beyond their legends, these men were human beings who led complex and fascinating lives. Learning their stories helps us better understand what made them tick, as well as their influence on our world today.
Frida Kahlo first met Diego Rivera when she was an art student hoping to get advice on her career from the famous Mexican muralist. Although Rivera was married, a courtship ensued. They wed in 1929 (he was 42, she was 22) much to the disapproval of Frida's parents, who referred to the couple as "the elephant and the dove." With volatile tempers and countless infidelities, the marriage was notoriously tumultuous. The couple divorced in 1939 only to remarry a year later, though the second marriage was just as turbulent as the first. Both have long been recognized as important painters who achieved great international popularity during their lifetimes.
Meet legendary writers of the horror genre whose vivid descriptions have have kept us on the edge of our seats, chapter after chapter. Some of their most gruesome creations and plot devices, from blood-sucking creatures of the night to the demons trapped within our own minds, continue to live on in the imaginations of readers. Explore Biography.com's list of "fright writers," including "Master of Suspense" Alfred Hitchcock, Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Washington Irving and many more.
They've been referred to as a sign of happiness, luck, good fortune, sexuality and wanderlust. Cultures all around the world have their take on gap teeth, and now—thanks to prominent figures who proudly flash the space in their smile—they're considered a mark of beauty and individuality. Here are a few of the stars who helped to make gap teeth fashionable, proving to men and women everywhere that they no longer need to be ashamed of their grins.
They spent their lives amassing millions—sometimes even billions—then promised to give most of it away. Here are a few of the wealthiest one percent who have promised the majority of their fortunes to philanthropies and charitable organizations. Through their example, maybe more moguls will take up the banners of bigger causes.
George Burns met Gracie Allen in 1922, and they married in 1926. Their highly successful vaudeville act featured George as the straight man to Gracie's zany antics. The couple created its best-known sketch for radio, a situation comedy starring themselves as a working show-business couple. They carried the format to television in 1948, including next-door neighbors Harry and Blanche Morton, Gracie's infamous illogical logic, and the signature "Say goodnight, Gracie" at the show's close. The duo also made films, including an Oscar-nominated turn in A Damsel in Distress with Fred Astaire.
Did you know that since 1912, nearly 50 million girls in the United States have joined the Girl Scouts? Girl Scouts helped an amazingly diverse array of famous women develop a strong foundation of courage, confidence and character. It's no surprise then that quite a few famous women spent time in the sash. Celebrities who got their start selling cookies and earning merit badges include Wonder Woman star Lynda Carter and actress/writer Carrie Fisher; former first ladies Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Nancy Reagan; Olympic skaters Bonnie Blair and Peggy Fleming; astronaut Sally Ride; and iconic women's rights activist Gloria Steinem. Browse our collection of inspiring famous Girl Scouts who have certainly earned merit badges in their fields.
The first Grammy Awards ceremony was held in 1959, after Walk of Fame recording executives compiled a list of industry leaders who they realized would never get a star on Hollywood Boulevard, but deserved recognition. The group helped found the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and named their award the "Grammy" as a nod to Edison's gramophone. Since then, hundreds of music industry members have received Grammys for their notable accomplishments in the field of music and recording. Here are the many winners of this now-prestigious award.
With the 1960s came the psychedelic movement, a time when taking hallucinogenic drugs and listening to experimental music peaked within the countercultures of America and Great Britain. Among the movement's most famous musicians were the Grateful Dead, which mixed genres such as psychadelia, blues, folk, country, rock 'n' roll and jazz to create their incredibly unique rock sound. Known for changing set lists for each show, and for sometimes playing for more than four hours in one set, the Dead created songs like "Sugar Magnolia," "Casey Jones" and "Scarlet Begonias." While the group toured with various musicians until it disbanded in the late 1990s, its main members included Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh and Mickey Hart.
Despite all sorts of institutional obstacles, women have continued to reach stratospheric levels of success in a full gamut of professional pursuits, whether as scientists, scribes, educators, governmental leaders, athletes, designers, film directors or performers. Learn more about the plethora of triumphs obtained by our group of trailblazers.
Visit Biography.com's Women's History group to explore more biographies, photos and videos of some the world's most fascinating women.
The TV musical Glee, which debuted in 2009, follows the adventures of a diverse high school singing group who covers everyone from Michael Jackson to Madonna. The show has become famous for its jubilant song and dance numbers as well as for its guest stars. Gwyneth Paltrow made headlines with her turn as a mini-skirt clad substitute teacher who wowed with Cee-Lo's "Forget You," while Ricky Martin did a chair dance to LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It." Legendary comedienne Carol Burnett also appeared as the Nazi-hunting mother of Sue Sylvester (actress Jane Lynch), leading the two in a duet of "Ohio." Who's been your favorite guest star on Glee?
They've set their instruments on fire, broken them over their heads, played them behind their backs, learned how to make them screech, and—above all—shown the world what it means to truly rock a guitar. Here is a group of some of the most legendary guitarists of the modern era.
During the early 20th century, African-American poets, musicians, actors, artists and intellectuals moved to Harlem in New York City and brought new ideas that shifted the culture forever. From approximately 1918 to the mid 1930s, talent began to overflow within this newfound culture of the black community in Harlem, as prominent figures—Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday, to name a few—pushed art to its limit as a form of expression and representation. These are some of the famous African Americans who shaped the influential movement known as the Harlem Renaissance.
After the Civil War, many of the country's best and brightest black advocates, artists, entrepreneurs and intellectuals moved to the New York City neighborhood of Harlem. Thanks largely to the efforts of these residents, Harlem became both the cradle of a cultural revolution and the heart of the civil rights movement. Meet some of the many people who gave—and continue to give—this neighborhood a voice, simply by calling it home.
Originally jump-starting their career in Canada, Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart broke out onto the American rock scene in the mid 1970s with hits like "Crazy on You," "Magic Man," and "Barracuda." For the next four decades, the sisters would stake their claim on the Billboard charts, selling over 35 million records and cementing themselves as one of the most enduring rock groups in music history.
In 2002, four years after the death of his wife Linda, former Beatle Paul McCartney married model Heather Mills—without a prenuptial agreement. After having a baby, the couple separated in 2006. Mills talked to the press, and the divorce turned bitter. In 2008, Mills walked away with $50 million.
People of Hispanic descent have played a major role in shaping American culture throughout history, from Francisco Vasquez de Coronado's pioneering exploration of North America to Sonia Sotomayor's appointment as the first Hispanic woman on the Supreme Court. Yet it took the efforts of hundreds of talented men and women, over a period of decades, to bring the importance of Hispanic culture to the forefront of American consciousness. Biography.com presents the profiles of many of these notable men and women, who encompass the rich legacy of Hispanic heritage, and explores their impact on people around the world—Hispanic and otherwise.
Out of necessity, these Jewish writers, filmmakers, comedians and political activists learned how to survive the atrocities of Adolph Hitler's genocidal reign in World War II and go on to achieve international stardom in their respective fields. From Nobel Peace Prize winning author Elie Wiesel to the hilarious sexual therapeutics of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, learn about the lives of these Holocaust survivors and how they've thrived beyond their tragic beginnings.
Any press is good press, they say. These celebrities have fame, fortune, and trouble controlling their anger. Some of Hollywood's biggest personalities, they take the drama off-camera into their real lives. Famously feuding with family, staff, and other actors, here are some of the most outrageous Hollywood hotheads.
Olympic athletes draw crowds for their amazing achievements, but some have all eyes on them because of their movie star looks and ripped bodies. These sexy athletes have graced the covers of magazines and earned the status of "Olympic hearththrobs." From 1970s Olympic hottie Bruce Jenner to sexy swimmer Ryan Lochte to javelin-throwing model Leryn Franco, here are some of the Hottest Olympic Athletes that make fans' hearts flutter.
Humphrey Bogart met Lauren Bacall on the set of To Have and Have Not in 1943. At the time, Bacall was 19 years old and living with her mother and Bogart was 44 and married to actress Mayo Methot. The couple wed in 1945, had two children and remained together until his death from cancer in 1957. Of Bogart's four marriages, it is said that the only one to bring him any happiness was the one to Bacall, whom he called "Baby" both in private and in public. Founding members of Las Vegas' famous Rat Pack in 1955, Bogey and Bacall's most memorable films include The Big Sleep, Dark Passage, and Key Largo.
As rock 'n' roll couples go, Ike and Tina Turner's relationship was one of the most volatile. Ike was a successful blues singer when he met Tina, who was a teenager trying to break into singing. Tina started singing for Ike's band, and in 1960 she had his baby. In 1962 the couple married. Even as Tina's career took off, and Ike produced her albums, the relationship was famously turbulent. Tina accused Ike of many instances of spousal abuse, and she even attempted suicide in 1968. In 1978, the couple finally divorced, and Tina launched a successful career comeback, on her own, in the 1980s.
Derived from Claude Monet's piece entitled Impression, the term "impressionism" was created to describe the work of a select group of Parisian painters in the late 19th century. With their thin brush strokes and explosion of color and lighting on mundane subjects, impressionists painters like Monet, Mary Cassatt, and Alfred Sisley confounded critics, defied conventions, and sparked scandal. A century and a half later, they are among the most revered and influentional artists of all time.
These individuals have etched their names into history by plotting and executing the murders of prominent people. Whether their motivations were political, obsessive, or just plain insane, their high-profile murders earn them fame, fear and revulsion from the public. John Wilkes Booth shocked the nation when he assassinated Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theater, James Earl Ray's assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. was a tragic chapter in the civil rights struggle. See our picks, along with full biographies, photo galleries and videos, of these and other infamous assassins, who changed the course of history in the most brutal of ways.
More than 30,000 gangs plague American streets, wreaking havoc from Los Angeles to New York. This violent subculture floods cities with drug traffic, extortion, and even weapons trading. But some members stand apart from others for their fearless attitudes and business savvy. From Leroy "Nicky" Barnes, one of Harlem's biggest drug king pins, to Kody "Monster" Scott, a member of L.A.'s Crips gang by the age of 13, these notorious gangsters have become legendary for rising to the top of their organizations by pushing the limits, no matter the cost.
Bootleggers, smugglers, drug dealers, hit men—all these occupations are the provenance of mobsters, who operate in ethnic, family and business networks. Mobsters' real life crimes, and Hollywood's fascination with them, has earned them a special place in the American imagination. From Al Capone's Chicago crime ring to Bugsy Siegel's Las Vegas racket, these mobsters have made their names notorious from coast to coast.
Many of the most horrifying acts of violence are committed by serial killers. Always looking for next victim, these murderers kill again and again, never fully satisfied by their bloody deeds. Their twisted motivations—and even more twisted techniques—land the people in this group among the most frightening criminals in history.