10 Interesting Facts About Frank Sheeran The Character Behind ‘The Irishman’

Frank Sheeran

The life of Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran will soon be depicted in a new Martin Scorsese movie The Irishman, which Netflix has paid $125 million to put together and features a star studded cast with feature Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino. De Niro will play the lead role of mobster hitman Frank Sheeran, who killed his mentor Jimmy Hoffa.

In honor of the film to be release in 2019, here are 10 interesting facts about Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran:

10Labor Union Official

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Many people knew Frank Sheeran as a Labor Union Official. However, he made another income as a hitman, and was a close associate with various mobsters, including Mafia bosses Russell Bufalino and Angela Bruno. In fact, it was the mob boss, Bufalino, that served as a mentor to Sheeran.

9Jimmy Hoffa

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Bufalino was not Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran’s only mentor. Bufalino introduced Frank to Jimmy Hoffa, the President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, who also mentored Frank. The two became very close friends, with Frank, who was 6 foot 4 inches, serving as Hoffa’s muscle. The two were involved in the assassination of recalcitrant union members and rival union members that threatened the teamsters.

However, Frank Sheeran proved his loyalty to himself was a lot stronger than his loyalty to Jimmy Hoffa, as he shot his friend under Mafia orders. He finally confessed the murder in Charles Brandt’s 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses.

8Frank Sheeran’s Daughter

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Frank Sheeran’s daughter, Dolores Miller, stated she never knew her father killed Jimmy Hoffa until his death. She only learnt of his gruesome acts when the book was published. Charles told Dolores to read the book from beginning to end, and she was shocked by what she read.

She has since stated: “As I turned every page it got worse. It was awful. I didn’t want it to be true that my father killed Jimmy.”

While she did not want it to be true, that does not mean that she did not suspect he killed his friend. It appears Dolores always had her suspicions that he was the man that killed Jimmy. She said: “I suspected my father was responsible for Jimmy’s death but I never asked him directly. My mother disagreed. She said he and Jimmy were thick as thieves but my gut instinct told me otherwise.

“I remember my father phoning to say Jimmy had disappeared from outside a restaurant in Detroit. I asked him where he was and he said a wedding in the same area. I made a comment about the coincidence but he brushed it off. He was among the top suspects and the FBI put him in prison time and again, hoping he’d crack, but he never did.

7Deathbed Secrets

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Frank never spoke about his mobster past until his final days. Wanting absolution for his horrific crimes, the hitman chose to disclose of his past to former prosecutor and crime writer Charles Brandt in the final five years of his life. Just six weeks after reading the manuscript, Frank Sheeran passed away at the age of 83 years old in 2003. He never spoke of his mobster past to his family.

6Jimmy Hoffa’s Watch

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Frank may have murdered his good friend Jimmy Hoffa, but that didn’t prevent him from wearing his watch. His daughter stated that one of his most prized possessions was a gaudy watch given to him by Jimmy during a benefit in Frank’s honour. According to Dolores, he wore the watch until the day he passed away.

5Bullying

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Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran lived in an unpredictable world, and so it was only natural for him to want to protect his family whenever possible. However, his children were afraid to speak up when bullied for fear of what he may do.

His other daughter, Irene, was once shouted at by a shop owner for knocking over an item. So what did Frank do? He went to the store and broke the owner’s hands. Dolores was also once bullied by a boy from school, so Frank marched her to find the boy. She once commented: “I begged to go home and was so grateful we couldn’t find the boy for fear of what my father would do to his father”.

4War Crimes

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Frank Sheeran enlisted in the United States Army in August 1941 and went onto serve 411 days of combat duty. While he might have served an extensive length of time for his country, he later admitted to a number of war crimes.

The Irishman stated that his war service gave him a callousness for human life, and he even claimed to have participated in various massacres and summary executions of German PoWs. These acts, however, violated the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, as well as the 1929 Geneva Convention of PoWs.

3The Assassination of John F. Kennedy

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In addition to being a Mafia hitman, Frank Sheeran claimed to have intimate knowledge of the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy. Sheeran claimed Jimmy Hoffa wanted the president dead as his brother, Bobby Kennedy, who was also the Attorney General of the United States, was harassing him. He therefore claims that the assassination of J.F.K was a Mafia hit.

He claims he was not directly involved in the assassination, but he did transport three rifles to the alleged assassins via David Ferrie.

2Crazy Joe Gallo

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It wasn’t just the life of Jimmy Hoffa that Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran took away. He also claimed to be the man that killed Crazy Joe Gallo, who was a member of the prominent Profaci crime family. The confession was later confirmed by an eyewitness who stated they watch Frank commit the hit at Umberto’s Clam House. Gallo was shot dead in front of his family in the restaurant in Little Italy. He was there celebrating his 43rd birthday with his sister Carmella, wife Sina Essary, her daughter Lisa and his bodyguard with his female companion. Sounds a little Sopranos-ish to us!

1The Hitman

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Frank Sheeran told Charles Brandt that most people would never have suspected he was a hitman, as he would dress as a broken down truck driver who was using the bathroom when performing his hits – which is how he managed to kill Crazy Joe Gallo without being recognised. In fact, Gallo’s killer remained a mystery not just to the police but to Gallo’s family until Sheeran confessed to the murder in Brandt’s book.