In the 70’s, the notorious
Ward Brothers ruled a criminal empire in Oakland, CA. They mainly dealt
in drugs and prostitution. These 'pretty boy' Creole brothers had relocated
from New Orleans several years earlier.
Frank Ward could be seen all
over Oakland rolling in a gold-plated Caddy with customized rims. He was
usually attired in one of his full-length fur coats and matching fur hat.
He sported two multi-carat rings (worth thousands) on each of his pinky fingers.
Ward had a closet specifically built to house his vast wardrobe, the closet
housed numerous silk shirts, shark skin suits, Italian suits, Superfly attire,
hundreds of hats, crocodile and alligator loafers and numerous furs.
He created a buzz when he
showed up with his stable of beauties at the Ali-Frazier fight at Madison
Square Garden in 1971. Other Playas (from across the country) greeted
Ward with respect and admiration; he was treated like royalty.
Ward received a similar reception
at the “Wattstax” music festival as well as Las Vegas where he liked
to get away and play baccarat and blackjack at the tables. He was also
a big tipper, he tipped with hundred dollar bills before it became fashionable. Below, a photo of a pimp gathering after "Wattstax" concluded.
Frank Ward also helped create and
organize the first “Players Ball.” Ward also gave
annual invitation only picnics; which were hugely popular. This was the
only day his hookers got off.
Pimps and hookers participated
in softball games and touch football. Ward hired cooks to prepare ribs,
links, chicken, hamburger, steaks, potato salad and baked beans. He spent
hundreds of dollars just on food.
Ward was considered the “Iceberg
Slim” of the West Coast. He even taught his women how to boost
merchandise out of high-end department stores.
Frank Ward also owned several
apartment buildings throughout the bay area where he housed his women.
Frank Ward became the black
godfather of Oakland’s underworld. In 1973, the brothers partially
financed the film “The Mack,” starring Max Julien.
The concept of the film was based on Frank Ward.
The Ward Brothers were also
featured in “The Mack” and Frank Ward began dating the film’s
star, Carol Speed. Lead character, Max Julien drove Frank Ward's
customized Caddy in "The Mack."
Shortly after production,
one of Ward’s women was in Los Angeles, she heard that an contract had
been taken out on his life, she rushed back to Oakland to warn him, it was too
late, they were both ambushed and killed in Berkeley, CA. Shortly afterwards,
Ward's brother hurriedly left town, he was never seen again, it was assumed
that he went back to New Orleans.
The producer of “The
Mack,” Michael Campus dedicated the film to Frank Ward. Since then,
no Oakland baller has ever been able to surpass the Ward Brothers in reputation
and popularity until the emergence of Felix Mitchell.
Pimp photo above, courtesy of wattstax.com
The character of Nino
Brown in “New Jack City” was based on Felix Mitchell.
Felix Mitchell, Jr. was a
high-school dropout who lived in poverty in the West Oakland projects (69th
Street Projects). Mitchell admired the local drug dealers, they had
the money, big cars and fine women, he wanted to be like them, this would be
Mitchell put a crew together,
they were dedicated street soldiers, he named his crew “69 Mob.”
Meanwhile, Mitchell got in
touch with a drug supplier and made key contacts in the Bay Area, Los Angeles
and Detroit where heroin and cocaine sales allowed him to attain the status
of ghetto superstar.
For more than a decade, Mitchell
had to fight off competition from Mickey Moore’s crime family and the
Funktown USA gang to gain total control of the lucrative drug market.
Mitchell’s crew brought
in nearly $1 million dollars in monthly business.
Mitchell purchased several
luxury automobiles, including a Ferrari and Rolls Royce. He dressed in
custom-made suits and shoes and he was always draped in bling.
He would charter a plane to
fly anywhere in the world on a moment’s notice. He dined at 5 star
restaurants and sat front row at the hottest concerts and he was always in the
company of a beautiful woman.
Mitchell also gave back to
the community, he sponsored local athletic programs for youths and bought their
equipment and uniforms. He also hosted a busload of children on a field trip
to Marine World U.S.A. The community respected him and spoke highly of
When he drove down the streets
of Oakland, people lined the streets just to wave at him, the reception was
similar to a visiting dignitary.
The notoriety of Mitchell’s
empire came to the attention of local and national law enforcement. Mitchell
was convicted in 1985 and sentenced to life in prison. He was shipped
off to Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary where he was fatally stabbed a few months
after his arrival, just days before his 32nd birthday.
Thousands of people lined
the streets to pay their respects as the funeral procession took one last ride
through Mitchell’s old West Oakland neighborhood.
Laying in a bronze casket
(on a bed of crisp thousand dollar bills) inside a gold-plated horse drawn carriage
followed by 15 Rolls Royce limousines, Felix Mitchell, Jr. would be eulogized,
memorized and laid to rest.
The service was attended by
celebrities and received international news coverage.
Ironically, a few years after
Mitchell’s death, his criminal convictions were overturned on technicalities
by a federal judge.
Felix Mitchell's funeral procession,