Whitey Bulger’s brother speaks out in new documentary

Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger’s murderous life of crime is barely half of the saga chronicled in “My Name Is Bulger,” premiering Thursday (June 17) on discovery+.

The different half of Brendan J. Byrne’s documentary turns the highlight on Whitey’s younger brother, William “Billy” Bulger, 87, a lifelong Massachusetts politician and hometown hero whose civic achievements — and, later, his function as president of the University of Massachusetts — have been eclipsed and eventually derailed by his notorious brother. “There’s a false narrative about my family,” says William’s son, James. “We cannot win…I think it’s time to knock it down — at least to throw a punch back.”

The 90-minute documentary does its greatest to counter-punch Whitey’s lifetime of crime by delving into William’s life. Byrne interweaves interviews with William, his spouse Mary and several other of their 9 kids with previous house films and household photographs to trace William’s rise from South Boston to the heights of state politics (he was president of the Massachusetts State Senate from 1978-96).

Yet the specter of Whitey is all the time on the periphery as he floats in and out of his brother’s life, enjoying the loving uncle on his uncommon visits (there are photographs of him together with his nephews and nieces) whereas main a life that nobody in the household appeared to learn about. “He was one more uncle who came through the door,” says William’s son, Dan. “He had big muscles and yelled a lot.” One of Whitey’s sisters sums him up thusly: “He was always gone. No one knew what-the-heck he was doing…he was always a worry.”

Whitey, it turned out, was terrorizing his South Boston stomping grounds, trafficking in medicine, extortion and homicide (he was later convicted of 11 killings) however, in response to relations, was “careful not to embarrass” William. “He was proud of his brother,” says Whitey’s former henchman, Kevin Weeks, including that Whitey solely killed somebody as a final resort. “Violence was his last option,” he says. “There was no changing his mind once he decided to kill someone.”

Photo of William Bulger in his later years.
William Bulger is interviewed extensively about his brother Whitey in “My Name Is Bulger.”
AP

“My Name Is Bulger” attracts a strict line of demarcation: William knew nothing about Whitey’s life outdoors of the prolonged Bulger household as he rose steadily in the political world after profitable his first race in 1960, when he was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives and, as his energy grew, rubbed shoulders with everybody, together with governors Michael Dukakis and William Weld. They’re each interviewed right here and each sing William’s praises, and because the documentary progresses, it’s simple to see why. He fought onerous for his constituents, has a fantastic humorousness and is a loyal household man to his spouse, kids and 33 grandchildren.

Contrast that with Whitey, who made nationwide headlines in 1995 when he went on lam with longtime companion Catherine Greig and wasn’t caught till 16 years later — hiding in plain sight in Santa Monica, Calif. with $882,000 in money stuffed into the partitions of his house. He was tried and convicted of homicide, extortion and racketeering and, in 2018, was killed in prison at the age of 89.

Photo showing the prison mugshot of a bearded Whitey Bulger.
James “Whitey” Bulger after he was arrested in Santa Monica, Calif. in 2011.
AP

Greig, who spent eight years in jail, is interviewed for the documentary and provides often-teary perception into Whitey’s personal life (“he was a very kind, giving person”) for individuals who are the least-bit in how a convicted killer stopped to assist repair a flat tire on a Volkswagen or was good to the upkeep workers in his house constructing. That type of factor.

William was appointed president of the University of Massachusetts in 1985 and was pressured out eight years later by then-Gov. Mitt Romney after admitting to a Congressional committee, in half, that that he had spoken to Whitey in 1995 and had didn’t alert the authorities. (He was granted immunity from being prosecuted for obstruction of justice.)

“My Name Is Bulger” provides an even-handed account of the Brothers Bulger, protecting all their private {and professional} bases and giving the household an opportunity to take away a part of the stain from the Bulger title.

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