Student Work: Griselda Blanco and Sherman Helmsley

Griselda Blanco by Lupita Escamilla

Lupita Escamilla



Griselda Blanco
Image from the Palm Beach Post via the Florida Dept. of Corrections
Click for source

The infamous Griselda Blanco, born in Colombia, better known as “La Madrina” (The Godmother) was a drug kingpin in the 1970’s and 80’s during Miami’s cocaine cowboy era. At the young age of 11, Griselda and some friends kidnapped the 10 year old son of a wealthy family. When they refused to pay the ransom; Griselda cold heartedly shot the boy in the head. (Martin Phillips The Godmother Griselda Blanco, The Sun (September 06, 2012) This was only the beginning of Griselda’s murders; she is believed to have ordered over 40 homicides, including the ones of her 3 husbands. In the mid 1980’s she served 13 years in a New York Federal prison for cocaine trafficking then she was sent to Florida where she was convicted for 3 murders, one of which was that of 2 year old boy in Miami, and given a 20 year sentence. The case fell apart in 2004 and Griselda Blanco was deported back to her native Colombia where she tried to maintain a low profile and it was said she lived off the income she received from renting the property she owned. (Madison Grey Griselda Blanco, ‘Godmother’ of Cocaine, Gunned Down in Colombia, Time News Feed (September 04, 2012)  During her lifetime Griselda had 3 sons with the late Carlos Trujillo; Dixon, Uber and Osvaldo and one son with the late Dario Sepulveda which she named Michael Corleone after the fictional character in “The Godfather.” Two of her first marriage sons were assassinated and her youngest son, Michael, is currently facing cocaine charges and is on house arrest in Miami. (Francisco Alvarado Griselda Blanco’s Son Michael Corleone Still Faces Cocaine Trafficking Charge in Miami, Miami New Times (September 5, 2012)

On September 4, 2012 at the age of 69 while walking out of a butcher shop with her daughter-in-law in Medellin, Colombia Griselda was killed by 2 assassins on a motorcycle; the type of assassination she is credited for and was most infamous for ordering. She was shot twice in the head at close range and died shortly. She leaves behind, two married sons, grandkids, nieces, nephews and a sister.



Sherman Helmsley by Sherly Richemond


Sherly Richemond


Sherman Helmsley
Image from
Click for source


Sherman Hemsley, who was widely known for the tv character ‘George Jefferson’ died on July 24, 2012 at his home in El Paso, Texas. He died due to a cancerous mass that was growing on his lung, according to the El Paso County Medical Examiner. He was 74 years old.

Sherman Alexander Hemsley was born on February 1, 1938 in South Side Philadelphia, PA. He was born to a single mother, who worked in a lamp factory. He wasn’t introduced to his father until he was 14 years old. He dropped out of the 10th grade in high school and entered the United States Air Force and served for four years. On leaving the Air Force, he returned back to Philadelphia and became a post office worker, while attending acting school in the evening.

Hemsley later, joined local performing groups in Philadelphia before moving to New York City to study acting with Lloyd Richards at the Negro Ensemble Company. He began appearing in small production plays before starring in his first Broadway debut Purlie. In 1971, while touring for Purlie, he’s acting skills caught the eye of producer, Norman Lear, who asked him to play the role of George Jefferson in his new sitcom. Hemsley was hesitant to leave his theatre role but Lear promised him that he would hold the role for him.

Two years later, Hemsley made the debut of the character George Jefferson –the bigoted, blustering Harlem businessman– in the CBS Sitcoms All in the Family and then later in the spinoff The Jeffersons. This proved to be one of Lear’s most successful shows, enjoying a run for eleven seasons.

Hemsley continued to work steadily after the show’s cancellation in 1985, largely casted in George-Jefferson-like roles, he continued work with the NBC sitcom Amen, which ended in 1991 and then voice acting in the live-action puppet series Dinosaurs, which ended in 1994.

Hemsley largely retired from television acting, although he and Isabel Sanford continued appearing together in the late 1990s and in the early 2000s, reprising their roles in guest spots on TV shows such as Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Gap/ Old Navy Commercials and Denny’s Commercials, they continued to work together on occasion until Sanford’s death in 2004.

During his latter years Hemsley kept to himself, he was a very shy and private man who was seen by some as recluse. He avoided the Hollywood limelight and little of his personal life was made public beyond the facts that he never married and had no children.

On June 13, 2012, six weeks prior to his death, Hemsley signed a will naming Flora Enchinton as his executor and left his entire estate to her, which is valued at more than $50,000. She had resided with Hemsley in his El Paso, TX home for the past decade and was considered his beloved partner and friend. She is upset that Hemsley’s body is still embalmed and refrigerated at the San Jose Funeral Home in El Paso, TX, waiting for the court to approve for his burial or give instructions on who should receive the body.

The reason there is a hold in the progress of his funeral arrangement, is that a Philadelphia man named Richard Thornton is claiming that he is the brother of Hemsley, and is the true heir to his estate. Thorton is challenging the June 13, 2012 will, stating that that will is invalid. However, Enchinton is stating that she has never heard of a so-called brother in the 20 years that she has known Hemsley, believing that Richard Thorton is after only after Hemsley’s alleged ‘fortune’.

Alan Duke, Actor Sherman Hemsley unburied amid fight over his remains, CNN Entertainment (last visited September 7, 2012, 10:14am)

Elaine Woo, Sherman Hemsley dies at 74; star of TV’s ‘The Jeffersons’, LA Times Obituary (last visited September 9, 2012, 11:28am)


1 Response to “Student Work: Griselda Blanco and Sherman Helmsley”

  1. 1 Brazillian Drumzz May 25, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    To Lupita Escamilla, I want to thank you for not bashing my Grandmother or her name in you essay, you have basically stated facts that are already public with no disrespect, this is the sign of a great writer, Thank you, Aujuannae’ Trujillo- Blanco, find me on facebook

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