Frank Sheeran in The Irishman: Did he kill Jimmy Hoffa in real life?

Al Pacino in The Irishman
Al Pacino plays Jimmy Hoffa in The Irishman. Pic credit: Netflix

The Irishman, a new crime film directed by Martin Scorsese, was released earlier today on Netflix. The film, based on I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt, follows the career of the real-life 1950s hitman Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, played by Robert De Niro.

Sheeran, a former truck driver, climbs the ranks to become the top hitman for the Russell Bufalino crime family in Pennsylvania. He later becomes the bodyguard of Jimmy Hoffa (played by Al Pacino), the powerful head of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters who has ties with the Bufalino crime family.

One day in July 1975, the real-life Jimmy Hoffa disappeared mysteriously in Detroit and no trace of him was found until he was officially declared dead in 1982. The mystery of Hoffa’s death has remained unsolved. Hoffa’s bodyguard Sheeran was only one of several individuals suspected of involvement in Hoffa’s murder.

Although The Irishman on Netflix follows the plot of Brandt’s book, I Heard You Paint Houses, by making Sheeran kill Hoffa, investigators were never able to prove that it was Sheeran who killed him.

Sheeran later claimed that he killed Hoffa, though he is only one of several individuals suspected in multiple theories that investigators and historians have proposed.

Other suspects included Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano, a mob boss and Teamster leader in New Jersey, and Anthony “Tony Jack” Giacalone, a mobster in Detroit.

The Irishman movie plot: Spoilers

Frank Sheeran worked as a hitman for Russell Bufalino’s crime family. Russell later introduced Sheeran to Jimmy Hoffa (played by Al Pacino). Hoffa hired Sheeran as his bodyguard.

After John F. Kennedy was elected as president in 1960, his brother, the attorney general Robert Kennedy, investigated Hoffa. Hoffa was arrested in 1964 and sentenced to prison for jury tampering.

President Richard Nixon pardoned Hoffa and he was released from prison in 1971, but banned from involvement in Teamsters activities. Despite the ban, Hoffa began to make moves to regain power as the head of the Teamsters.

Russell told Sheeran to warn Hoffa that the Teamsters’ leaders and organized crime families were not pleased with him, but Hoffa refused to heed the warning.

Russell later told Sheeran that the families wanted Hoffa dead. Sheeran went to Hoffa and lured him to a house where he shot him dead and had his corpse cremated.

The Irishman is currently streaming on Netflix. 

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