Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Woody Harrelson's hitman father the focus of new true crime podcast

Illustration for article titled Woody Harrelson's hitman father the focus of new true crime podcast
Photo: Frazer Harrison (Getty Images)

After years spent playing the sweet, amiable Woody Boyd on Cheers, Woody Harrelson shattered the nation’s monocles as Natural Born Killershomicidal Mickey Knox. It was a shocking turn at the time, but perhaps less so when you consider that his father, Charles Harrelson, was a convicted murderer.


Charles was sentenced to two life terms for the 1979 murder of a federal judge, John H. Wood Jr., and had previously been linked to the murders of a carpet salesman and a grain dealer. An alleged hitman, it’s widely believed he was involved in organized crime. He even claimed at one point to have been involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Entertainment Weekly reports that all of this and more will be unpacked in a new podcast, Son Of A Hitman, which will chronicle a “real-time investigation” from journalist Jason Cavanagh, whose original reporting will accompany in-depth discussions with Brett and Jordan Harrelson, Woody’s brothers. Per EW, “Son of a Hitman will bring to light revelations about Charles’ relationship with the law, why he claimed to have been involved in the JFK assassination...and what his sons believe truly happened.” EW also notes that, as of now, Woody has not participated in the podcast.

Woody previously commented on his father during a 1988 interview with People. “He took no valid part in my upbringing,” Woody said at the time. He did, however, note that he visited his father in prison once a year. “This might sound odd to say about a convicted felon, but my father is one of the most articulate, well-read, charming people I’ve ever known,” he said. “Still, I’m just now gauging whether he merits my loyalty or friendship. I look at him as someone who could be a friend more than someone who was a father.”

Charles tried (and failed) to escape the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary in 1995, and died in prison in 2007 at the age of 68.

The 10-episode podcast, which is produced by Spotify, will debut in May.

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.