Woody Harrelson’s Hitman Dad Is Subject Of New True Crime Series

by : Julia Banim on : 18 Apr 2020 11:58
Woody Harrelson's Hitman Dad Is Subject Of New True Crime SeriesHouston Police Department/PA

Woody Harrelson is known for his prolific acting career, from his sitcom beginnings in Cheers to meatier parts in critically acclaimed movies such as Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and The Messenger.

What is less known about Woody, 58, is that his father was a convicted murderer who, in 1982, was two given two life sentences for the 1979 murder of federal judge, John H. Wood Jr.


Charles Harrelson, was an alleged hitman who had previously been acquitted in the death of carpet salesman Alan Berg. He had also been convicted in the murder case of grain dealer Sam Degelia Jr., a conviction for which he served five years.

Woody HarrelsonPA

It’s widely believed professional gambler Charles had been involved in the world of organised crime, with the convict having even claimed to have been connected to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Now a brand new Spotify podcast will delve into the life and crimes of Charles, across 10 gripping episodes.


Entitled Son of a Hitman, this podcast will begin in May – as per Entertainment Weekly – and will feature new interviews with Woody’s brothers, Brett and Jordan. At the time of writing, Woody will not be participating in the podcast.

Host and journalist Jason Cavanagh will reportedly carry out a real-time investigation over the course of the series, which will include on-the-ground reporting with individuals who knew Charles before he was arrested and afterwards.

Charles HarrelsonHouston Police Department/Wikipedia

Speaking with People magazine in 1988, when he was just starting out in his career, Woody opened up about his family history, describing his father’s conviction as ‘a travesty’.

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In this interview, Woody revealed his beliefs that his dad had fallen victim to prejudicial pretrial publicity, and further noted how the trial judge had been one of the murder victim’s pallbearers.

Woody, who stated that he visited Charles in prison about once a year, told People:

I don’t feel he was much of a father. He took no valid part in my upbringing.

[…] 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.

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 made a failed attempt to to escape from Atlanta Federal Penitentiary in 1995. He died behind bars in 2007, at the age of 68.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Film and TV, podcast, Spotify, Woody Harrelson


Entertainment Weekly and 1 other
  1. Entertainment Weekly

    Exclusive: Son of a Hitman podcast to tackle life and crimes of Woody Harrelson's father

  2. People

    Woody Harrelson, Cheers' Cheery Bartender, Feels a Bit Mixed About Fame and a Strange Family Twist