Today I found out Mark Wahlberg was a drug dealer and was tried for attempted murder before forming Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.
Wahlberg, born the youngest of nine children all living in a three bedroom apartment, dropped out of school around the age of fourteen and joined a gang. During this time, he was reportedly in trouble with the law around 20-25 times, for dealing drugs and various other offenses. He also claims he became addicted to cocaine during this period. Things came to a head when he was 16 years old and he attacked two Vietnamese men without provocation. He attacked the first with a stick and he punched the second, permanently blinding him in the process. The official record of the event as recorded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Superior Court is as follows:
At approximately 9:00 p.m. on April 8, 1988, Thanh Lam, a Vietnamese adult male who resides in Dorchester, traveled by car to 998 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester, Massachusetts. At 998 Dorchester Avenue, Thanh Lam left his car carrying two cases of beer. As he crossed the sidewalk, Mark Wahlberg attacked Thanh Lam. Wahlberg was carrying a large wooden stick, approximately five feet long and two to three inches in diameter. Wahlberg approached Thanh Lam calling him a “Vietnam fucking shit”, then hit him over the head with the stick. Thanh Lam was knocked to the ground unconscious. The stick broke in two and was later recovered from the scene. Thanh Lam was treated overnight at Boston City Hospital.
After police arrested Wahlberg later on the night of April 8, 1988, Wahlberg was informed of his rights and returned to the scene of 988 Dorchester Avenue. In the presence of two police officers, he stated: “You don’t have to let him identify me, I’ll tell you now that’s the mother-fucker whose head I split open”, or words to that effect.
As a police officer arrived at the scene of 988 Dorchester Avenue, Wahlberg and two other youths who were with him fled up Dorchester Avenue toward Pearl Street.
Shortly after 9:00pm on April 8, 1988, Hoa Trinh, an adult Vietnamese male who resides in Dorchester, was standing several blocks away from 998 Dorchester Avenue, near the corner of Dorchester Avenue and Pearl Street. Hoa Trinh was not aware of the altercation outside of 998 Dorchester Avenue.
Wahlberg ran up to Hoa Trinh, put his arm around Hoa Trinh’s shoulder and said: “Police coming, police coming, let me hide.” After a police cruiser passed, Wahlberg punched Trinh in the eye, causing him to fall to the ground.
Police arrived and Hoa Trinh identified Wahlberg as the person who punched him. Wahlberg was placed under arrest and read his rights. Thereafter, he made numerous unsolicited racial statements about “gooks” and “slant-eyed gooks”. After being returned to 998 Dorchester Avenue, Wahlberg identified Thanh Lam as the person he hit over the head with a stick.
For these attacks, Wahlberg was arrested and initially charged with attempted murder, but it was later reduced to criminal contempt, which carried a maximum sentence of ten years. After pleading guilty, he was given a two year sentence at the Deer Island House of Correction in Boston. In the end, he only had to serve 45 days in the correctional facility.
Unlike most that go through such facilities, the time he spent locked up inspired him to try and turn his life around. “As soon as I began that life of crime, there was always a voice in my head telling me I was going to end up in jail. Three of my brothers had done time. My sister went to prison so many times I lost count. Finally I was there, locked up with the kind of guys I’d always wanted to be like. Now I’d earned my stripes and I was just like them and I realized it wasn’t what I wanted at all. I’d ended up in the worst place I could possibly imagine and I never wanted to go back.” He started his turn-around by reaching out to his parish priest for guidance and support, as well as leaving the gang he was a member of.
Mark Wahlberg’s big break came thanks to his older brother, Donnie. Donnie Wahlberg was already famous at this point with his success as a member of The New Kids on the Block, a band Mark had initially been a member of at the age of 13, but quit before the group became famous. Mark had been working as a bricklayer after serving time when Donnie helped him form Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, including helping him get a record contract and producing the first record the group made. The debut album Music for the People, released in 1991 when Mark Wahlberg was 19 years old, ended up going Platinum thanks largely to the hit single Good Vibrations and the follow up single Wildside.
After his music career started to hit the tank a couple years later, Wahlberg dropped his Marky Mark persona and decided to take up acting. Despite early skepticism by critics, he made the switch successfully, with his first critical success coming from appearing in The Basketball Diaries, though he had a few roles before this, most notably opposite Danny DeVito in Renaissance Man. Since then, he has become one of the bigger stars in Hollywood, reportedly commanding around $12-$15 million per movie today.
- During his “Marky Mark” fame period, Wahlberg famously worked for Calvin Klein as an underwear model. Somewhat more humorously, he also put out a workout video: Form… Focus… Fitness
- Mark Wahlberg’s siblings are: Arthur, James, Debbie, Michelle, Paul, Tracey, Robert, and Donnie. He also has half siblings Scott, Buddy, and Donna who are children of his dad by another woman.
- Though all in all Wahlberg has turned his life around quite nicely, especially in recent years where he’s been involved in numerous charitable endeavors, particularly benefiting underprivileged youth, he still had several instances of violence in his post-prison, younger years (around the “Marky Mark” period). For instance, when he was 21 years old, he “viciously and repeatedly kicked the plaintiff, Robert D. Crehan, in the face and jaw” while a friend of his, Derk McCall, held Crehan down on the ground. This resulted in Crehan’s jaw being broken, as well as a claimed decrease in learning ability. Wahlberg also famous had a fight with certain members of Madonna’s entourage (which he states Madonna still owes him an apology over). He also attacked a security guard, which resulted in him having to appear in several anti-bias advertisements. Wahlberg states about his early life: “I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life and I’ve done bad things. But I never blamed my upbringing for that. I never behaved like a victim so that I would have a convenient reason for victimizing others. Everything I did wrong was my own fault. I was taught the difference between right and wrong at an early age. I take full responsibility.”
- Wahlberg was originally cast in both Ocean’s Eleven and Brokeback Mountain, but turned both roles down. In Ocean’s Eleven, he was cast as Linus Caldwell, but withdrew and Matt Damon was cast instead. In Brokeback Mountain he states he withdrew due to being uncomfortable with the sex scenes.
- Wahlberg and several friends originally had tickets to fly on United 93, one of the planes hijacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001. However, they ended up deciding to instead charter a plane to go attend a film festival in Canada before returning to Los Angeles. Wahlberg has since stated that “If I was on that plane with my kids, it wouldn’t have went down like it did. There would have been a lot of blood in that first-class cabin and then me saying, ‘OK, we’re going to land somewhere safely, don’t worry.’” Obviously this didn’t go over very well with people who lost loved ones on that plane, nor with the general public. Given Wahlberg’s apparent propensity towards violence, even when unprovoked, the first part of his claim isn’t really that far-fetched. However, the passengers of United 93 did revolt once they realized the bomb threat the terrorists were using to control them wasn’t likely true. They learned this after several passengers heard of the planes that hit the twin towers from talking to loved ones on their cell phones. Unfortunately for the passengers, though, the terrorists at this point were obviously the ones flying the plane. Once the passengers had nearly broken into the cockpit, the hijackers made the decision to simply crash the plane, with one recorded as saying ”Is that it? I mean, shall we put it down?” and another responding, “Yes, pull it down.” The pilot then rolled the plane over and began chanting “Allāhu Akbar”, while the passengers continued to fight. The official report states that at the time of impact, the passengers were just seconds from taking complete control. So obviously Wahlberg with his temper and fighting ability being there or not would have made no difference as the hijackers would have put the plane down all the same the second it was apparent a passenger or group of passengers were about to retake the aircraft.
- Wahlberg never returned to High School after dropping out at the age of 14, but did eventually get his GED.
- Since New Kids on the Block, Donnie Wahlberg also took up acting, appearing in such works as Band of Brothers, the Saw films, and The Sixth Sense. For the latter role in The Sixth Sense as “Vincent Grey”, he had to lose 43 pounds.
- New Kids on the Block was formed by Maurice Starr who held auditions in Boston with over 500 boys turning out. The first member selected was Donnie Wahlberg, who subsequently convinced Starr to also add Mark to the group, along with some friends of his.
- New Kids on the Block actually almost never were, as far as becoming famous. Their debut album was a flop and their second album initially didn’t do any better. After their first album, the group could only get gigs at school dances and the like. When their second album was released, it also initially flopped with little interest in their first single Please Don’t Go Girl. Finally, the label had decided to drop the group, but at this same time a single radio station in Florida had been playing the song steadily, with it becoming one of the most requested songs at that station. When Columbia Records learned of this, they decided to promote the song more and things took off from there. Interestingly, due to their later success, their debut album ultimately ended up selling four million copies, despite the initial flop. All total, New Kids on the Block sold over 70 million albums.
- The original name of New Kids on the Block was “NYNUK”, but upon signing the group, the label, Columbia Records, told them they needed to come up with a different name.
- Donnie Wahlberg also has had his share of trouble with the law, such as being charged with first degree arson for setting fire to a hotel hallway in Kentucky (The Seelbach Hotel). The charges were later lowered and he simply had to make a series of public service ads about fire safety, as well as anti-drug and anti-drunk driving ads.
Expand for References
- Mark Wahlberg’s Rap Sheet
- A Candid Interview with Mark Wahlberg
- Mark Wahlberg Bio
- Mark Wahlberg
- Mark Wahlberg Biography
- Mark Wahlberg: I would have landed the plane
- Donnie Wahlberg
- Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch
- Donnie Wahlberg Bio
- New Kids on the Block
- United Flight 93
- Mark Wahlberg Biography
- Vanity Fair Article on Mark Wahlberg
- Image Sourc: Pacific Pro Digital