BOSTON — James “Whitey” Bulger, 83, is no longer the feared man who swaggered around South Boston and later became one of the nation’s most-wanted fugitives. The bright platinum hair that earned Bulger his nickname is all but gone, and his reputed status as the leader of a violent gang has passed.
But with Bulger’s long-awaited trial due to get underway Monday, it’s clear that the passage of time has done little to diminish Boston’s fascination with him.
“He’s a survivor. He’s had a very long shelf life in a profession where that is not typical,” said Dick Lehr, who has co-written two books about Bulger, including the biography “Whitey: The Life of America’s Most Notorious Mob Boss.”
“The many faces of Whitey make him intriguing,” Lehr said.
Those faces include his early image as a modern Robin Hood and harmless tough guy who gave turkeys to his neighbors at Thanksgiving and kept drug dealers out of the neighborhood. That image was crushed when authorities began digging up bodies.