Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson was the undisputed king of the Harlem underworld from the '30s to the '60s.
And being Bumpy's girl was a title of rare prestige.
Mayme Hatcher Johnson told of her life with the infamous hoodlum in her book "Harlem Godfather: The Rap on My Husband, Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson," published last year.
In the tome, Mayme tells of the benefits of being the girlfriend, and later the wife, of the legendary crime boss.
"It was a good title to possess," she said. "It meant I could get in anywhere I wanted to go. I was treated as a queen wherever I went, and I was showered with gifts and jewelry on a steady basis."
Mayme Johnson, who moved to Philadelphia in 2003, died Friday of respiratory failure. She was 94.
One of her motives in writing the book was her anger at how her husband's associate, Frank Lucas, was portrayed in the 2007 film "American Gangster."
She insisted that Lucas, portrayed by Denzel Washington in the movie, was nothing more than a flunky in her husband's organization.
Daily News columnist Jenice Armstrong interviewed Mayme just before the movie premiered.
"I remember walking into her room at the nursing home and was taken aback by what I found," Armstrong said. "I'm not sure what I expected, but it certainly wasn't this sweet, elegant grandmother.
"She was lovely and soft-spoken - unless she was talking about Frank Lucas and what she thought of him and how he'd inflated his role in her husband's crime syndicate. That's when she got all riled up. She was furious about the movie."
Armstrong said that she was also impressed by Mayme's demeanor as she talked about her late husband, who died in 1968, and the life they had together.
"I was surprised at how idyllic she made it sound," Armstrong said. "She talked about their travels to Europe and the furs he'd bought her and this wonderful life they'd shared."
When Armstrong tried to press her about her husband's criminal activities, which financed their idyllic existence, "she would pause and look at me and say, 'We had a good life.'
"I'd expected her to weigh in from a moral standpoint and denounce her husband's illegal activities, but she never did that. She never even gave a hint of that."
Mayme was born in 1914 in North Carolina and moved to New York City in 1938, where she found work as a waitress at a club owned by singer and actress Ethel Waters.
She met Johnson, who was called "Bumpy" because of a bump on the back of his head, in a Harlem restaurant in 1948.
Bumpy was on his way to being a legend who eventually would be depicted in films and TV shows.
"In October that year, we were driving past 116th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue in his Cadillac when he suddenly turned to me and said, 'Mayme, I think you and I should go ahead and get married.'
"I was stunned, but I kept my composure. I said simply, 'Is that right?' He said, 'Yes, that's right,' and kept on driving."
They were married in a civil ceremony two weeks later. Bumpy collapsed and died of a heart attack in a Harlem restaurant on July 7, 1968.
Mayme, a longtime member of St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Harlem, was known for her charitable and volunteer activities."
"Mayme was a class act, and had a big heart," said Henry "Perk" Perkins, a Harlem restaurateur and close friend of both Mayme and Bumpy.
"She was the sweetest woman in the world, but she didn't take any nonsense. She carried herself like a real lady and expected to be treated as such."
Her book, written with author Karen E. Quinones Miller, may become a film itself. Perkins said that Johnson was notified two days before her death that a film company was negotiating to purchase the rights.
"Yeah, she was tickled pink to tell people she was an author at age 93," Perkins said. "Boy, it really made her proud to finally get that book done."
She is survived by a sister, Lily Andrews; a brother, Melvin Hatcher; and two grandchildren.