The story of Wall Street’s first Black millionaire won’t be untold much longer as Don Cheadle is adapting the obscure tale for the big screen.
“Prince of Darkness: The Untold Story of Jeremiah G. Hamilton, Wall Street’s First Black Millionaire” is an award-winning biography about the only Black broker on Wall Street and the sole Black millionaire in 1840s and 1850s New York. Cheadle scored film and TV rights for the Shane White-written 2015 book and will produce and star in the drama, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
White’s book states Hamilton was known as more ruthless and aggressive than his competitors and challenged railroad and shipping tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt for control over Accessory Transit Company in the 1850s. Distancing himself from the Black community and asserting himself among the white and wealthy, Hamilton ruffled feathers in both communities. He married a white woman and had nine children with her during their union, which lasted until Hamilton’s death in 1875. Hamilton amassed $2 million — the equivalent of $250 million in today’s currency — by the time he died and obituaries named him the richest Black man in the U.S.
Cheadle’s part as Hamilton will add to his list of real-life portrayals, which include Sammy Davis Jr., street basketball legend Earl Manigault, Rwandan humanitarian Paul Rusesabagina and, most recently, Miles Davis in “Miles Ahead.” The last-mentioned film’s screenwriter, Steven Baigelman, will assume the same role with “Prince of Darkness.”