10 Facts About ‘The Wire’

For the true "Wire-head" The Wire series became an obsession with its true to life story lines for many households. Many of us were counting down the moments to the next airing.  Calling our friends trying to predict the next jaw dropping episode.  Critics pegged "The Wire" as one of the greatest television series ever made. It focused on the city of Baltimore and its different facets. There are 10 facts every "Wire-head" should know.  

"The Wire’s" creator and writer David Simon, a former police reporter, created the series based off his and co-writer Ed Burns, a former homicide detective, experiences in Baltimore. "The Wire’s" first show came directly from David Simon’s book “Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets” first chapter. So not only is this a memorable series but there's a book.  Who knew???

The infamous main character Avon Barksdale is loosely based on “Little” Melvin Williams. Melvin was a Baltimore drug lord arrested in the 1980’s by Ed Burns, the co-writer.  He snagged a recurring role as a deacon at the beginning of the third season. So this series not only started the careers of upcoming actors but infamous drug lords can get parts as well.  What a show!!!

The character fondly known to all avid "Wire" watchers as “Bubbles” was based on a Baltimore drug addict and police informant who was played by Andre Royo.  The real Bubbles was the master mind behind the infamous hat method of catching criminals.  He would pretend to sell hats and would place a chosen color on the head of a criminal the police should arrest.   Bubbles was an addict that was arrested in the 1960’s for burglary and spent the next several decades as an informant for the Baltimore Police Department.  He became an asset to the department because of his ability to blend and his photographic memory.

Bet you didn't know Cheese Wagstaff, Prop Joe’s nephew, shared the same last name as Randy Wagstaff, one of the street kids in the fourth season.  It was never established in the storyline that he was Randy’s father but creator David Simon did reveal that Cheese was Randy’s father.  Simon planned on revealing this secret in the fifth season but decided against it.

In December of 2008, "Empire" magazine ranked “The Wire” #8 for its 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. Like we needed this magazine to tell us that. 

Producer Robert F. Colesberry played Detective Ray Cole in the series.  He tragically died after routine heart surgery.  Ironically, Ray Cole, the character also died from a heart related illness during the show.  The cast participated in a traditional detectives wake in honor of Cole, the character and Colesberry’s memory.

Larry Gilliard Jr. who played D’Angelo Barksdale, Avon Barksdale’s nephew, though he played a criminal with a conscience he actually studied classical music at the Juilliard School in New York best known as the world’s most prestigious performing arts conservatories. I wonder if they had Drug Lord 101 as one of the courses?

Our favorite gay stick up criminal Omar, who was played by Michael K. Williams,  used no make up for that infamous facial scar that gives his authentic hardened look.  Mr. Williams was in a fight on his 25th birthday and was slashed with a razor.

"The Wire’s" opening theme music is “Way Down in the Hole”, a gospel and blues song originally written by Tom Waits in his 1987 album “Franks Wild Years”.  This song took a different genre each season and performed differently by The Blind Boys of Alabama, Waits himself, The Neville Brothers, DoMaJe and Steve Earle.  The most unique version was season four’s version that was arranged and recorded by five Baltimore teens: Ivan Ashford, Markel Steele, Cameron Brown, Tariq Al-Sabir, and Avery Bargasse.  The arrangement was fitting for this season because of its heavy focus on the school system and its affect on teens.

Andre Royo who played "Bubbles" a recovering drug addict attended an all-boys school in the Bronx with  all too famous Sean "Puffy" Combs.

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