22 Oct 2013

Charles Ramsey: from dish washer to celebrity

Charles Ramsey found fame after giving a spirited TV interview following his rescue of a woman who had been kidnapped and imprisoned for 10 years. How has his sudden stardom changed his life?

As Charles Ramsey cruised around the heaving nightclub, he was mobbed by throngs of well-wishers – many of them shrieking women.

It’s incredible to think that he was receiving the adulation of a rock star because of a few now-infamous soundbites.

Just five months ago, Ramsey had been washing dishes in a Cleveland, Ohio, restaurant when the story which he will forever be linked with unfolded in the house next to his.

According to Ramsey’s account, Amanda Berry, a local woman missing for 10 years, called out in a desperate cry for help.

Ramsey, interviewed at the scene afterwards, claims that he helped prise open the door of the house where she was being held with two other women.

‘Dead giveaway’

Turning to the interviewer from local news network Bro, he utters the immortal lines: “I knew there was something wrong when a pretty little white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway.”

He repeated the “dead giveaway” comment for effect several times as the white reporter turned away.

In a flash, he became a national celebrity after hitting the jackpot of instant fame. His exploits are now the subject of a rap song, TV satire and video game.

He’s even known in South Korea, where an animated cartoon has been made in which Ramsey appears as a superhero.

But he’s a hard man to track down. He went to ground after reports about convictions for domestic violence appeared in the media.

So I was unsure whether I would be able to reach him, but after tireless enquiries I learnt he would be turning up at the concert of a local hip-hop band.


Waiting outside, Ramsey appeared with his hair newly coiffed and a swagger to match. It quickly became clear that to get to Ramsey, you now have to go through someone else – a man called Kris (with a “K”, as he emphasises).

Pointing to his young white manager, Ramsey said “speak to my mouth” as we waited for the concert to start.

As his celebrity client was busy being photographed, Kris (with a “K”) claimed that they were inundated with requests and that, in his words, we would have to “pay to play”.

Eventually he agreed we could have an interview without money changing hands. The next day Ramsey duly appeared in his shiny black BMW.

We ended up interviewing him in a back street. It was less of an interview, more of a performance. Strangely, he seemed reluctant to talk about the incident which spawned his instant fame.

But he was clearly revelling in his new found celebrity status – to the point where he almost seemed detached from reality.