“Little Richard” Collinsworth Had a Very Bad Day
Little Richard got (1) robbed, (2) shot in the stomach, (3) lost his business, and (4) was arrested — all in the same day!
This is a Dallas gambling story from the 1980s.
I knew Richard Collinsworth. I think he ran the first illegal craps game I ever went to. He was maybe 5′ 8″ in platform shoes when standing on his toes, so everybody called him “Little Richard.”
Little Richard was short in stature but he had the heart of a lion and the mouth of a crocodile. In my 40 years in gambling, nobody I met at the poker table ever talked a better game. Rain or shine, win or lose, he had everybody eating out of his hand. When Little Richard sat in a game it was more fun to listen to his gambling stories than to play poker. He knew every legendary gambler around — cheats, hustlers, cops, ex-cops, convicted felons, and poker champions.
Sometime around 1985, Little Richard decided to take advantage of his unique skill set. He opened up his own gambling joint. His underground “casino” was located in an ideal location off of Lombardy Lane near Love Field in northwest Dallas. Of course, all of this was illegal.
He rented a corner unit in a large apartment complex with plenty of parking so players could come and go at all hours of the day and night and not catch any heat. The apartment was furnished with everything you’d see inside a VIP section in a Las Vegas casino. Gambling tables were installed. The best liquor was delivered. He had every brand of cigarettes. Good cigars. Security cameras were set up. Dealers and cocktail runners were hired. It seemed everything was all set and ready to go. Little Richard was ready to open for business.
That’s when Little Richard had a very bad day.
Little Richard arrived early to set things up and get the casino ready for action. Unbeknown to him, a robber had broken into the apartment through a rear window and was lying in wait.
When he arrived and flipped on the lights, the robber jumped out of the backroom and flashed a handgun. He pointed the barrel straight at Little Richard’s gut and demanded money. Hands in the air, he gave up the entire day’s bankroll, no problem.
But somehow while the money was being transferred, Little Richard couldn’t keep his mouth shut. The burglar got irritated. So, he shot Little Richard in the stomach. Boom! The thief, now facing attempted murder charges if he got caught, grabbed the wad of cash and fled the scene.
Now, Little Richard was bent over and bleeding like crazy. He desperately needed medical help. But he didn’t want to call the police to his place, where if they showed up, they would plainly see the craps and blackjack tables and other gambling paraphernalia, all classified as contraband. So, somehow Little Richard dragged himself away from the crime scene, to his car, and drove himself down the street to call for help from a payphone.
Later, while in the hospital receiving treatment to save his life, back at the casino-apartment, someone called the police to say they heard gunshots. The police showed up and saw a trail of blood leading to the front door and then broke in to find a full-length craps table, blackjack, and other illegal gambling paraphernalia. They went to the management office to find out whose apartment it was, got his name, and then found out someone matching his name was resting in Parkland Memorial Hospital with a gunshot wound. Bingo. Minutes later, while Little Richard was hooked to an IV getting stitched up, the police showed up to let him know he’s under arrest.
So, Little Richard got (1) robbed, (2) shot in the stomach, (3) lost his business, and (4) was arrested — all in the same day.
Now, that’s what you call having a very bad day!
Note: Special thanks to Scott Hoelscher. I’d heard this story before, but he filled in the details. The last Little Richard sighting was in 2014 which is when I saw him in Bossier City, Louisiana. If he’s still around and reads this, please send me an email.
READ MORE: The Story of Herbert “the Cat” Noble