Dunn Purnsley, played by Erik LaRay Harvey, is a career criminal from Baltimore who becomes Chalky White's second-in-command.
He is a supporting character ins Seasons 2-4, appearing as the tertiary antagonist in Season 4.
Purnsley is arrested while visiting Atlantic City for getting into a knife fight. He is in the cell opposite Nucky Thompson and Chalky White. After Nucky is released Chalky's wife Lenore visits. Purnsley makes sexual comments about her after she leaves but Chalky remains calm. Lenore gives Chalky a book and Purnsley asks him what it is. Chalky is moved into a cell with Purnsley and the other black prisoners when a new white prisoner arrives. Purnsley dislikes White for his perceived airs and graces and tries to provoke him throughout their incarceration together. White eventually responds by allowing his cell mates to beat Purnsley after Purnsley tries to attack him. ("Ourselves Alone")
On July 1 1921 the black staff of the Ritz Carlton Hotel prepare food in the kitchen. Travis Elkins is chopping vegetables. Purnsley, still bruised from his recent incarceration and sporting a new gold front tooth to replace the one he lost, is washing dishes. The white kitchen manager enters and warns Purnsley to be more careful with the plates. Purnsley clatters more china as he works and the manager reprimands him, calling him “boy”. Purnsley tells the manager that he has a name and the manager responds that he does not have to remember it. The senior cook, Otis, calls for lunch reminding the staff that they have just ten minutes. The workers line up next to Otis to receive their meal. Purnsley looks disappointed in his food; a mashed potato and vegetable slop. While the others eat Purnsley loudly asks the chef if he has bitten him. The chef is confused but admits that Purnsley has not. Purnsley goes on to wonder why the chef is feeding him dog food drawing a laugh from his colleagues. The chef states that he is following instructions from management. Purnsley complains about the constant influx of appealing room service leftovers that they are not allowed to eat. Purnsley’s fellow dish washer Franklin reminds him that he is the new man on the kitchen crew; having been there just a week and nevertheless should know their rules. Purnsley decries the rules as racist – they consider the workers unfit to eat the leftovers of the white customers. Louis says that the food tastes good to him. This draws a sidelong glance from the head chef, who remains quiet. Purnsley derisively asks his colleagues to look at themselves calling them “Uncle Toms” (slang for a black person who will betray the interest of his people to maintain good standing with white masters, derived from the play Uncle Tom’s cabin). His rhetoric compares the workers to loyal slaves and the head chef tells him to be thankful that he has a job. The older workers echo the head chef’s sentiment. Purnsley recites their long hours and little free time and says that he has served easier time in prison. Purnsley ignores a warning from one of the workers that their boss is coming and his argument wins some of the workers back to his side. Purnsley says that he was fed better food in prison and Elkins says that he believes Purnsley is being truthful. The manager asks if the staff have a problem, now referring to them all as “boys”. The head chef denies an issue and Purnsley says that they are discussing their poor quality meal. The manager checks Purnsley’s name and Purnsley confirms it, calling the manager chief. The manager sarcastically calls Purnsley a lord, looking around at the other workers and warns him that if he continues then he will be fired. The manager instructs them to finish their lunches and return to work. Purnsley keeps silent allowing sympathy to build amongst his colleagues. When the manager is gone he tells the others to do as instructed and “eat it up.” ("Battle of the Century")
Chalky White sharpens a knife in his garage. He looks up as Dunn Purnsley enters. Chalky comments on Purnsley’s audacity on coming back to the garage on his own accord. Purnsley reminds Chalky that he told him they could talk any time, Chalky glares at him, and Purnsley removes his hat and adds the respectful address “Mr White.” Chalky snorts and reminds Purnsley of their fracas in prison. Purnsley says that they started badly and Chalky says that their current relationship is copacetic. Purnsley describes it as “sweet as Cracker Jack” referring to the popcorn brand. Chalky describes Purnsley’s much improved situation since coming from Baltimore; a good job in a fine hotel, a gold tooth and plenty of cash. Purnsley agrees that things have turned out for the best and Chalky says that it is how he sees the world. Chalky asks for news and Purnsley relates progress seeding unrest among the kitchen staff. Chalky instructs Purnsley to bring things to a head. ("Battle of the Century")
The staff at the Ritz Carlton eat their lunch. Purnsley looks around and then asks the head chef if he is happy with the meal. He counters that he is happy to get paid each week. Support is mixed among the other workers – some shake their heads while some vocalise agreement. Purnsley complains about the low rate of pay ($15 a week) and Travis guesses that the hotel manager makes ten times as much. Purnsley complains that they work harder than the managers and looks at his fellow dishwasher Franklin as he says the manager does not clean any dishes. Otis the cook adds that the manager does not have to stand over a hot stove. Another worker, Louis complains that the manager doesn’t have to gut fish until his hands bleed. Purnsley lists examples of the demeaning way they are spoken to and says that the manager does not have to kowtow to this. A buzzer sounds and the head chef says that they need to get back to work. Purnsley asks who says so and the head chef warns that the manager will be there shortly. Purnsley derisively repeats manager and asks how long they have been putting up with the poor working conditions. Louis says that he has been their almost four years. Franklin announces that he has five and others join in. Purnsley wonders if they have ever had a raise and Otis admits that they have not. The head chef stares at the plate in his hand as the others vocalise support for Purnsley. Purnsley says that the hotel takes them for granted. Travis leads a murmur of agreement. Purnsley adds that they do not appreciate their hard work. The head chef says there is nothing they can do about it and that complaining will lead to them being replaced. Purnsley wonders what the hotel can do in the face of united action. The head chef is unconvinced saying that they might replace them all. Purnsley points out the logical fallacy in this, saying that if they all demand better conditions then their employers will have no-one else to hire. ("Battle of the Century")
The manager enters and claps, saying that the break is over. Purnsley sits down and the manager clicks his fingers and orders them back to work. No-one moves and Purnsley says that they have not had lunch yet. The manager asks what Purnsley has in his lap and Purnsley says that it looks like mule excrement. The manager observes that Purnsley is still complaining about the free food and Purnsley insists that they are not given food. The manager says that Purnsley can complain in his own time and fires him, shouting at him to get out. When Purnsley does not move the manager asks if he is deaf. Purnsley stands up causing the manager to step back in fear. He threatens to call the police if Purnsley does not get out. Purnsley asks for a raise and meals that the manager would eat himself. Travis stands up next to him. The manager instructs Otis to get back to work and Otis joins the defiant group. The manager says that Otis has orders to prepare and tells him to get on with it. Met with inaction he turns to Louis and tells him that he has a dozen crates of fish to scale. Louis stands up and folds his arms. The manager tells Franklin to get on with washing the dishes and he agrees to do so but is held back by Purnsley. The remaining workers stand up, surrounding the manager who shifts his feet nervously. The head chef slams his plate onto the floor at the manager’s feet as he tries a final warning. The other workers join in, throwing kitchenware down onto the floor. Purnsley throws his plate straight at the manager and he ducks out of the way and responds with racial abuse. The workers then direct their aim at the manager, throwing produce along with crockery. ("Battle of the Century")
The strike spreads to encompass black workers citywide. Purnsley organises a picket line outside the Ritz Carlton Hotel. A Pastor reads a passage from the bible (Deuteronomy 24:14) about oppression of servants while Owen Sleater passes through the striking workers with a crate of whiskey for the Hotel. Deputy Halloran and another Sheriff’s Deputy observe the strikers but do not interfere. The entrance to the hotel is barred but Sleater looks at Purnsley who nods to his men to let him pass. ("Georgia Peaches")
The next day (July 24 1921) the strikers remain on the boardwalk and sing the hymn “There is a Balm in Gilead”. A group of white men carrying bats and clubs round the corner and Purnsley calls to the strikers to hold the line. Purnsley punches one of the strike breakers but is set upon by others. The women rush to the back of the group. Halloran and the police do not intervene in the violence. Halloran is abandoned by two of his fellow officers as a group of strike breakers make a bee line for him. The men knock him down and beat him fiercely while he lays on the ground. ("Georgia Peaches")
Later that night Jimmy Darmody and Richard Harrow meet with Chalky and Purnsley in the Northside church where Chalky attends community meetings. The meeting is under the guard of two armed men in opposite corners of the hall. Chalky greets Jimmy as “young James” and shakes his hand. Chalky wonders how Nucky’s shoes are fitting and Jimmy says they are tighter than expected, gesturing at the room and referencing the strike. Chalky says that they need to be broken in. Chalky asks the reason for the meeting and Jimmy answers that he is there to negotiate an end to the strike. Chalky laughs at the timing and asks Purnsley’s opinion. Purnsley deadpans that Jimmy’s ball team of strike breakers have struck out. Jimmy says that the strike breakers were not his idea. Chalky brings up the Klan attack on his warehouse and Jimmy denies involvement in planning that too. Chalky sarcastically wonders if Jimmy has any ideas of his own. Jimmy responds with an offer to have the murder charges against Chalky dismissed. Chalky wonders how he will achieve this and Jimmy reveals that he has influence with Governor Edwards. Chalky looks round at Purnsley and then asks what else Jimmy can offer. Jimmy wonders what Chalky wants from him and Chalky asks for justice, explaining that he wants $3000 for each of the families of his men who were killed. Jimmy agrees to this and Chalky goes on to say he wants the three remaining Klan members responsible delivered to him personally. Jimmy balks at this and looks at Harrow. He tells Chalky that it is not possible and Chalky stands up and says that there will always be next tourist season. ("Georgia Peaches")
Three black men with shotguns guard Chalky White’s warehouse at night. Two trucks drive down the road towards the warehouse. Dunn Purnsley and Chalky are waiting inside. A man watching the door announces the arrival of the cars. Chalky tells him to open up and he slides the main doors apart. Jimmy drives the lead vehicle into the warehouse. The gunmen stop Harrow (in the following car) outside. Jimmy exits his truck and hands Chalky a stack of cash in a burlap sack. He explains that it contains $20,000, $5,000 for the family of each murdered man. Chalky points out that he only asked for $3,000 each and Jimmy says that he was aware. He pulls the cover from the flatbed revealing three Klansmen, bound and gagged. Nucky asks if Jimmy is sure and Jimmy says that they can ask them if they like. Purnsley says that it will be his pleasure and unfolds his switchblade. Chalky notes that the governor’s office has dropped his case and says that Jimmy can tell The Commodore that he will end the strike. Jimmy says that he will, avoiding giving away The Commodore’s death. Jimmy asks Chalky to pass a message to Nucky; he is ready to talk. Chalky nods assent and Jimmy walks back to Harrow’s car. Chalky welcomes the Klansman back to the scene of their crime. His men pull two of them out of the truck and beat them with clubs. Purnsley crawls up onto the flatbed with his blade in hand and a smile on his face. ("To the Lost")
Samuel Crawford visits Chalky White's honky tonk in the North Side of Atlantic City. Dunn listens as Samuel asks for Chalky's permission to marry his daughter, Maybelle White. Chalky has Samuel give him an impromptu physical to test his progress training as a doctor. He is impressed when Samuel picks up a mineral deficiency by noticing white spots on his nails. He orders a plate of greens and welcomes Samuel to the family.
Maybelle brings Samuel back to Chalky's honky tonk to see "The Little Professor" James Scott. Samuel tries to confront her about her lukewarm reaction to his proposal but is interrupted by the rough dancers. He asks them to watch what they are doing and a man slashes his face with a switchblade. Dunn beats the knife wielder to a bloody pulp. ("Spaghetti and Coffee")
- Chalky White: Employer (deceased)
- Valentin Narcisse: Secret employer (deceased)
- Owen Sleater: Bootlegging associate (deceased)
- Jimmy Darmody: Associate (deceased)
- Richard Harrow: Associate (deceased)
- Kitchen Manager: Boss
- Head Chef: Supervisor
- Travis Elkins: Colleague
- Otis: Colleague
- Louis: Colleague
- Franklin: Colleague
- Dickie Pastor: Stabbed to death for racist assertion.
- Lemuel Cuffy: Stabbed to death to keep him from informing Chalky White of his heroin dealings.
- Moses: Shot to three chest and once head to keep him from informing Chalky White of his heroin dealings.
- Several unnamed Gyp Rosseti and Joe Masseria thugs.
Who dat little lamb tail?
All you be is another jiggaboo in a jail cell.
|Season two appearances|
|21||Ourselves Alone||A Dangerous Maid||What Does the Bee Do?|
|Gimcrack & Bunkum||The Age of Reason||Peg of Old||Two Boats and a Lifeguard|
|Battle of the Century||Georgia Peaches||Under God's Power She Flourishes||To the Lost|
|Season three appearances|
|"Resolution"||"Spaghetti and Coffee"||"Bone for Tuna"||"Blue Bell Boy"|
|"You'd Be Surprised"||"Ging Gang Goolie"||"Sunday Best"||"The Pony"|
|"The Milkmaid's Lot"||"A Man, A Plan..."||"Two Imposters"||"Margate Sands"|
|Season four appearances|
|"New York Sour"||"Resignation"||"Acres of Diamonds"||"All In"|
|"Erlkonig"||"The North Star"||"William Wilson"||"The Old Ship of Zion"|
|"Marriage and Hunting"||"White Horse Pike"||"Havre De Grace"||"Farewell Daddy Blues"|