Bonnie Elizabeth Parker (October 1, 1910 - May 23, 1934) and Clyde Chestnut Barrow a.k.a. Clyde Champion Barrow (March 24, 1909 - May 23, 1934) were American outlaws and robbers from Dallas, Texas who traveled the central United States with their gang during the Great Depression. Many times, the gang included Buck Barrow, Blanche Barrow, Ray Hamilton, W.D. Jones, Joe Palmer, Henry Methvin, and Ralph Fults. Their many exploits captured the attention of the American public during the "Public Enemy Era", between 1931 and 1935. Though today known for his dozen-or-so bank robberies, Clyde Barrow preferred to rob small stores or rural gas stations. Clyde and Bonnie along with their gang was believed to have killed at least nine police officers and several civilians. The outlaw couple were eventually ambushed and killed near the town of Sailes, Louisiana, in Bienville Parish, Louisiana, by Texas Ranger Frank Hamer and five other lawmen. The couple's reputation was revived and cemented in American pop folklore by Arthur Penn's 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde, which starred Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty as the pair. During their lifetimes, the couple's depiction in the press was at considerable odds with the reality of their life on the road, most interestingly in the case of Bonnie Parker. Though present at a hundred or more felonies during her two years as Clyde's companion, she didn't appear as the gun-wielding killer portrayed in the newspapers, newsreels, and pulp detectives magazines of the day. One of their gang members, W.D. Jones, would later testify that he was unsure if he had ever seen her fire at officers. Bonnie's reputation as a cigar smokin' gun moll grew out of a playful snapshot found by police at an abandoned hideout in Joplin, Missouri, released to the press, and eventually published worldwide. Though Parker did chain-smoke Camel cigarettes, she was never a cigar smoker. Historian Jeff Guinn believes the Joplin photos led to the glamorization and creation of legend about the outlaws, saying -
"John Dillinger had matinee-idol good looks and Pretty Boy Floyd had the best possible nickname, but the Joplin photos introduced new criminal superstars with the most titillating trademark of all—illicit sex. Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were wild and young, and undoubtedly slept together."
Bonnie Parker Edit
Bonnie Elizabeth Parker (October 1, 1910 - May 23, 1934) was born in Rowena, Texas, the second of three children to Charles Parker, a bricklayer who died when Bonnie was four, and Emma Krause. Emma moved with the children to her parents home in Cement City, an industrial suburb now known as West Dallas, where Bonnie found work as a seamstress. Frank Krause, her maternal grandfather, initially came from Germany. As an adult, Bonnie loved to write, highly evidenced by her most famous work "The Story of Suicide Sal", and "The Trail's End" (now known as "The Story of Bonnie and Clyde"). When Bonnie was a sophomore in high school, she met Roy Thornton. Parker and Thornton dropped out of high school, and six days after Bonnie's 16th birthday, they were married on September 25, 1926. Their marriage was marked by Roy's constant absences and brushes with the law, and was short-lived. After January 1929, they never saw each other again. However, they were never divorced, and Bonnie was wearing Roy's ring the day she died.
Roy Thornton was in prison in 1934 when he learned of her death, his reaction was - "I'm glad they went out like they did. It's much better than being caught." In 1929, after the sudden break-down of her marriage, Bonnie lived with her mother and worked as a waitress in Dallas. One of her most regular customers in the café was postal worker Ted Hinton, who had a crush on Bonnie, and who would later join the Dallas Sheriff's Department in 1932.
He was one of six lawmen who participated in her 1934 ambush. In early 1929, Bonnie kept a diary, where she wrote of her loneliness, impatience with life in Dallas, and her love of talking pictures.
Clyde Barrow Edit
Clyde Chestnut Barrow (March 24, 1909 - May 23, 1934) was born into a relatively poor family in Ellis County, Texas, near Telico, a town southwest of Dallas. He was the fifth of seven children of Henry Basil Barrow (1874 - 1957) and Cumie T. Walker (1874 - 1943). The Barrows migrated to Dallas in the early 1920s due to a wave of resettlement from the impoverished nearby farms to the urban slum known as West Dallas. The family spent their first months in West Dallas living under their wagon. When father Henry had put together enough money to buy a tent, it was significant improvement for the Barrows.
Clyde was first arrested in late 1926, after running when police confronted him over a rental car he had failed to return on time. His second arrest occurred with his older brother Marvin "Buck" Barrow (March 14, 1903 - July 29, 1933), booked for possession of stolen goods (turkeys). Despite having legitimate jobs between 1927 through 1929, he also cracked safes, robbed stores, and stole cars. After sequential arrests in 1928 and 1929, he was sent to Eastham Prison Farm in April 1930. While in prison, Barrow had been beaten by guards and raped repeatedly by Ed Crowder, a fellow inmate. The abuse stopped when Clyde used a lead pipe to crush Crowder's skull, another inmate serving a life sentence took the fall. This has been widely credited as Clyde Barrow's first killing. Eventually, Barrow convinced an inmate to use an axe to chop off two of Barrow's toes to avoid hard labor in the fields; he would walk with a limp for the rest of his life as a result. Without his knowledge, Barrow's mother Cumie had successfully petitioned a release for him, just six days after his intentional injury.
Barrow was finally paroled on February 2, 1932. He emerged from Eastham a hardened and bitter criminal. His sister Marie said, "Something awful sure must have happened to him in prison because he wasn't the same person when he got out." Ralph Fults, a fellow inmate and later escapee, claimed he watched Clyde "change from a schoolboy to a rattlesnake."