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Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were two of the most notorious outlaws in American history, forever linked to the public consciousness.
They were young, daring, and dangerous, and they captured the imagination of a country struggling through the Great Depression. But behind the legend lay the harsh reality of their lives, a story of poverty, violence, and desperation.
They met in Dallas, Texas, and were immediately drawn to each other.
Together, Bonnie and Clyde embarked on a crime spree that would capture the nation’s attention and make them both into legends.
They robbed banks, gas stations, and stores across the South and Midwest, always staying one step ahead of the law.
The outlaw lovers became folk heroes to many Americans who were struggling to survive amid the Great Depression, seen as modern-day Robin Hoods who were sticking it to the wealthy and powerful.
Today, Bonnie, pictured in a beret and flapper-style dress with a cigar stuck out the side of her mouth, would be described as a rebellious fashionista. Clyde wore suits and ties with a fedora cocked on his head.
The glamorous image captured in photographs of the outlaw couple taken by members of their gang riveted American newspapers.
But for Bonnie and Clyde, the fame came at a cost. They were constantly on the run, never able to settle down and live a normal life.
They were always looking over their shoulders, afraid the law would catch up.
As their crimes became more violent and their notoriety grew, Bonnie and Clyde began attracting the attention of law enforcement agencies nationwide.
Texas Ranger Frank Hamer hunted them for staging a deadly escape from the Eastham Prison Farm.
Their day of reckoning came on May 23, 1934, in Louisiana, where Ranger Hamer lured them into a deadly ambush.
More than fifty thousand people came to see their open caskets at two funeral homes in Dallas.
In death, the legend of their crimes and love affair grew, immortalized in magazines, books, and movies.
Investigative reporter Robert Riggs separates facts from fiction in this episode.
For listeners who want to learn more, he recommends Bonnie and Clyde: The Making Of A Legend by Dallas journalist and author Karen Blumenthal.
Bonnie and Clyde Death Scene (1934)
This footage captures scenes of the aftermath of the shootout with police that killed the infamous outlaw couple, Bonnie and Clyde on May 23, 1934. They were ambushed by a posse of six officers led by legendary Texas Ranger Frank Hamer.
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James Williams says
Excellent podcast about Bonnie and Clyde! My late grandfather told of them driving by him when he was working on a road crew. They honked and waved and no one knew who they were, but a short time later the sheriff came by and asked if they had seen a man and woman drive by. When they responded, he informed them that was Bonnie and Clyde!
Robert Riggs says
Thanks for your comment. I imagine that we baby boomers have many stories like yours from our parents and grandparents. Thanks for listening.