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Video:Profile of Bonnie and Clyde

with Laura Wilson

Bonnie and Clyde were two of the most notorious gangsters in America's history. The public was fascinated by their story of adventure and love, and by their gruesome end.See Transcript

Transcript:Profile of Bonnie and Clyde

The History of Bonnie and Clyde

No couple in history has been more iconic, and more infamous, than Bonnie and Clyde. The adventure, the love story, and their ruthlessness kidnapped the imagination of America – until their ultimate demise, in 1934.

Beginnings for Bonnie and Clyde

Both Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow grew up outside of Dallas, Texas. They met in 1930, and apparently it was love at first sight. Bonnie, however, was already married – and Clyde went to jail shortly thereafter. When he emerged from Texas’ Eastham Prison in 1932, he was a “hardened criminal,” looking not only for loot, but for revenge. He hoped to steal enough money to stage a major prison break – robbing not only banks, but also small-time mom and pops, killing civilians all along the way.

Bonnie joined Clyde and his gang in their exploits around the Midwest. When hiding out in Joplin, Missouri, the Barrow gang drew attention with its wild booze and card parties. Local police, unaware of the seasoned criminals inside, tried to break it up – leaving one officer mortally wounded. Clyde Barrow was an expert with his gun of choice, the Browning Automatic Rifle. After the gang made its getaway, law enforcement found a reel of film and Bonnie’s journals, including poems inspired by their life of crime. It was this intimate look at the couple’s affair, Bonnie flirtatiously posing with Clyde’s weapons and cigar for the camera, that brought them such notoriety.

On the Run
As the murders piled up and their profile increased, the gang was running out of time. Bonnie was gravely injured in a car crash, and could barely walk by the end of her life. Part of the gang was captured and killed when hiding out at an abandoned amusement park in Iowa. But the crimes continued – Clyde did break some buddies out of Eastham prison – and this only increased the pressure on law-men to capture them, dead or alive.

The Trail’s End for Bonnie and Clyde

Texas hired former ranger Frank Hamer to round up a posse to tail the Barrow gang. When the gang visited family in Louisiana, the noose tightened. While driving in broad daylight in Bienville Parish, the posse opened fire on the car – hitting Bonnie with 26 bullets and Clyde with 17. The scene of the crime quickly became a mob scene.

For better or for worse, everyone wanted a piece of Bonnie and Clyde. Their death foreshadowed what laid in store for the rest of the “public enemies”– by the end of 1934, John Dillinger, Babyface Nelson, and Pretty Boy Floyd would all have met their end. All have remained popular icons of this era – when small-time, Midwestern gangsters styled themselves as the Robin Hoods of the great depression.

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