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 the Dallas area who traveled the central United States with their gang during the Great Depression. At times, the gang included Buck Barrow, Blanche Barrow, Raymond Hamilton, W. D. Jones, Joe Palmer, Ralph Fults, and Henry Methvin. Their exploits captured the attention of the American public during the “public enemy era” between 1931 and 1935. Though known today for his dozen-or-so bank robberies, Barrow preferred to rob small stores or rural gas stations. The gang is believed to have killed at least nine police officers and several civilians. The couple were eventually ambushed and killed near the town of Sailes, Louisiana, in Bienville Parish, Louisiana, by law officers. Their 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. Even during their lifetimes, the couple’s depiction in the press was at considerable odds with the hardscrabble reality of their life on the road—particularly in the case of Parker. Though she was present at a hundred or more felonies during her two years as Barrow’s companion, she was not the machine gun-wielding killer portrayed in the newspapers, newsreels, and pulp detective magazines of the day. Gang member W.D. Jones later testified that he was unsure whether he had ever seen her fire at officers. Parker’s reputation as a cigar-smoking gun moll grew out of a playful snapshot found by police at an abandoned hideout, released to the press, and published nationwide. While she did chain smoke Camel cigarettes, she was not a cigar smoker. Historian Jeff Guinn has said that the hideout photos led to the glamorization and creation of legend about the outlaws: 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 and Clyde
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