Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pop History Moment: The Death of Bonnie & Clyde

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow's notoriety became immortality on this day in 1934, when they were shot and killed on a lonely stretch of road near Black Lake, Louisiana...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Shortly after 9 AM they had stopped to visit the father of one of their gang members, Henry Methvin; unbeknownst to them, his presence was a trap. Shortly after their arrival four officers from Texas - Frank Hamer, B.M. 'Manny' Gault, Bob Alcorn, and Ted Hinton - and two from Louisiana - Henderson Jordan and Prentiss Oakley - opened fire, riddling the pair and their stolen Ford V8 with over 130 bullets, killing them instantly.

Tiny, loquacious Bonnie and handsome, angry Clyde had captured the public imagination in the last two years of their lives, even though competition for attention was fierce during the the so-called Public Enemy Era. The glamour of their image set them apart, but was belied by the increasing squalor of their situation. For the one-third of the populace trapped by the Great Depression, a life on the run - no matter how dangerous - proved a powerful thrill, even vicariously.

More than thirty years after their deaths, enough mystique still clung to the pair for them to be portrayed by Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty - at the time two of the most beautiful and popular actors in Hollywood - in Arthur Penn's 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde. That they bore little or no resemblance to the historical figures they portrayed was irrelevant, since their presence in the film conjured up the glamour of their lives - even if it had originally been squalor tarted up as glamour.

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