1934 – John Dillinger shot dead outside the Biograph Theater

John Herbert Dillinger was one of the most notorious criminals in America in an era when criminals were rock stars. But Dillinger outshone them all – Bonnie and Clyde, Al Capone, Pretty Boy Floyd – none of them were as popular. Part of the reason for this was Dillinger’s manner – he was an unusually polite criminal and also a very clever one. He and his gang once robbed a bank on the pretext that they were making a movie of a bank robbery.

All this notoriety wasn’t good for his life expectancy, though. J. Edgar Hoover declared him Public Enemy Number One, and a team of FBI agents led by Melvin Purvis hunted him down. Dillinger spent most of the last year or so of his life laying low, but eventually someone dropped a dime on him, and the FBI agents laid a trap for him when he went to see “Manhattan Melodrama” at the Biograph Theatre in Chicago. The plan was to arrest him as he left at the end of the film, but Dillinger recognised Purvis and attempted to escape. The agents gave chase, firing five shots at Dillinger and hitting him three times.

Dillinger bled to death outside the Biograph, and local legend has it that passerby dipped their handkercheifs in his blood. His life and works are commemorated by the John Dillinger Died For You Society.

Referenced in:

Dillinger — David Olney