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John Dillinger & "Baby Face" Nelson Hunted by FBI

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Uploaded on Jun 14, 2009

While producing our show about Police Cars, we stumbled on the story of John Herbert Dillinger (June 22, 1903July 22, 1934) the notorious bank robber in the Midwestern United States during the 1930s. Some considered him a dangerous criminal, while others idolized him as a present-day Robin Hood. He gained this latter reputation (and the nickname "Jackrabbit") for his graceful movements during heists, such as leaping over the counter (a move he supposedly copied from the movies) and many narrow getaways from police. His exploits, along with those of other criminals of the Great Depression, such as Bonnie and Clyde and Ma Barker, dominated the attention of the American press and its readers during what is sometimes referred to as the public enemy era (1931-1935), a period that gave rise to the modern and more sophisticated Federal Bureau of Investigation.

This FBI film from the era trumpets the Bureaus hard work and success at tracking Dillinger down and his accomplice, Baby face Nelson.

Dillinger's last day alive was July 22, 1934. Dillinger attended the film Manhattan Melodrama at the Biograph Theater in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. Dillinger was with his girlfriend, Polly Hamilton, and Anna Sage, whose real name was Ana Cumpanas, a brothel madam in Gary, Indiana.

Agents were ready when Dillinger left the theater and he was struck three times, twice in the chest, one actually nicking his heart, and the fatal shot, which entered the back of his neck and exited just under his right eye. An ambulance was summoned even though it was clear that Dillinger had quickly died from his gunshot wounds. According to Purvis, Dillinger died without saying a word. At 10:50 p.m. on July 22, 1934, John Dillinger was pronounced dead at Alexian Brothers Hospital.

This summer a new movie starring Johnny Depp will revive the Dillinger story once again.

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