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John Dillinger - America's First Hollywood Criminal
John Dillinger's story is ironic. Legend has it he robbed banks under the guise of shooting a movie and analyzed bank security systems by saying he was location scouting for films. He enjoyed going to the pictures and seeing clips about 'Public Enemy #1', himself, on the big screen. America's first 'Hollywood Criminal' eventually met his demise at a night out at the Biograph Theater in Chicago, IL. Most recently, he was played by Hollywood heartthrob Johnny Depp in the film Public Enemies. Find out more about the man behind the legend, John Herbert Dillinger.
FBI Newsreel of John Dillinger
Watch a newsreel from the time, put out by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, applauding themselves on the capture of John Dillinger.
I'm not sure John Dillinger ever said these phrases or if this is the stuff of urban legend. Here is what an online search of John Dillinger quotes supplied.
- "All my life I wanted to be a bank robber. Carry a gun and wear a mask. Now that it's happened I guess I'm just about the best bank robber they ever had. And I sure am happy."
- "I rob banks for a living. What do you do?"
- "My buddies wanted to be firemen, farmers or policemen, something like that. Not me, I just wanted to steal people's money!"
- "No: small timers get into it and ruin it for everyone."
- "Now nobody get nervous, you ain't got nothing to fear. You're being robbed by the John Dillinger Gang, that's the best there is!"
- "OK boys, lets go make a withdrawal."
- "These few dollars you lose here today are going to buy you stories to tell your children and great-grandchildren. This could be one of the big moments in your life; don't make it your last!"
- "What do you expect me to do about it?"
- "We don't want your money mister, just the bank's."
- "I don't drink much and I smoke very little. I guess my only bad habit is robbing banks. Now you see, fellas, I ain't such a bad guy at heart."
- "They're not going to get me."
John Dillinger Photo Slideshow
John Dillinger, Artifacts and photos of key figures in his life and death
KansasCity.com has put together an extensive slideshow of John Dillinger in life and death, artifacts believed to have once belonged to John Dillinger and key figures in Dillinger's life and death.
Click here to view the 43-image John Dillinger Photo Slideshow from KansasCity.com.
John Dillinger on the Silver Screen - Just over 10 years after his death
Several actors have portrayed John Dillinger in motion pictures. Most notably, these include:
- Laurence Tierney - Dillinger (1945)
- Scott Peters - The FBI Story (1959)
- Warren Oates - Dillinger (1973)
- Robert Conrad - The Lady In Red (1979) - warning: brief nudity and sexual content
- Mark Harmon - Dillinger (1991)
- Johnny Depp - Public Enemies (2009)
Public Enemies Trailer - Released July 1, 2009
If you're interested in the 2009 Johnny Depp film, Public Enemies, you definitely want to check out this article from The Worldwide Guide To Movie Locations, Public Enemies Film Locations. Not only does it give information on the actual historic locations pertinent to John Dillinger and his gang, it lets you know what locations were substituted for the real deal.
Dillinger Double Feature
I saw this one day and went to check it out. We were at the Biograph Theater when they shot they exterior scenes - now we'll get a chance to watch Manhattan Melodrama (along with Public Enemies) in the cinema where they shot the interior "Biograph" scenes. All for 25 cents - how cool is that? - July 18, 2010 at 3:00pm, The Portage Theatre, Chicago, IL
Sign Up For BLOCKBUSTER OnlineÂ® And Get 2 Weeks FREEThis could be an excellent way to watch 2008's Public Enemies starring Johnny Depp or any other John Dillinger films. If you'd rather purchase a film than rent it, you can also find bargains on hundreds of new and previously viewed DVDs at BLOCKBUSTER Online. Click through to start browsing their titles now.
Find out everything you need to know about Blockbuster's online rental policy. Although the rumors are swirling, Blockbuster is NOT going out of business even though many of its retail locations are. Blockbuster is changing its format to compete with other ways of watching rental videos like Redbox or Netflix. I've been keeping an eye on stores going out of business (check that link for my full report) and the current word on Blockbuster from Yahoo Finance is that the Blockbuster "brick and mortar" stores are going the way of the dinosaurs but they will survive by copying the film distribution model of online and kiosk competitors.
Blockbuster will let you purchase or rent DVDs through the mail, exchange DVDs at their retail locations, or stream movies online through their Blockbuster On Demand program.
Johnny Depp on John Dillinger
Johnny Depp is interviewed on John Dillinger's character and intelligence. Depp voices how he believes that Dillinger operated and saw himself more as a "rock star" than a "criminal", was a very articulate person and made clever use of both his "love for the people" and their love back for him. He adds that Dillinger vs. Purvis was an unfair matching, stating Dillinger far outclassed the FBI's contender.
2008 - The Set Of Public Enemies on Lincoln. Ave. - Me and the kids at the Biograph Theater!Click thumbnail to view full-size
A Robin Hood Figure
Most people felt the banks had robbed them and saw Dillinger as a hero for robbing banks and destroying their mortgage records.
Bank Robberies committed by John Dillinger
John Dillinger's bank robbery crimes are here listed in chronological order
- Bank Robbery - New Carlisle National Bank, New Carlisle, OH - June 10, 1933 ($10,600)
- Bank Robbery - Commercial Bank, Daleville, IN - July 17, 1933 ($3,500 - $6,000)
- Bank Robbery - Rockville National Bank, Rockville, IN - July 19, 1933 (attempt)
- Bank Robbery - First National Bank, Montpelier, IN - August 4, 1933 ($10,110)
- Bank Robbery - People's Bank, Gravel Switch, KY - August 8, 1933 ($1,200)
- Bank Robbery - Citizen's National Bank, Bluffton, OH - August 14, 1933 ($2,100 - $6,000)
- Bank Robbery - Massachusetts Avenue State Bank, Indianapolis, IN - September 6, 1933 ($24,800)
- Bank Robbery - Central National Bank, Greencastle, IN - October 23, 1933 ($74,782 - $144,000 | Dillinger stated $32,000)
- Bank Robbery - American Bank & Trust, Co., Racine, WI - November 20, 1933 ($27,789)
- Bank Robbery - First National Bank, East Chicago, IN - January 15, 1934 ($20,376)
- Bank Robbery - Security National Bank, Sioux Falls, SD - March 6, 1934 ($49,500)
- Bank Robbery - First National Bank, Mason City, IA - March 13, 1934 ($52,344)
- Bank Robbery - First National Bank, Fostoria, OH - May 4, 1934 ($17,000)
- Bank Robbery - Merchants National Bank, South Bend, IN - June 30, 1934 ($29,890)
Bank Robberies Falsely Attributed To Dillinger & His Gang
Now doubted to have been committed by Dillinger or his gang
These bank robberies have been attributed either to John Dillinger or his gang, although now it is questionable whether or not he was involved in these.
- Bank Robbery - People's Savings Bank, Grand Haven, MI - August 18, 1933
- Bank Robbery - Unity Trust & Savings Bank, Chicago, IL - December 13, 1933
John Dillinger's Time Behind Bars
- Indiana State Reformatory - Pendleton, IN - 1924 to 1929 (transferred to Indiana State Prison)
- Indiana State Prison - Michigan City, IN - 1929 to 1933 (paroled May, 1933)
- Allen County Jail - Lima, OH - September 21, 1933 to October 12, 1933 (escaped)
- Lake County Jail - Crown Point, IN - January 30, 1934 to March 3, 1934 (escaped)
Prison Breaks By John Dillinger and his gang
- Indiana State Prison - Michigan City, IN - September 26, 1933 (Although John Dillinger did not directly participate in this prison break, he sent the guns used for it in boxes of thread sent to the prison's shirt factory. Escaped inmates included: Harry Pierpont, Charles "Fat Charley" Makley, Ed Shouse, Russell Lee Clark, John Hamilton, Walter Deitrich, Joseph Fox, Joseph Burns, James Clark and Jim Jenkins)
- Allen County Jail - Lima, OH - October 12, 1933 (assisted by Harry Pierpont, Charles "Fat Charley" Makley, Ed Shouse, John "Red" Hamilton and Harry Copeland)
- Lake County Jail - Crown Point, IN - March 3, 1934 (escaping along with fellow prisoner Herbert Youngblood)
He used a hand-crafted wooden gun, dyed black with shoe polish, to aid him in this prison break.
Sherriff Lillian Holley's Car
was taken as the getaway vehicle for Dillinger when he broke from Lake County Jail. Crossing state lines with this vehicle brought in the FBI and spelled Dillinger's ultimate demise.
Charges of Theft and Burglary Against Dillinger
- Auto Theft - Mooresville, IN - 1922
- Burglary - Grocery Store - Mooresville, IN - 1924 (charged with "assault and battery with intent to rob" and "conspiracy to commit a felony")
- Theft - Allen County Jail, Lima OH (rifles and machine guns were taken by Pierpont and Makley during Dillinger's jailbreak) - Auburn, IN - October 12, 1933
- Theft - State Police Arsenal (taking a machine gun, "several other high-powered weapons", 3 bullet-proof vests) - Auburn, IN - October 14, 1933
- Theft - State Police Arsenal (reportedly taking "the entire police arsenal") - Peru, IN - October 20, 1933
Deaths & Injuries Linked To Dillinger's Gang
Attributed to various Dillinger gang members
Many summaries of Dillinger list the many police shootings attributed to Dillinger and his gang. After diligent research, I discovered that many of these murders were actually accidents committed by other police officers during Dillinger's bank robberies. Dillinger himself was only tied to one murder, that of Patrolman William Patrick O'Malley.
For your convenience, I've highlighted only those assaults committed by Dillinger's gang that resulted in fatality.
- Fred Wellnitz - September 26, 1933 - Beaten unconscious during the Dillinger Gang's prison break from the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, IN (perpetrators included: Harry Pierpont, Charles "Fat Charley" Makley, Ed Shouse, Russell Lee Clark, John Hamilton, Walter Deitrich, Joseph Fox, Joseph Burns, James Clark and Jim Jenkins)
- Finley Carson - September 26, 1933 - shot during the Dillinger Gang's prison break from the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, IN
- Sherrif Jess Sarber - October 12, 1933 - Fatally shot in the chest by Harry Pierpont during Dillinger's break from the Allen County Jail in Lima, OH
- Wilbur Hansen - November 20, 1933 - Shot in the hip during the American Bank & Trust (Racine, WI) robbery. Hansen survived the incident.
- Harold Graham - November 20, 1933 - Shot in the arm by Charles Makley during the American Bank & Trust (Racine, WI) robbery. Graham survived the incident.
- William T. Shanley - December 14, 1933 - Fatally shot by John Hamilton at a Chicago garage while investigating reports of a suspicious vehicle.
- Eugene Teague - December 20, 1933 - Accidentally shot and killed by Lt. Chester Butler in Paris, IL during the arrest of Edward Shouse.
- William Patrick O'Malley - January 15, 1934 - Fatally shot, allegedly by John Dillinger himself during the First National Bank (East Chicago, IN) robbery.
- Hale Keith - March 6, 1934 - Shot four times by Babyface Nelson during the robbery of the Security National Bank in Sioux Falls, SD.
- R.H. James - March 13, 1934 - wounded during the robbery of the First National Bank in Mason City, IA.
- Sherriff William Van Antwerp - March 16, 1934 - wounded by Herbert Youngblood during his apprehension in Port Huron, MI
- Deputy Howard Lohr - March 16, 1934 - wounded shot by Herbert Youngblood during his apprehension in Port Huron, MI
- Mr. Fields - March 16, 1934 - wounded by Herbert Youngblood during his apprehension in Port Huron, MI
- Charles Cavanaugh - March 16, 1934 - Fatally shot by Herbert Youngblood during his apprehension in Port Huron, MI
- Eugene Boiseneau - April 22, 1934 - Accidentally shot to death by FBI officers during a shootout at the Little Bohemia Lodge in Manitowish, WI
- J. C. Newman - April 22, 1934 - Wounded by Babyface Nelson during a shootout at the Little Bohemia Lodge in Manitowish, WI
- Constable Carl Christensen - April 22, 1934 - Wounded by Babyface Nelson during a shootout at the Little Bohemia Lodge in Manitowish, WI
- John Morris - April 22, 1934 - Accidentally wounded by FBI Officers during a shootout at the Little Bohemia Lodge in Manitowish, WI
- John Hoffman - April 22, 1934 - Accidentally wounded by FBI Officers during a shootout at the Little Bohemia Lodge in Manitowish, WI
- W. Carter Baum - April 22, 1934 - Fatally shot by "Babyface" Nelson during a shootout at the Little Bohemia Lodge in Manitowish, WI
- Martin O'Brien - May 24, 1934 - Allegedly shot to death by Homer Van Meter on a highway outside East Chicago, IN
- Lloyd Mulvihill - May 24, 1934 - Allegedly shot to death by Homer Van Meter on a highway outside East Chicago, IN
- Perry G. Stahley - June 30, 1934 - Accidentally shot in the hip by police officers during the robbery of Merchants National Bank in South Bend, IN.
- Delos M. Coen - June 30, 1934 - Accidentally shot twice (in the side and in the leg) by a police officer during the robbery of Merchants National Bank in South Bend, IN.
- Jacob Solomon - June 30, 1934 - Accidentally shot in the eye by police officers during the robbery of Merchants National Bank in South Bend, IN.
- Samuel Toth - June 30, 1934 - Accidentally shot in the leg by police officers during the robbery of Merchants National Bank in South Bend, IN.
- Theresa Paulus - July 22, 1934 - wounded by FBI officers during the shooting of John Dillinger outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago, IL.
- Etta Natalski - July 22, 1934 - wounded by FBI officers during the shooting of John Dillinger outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago, IL.
Harry Pierpont (electrocuted in Ohio State Prison - October 17, 1934)
Russell "Boobie" Clark (sentenced to life in prison but was released in 1968, dying 4 months later)
Charles "Fat Charley" Makley (murdered by Ohio State Prison Guards September 22, 1934 while attempting to escape)
Edward W. Shouse, Jr. (paroled from prison and died of a heartattack in 1959)
"Oklahoma Jack" Clark
Walter Deitrich (paroled in 1953, died of natural causes in 1979)
John "Red" Hamilton (died from wounds inflicted by the St. Paul Police Dept., April 27, 1934 and buried by fellow gang members)
John Dillinger's Relationships
The women in John Dillinger's life
For an excellent reference to the girlfriends of the Dillinger gang, visit Don't Call Us Molls - Women Of The John Dillinger Gang. You'll find extensive information on the women associated with John Dillinger and his gang: Evelyn "Billie" Frechette, Opal Long (Bernice Clark), Patricia Cherrington, Edythe Polly Hamilton Keele, Anna Sage, Helen Wawryzniak Gillis, Mary Kinder, Sally Bachman, Marie Comforti, Jean Delaney Crompton and Pearl Elliot.
- Beryl Ethyl Hovius - married April 12, 1924, divorced June 20, 1929
- Evelyn "Billie" Frechette - girlfriend from 1933 to March, 1934
- Polly Hamilton - girlfriend from May 1934 to July 22, 1934
Manhattan Melodrama - The last film John Dillinger saw
Manhattan Melodrama is the Clark Gable picture John Dillinger attended at the Biograph Theatre on Chicago's Lincoln Avenue on the night he was shot in the alleyway after exiting the cinema.
Myrna Loy was Dillinger's favorite actress.
An excerpt from Myrna Loy's autobiography says she felt sorrow at Dillinger's Death after seeing her picture
"[Metro] put me right to work in Manhattan Melodrama, which precipated the demise of John Dillinger, Public Enemy No. 1. FBI agents shot him down outside the Biograph Theatre, in Chicago, after he'd seen the film. Supposedly a Myrna Loy fan, he broke cover to see me. Personally, I suspect the theme of the picture rather than my fatal charms attracted him, but I've always felt a little guilty about it, anyway. They filled him full of holes, poor soul."
Watch Manhattan Melodrama - The last film Dillinger saw
The 1934 film, Manhattan Melodrama (starring Clark Gable, Myrna Loy and William Powell) couldn't have been better chosen by fate to be the last film for John Dillinger to see. Clark Gable plays the gangster "Blackie" with the same sort of finesse you can imagine John Dillinger emulating. They even sported the same moustache. The end of the film has Gable being sent off to the electric chair after being pinned to a murder and calmly meeting his fate. It is unreal to imagine that minutes after this film's end, Dillinger walked off to meet his maker as well.
Anyone interested in the Dillinger story simply MUST see this film.
John Dillinger Tourist Sites in Indiana
John Dillinger was an Indiana man, born in Indianapolis and then raised in Mooresville. Other prominent Indiana events in Dillinger's life are as follows:
The John Dillinger Museum "Crime Doesn't Pay" - Hammond, IN
July 17 - Daleville, IN: Dillinger robbed the Commercial Bank
July 19 - Rockville, IN: Dillinger attempted to rob the Rockville National Bank
August 4 - Montpelier, IN: Dillinger, Harry Copeland and Sam Goldstein robbed the First National Bank
September 6 - Indianapolis, IN: Dillinger, Harry Copeland and Sam Goldstein robbed the State Bank of Massachusetts Avenue
October 23 - Greencastle, IN: Dillinger and his gang robbed the Central National Bank
January 15 - East Chicago, IN: John Dillinger, John Hamilton and Dillinger's gang robbed the First National Bank
June 30 - South Bend, IN: Dillinger and his gang robbed Merchants National Bank
- Crown Point, IN - Lake County Jail - Dillinger broke out of the Crown Point, IN, Lake County Jail with just a wooden gun.
1924 - 1929
Indiana State Reformatory - Pendleton, IN: John Dillinger was transferred to Indiana State Prison in 1929.
1929 - 1933
Indiana State Prison - Michigan City, IN: John Dillinger was paroled from the Indiana State Prison in May, 1933.
Although John Dillinger was NOT involved in the Indiana State Prison - Michigan City, IN - prison break, it couldn't have happened without him and it freed his gang. Read all the details in this article on The Michigan City Prison Escape.
Lake County Jail - Crown Point, IN: John Dillinger was extradited to Lake County Jail on January 30, 1934. He and Herbert Youngblood break out of jail on March 3, using a hand-carved wooden gun. They escaped in Sheriff Lillian Holley's stolen vehicle, taking 2 hostages with them.
Life Events, Death and Hiding
June 22 - Indianapolis, IN: John Dillinger was born in the Oak Hill section of Indianapolis.
Mooresville, IN - Dillinger's father moved the family to Mooresville, hoping it would quiet his son's behavior.
April 5 - Mooresville, IN: John Dillinger takes "Billie" Frechette home to meet his brother and father.
April 7 - Noblesville, IN: John Dillinger and his half-brother crash their car, causing Dillinger to hide in a haystack until the repairs are finished.
April 13 - Warsaw, IN: John Dillinger and Van Meter loot a police station, making off with guns and ammunition.
- Crown Hill Cemetary - Crown Hill, IN - The final resting place of John Herbert Dillinger.
Slideshow of Indianapolis Dillinger Sites
In Local Dillinger Landmarks, Metromix Indianapolis shows photos of: 1) the land plot by I-70 where Dillinger was born (2053 Cooper Ave.), 2) The Dillinger Family Homestead in Mooresville (535 S. Ind. 267, Mooresville), 3) Haag's Drugstore (5648 E. Washington St.), 4) State Bank of Massachusetts Ave. (815 Massachusetts Ave.), 5) Hubert Dillinger's Home (409 N. Lasalle St.), 6) Harvey Funeral Home (111 S. Indiana St., Mooresville), 7) Crown Hill Cemetary (700 W. 38th St.)
John Dillinger Sites in Ohio
Read in more detail about the Lima, Ohio, Allen County Jail break in this article on Sunday Is Anniversary Of Dillinger Jail Break, written by Larry Gibbs on October 10, 2008, for the Banner Graphic of Greencastle, Indiana.
John Dillinger Sites In Florida
John Dillinger and girlfriend Billie Frechette rented a 3-story, 17-room mansion located at 901 South Atlantice Avenue in Daytona Beach, Fl during December of 1933. Their vacation was cut short when an unusually tipsy Dillinger decided to venture onto the beach and give a New Year salute with his machine gun. Deciding their cover had been blown, they quickly vacated the property. As of yet, I don't know if the original home is still standing or has been demolished.
John Dillinger Sites in Arizona - Hotel Congress - Tucson, AZ
John Dillinger and his gang were staying at the Hotel Congress when a fire broke out in the building. Firefighters were offered $12 to retrieve luggage from Dillinger and his gang's rooms. When the firefighters saw the arsenal of weapons in the rooms, they tipped off law enforcement, who subsequently captured Dillinger and his gang. Dillinger was extradited from Arizona to Chicago. From Chicago, he was delivered to the Allen County Jail in Lima, Ohio on charges stemming from the Citizens National Bank Robbery in Bluffton, OH.
- Hotel Congress - Tucson, AZ - On January 25, 1934, Dillinger and his gang are arrested as they are caught leaving a hotel fire at Tucson's Hotel Congress. The hotel is still operating (it's a vibrant part of Tucson's downtown life) and you can spend the night here in a vintage room.
Dillinger Tipped Off To Authorities
Dillinger & his gang offered firefighters $12 to retrieve their cases from the hotel room in the Hotel Congress. Their weapons arsenal is in plain view in the room and the cops are tipped off.
Tucson's Hotel Congress
The Hotel Congress has a yearly 'Dillinger Days' festival featuring a re-enactment of the capture of John Dillinger and an antique car show. If you can't make it for the Dillinger Days festival though, its always a good time to stay at the Hotel Congress with its vintage charm and excellent downtown location.
Hotel Congress' Dillinger Days is commemorated every year on the 3rd weekend in January. In 2011, the actual date of John Dillinger's arrest at this Tucson hotel (January 22) falls on the 4th January weekend so I don't know if this means the Hotel Congress will hold its Dillinger Days festival on the 4th January this weekend to synch with the historical date. I'll contact the hotel and update this countdown accordingly.
John Dillinger Sites In Wisconsin - Racine and the Little Bohemia Lodge in Manitowish
There are just 2 main Dillinger tourism sites in Wisconsin: Racine and Manitowish.
- Racine, WI - This town was the home of the November 20, 1933 robbery of the American Bank and Trust, located at 5th and Main Streets. The bank no longer stands in its original location, having been replaced by the Racine Art Museum. The Art Museum had been displaying a Thompson sub-machine gun (stolen by the Dillinger gang from a Racine police officer during the bank robbery and recovered by authorities in Arizona on January 14, 1934) from 2004 through 2007 as part of an exhibition showcasing Racine, WI's role in the life of John Dillinger. The gun was moved back to a display case in the Racine Police Station.
- Anything Wisconsin: John Dillinger Gun On Display In Racine Police Station. May 6, 2008. - A blog entry concerning the 2009 Johnny Depp film on Dillinger, 'Public Enemies', and how the Racine, WI bank robbery would NOT be included in filming.
- Little Bohemia Lodge, Manitowish, WI - Located in northern Wisconsin, "hundreds of bullet holes remain in the resort today" as a reminder of the former vacation spot of John Dillinger and his gang. Along with Dillinger, John Hamilton, Pat Cherrington, Tommy Carroll and his wife Jean Delaney, Baby Face Nelson and his wife Helen Gillis stayed at the Little Bohemia Lodge back in 1934. Rent a cabin or just stop in for a meal or snack. Dillinger artifacts are displayed on premises. The site itself has many Dillinger-related photos and history.
Little Bohemia - Manitowish, WI
Visit the lodge in Northern Wisconsin where John Dillinger and his gang were hiding out. Bullet holes from the FBI shootout still pepper the walls. You can also see Dillinger artifacts he left behind as he dashed out the window: a tommy gun, a toothbrush, a suit with Dillinger's initials embroidered in the collar..
John Dillinger Sites in South Dakota
Here, Doug Lund, of KELOLAND TV in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, interviews Mary Lucas Hawkins in his Day With Dillinger article. Hawkins was working as a bank teller in the Security National Bank and Trust Company on the day when Dillinger and his gang held the bank up.
The Sioux Falls scene in 2008's Public Enemies film was actually filmed in Oshkosh, Wisconsin rather than Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Mason City, Iowa
5 N. Federal Ave (corner of State and Federal)
John Dillinger and his gang only committed one bank robbery in Iowa, in Mason City, the bank robbery at First National Bank in Mason City, Iowa.
Although the building still says First National Bank, it is now how to the City Center / Kent Apartments.
In March of 2007, Mason City, IA officials decided to hold a historical festival concerning the events of that day in 1934 (March 13) when John Dillinger and his gang robbed the First National Bank of $52,000. They met with opposition from John Dillinger's great-nephew, Jeff Scalf, that put a snag in those plans. As an article in USAToday explains, If You're Going to Fete Dillinger, Call This Man First. Jeff Scalf likes to ensure that Dillinger's name is kept clean from any charges of murder, as he was never convicted for this crime. According to Scalf, "It's fair to say that he was accused of one killing but was never convicted." Mason City was envisioning a reenactment of the bank heist and a display of vintage cars along with some other activities.
As of September 15, 2007, Mason City was working with Scalf on their "Dillinger Days" festival. I'll check and report back if there are any events going on in this town to commemorate the bank robbery.
John Dillinger Tourist Sites in Illinois - Chicago, IL
In 2008, filming in Chicago took place for Johnny Depp's 'Public Enemies' about John Dillinger. Many of the filming locations for the 2009 Public Enemies movie can be visited in Chicago. The map below indicates the original sites where events in John Dillinger's life occurred, sometimes differing from the film's shooting locations.
- Chicago Tribune - Dillinger's Haunts - Then and Now - Interactive map of Chicago sites formerly frequented by John Dillinger.
- The Biograph Theatre
- Biograph Theater - (now Victory Gardens Theater)
- Biograph Theatre - The City Of Chicago's official page on this landmark on Lincoln Avenue.
- Prairie Ghosts: Weird & Haunted Chicago - The Biograph Theater - This site provides a brief synopsis of Dillinger's criminal career, as well as details and conspiracy theory on the night Dillinger was shot at Chicago's Biograph Theater.
- Steuben Club - Notorious hangout of gangsters like Al Capone, this is where John Dillinger met girlfriend Evelyn "Billie" Frechette.
- Alexian Brothers - Alexian Brothers Provincial - This site was used for information on placing the location of the Chicago Alexian Brothers Hospital where John Dillinger was pronounced dead.
Chicago Dillinger Sites - Chicago, IL
Lincoln Avenue and the Biograph Theatre were done up in 2008 for the filming of 'Public Enemies' to resemble how the street would've looked on that night of June 22 in 1934. The attention to detail was impeccable. You can still visit the Biograph Theatre and Lincoln Avenue in Chicago, including the alleyway where Dillinger was shot after watching Clark Gable's "Manhattan Melodrama", but the period restoration is NOT up.
The Lady In Red
The Romanian Madame who set up Dillinger in order to avoid her own deportation ended up being sent back to Romania anyways: the decision was out of Purvis' jurisdiction.
Lincoln Station Bar
2432 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL
If you're going to check out the Biograph Theater in Chicago, you might want to throw back a beer or a cocktail at the Lincoln Station Bar on North Avenue. It's right across the street from the theater with a good view across the street. There's a full bar, pool tables and big-screen televisions throughout. If you happen to go there on the anniversary of when Dillinger was shot (July 22, 1934), you'll likely find Dillinger buffs, see John Dillinger films (Public Enemies and Manhattan Melodrama) and run into the John Dillinger Died For You Society. They even do a bagpipe procession down the alleyway where Dillinger was shot at the time of his death, 10:30pm.
I went to this event in 2010 and can say it was a fun night out! Visit the Lincoln Station Bar Website.
Orbs at the Biograph Theater - Go on a ghost tour that includes a stop at the BiographClick thumbnail to view full-size
Lincoln Station Bar - 2432 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, ILClick thumbnail to view full-size
Original Newspaper Reports
Finding Transcripts Online
When researching Dillinger online, you'll come across some transcripts of original news reports. Here are the ones I've used during the compilation of this page.
- Dillinger Gang Robs American Bank & Trust. Weyland Kidnapped And Left Tied To A Tree During Getaway - This transcription of an article in the Stevens Point Daily Journal from July 23, 1933 describes the Dillinger gang's Racine, WI bank robbery. The article is published online by The Weyland family. They are relatives of Grover Weyland, President of the American Bank & Trust at the time of the robbery. Grover Weyland was taken hostage by the Dillinger gang and tied to a tree on November 20, 1933.
- Youngblood Is Slain In Battle - Lowell Tribune. March 22, 1934 - The following article appeared in the March 22, 1934, issue of the Lowell Tribune (page 1, column 3):
First-Hand Accounts Of Dillinger
While doing my online research for this page, I've managed to come up with a few first-hand sources: interviews with people describing their experiences with John Dillinger.
- Dillinger's Bank Robbery A Good Bedtime Story: Thoreson, Bridget. The Journal Times. March 17, 2008 - Barbara Jensen tells how her uncle, Wilbur Hensen, would tell a bedtime story of how he was shot by the Dillinger gang in the Racine, WI, bank robbery.
- The Barber Who Gave Dillinger His Last Shave and Haircut: Schmidt, Michael Adam IV. Deutschbentshek in Banat. - A first-hand account of Dillinger's final days in Chicago by John Dillinger's Chicago barber's son. This story was taken from the Donauschwaben Villages Helping Hands - DVHH website on their Deutschbentschek page.
What's Your Opinion of John Dillinger? - Good or bad?
Some people think crime shouldn't be glorified in any way and see John Dillinger as nothing more than a glorified criminal. Some focus on the fact that he did kill a police officer and was a bank robber.
Others note how Dillinger is fondly remembered by family members and community members that knew him as a polite and caring young man. They are quick to point out that he was never convicted of killing Patrolman William Patrick O'Malley and the thought of killing that man tormented Dillinger for the rest of his brief life. He is often compared to Robin Hood and was almost seen as a folk hero to the 1930s public.
There is historical significance regarding the early days of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and J. Edgar Hoover's role. John Dillinger's prison getaway in Sherrif Lillian Holley's car crossed state lines and allowed the FBI to get involved and heralded the end of the 'Public Enemies' era. At the end of it all, Dillinger's story is stranger than fiction. He was a character and his prison breaks and bank robberies contain unbelievably clever anecdotal information.
So - knowing all of this, what do you think to the continued interest in Public Enemy #1, John Dillinger.
What do you think about John Dillinger
John Dillinger Books - Recommended Reading
These 3 books on Dillinger come highly recommended by author Ellen Poulsen ('Don't Call Us Molls'). Be sure to check them out.
PS - 'Don't Call Us Molls' contains much good information on more than just the Dillinger Gang women: it also has a lot of info on the gang itself.
Books About John Dillinger
Here are a few more books, randomly selected, on John Dillinger. All of these titles are available through Amazon.com. Just click to purchase.
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- Federal Bureau of Investigation - Famous Cases: John Dillinger
Official FBI site providing an overview of Dillinger's life of crime.
- indystar.com - Notorious Hoosiers: John Dillinger
A concise article detailing Dillinger's short but renowned crime life.
- Los Angeles Times: John Dillinger Tours Look At His Life and Times
This article focuses on the tourism industry surrounding John Dillinger and its preparations for increased visitors after the release of 'Public Enemies' starring Johnny Depp.
- wthr Eyewitness News: Defining Dillinger
John Dillinger's great-nephew, Jeff Scalf, is interviewed.
- truTV Crime Library: Gangsters & Outlaws > Outlaws & Thieves - John Dillinger
Biographical information on John Dillinger.
- Yahoo Answers: The Banks John Dillinger Robbed (answered by Maddog)
Although this resource is just on Yahoo Answers, the question's answerer, has a very documented answer that helped me in compiling information on John Dillinger's crime history.
- Genealogy Trails History Group: John Dillinger Biography
Biographical summary of Dillinger
- pbs.org: People & Events - John Dillinger
PBS offers some unique information on John Dillinger's brief life.
- PBS: American Experience - Dillinger's Last Year Alive
A chronological listing of major events during the life of John Dillinger between 1933 and 1934.
- Historical Research & Writing History: Public Enemies
This page details Dillinger's girlfriend, Evelyn "Billie" Frechette.
- John Dillinger Historical Crime Museum
Online book by Tony Stewart
- Outlaw History
Covering more than just John Dillinger's "Terror Gang" of 1933 - 1934, this site also provides information on the Reno Gang (1850 - 1868) and the Archer Gang (1865 - 1886).
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