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A Man with a Gun

Just in time for the Chicago-filmed movie Public Enemies, out July 1st, here’s a primer on the real life of John Dillinger, according to his biographer Bryan Burrough and other historians

JUNE 22, 1903 
Born in Indianapolis, son of a grocer 

FALL 1924 
Dillinger goes to prison in Indiana for mugging an old man. 

Related:

Photo gallery »
The life and times of John Dillinger

Public Enemies »
Official Web site

SUMMER 1933 
Starting nearly three weeks after his release, Dillinger robs banks in Ohio and Indiana.

FALL 1933 
Dillinger is arrested in Dayton, Ohio. Escaped prison pals whisk him out of jail, form a gang, and rob a bank in Greencastle, Indiana.

Dillinger, his fellow gang member Harry “Pete” Pierpont, and their girlfriends live at 4310 North Clarendon Avenue in Chicago. In November, police are tipped off that Dillinger has a doctor’s appointment near Irving Park Road and Keeler Avenue; Chicago police stake out the place but Dillinger speeds away in a car. Five days later, he robs a bank in Racine, Wisconsin.

WINTER 1933 
As some of the gang rob an East Chicago, Indiana, bank, Detective Patrick O’Malley shoots at Dillinger, who allegedly fires back and kills O’Malley. Ten days later, police in Arizona capture Dillinger and send him back to Indiana, where he is thrown in jail in Crown Point. Dillinger tells reporters: “I am not a bad fellow, ladies and gentlemen . . . just an unfortunate boy who started wrong.”


Accomplice “Baby Face” Nelson

SPRING 1934 
With a fake gun, Dillinger bluffs his way out of jail, joins “Baby Face” Nelson, and robs banks in South Dakota and Iowa. FBI agents catch Dillinger’s girlfriend, Evelyn ”Billie” Frechette, at the Tumble Inn in Chicago, failing to notice him in a car outside. Dillinger and gang check in to a lodge near Manitowish, Wisconsin, where FBI agents attack and shoot innocent bystanders as the gang escapes. Weeks later, East Chicago police stop Dillinger and his accomplice Homer Van Meter in Indiana. Van Meter machine-guns them to death. Dillinger hides at Jimmy Probasco’s home, 2509 North Crawford Avenue (now Pulaski Road), where doctors give him a face-lift.  


Ana Sage

SUMMER 1934 
Dillinger hits a South Bend, Indiana, bank; he moves to 2420 North Halsted Street with his new girlfriend, Polly Hamilton, and Ana Sage, who ran several brothels.

JULY 21, 1934 
Under threat of deportation, Sage tells the FBI she will attend a movie the following night with Dillinger and Hamilton. Sage will wear orange so the FBI can spot her. 

JULY 22, 1934 
Tipped off by Sage, G-men see her, Dillinger, and Hamilton at the Biograph Theater, 2433 North Lincoln Avenue. When they exit the Biograph, agents follow. According to the FBI, Dillinger appears to reach into a pocket for a gun. Agents fire pistols, hitting and killing Dillinger with four bullets. 

1966 
A group of Dillinger enthusiasts start the John Dillinger Died for You Society. The group holds its annual ceremony marking Dillinger’s death on July 22, 2009, near the Biograph. (Check ghosttours.com for details.)

 

Photography: (1924, 1934, trial, Nelson) Courtesy of John Dillinger Museum, Hammond, (Sage) AP Photo, (body) AP Photo, (gravestone) AP Photo,(crowd at Biograph) AP Photo

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