Smooth Criminal: John Dillinger's Legend, 75 Years Later

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Many people know the legends of Jesse James or Bonnie and Clyde, but lesser known is one of the greatest bank robbers in history – John Dillinger. Nicknamed "The Jackrabbit" for his swift moves, he terrorized banks throughout the Midwest in 1933 before being shot by FBI agents at a movie theater in Chicago. Johnny Depp portrays him in the new movie “Public Enemies,” bringing his life (and legend) to the big screen.

On The Takeaway this morning we are joined by John Dillinger's great nephew, Jeff Scalf, who was a consultant for the film and currently lives in the house where Dillinger grew up. We also have Elliot Gorn, Professor of History at Brown University and author of the new book "Dillinger's Wild Ride: The Year That Made America's Public Enemy Number One."

"My grandmother, who was John's sister, always said, 'Do not romanticize him. Do not villainize him. He wasn't mean-spirited; he wasn't vicious. He was not a killer. He never intended to hurt anyone.' To her, he was a big brother. "
—Bank robber John Dillinger's great-nephew Jeff Scalf

Guests:

Elliot Gorn and Jeff Scalf

Contributors:

Jesse Baker, Stephanie Loleng and Jonathan Topaz

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