Obit of the Day (Historical): John Dillinger (1934)
It was hot in Chicago on July 22, 1934, so John Dillinger along with his girlfriend Polly Hamilton and brothel owner Anna Sage and another woman head to the Biograph Theater on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. Manhattan Melodrama, starring William Powell, Myrna Loy, and Clark Gable, was playing.
Upon exiting the theater, at about 10:30 pm, FBI agent Melvin Purvis lit his cigarette - a signal for his team to apprehend “Public Enemy #1.” They approached Dillinger, shots were fired and Dillinger ended up dead in the middle of the street.
Anna Sage, a Romanian immigrant facing deportation had told the FBI where Dillinger would be. (She wasn’t wearing red. It was orange.) She hoped by helping the FBI some of her past indiscretions might be overlooked and she could remain in the United States. Nope. She was deported.
The Dillinger killing was huge for the Bureau. He had taunted them for a year living openly in Chicago’s North Side. He had become a folk hero to some because his crime was robbing banks…and hurting banks during the Great Depression seemed OK under the circumstances. (Residents and gawkers near the Biograph dipped their handkerchiefs into the pools of blood left by Dillinger’s body.) Since he had also killed several police officers and bank detectives during the robberies, his behavior could not be downplayed by the Bureau.
When he was brought to the morgue the FBI not only had publicity shots taken to prove Dillinger was dead but also allowed people to visit the body. There were lines.
Things were different 77 years ago.
(Image courtesy of Mr. CAPS)