Bonnie Parker (1910–1934) and Clyde Barrow (1909–1934) were American robbers from the Dallas area who traveled the central United States with their gang during the Great Depression before being killed in an ambush.
Their exploits captured the attention of the American public during the ‘public enemy era’ between 1931 and 1934. Though known today for their bank robberies they mostly robbed small stores or rural gas stations – not so in line with the romanticised outlaw image. Their gang is believed to have killed at least nine police officers and several civilians.
Even during their lifetimes, the couple's depiction in the press was at considerable odds with the hardscrabble reality of their life on the road, particularly in the case of Bonnie. Though she was present at many crimes during her two years as Barrow’s companion, she was not the machine gun-wielding killer portrayed in the newspapers, newsreels, and pulp detective magazines of the day. Her reputation as a cigar-smoking gun-moll grew out of a playful snapshot found by police at an abandoned hideout which was released to the press and published nationwide.
Historian Jeff Guinn has said that the hideout photos led to the glamorization and creation of legend about the outlaws:
John Dillinger had matinee-idol good looks and Pretty Boy Floyd had the best possible nickname, but the Joplin photos introduced new criminal superstars with the most titillating trademark of all – illicit sex. Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were wild and young, and undoubtedly slept together.
Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed and killed on 23 May 1934 on a rural road in Louisiana by a posse of four Texas officers and two Louisiana officers. The parish coroner’s report listed seventeen separate entrance wounds on Barrow's body and twenty-six on Parker's, including several headshots on each. The undertaker reportedly had difficulty embalming the bodies because of all the bullet holes.
Bonnie and Clyde had wished to be buried side by side, but ended up buried in different cemetaries in Dallas.