John Dillinger

June 22, 1903 July 22, 1934

John Dillinger was considered by some to be a dangerous criminal, while others idealized him as a latter-day Robin Hood. He gained this reputation (and the nickname "Jackrabbit") for his graceful movements during bank heists, e.g. leaping over the counter, (a movement he supposedly copied from watching it in a movie), and narrow getaways from police. His exploits, along with those of other criminals of the 1930s Depression era, such as Bonnie and Clyde and Ma Barker, dominated the attentions of the American press and its readers during what is sometimes referred to as the public enemy era, between 1931 and 1935, a period which led to the further development of the modern and more sophisticated FBI.

Robbery career

Altogether, gangs with whom Dillinger was believed to have been associated robbed about a dozen banks and stole over $300,000, an enormous sum in the Depression era, totaling nearly five million in today's economy. The United States Department of Justice offered a $20,000 reward for Dillinger's capture, or $5,000 for information leading to his apprehension.

Dillinger's last day of freedom was July 22, 1934. Dillinger attended the film Manhattan Melodrama (ironically, a gangster film) at the Biograph Theater in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago with his girlfriend, Polly Hamilton, and owner Ana Cumpanas (a.k.a. Anna Sage) who was facing deportation charges. Sage worked out a deal with the FBI to set up an ambush for Dillinger and drop the deportation charges against her. When they exited the theater that night, Sage tipped off the FBI engaged in a gun battle with Dillinger, killing him. His last words were "You got me.