Charles Arthur Floyd

“Pretty Boy Floyd”

Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd (February 3, 1904October 22, 1934) was an American bank robber and alleged killer, romanticized by the press and by folk singer Woody Guthrie in his song "Pretty Boy Floyd."

The Time magazine of 22 October 1934, mentions a robbery of $350 in pennies from a local post office as his first known crime. He was eighteen years old at the time. Three years later, he was busted for a payroll robbery in St. Louis, Missouri and served three years in prison.  When paroled, he vowed that he would never see the inside of another prison. He did not, however, go straight. Partnering with more established criminals in the Kansas City underworld, he committed a series of bank robberies over the next several years; it was during this period that he earned the nickname "Pretty Boy." Like his contemporary Baby Face Nelson, Floyd hated his nickname.

Their string of crimes hit a hiccup in Sylvania, Ohio, where they were caught in the midst of a bank robbery and Floyd was sentenced to fifteen years. However, he escaped on his way to prison and rebuilt his gang.  In the years that followed, he was blamed for a long string of bank robberies and vilified as a "Public Enemy" by the FBI.

Floyd would hide out between crimes in towns near the one in which he had grown up, protected by the locals.  The popular legend says that they did this out of love for his generosity and their hatred of the banks, which were at that time foreclosing on many farms.  However, the contemporary press claimed that he simply bribed them for their silence.

After narrowly escaping ambush by the FBI several times, Floyd was killed on October 22, 1934, when FBI agents shot him near East Liverpool, Ohio.  According to the FBI, Floyd died cursing his killers to the end.