Gangster John Dillinger During the 1930s

When notorious outlaw John Dillinger was gunned down on Lincoln Avenue on a steamy July night in 1934, his death ended a months-long manhunt that captivated the press and the public.

John Herbert Dillinger (June 22, 1903 – July 22, 1934) was an American gangster of the Great Depression. He led a group known as the “Dillinger Gang”, which was accused of robbing 24 banks and four police stations. Dillinger was imprisoned several times but escaped twice. He was charged, but not convicted, of the murder of an East Chicago, Indiana, police officer who shot Dillinger in his bullet-proof vest during a shootout; it was the only time Dillinger was charged with homicide.

Dillinger courted publicity. The media ran exaggerated accounts of his bravado and colorful personality and cast him as a Robin Hood. In response, J. Edgar Hoover, then director of the Bureau of Investigation (BOI), used Dillinger and his gang as his campaign platform to evolve the BOI into the Federal Bureau of Investigation, developing more sophisticated investigative techniques as weapons against organized crime.

After evading police in four states for almost a year, Dillinger was wounded and went to his father’s home to mend. He returned to Chicago in July 1934 and sought refuge in a brothel owned by Ana Cumpănaș. She informed authorities of his whereabouts. On July 22, 1934, local and federal law enforcement closed in on the Biograph Theater. As BOI agents moved to arrest Dillinger as he exited the theater, he never drew a gun but attempted to flee. He was shot multiple times in the back and was killed; this was later ruled as justifiable homicide. (Wikipedia)

John Dillinger, center, is handcuffed to Deputy Sheriff R. M. Pierce, left, during Dillinger’s court hearing in Crown Point, Indiana during the first weeks of February 1934. Dillinger was charged with killing police officer William O’Malley, 43, during a bank robbery in East Chicago, Indiana on Jan. 15, 1934. His trail date was set for March 12, 1934. Dillinger would break out of the Crown Point, Indiana jail on March 3, 1934.
Sgt. Edward A. Grim of the North Robey Street police station with a Dubuque, Iowa newspaper found in John Dillinger’s stolen and abandoned automobile on May 2, 1934. The bloodstained getaway car, found at 3338 N. Leavitt Street in Chicago, had a surgical kit, matches from the Little Bohemia Resort, and the newspaper dated April 23, 1934 with the headline “Dillinger On Rampage.”
Indiana state police surround the house where two of the convicts were supposed to have been from the Michigan City prison break, circa Oct. 1933. On Sept. 26, 1933, ten convicts, lead by John ‘Red’ Hamilton, broke out of the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, Indiana, using guns smuggled to them by John Dillinger. In the coming days after the prison break, the Chicago Tribune reported over “500 vigilantes, police and deputy sherriffs” searched the farming districts near Michigan City for the felons. Dillinger, who was in a jail cell in Lima, Ohio, engineered the escape of the ten convicts, who became known as Dillinger’s gang. Less than a month after they escaped from Michigan City, several of Dillinger’s gang broke him out of the jail in Lima, Ohio.
John Dillinger, center, is led through the Crown Point, Indiana court building on Jan. 31, 1934 to be viewed by witnesses from the First National Bank robbery that occurred on Jan. 15, 1934 in East Chicago, Indiana. Dillinger had been caught in Arizona and flown back to Indiana to be tried for the murder of patrolman William O’Malley, 43.
John Dillinger arrived back at the county jail at Crown Point, Indiana on Jan. 30, 1934 after being caught in Arizona five days earlier. Authorities were fearful that Dillinger’s gang would try to rescue their leader, so heavily armed guards surrounded the court house and jail. Dillinger was charged with killing police officer William O’Malley, 43, during a bank robbery in East Chicago, Indiana on Jan. 15, 1934.
John Dillinger is handcuffed and guarded as he smokes during a court recess while Deputy Sheriff R. M. Pierce, left, looks on during Dillinger’s hearing at Crown Point, Indiana in the first weeks of February 1934. Dillinger was charged with killing police officer William O’Malley, 43, during a bank robbery in East Chicago, Indiana on Jan. 15, 1934. His trail date was set for March 12, 1934. Dillinger would break out of the Crown Point, Indiana jail on March 3, 1934.
John Dillinger arrived at the county jail at Crown Point, Indiana, on Jan. 30, 1934 after being caught in Arizona five days earlier. Authorities were fearful that Dillinger’s gang would try to rescue their leader, so heavily armed guards surrounded the court house and jail.
John Dillinger escaped from the county jail at Crown Point, Indiana, with only a toy gun on March 3, 1934. Dillinger threatened deputy sheriffs with a wooden gun and then locked up more than a dozen guards before fleeing in the sheriff’s own car. Dillinger was in jail awaiting trial for killing police officer William O’Malley, 43, during a bank robbery in East Chicago, Indiana on Jan. 15, 1934. His trail date had been set for March 12, 1934.
The Crown Point, Indiana, Jail house, right, and County Courthouse, left, after John Dillinger escaped with only a toy gun on March 3, 1934. Dillinger threatened deputy sheriffs with a wooden gun and then locked up more than a dozen guards before fleeing in the sheriff’s own car.
A police officer shows the busted out rear window of John Dillinger’s stolen and then abandoned automobile at the North Robey Street police station on May 2, 1934. The bloodstained Ford V-8 sedan, found at 3338 N. Leavitt Street in Chicago, had a surgical kit, matches from the Little Bohemia Resort, and a Dubuque, Iowa, newspaper dated April 23, 1934 with the headline “Dillinger On Rampage.”
Government men at the Little Bohemia Resort in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin, where a gun battle with John Dillinger and his gang took place on April 22, 1934. Leading the group of G-men were federal agents Melvin Purvis and Hugh Clegg. FBI agents had surrounded the lodge, but Dillinger and his gang were able to escape along the shore of the nearby lake.
Max Organist looks at the guns left behind by John Dillinger and his gang on April 22, 1934 at the Little Bohemia Resort in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin. FBI agents had surrounded the lodge were Dillinger and his gang were staying, but the outlaws were able to escape along the shore of the nearby lake.
Government men stand by the Ford that was abandoned by John Dillinger during a gun battle between authorities and Dillinger’s gang at the Little Bohemia Resort on April 22, 1934 in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin. FBI agents had surrounded the lodge, but Dillinger and his gang were able to escape along the shore of the nearby lake. Two people were killed during the raid, an FBI agent and a local man who was mistaken for one of Dillinger’s gang.
Men carry the body of Chicago federal agent W. Carter Baum, a government man who was killed by “Baby Face” Nelson of John Dillinger’s gang, during a shoot-out at the Little Bohemia resort in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin on April 22, 1934. Two people were killed during the raid, an FBI agent and a local man who was mistaken for one of Dillinger’s gang.
Constable Carl C. Christensen with Mary Levendoski at the Twin City Hospital in Ironwood, Michigan after Christensen was shot by “Baby Face” Nelson of the John Dillinger gang during a gun fight at the Little Bohemia Resort in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin on April 22, 1934. Christensen, a Spider Lake, Wisc. constable, was said to be gravely wounded but survived his wounds.
Eveyln “Billie” Frechette was released from prison on Jan. 30, 1936. Frechette was arrested in Chicago while her boyfriend and fugitive, John Dillinger, watched helplessly nearby on April 9, 1934. Frechette, who had met Dillinger in 1933, was charged with harboring a fugitive in her St. Paul, Minnesota apartment. She spent two years in jail, getting out in 1936. Upon her release, Frechette toured in a theatrical production called “Crime Doesn’t Pay” with members of Dillinger’s family.
John Dillinger and his gang arrive in Chicago on Jan. 30, 1934 after their arrest in Arizona five days earlier. Dillinger had been caught in Arizona and flown back to Indiana to be tried for the murder of patrolman William O’Malley, 43. O’Malley was shot down during the First National Bank robbery in East Chicago, Indiana. Dillinger’s trail date was set for March 12, 1934. Dillinger would break out of the Crown Point, Indiana jail on March 3, 1934.
Copy photos of members of John Dillinger’s gang, circa Dec. 1933. From top left, are Harry Pierpont (11014), Charles Makley (12636), John Dillinger (13225), and Russell Clark (12261).
Dillinger was shot and killed by FBI agents on July 22, 1934 at the Biograph Theater on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago after receiving a tip from Dillinger’s friend Anna Sage. Sage, known as the “Woman in Red,” told authorities that she, Dillinger, and Dillinger’s girlfriend Polly Hamilton Keele would be at the movies and to look for her dressed in red. Some reports say Sage was actually dressed in orange.
Anna Sage, nicknamed the “Women in Red”, at the Sheffield Avenue police station in July 1934. Sage, who wore red or orange as a mark for the FBI, had been with John Dillinger when he was shot and killed by the FBI outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago on July 22, 1934. Sage said she made a deal with famous FBI agent Melvin Purvis. In exchange for information on Dillinger’s whereabouts, she would not be deported to her home country of Romania for running a brothel.
People stand around the blood stain from John H. Dillinger, 32, in the alley behind the Biograph Theater in Chicago. Dillinger was shot and killed by FBI agents on July 22, 1934 after receiving a tip from Dillinger’s friend Anna Sage. Sage, known as the “Woman in Red,” told authorities that she, Dillinger, and Dillinger’s girlfriend Polly Hamilton Keele would be at the movies and to look for her dressed in red. Some reports say Sage was actually dressed in orange.
John Dillinger’s body lies dead on a slab at the Cook County Morgue after he was shot and killed by FBI agents on July 22, 1934 at the Biograph Theater in Chicago. According to the Chicago Tribune, Dillinger was “partly covered with a sheet below which well manicured feet protrude, a tag labeled “Dillinger” on each big toe.”
Prof. D. E. Ashworth lifts a plaster death mask off the face of John Dillinger while his students watch on July 23, 1934 at the Cook County Morgue in Chicago. Prof. Ashworth, of the Worsham College of Mortuary Science, had told employees at the morgue the he had permission to create the mask, but didn’t. Ashworth and his students were ousted from the morgue and the partially completed mask was confiscated by the police. Unbeknownst to the FBI, a complimentary copy of another death mask was sent to the bureau from the Reliance Dental Corporation, who also did not have permission. To this day, there is controversy over how many death masks were made of Dillinger’s face and the authenticity of the masks.
Betty Nelson and Rosella Nelson view the body of John Dillinger, 32, while in bathing suits at the Cook County Morgue, located at Polk and Wood Streets, in Chicago. In the days after Dillinger was killed on July 22, 1934, massive crowds lined up outside the morgue to get a glimpse of the notorious public enemy.
John Dillinger’s body leaves the Cook County Morgue at Polk and Wood Streets to be taken to McCready Funeral home at 4506 Sheridan Road on July 24, 1934. Dillinger’s father, John Dillinger Sr., 70, traveled from Mooresville, Ind. to claim his son’s body. Dillinger was embalmed and then taken back to Indiana for burial.
John Dillinger Sr., seated (the father of notorious gangster John Dillinger), signs a contract to appear at the Walk-a-thon at Calumet City, Ill., while Frank Gladdin, general manager of the Metropolitan Vaudeville Agency, watches at the Woods Theater building on Aug. 28, 1934. With Dillinger Sr. are, from left, Frances Dillinger, 12, Doris Dillinger, 16 (both step-sisters of John Dillinger Jr.), Mrs. Audrey Hancock, (John Dillinger Jr.’s sister), and her husband Mr. Emmett Hancock. The Dillinger family, along with John Jr.’s girlfriend Evelyn “Billie” Frechette, toured with a theatrical production called “Crime Doesn’t Pay” after Dillinger’s death.

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