If you’re a fan of the outlaw pair Bonnie and Clyde, you may think that you’ve read everything about them.
However, there are plenty of little-known facts still lurking around that you may not be aware of.
Let’s talk more about the Barrow brothers, Bonnie Parker, and Clyde Barrow so you can get your fill on all the details.
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What Is the Real Story about Bonnie and Clyde
There have been a couple of movies made about this pair, but none of them have been historically accurate.
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were a pair of outlaws who robbed grocery stores, small mom-and-pop type stores, and a few banks during their nearly 2-year run from the law.
That’s the part that everyone knows. What most people don’t know is shocking and even a bit gory.
Top 15 Little-Known Facts about Bonnie & Clyde
Fact #1- The Couple Didn’t Really Like Robbing Banks
Although they’ve been portrayed as big bank robbers, the truth is that the Barrow gang didn’t like banks because they almost always had armed security details inside and sometimes outside the banks. That made this type of robbery more dangerous.
Bonnie and Clyde preferred easier marks, including small corner grocery stores, gas stations, even robbing coins from gumball machines! While the payoff wasn’t all that great, it was much safer.
Fact #2- Clyde Wanted Out of the Prison Farm But Not for the Obvious Reasons
Life at Eastham prison farm was no bed of roses, to be sure. Guards there were known to bust a guy’s chops (literally) for little or no reason.
Think about the movie Shawshank Redemption and you’ll get the idea about what life was like for Clyde Barrow in prison. He wanted out in the worst way and some say it’s because he was lazy, but the truth is far more brutal.
Clyde was being beaten and sexually abused by another inmate, Ed Crowder. Clyde finally killed Crowder with a metal bar in the men’s bathroom. Another inmate, who was already serving a life sentence, took the fall for Crowder’s murder.
Fact #3- Robbing Involved More than Bonnie and Clyde
Many people believe that Bonnie and Clyde acted alone, and near the end of their time, they may well have been. However, there’s a reason they are associated with the Barrow Gang.
Several family members came and went with this couple, including William Daniel Jones, Raymond Hamilton, Henry Methvin, Joe Palmer, and Ralph Fults. Alongside those individuals were Clyde’s family, including his brother, Marvin “Buck” Barrow, and his wife Blanche.
Clyde’s mother, Cumie, frequently helped the couple avoid capture and supplied them with food, clothing, and medication.
While some of these people came and went, it was Henry Methvin who stayed with Bonnie and Clyde the longest, and it was Henry’s father who would eventually betray the couple.
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Fact #4- Bonnie Didn’t Really Smoke Cigars
In one infamous photo, Bonnie is seen with one leg perched on top of the fender of their stolen automobile, a gun in one hand and a cigar in her mouth.
In the 1930s, these were scandalous acts for a woman. The truth is that Bonnie didn’t really smoke cigars. She was simply clowning for the camera. A friend had given her the cigar to hold while they adjusted the camera. Bonnie decided to play the part of a bad girl and take a photo with the cigar and gun next to the stolen Ford car.
Fact #5 – Clyde Had a Limp But Bonnie’s Limp Was Worse
If you knew that Clyde Barrow had a limp, you are already ahead of the game. Did you know that Bonnie had a limp that was far more severe due to a car accident? It’s true.
Because Clyde had lost two toes in prison, he found it difficult to drive with shoes on. He was known to go barefoot or only wear socks.
On June 10th, 1933, Clyde was driving extremely fast. He was going so fast that he missed the sign saying that the bridge had been washed out and the road was closed. Clyde blew past that sign, and the car went right off the edge of the road, straight into a small creek.
The car literally broke apart, including the battery, which spilled acid all over Bonnie’s leg. People living nearby came to help, and Clyde told them that they were wanted by the police so they couldn’t take Bonnie to the hospital. These kind people, who had no idea who Bonnie and Clyde were, used baking soda and water to stop the burn and wrapped her leg in bandages.
Bonnie would never walk normally again. She was in constant pain and many times, Clyde would carry her. To ease her pain, she took laudanum, which was supplied by Clyde Barrow’s aunt and extended family.
Fact #6- Clyde Was a Music Lover
Everyone knew that Bonnie wrote poems, but few knew Clyde’s love for Music. Clyde Barrow literally lived and died next to his saxophone. On the day they were gunned down, they found many things in the car, including Clyde’s saxophone in the back seat.
Fact #7- Bonnie Died with Something in Her Hand
Despite having 26 bullet holes in her body, Bonnie had half of a sandwich still clutched in her hand.
Fact#8- There’s a Museum Dedicated to Bonnie and Clyde
Speaking of that uneaten sandwich, their last stop before being shot to death was Ma Canfield’s Cafe in Gibsland, Louisiana, just 7 miles from where they would die. This cafe is now a museum dedicated to the infamous couple.
Fact #9- The Government Said Cumie Barrow Was the Gang Leader
Following the death of Bonnie and Clyde, the US government decided to clamp down on gangsters. They put at least a dozen Barrow family members in jail, and the prosecuting attorney listed Cumie Barrow as the ringleader of the Barrow gang.
However, the true members of the Barrow Gang could not be denied.
Fact #10- Cumie Barrow May Have Bribed the Judge
In the 1920s, it was common for people to bribe police officers and judges for special favors. When the judge asked Cumie why she shouldn’t receive the maximum sentence, she tearfully implored the judge to give her no more than 30 days because she “was needed at home.” The judge agreed and gave her 30 days.
Fact #11- People Tried to Get Body Parts as Souvenirs
As soon as the word got out that Bonnie and Clyde had been killed and that their bodies were being returned to the coroner’s office in town, crowds surrounded the car as it was being towed.
People grabbed whatever they could—broken glass from the windows, a piece of Bonnie’s dress, and her red hat—while someone tried to cut off one of Clyde’s ears.
The coroner says some people snuck into the office and tried to remove Clyde’s trigger finger but were stopped before they could finish.
Fact #12- Clyde Had a Strange Middle Name That He Didn’t Like
Clyde Barrow’s middle name was Chestnut, and while no one is quite sure why his mother gave him that name, he disliked it very much. In prison, he began going by Clyde Champion Barrow, which was surely more masculine sounding than Chestnut.
Fact #13- Both Bonnie and Clyde Were Quite Short
With a history of robbing and even murdering another inmate, one would think that this pair would be larger than life, but this isn’t really true. Bonnie stood a mere 4’11” and weighed no more than 90 pounds, while Clyde was a tiny 5’3″, smaller than many women!
Fact #14- These Criminals Released More People Than They Killed
It seems that the only people Bonnie and Clyde were truly interested in killing were police officers or prison guards. After his treatment at Eastham prison farm, Clyde swore revenge on the police.
More often than not, Bonnie and Clyde would drive the person to whatever they considered to be a safe distance away, then let them go, sometimes giving them enough cash for bus fare back to town!
They carjacked one man, later setting him free. This man, Dillard Darby, was an undertaker, and after Bonnie and Clyde were killed, he was the one who took care of their bodies.
Fact #15- Clyde Asked the Police to Return His Guitar
Clyde was certainly a musician at heart. Originally, the pair had been traveling with Clyde’s guitar and saxophone. During one of their many escape plans, the guitar got left behind at one hideout.
After discovering that the police had his guitar, Clyde asked his mother to go to the police station and ask that they return the guitar to her for “safe keeping”.
It’s pretty fair to say that the police chief gave Cumie Barrow a resounding “NO.”
How Did Bonnie and Clyde Meet Their End?
They were actually betrayed by the father of a friend.
Henry Methvin had done his fair share of robberies with Bonnie and Clyde. They were good friends, and Henry frequently asked Clyde to drop him off at his father’s house in Louisiana for visits.
Former Texas Ranger’s Francis Hamer and Maney Gault realized that the pair were mostly driving in circles from one state to another. This led them to Louisiana where they met up with Henry Methvin’s father, Ivan.
A deal was made where Henry Methvin would not face any charges in Texas for his criminal activity if his father set up Bonnie and Clyde.
What Methvin’s father didn’t know was that his son was wanted in Oklahoma for the killing of a police officer.
Ivan Methvin pretended to have a flat tire and waited for Bonnie and Clyde to return on that road to pick up his son.
Hamer and a group of officers were waiting in the bushes. One of the officers described the shooting:
Each of us six officers had a shotgun and an automatic rifle and pistols. We opened fire with the automatic rifles. They were emptied before the car got even with us. Then we used shotguns.
There was smoke coming from the car, and it looked like it was on fire. After shooting the shotguns, we emptied the pistols at the car, which had passed us and ran into a ditch about 50 yards on down the road. It almost turned over.
We kept shooting at the car even after it stopped. We weren’t taking any chances.
Pretty gruesome by anyone’s standards.
Hamer let the officers take whatever they wanted from the car. Most took a gun or two as souvenirs.
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are buried in separate graves in Dallas, Texas. While surviving family members have tried to raise money to have the pair reunited in death, they have been unsuccessful to date.
America’s fascination with this outlaw couple remains high.
Perhaps the former speaker of the House of Representatives, Jim Wright, gave the reason why America was enthralled with these criminals:
“Even if you did not approve of them,” he said, “you still would have to envy them a little, to be so good-looking and rich and happy.”
Written by Kerry Wisby – GatsbyFlapperGirl.com
Owner & Founder of GatsbyFlapperGirl.com
Kerry Wisby, a former teacher with a BA in English, is the founder of GatsbyFlapperGirl.com. With a passion for all things 1920s, including The Great Gatsby novel, her website is the ultimate source for Roaring Twenties fashion, history, and party ideas. Read more about Kerry here.