It was a chance meeting at a West Dallas house in January of 1930 that set Clyde Chestnut Barrow and Bonnie Parker on a four-year trajectory of fame, fury and life-on-the run. That is, until it all ended in a hail of gunfire.
A new documentary on PBS explores how Bonnie and Clyde captivated the imagination of a depression-era nation and the romantic imagination of Hollywood — all thanks to a single roll of film.
Someone who knows those answers all too well is Clyde’s nephew Buddy Barrow, who still lives in North Texas. He says the famous photos found at the couple’s Joplin, Missouri, hideout don’t necessarily reflect reality.
“(The photos) caught Bonnie in a pose where she’s holding a rifle with Clyde and smoking a cigar,” Barrow says. “It was all just in fun, but now (the public) thought ‘Well, here’s these gangsters here armed to the teeth and got a gun moll riding with ’em.'”
In fact, the duo lived a far less glamorous life than than the one depicted by Hollywood.
“They could only sleep for a couple of hours and he’d be on the move again,” Barrow said. “That’s what made them so elusive. Law enforcement certainly wasn’t going to live like that. They were like scared animals.”
Listen to the full interview on the audio player above.