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Netflix recently unveiled a new event series called The Highwaymen, a brand-new retelling of the story of Bonnie and Clyde—as well as the Texas rangers who took them down. It's a movie touted as action-packed, dramatic, and romantic.
But, is it really realistic? Not really.
Believe it or not, the original outlaw duo weren't as romantic as you'd expect them to be. The two famous bank robbers are often painted as stylish, skilled, and dashing. Movie producers make them seem like true warriors in the face of the law, until police finally gunned them down.
In reality, the Texas-based criminal couple were known for botched robberies, the occasional murder, and plenty of very narrow escapes. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow became the biggest names newspaper headlines discussed during the 30s up until they both died in a shootout with police.
They may have had a bunch of wild chases, sure, but they weren't the Great Depression Era-chic couple people think they were. The real facts behind the most famous outlaw couple would make anyone rethink calling someone the "Bonnie to their Clyde."
First off, their relationship really wasn't that good.
In the movies, Bonnie and Clyde are seen as a couple who love each other to the very end. Their romance is often depicted as passionate; a true whirlwind adventure that would make any romance novel reader turn green with envy.
Though they were romantically linked, those who were close to them knew their relationship as a very tumultuous affair. Bonnie was incredibly devoted to Clyde. Clyde clearly loved Bonnie, but it was no cakewalk.
They had good moments, but they were also pretty notorious for bickering and fighting. I suppose the stress from a life of crime will do that to you.
Bonnie wasn't even married to Clyde; the marriage of Bonnie Parker was actually with a man by the name of Roy Thornton. The two married when Bonnie was 16 years old, and he quickly became physically abusive.
After Roy was sent to prison for bank robbery, Bonnie never saw him again. It seems like Bonnie still held a candle out for Roy; she never took off her wedding ring despite regularly being photographed kissing Clyde!
The dynamic duo actually wanted to do music together at first.
If you thought Bonnie and Clyde set out to become famous bank robbers, you're wrong. Both Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow had a deep passion for music.
Bonnie was a singer, Clyde played the guitar. The two actually wanted to perform together. However, things didn't work out that way because Clyde was already on the run and quickly roped Bonnie into his exploits.
By the way, it wasn't just Clyde and his girl who were part of the Barrow Gang.
It's common knowledge that everyone's favorite outlaw couple called themselves "the Barrow Gang."
Buck Barrow, one of Clyde's older brothers, was the one who first got Clyde into crime. Buck's wife, Blanche, was also a noted member. Along with the two Barrow men, major names like Joe Palmer and Raymond Hamilton would join their syndicate.
Their most common criminal companion was W.D. Jones, a very close friends. When they would travel together, W.D. Jones would take photos of them, help them steal food, and also distract victims while they pickpocketed the innocent bystanders.
The crimes that the gang committed escalated as the gang progressed. At first, it was just petty theft. Then it turned into stealing cars. Then, it was armed robbery.
When they'd escape, they often had to leave everything behind.
Sure, Netflix might show the two in dapper outfits complete with accessories, but that wasn't what life really was like. Whenever the two would go on the run, they would have to leave behind all their worldly possessions.
Needless to say, they often would wear the same change of clothes for weeks on end. Most of the sentimental items they had also vanished on the road, and that usually included Bonnie's Hollywood movie magazines.
The only items that they refused to part with were Clyde's musical instruments. Clyde only left behind his guitar during a shootout. In the very car the two died in, police found a saxophone that was riddled with bullet holes.
The two sustained massive injuries during their wild ride.
One thing that's never discussed about in Hollywood renditions of the criminal couple's lives is the fact that they didn't really escape unscathed. In order to get a shorter sentence in jail, Clyde Barrow sawed off two of his toes. Since then, he always walked with a limp.
Bonnie, on the other hand, had serious burns on her leg due to a car accident she survived when Clyde was at the wheel. She had difficulty walking throughout much of her life, which might be why Clyde is often seen carrying her.
They also lost their closest friends.
The tragedy of Bonnie and Clyde wasn't exclusively from the lives they, themselves, led. Buck was killed in a police shootout that was sparked by Bonnie and Clyde's visit. Blanche, Buck's wife, would later be captured during the same altercation.
The deaths seriously hurt the two. Many reports came of the two grieving the losses of their fellow gang members, even while they were on the run from the law.
Though Hollywood suggests otherwise, the two weren't very attractive.
With all the different ways the crime couple get portrayed, you'd expect these two to look like adult film stars. Clyde had a big nose and very large ears. Bonnie, on the other hand, was pretty frumpy with fairly unremarkable features.
They also were surprisingly short. Bonnie was a mere 4'11. Clyde was around 5'4. So, if you were fantasizing about being swept off your feet by a tall, dashing Clyde Barrow, think again. Chances are you were taller than him.
They really didn't like to kill people.
Despite the fact that they often found themselves in shootouts and are portrayed as a terrifying serial killer couple, neither Bonnie nor Clyde really enjoyed taking human lives. When they were doing their robbery thing, Clyde often preferred to take hostages and threaten them to get their way.
Bonnie avoided picking up the gun whenever she could. Even so, when it came to police shootouts, she was a pretty talented marksman.
Bonnie was a huge fan of poetry.
Like many criminals, Bonnie had a softer, more artistic side to her. Along with singing and daydreaming about life on the silver screen, Bonnie was known for writing poems.
Her most famous poem, The Story of Bonnie and Clyde, was published in newspapers shortly after she and her longtime lover died. It became a smash hit, and also mentioned a request that she and Clyde be buried together:
“Some day they’ll go down together/And they’ll bury them side by side/To few it’ll be grief/to the law a relief/but it’s death for Bonnie and Clyde.”—Bonnie Parker
The duo had their vices, too.
Finally, another thing that Hollywood might shy away from talking about are the vices that Bonnie and Clyde had. Surprisingly, Bonnie wasn't a cigar smoker—contrary to what the most popular photo of her suggests. She actually borrowed that cigar from W.D. Jones, who was taking the photo at the time.
Both Clyde and Bonnie were smokers, though. While they didn't do cigars, they enjoyed Camel cigarettes. Bonnie loved a shot of whiskey, while Clyde didn't drink because he wanted to stay alert. You know, just in case of the police.