"Public Enemies," starring Johnny Depp as bank robber John Dillinger, opens in movie theaters Wednesday. Suddenly, outlaws are in. Here are 10 arresting facts that might have escaped your attention:
1. A Wyoming ne'er-do-well known as "Big Nose George" Parrot tried to derail a payroll train by removing rail spikes. When a posse went after him, he and an accomplice killed two pursuers. Finally captured, Parrot was lynched in 1881. Dr. John Osborne, a local physician, skinned Parrot's body and arranged for the hide to be tanned and made into a pair of shoes.
2. In many books, a photo shows William Bonney, a.k.a. Billy the Kid, with a Winchester carbine in his right hand and a Colt single-action pistol holstered on his left hip. That has led people to assume that the gunslinger was left-handed. A 1958 film in which Paul Newman played Billy the Kid was titled "The Left-Handed Gun." But the photo of Billy the Kid was a tintype, which means the image was reversed. In fact, the kid fired his pistol with his right hand.
3. A desperado is defined as a "bold, reckless criminal or outlaw." But it's also slang for a chess piece that behaves in a kamikaze fashion, destined to be captured but doing as much damage to the opponent as possible. And it was a member of Dallas' team in the Arena Football League. And it's a beverage featuring beer, limeade and tequila.
4. "The Lady in Red" didn't wear red. Anna Sage, who helped FBI agents ambush John Dillinger outside Chicago's Biograph Theater, was wearing an orange skirt that appeared red under the theater's marquee lights.
5. The movie " Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" embraced the story that the two desperadoes died in a 1908 shootout in Bolivia. But it's not a certainty that Cassidy met his end there. Cassidy's sister, Lula Parker Betenson, said he visited her in Utah in 1925. Others suspect Cassidy was a man known as William Phillips who died in Spokane, Wash., in the 1930s.
6. Convicted of killing a police officer, "Terrible" Tommy O'Connor awaited the hangman in Chicago's Criminal Court Building in 1921. But he got hold of a gun -- some said it was smuggled in a pork chop sandwich -- and he managed to escape. After a series of carjackings, he disappeared for good, or for bad. In 1977, Cook County finally sold off the wooden gallows it intended to use on O'Connor if he had ever been caught.
7. The modern equivalent of Robin Hood was India's "bandit queen," Phoolan Devi. Forced into an arranged marriage at age 11 to a man three times her age, she repudiated the marriage and took up a life of crime. She joined a band of dacoits (bandits), and led them in raids, including a notorious massacre of about 20 high-caste men in 1981. After spending more than a decade in prison, she was elected to parliament in 1996. Five years later, she was assassinated by masked gunmen.
8. Nat Turner was a desperado, but he also was a freedom fighter. Guided by messianic visions, Turner led a Virginia slave rebellion that massacred 55 whites before he was captured and hanged in 1831. A decade earlier, Turner had escaped from slavery, but voluntarily came back after 30 days, explaining that a spirit had told him to return to bondage.
9. Desperadoes routinely come to a bad end. Sixteenth Century Japanese outlaw Ishikawa Goemon was captured and boiled in oil. Virgulino Ferreira da Silva, the bespectacled Brazilian bandit leader known as Lampiao, was killed with 10 members of his gang in 1938, and their heads were cut off and displayed in public.
10. Dillinger was behind bars when Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were grabbing headlines. Annoyed that they were knocking off only small-time banks, Dillinger complained that they were "giving bank-robbing a bad name."
Sources: "In Search of Butch Cassidy" by Larry Pointer, "Digging Up Butch and Sundance" by Anne Meadows, "Dillinger: The Untold Story" by G. Russell Girardin and William J. Helmer, "To Serve and Collect" by Richard C. Lindberg, "To Inherit the Earth" by Angus Wright and Wendy Wolford, "Encyclopedia of Chess Wisdom" by Eric Schiller, "The Arkansas Journey" by Trey Berry, Time magazine, Americas magazine, Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Toronto Sun, New Zealand Herald, drinksmixer.com, britannica.com, news.bbc.co.uk, pbs.org, dictionary.reference.com and imdb.com.
firstname.lastname@example.orgCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times