Tuesday, March 11, 2014

BLANCHE BARROW BLEW A FUSE

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Please forgive me for foregoing GRATITUDE TUESDAY, but I'm on this Bonnie and Clyde kick and I simply must continue with Blanche Barrow's story.

You saw a bit of Blanche yesterday in FUN TIMES WITH BONNIE AND CLYDE, but let's go all the way back to Blanche's birth in 1911. Her father was 40; her mother was 16. They divorced when Blanche was young. I wonder why.



When Blanche was 17, her mother forced her to marry a much older man, who is alleged to have treated her very cruelly. She divorced John Callaway in 1931 and married Buck Barrow. They honeymooned right here in lovely Jacksonville, Florida. After Blanche and Buck joined Bonnie and Clyde in 1933, Blanche had only four months left with her second husband.



When last we saw beautiful Blanche (in this post), Buck had died of wounds received while running from the Laws, and Blanche went to prison, where she maintained that Oh, no, she didn't want to be with those awful people and she never helped with any crimes.

Blanche with a posse member who helped capture her.
He looks so pleased.

Blanche washing her hands after being fingerprinted.

Sentenced to ten years, she got out in a little less than six. She wrote her memoirs while in prison. At first, she stayed with her father. In 1940, she married a man named Eddie Frasure in Rockwall, Texas (my oldest nephew lives there -- it's a small world after all). Blanche tried to keep her notoriety a secret, but she had to check in with authorities every time she moved and had to seek permission to marry Eddie.



For the most part, Blanche and Eddie lived in Dallas. During 1965, they adopted a 12-year-old boy named Rickey. Eddie died from cancer in 1969, but before he went, he got to see his wife portrayed on the big screen in Bonnie And Clyde.

Warren Beatty, who played Clyde and was one of the producers of the film, paid Blanche for permission to use her name and likeness in the movie. He would stop by to see Blanche sometimes while working on Bonnie And Clyde. Blanche loved it when Warren played the piano and sang to her.

But then the movie came out. When Blanche and Eddie went to see it, she said she nearly died of embarrassment because it made her look like "a screaming horse's ass". Estelle Parsons, who played Blanche, won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award in 1968.

The lovely Estelle Parsons in Bonnie and Clyde

Occasionally, Blanche would tell a close friend about her wild days with Bonnie and Clyde, and she left her scrapbook, important papers, and other mementos to relatives when she died from cancer on Christmas Eve, 1988.



She was estranged from adopted son Rickey because he had served time in prison. Blanche's mother outlived her. The memoirs Blanche wrote in prison were published in 2004 as My Life With Bonnie and Clyde.




Well, I think that's about enough chitchat regarding Blanche. One of these days maybe we'll talk some more about other gang members, and we'll dish about Bonnie and Clyde again.

Moral of Blanche's story: Crime doesn't pay. Today, of course, she'd be all over The National Enquirer and on every talk show, making a fortune. She was known as a snazzy dresser, even when she was in prison.

Bye-bye, Blanche.





Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug



34 comments:

  1. Nice follow-up, JJ. It must have added insult to injury when Estelle Parsons won an Oscar for a portrayal that Blanche claimed made her look like "a screaming horse's ass". It's confession time. I'm strictly hetero but, dang it, I wouldn't mind having Warren Beatty play the piano and sing for me!

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    1. I've never been much of a Beatty fan, even when he was at the height of his fame, but yeah, I would have liked having him stop by to play the piano and sing to me. He certainly looked good as Clyde. He must be kind of an old geezer now.

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  2. 40 and 11!?! I can't even have a conversation with someone ten years younger than me...though I'm guessing conversation wasn't of primary interest. Gross! I just grossed myself out! Gross gross gross.
    It's so weird to think about Blanche being alive to see herself portrayed in a movie. I just don't think about these bandits having a life beyond that small window of Bonnie and Clyde madness. Though, maybe that's because of the violent end issued to the Barrows.

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    1. 40 and 16! though she might as well have been 11 with that kind of age gap. I think a couple of other Barrow gang members lived to see old age. We think of it being Bonnie and Clyde and one other guy because that's what the movie fed us, but they had a number of gang members who came and went.

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  3. A very interesting post Janie!

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  4. What a life she lived. It is amazing she lived as long as she did. I wonder what her relationship with her mom was like.

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    1. She did not have a good relationship with her mom because her mother forced Blanche to marry her first husband. I don't know what went on in that marriage, but it seems to have been horrible. Blanche said she couldn't have children because of something her first husband did to her. However, Blanche's mother visited Blanche in prison and visited her in the hospital when she had cancer. During the hospital visit, Blanche turned away from her mother.They may have had a difficult relationship during Blanche's childhood, too. Lillian and Matthew divorced. Blanche seems to have been more of a daddy's girl. She called Buck "daddy" and used the same nickname for third husband Eddie.

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  5. It doesn't sound like she lived a happy life.

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    1. I think she found some happiness in her third marriage, and she had good relationships with some relatives.

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  6. I think Frank James had a more interesting history, but, then, I like cowboys and cowboy stories. You have been doing some great research on the B&C story and my dad would have loved it. He subscribed to True Detective, True Crime and other magazines, and we had our shared of criminal types in my family tree. But mostly I love porn...

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    1. I'm just not interested in porn. Sometimes I like cowboy history. When I was really young, I remember my parents taking us to see some gang's hideout in Kansas, and we toured the museum. I wish I could remember who they were.

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  7. So many stories. It's a shame she had to keep reporting on her life and whereabouts. I think if you do the crime and do the time it should be behind you. A shame about Ronnie; maybe you know more about him.

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    1. Do you mean Rickey, the adopted son? I don't know much about him. His wife divorced him when he was in prison. They later remarried and had a child. Blanche may not have known that she had a grandchild. She didn't leave anything to Rickey in her will. Blanche laughed about being an old lady and still being required to report to the authorities.

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  8. Hi Janie - you've done an excellent job with these two posting about the so called Bonnie and Clyde .. I knew nothing about their background .. so I've enjoyed this roller coaster ride of their lives, particularly Blanche's ...

    Thanks an informative read .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Thank you, Hilary. It's nothing like English history, is it?

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  9. More things I didn't know! Love it.

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    1. Blanche -- another person I wish I had met.

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  10. This has been fascinating! The next time I'm headed to the library I'm going to have to see if they have Blanche's book available.

    I agree with Shady: it must have been awful to see herself portrayed so unflatteringly, only to have the actress lauded for it. That would make me want to go on one final crime spree.

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    1. Blanche liked Warren and had no idea she would be portrayed that way. If you find her book, keep in mind that she wrote it while in prison hoping to be paroled. She would have downplayed her involvement in crime, but she and Buck were up to no good before they joined Bonnie and Clyde, which Blanche always maintained was supposed to be temporary and she wanted to get away from them.

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  11. Hmm, I wonder if Blanche was as fond of Warren after the movie came out. Good use of prison time to write those memoirs.

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    1. I don't know if she ever saw Warren again, but she probably didn't like him very much after she saw the movie. I suspect she wrote her book to pass the time and to try to convince the powers that be that she didn't do anything and should be paroled. The book was published posthumously so she didn't profit from it. I don't know why she didn't publish it when she was alive. Although she tried to stay under the radar, she accepted money from Beatty for the movie and she gave some interviews in which she admitted to criminal activity. She might as well have gotten the big bucks for her memoirs.

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  12. Just your plain, regular ol' Texas gal. Not. But what a strange life she led.

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    1. I believe very strongly that people quite often get caught up in events beyond their control.

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  13. A gang out of Kansas is probably the Dalton Gang... cousins to Frank and Jessie James.

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    1. Yes! The Dalton gang! I was probably five or six when we went there. The one thing I remember very well from the museum was a stuffed two-headed calf. I was in awe of that poor dead creature.

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  14. I would have been really embarrassed by the portrayal of her in the movie, too. They made Blanche out to be a screaming obnoxious ninny! She did the part well, but I couldn't stand the character she played--so I am glad to know a little more about the real Blanche. I would have written a book to tell my story after the movie came out--lol! ;)
    Warren is now 76, but he was a handsome devil, I thought, in those days.

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    1. Remember the character of Blanche gives the Texas Rangers a clue that helps them find Bonnie and Clyde? That didn't happen, either. Warren was handsome. I didn't realize he's 76. I haven't seen him in a long time.

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  15. Wow you are really into this. So much info.
    www.thoughtsofpaps.com

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    1. It's not difficult to get the information. So much is online. Some of it's contradictory, though. I'll move on to another facet of history before long.

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  16. Man! There's a view from the other side. You know, it just reminds me that no matter what our past may be, we're all people, and every person craves to being loved. Those who've made mistakes should be entitled to a degree of forgiveness, and gosh I wish we could let some people out of the spotlight to live their lives.

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    1. Blanche stayed out of the spotlight. I'm surprised that a plethora of reporters didn't track her down when the movie came out, but maybe everyone thought she was dead. She did a few interviews with one man, but I think that was it.

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  17. I used to live in Jacksonville and I have a dog named Eddie. I feel like I have so much in common with Blanche. Well, except for the being dead part.

    -andi

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    1. Did you live in my Jacksonville? In Florida?

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Got your panties in a bunch? Dig 'em out, get comfortable, and let's chat.