William Helmer Q&A #6

Co-author of DILLINGER: THE UNTOLD STORY

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William Helmer Q&A #6

Unread postby Liz » Sat Aug 08, 2009 11:17 am

ONBC: In your opinion, what is it about Dillinger that draws people to him? Why can't we let this guy rest in peace?

WH: Odd way to put it, but Dillinger not only was the case that “made” the future FBI, but also became symbolic as the Depression’s first true “social bandit” who (as Pierpont put it) “only stole from the bankers what the bankers stole from the people.” It’s likely he would have enjoyed the attention his memory has received, as did Alvin Karpis when he was interviewed following his release from Alcatraz. Dillinger was no Robin Hood, but the police of the day were often corrupt, as were most other public officials; and much of the public had come to dislike bankers on principle, as symbols of wealth. Unless people were killed, not many average citizens strongly objected to a bank being robbed, especially by Dillinger, whose daring escapes made him something of a celebrity and because of the concern he showed toward his running-board hostages. All this infuriated J. Edgar Hoover, who was especially angered when motorists jokingly posted signs saying not to shoot because they weren’t Dillinger, and when a Wisconsin merchant distributed posters promoting Dillinger for “bank examiner.” Most were perturbed by his betrayal and had greater animosity toward Anna Sage. I take it you aren’t a member of The John Dillinger Died For You Society.
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deppaura
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Re: William Helmer Q&A #6

Unread postby deppaura » Sat Aug 08, 2009 12:15 pm

Kind of a twisted hero, bucking authority, seemingly brave and taking risks. The stuff myths are made of.

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Re: William Helmer Q&A #6

Unread postby gemini » Sat Aug 08, 2009 3:28 pm

I agree with Mr. Helmers answer. I think that a lot of his popularity had to do with the depression era and people saw him as the opposite of the bankers. They agreed with Pierpont that the banks had taken their money and it served them right if Dillinger took it back. He became something of a rock star status in his time, for his antics with the press, hopping over counters in the banks, and his escapes.

I can't answer for the rest of the population but there certainly is something about him that sparked my interest to keep reading about him. It was more than just Johnny playing his part in the film, it was Dillinger .
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers

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Re: William Helmer Q&A #6

Unread postby gemini » Sat Aug 08, 2009 3:34 pm

Liz wrote:

WH: I take it you aren’t a member of The John Dillinger Died For You Society.


I would have loved to be at "The John Dillinger Died For You Society" for the 75 anniversity of his death. I read about it coming up but searched and couldn't find anything about it afterwards. I thought for sure this year with the film out that it would attract more attention. Has anyone else seen anything ?
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers



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Re: William Helmer Q&A #6

Unread postby Liz » Sat Aug 08, 2009 10:38 pm

I haven't seen anything since it was celebrated. But this is a cool article if you haven't seen it already. Be sure to click on all the pages for the pics.

You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: William Helmer Q&A #6

Unread postby deppaura » Sun Aug 09, 2009 11:50 pm

I guess I just need to say that I never regarded Dillinger as a Robin Hood.

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Re: William Helmer Q&A #6

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Aug 10, 2009 7:53 am

gemini, I felt like you did about the commemoration of the 75th anniversary. I have been searching but have not been able to find anything either. If it did receive press coverage, it hasn't turned up online.

deppaura, I can't say I see him as a Robin Hood either but he was certainly a folk hero who's legend has survived the test of time.
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