Produced by Jim Ruddy and presented by the Shell Companies Foundation and the Texas Committee for the Humanities, The Texas Experience presents the history of Texas through a series of one-minute clips. Each clip features a celebrity narrator briefly exploring a specific aspect of Texas history or culture, with topics ranging from early women settlers to Buddy Holly's short but influential career. In this episode, Country Music Hall of Famer, Waylon Jennings presents the history and legend of gangsters Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.
Clyde Chestnut Barrow was born near Telico, Texas on March 24, 1909 and grew up in impoverished conditions. In his teens, he was arrested several times, and he began regularly robbing stores and stealing cars. In 1930, he was sent to Eastham Prison Farm, where he beat an inmate to death who had assaulted him.
Bonnie Elizabeth Parker was born on October 1, 1910 in Rowena, Texas. Her father died when she was young, and her mother moved the family to a suburb of Dallas. Parker excelled in school and wrote poetry often, but she dropped out to marry Roy Thornton weeks before her 16th birthday. They separated a few years later, but never divorced, and Bonnie went to work as a waitress.
Bonnie and Clyde met in 1930, and it is believed that Bonnie joined Clyde because she was in love with him. They began committing small crimes with several other individuals, though Bonnie was not heavily involved in the acts themselves. By 1932, Clyde and his associates had killed several civilians and authority figures and were in and out of jail. The group went into hiding in Joplin, Missouri, but was later ambushed by the police. Amidst gunfire, they were able to escape, as well as kill both a detective and a constable. In the aftermath, photos developed from film left at the hideout were published and brought Bonnie and Clyde national notoriety.
The Barrow Gang continued their crime spree around Texas and as far north as Minnesota, willing to kidnap or even kill those who got in their way. The manhunt for Bonnie and Clyde came to an end in Bienville Parish, Louisiana on May 23, 1934 when they were several officers opened fire on their car. The two died on the scene.