Blanche and Buck Barrow, 1931
|Born||January 1, 1911
|Died||December 24, 1988 (aged 77)
|Penalty||10 years imprisonment|
|Spouse||John Callaway (1928 - 1931)
Buck Barrow (1931 - 1933, his death)
Eddie Frasure (1940 - 1969, his death)
Blanche Barrow was born in Garvin, Oklahoma. She was the only child of Matthew Fontain Caldwell (June 23, 1871 - September 19, 1947) and Lillain Bell Pond (c.1894 - February 24, 1995). At the time of her birth, her father was 40 years old and her mother was 16 years old. Her parents divorced while Blanche was still a young child, and she was raised by her father, who was beloved by her for the rest of her life. Her father made his living as a logger and a farmer. Matthew Caldwell was a devoutly religious man and occasionally preached as a lay minister, even though he was not an ordained minister. At age 17, Blanche was forced to marry a much older John Callaway, a marriage arranged by her mother, who offered Blanche to Callaway on the premise that Callaway had money and would reward both her and Blanche. Blanche ran away. In her book, My Life with Bonnie and Clyde, Blanche maintains that the experience with Callaway left her unable to bear children. On November 11, 1929, while hiding in Dallas County from her husband, Blanche met Buck Barrow. Buck was twice-divorced with children. He was also a criminal. Nevertheless, the couple fell in love.
On November 29, 1929, several days after meeting Blanche, Buck Barrow was shot and captured following a burglary in Denton, Texas. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to five years in the Texas State Prison System. On March 8, 1930, however, Barrow escaped from the Ferguson Prison Farm near Midway, Texas. He simply walked out of the prison, stole a guard's car, and drove to his parents' place in West Dallas where Blanche was living. In interviews with author/historian John Neal Phillips, Blanche was frank about the fact that she not only knew of Buck's escape, but that she hid with him and actually staged robberies with him. The notion that Blanche did not know until later that Buck was an escaped convict was fabricated by the Barrow family and Blanche herself as a means of convincing Missouri State authorities to reduce her prison sentence following her capture in July 1933.
On July 3, 1931, Blanche and Buck were married in Oklahoma. They honeymooned in Florida. Nevertheless, despite hiding with her husband and accompanying him on a number of armed robberies, Blanche was not interested in pursuing a criminal career. She and other members of the Barrow family convinced Buck to turn himself in to Texas prison authorities and complete his sentence. On December 27, 1931, Buck was driven to Huntsville, Texas where he told surprised prison officials that he had escaped almost two years before and needed to resume his sentence. Upon his release, March 22, 1933, Buck Barrow, in the company of Blanche, joined his younger brother Clyde, Bonnie Parker, and W. D. Jones in Joplin, Missouri where he participated in several armed robberies.
Although Blanche Barrow never once fired a gun during this time, she was present during the vicious April 13, 1933, shootout in Joplin, Missouri in which two law officers, Newton County Constable Wes Harryman and Joplin City Motor Detective Harry McGinnis, were killed. She was not present, however, when Buck and W. D. Jones killed Alma City Marshal Henry Humphrey during a brief shootout on the road between Alma and Fayetteville, Arkansas on June 23, 1933. But she was present during the July 19, 1933, gunfight at the Red Crown Tourist Court near Platte City, Missouri in which three people were wounded, including Platte County Sheriff Holt Coffey. Buck was mortally wounded in that fight, shot through the head. Blanche was also wounded but she and Buck managed to escape with Bonnie, Clyde, and W. D. Jones to an abandoned amusement park near Dexter, Iowa. On July 24, 1933, five days later, there was yet another battle. Buck was wounded again, this time in the back, and was captured along with Blanche. Bonnie, Clyde, and W. D. Jones, all wounded, escaped. Buck died at Kings Daughters Hospital in Perry, Iowa on July 29, 1933, of complications involving his wounds.
Blanche, whose weight had dropped to eighty-one pounds, was extradited to Platte County, Missouri to stand trial for the attempted murder of Sheriff Holt Coffey, who had been wounded in the Red Crown shootout of July 19, 1933. She was convicted and sentenced to ten years in the Missouri State Penitentiary. Both during her time in prison and after her parole she remained in close contact with Sheriff Coffey and his family, as well as with Platte County prosecutor David Clevenger. Indeed, they were instrumental in her parole.
Blanche was sentenced to ten years in prison for her part in the Joplin shootout, where the two officers had been killed. She served six years and received state-of-the-art medical treatment for her left eye, which was pierced with glass during the gang's flight from the Platte City tourist court, although she eventually lost all sight in the eye.
Following her release from prison, Blanche Barrow moved to Dallas, Texas. She was remarried in 1940 to Eddie Frasure. One year later, she completed her parole. In 1965, the couple adopted a 12-year-old boy named Ricky, from whom she later became estranged owing to his legal troubles.[1 ] Eddie died in 1969, and Blanche died from cancer on December 24, 1988, a little over a week away from her 78th birthday. She was buried in Dallas's Grove Hill Memorial Park under the name "Blanche B. Frasure". Her memoirs, My Life With Bonnie and Clyde, were published in 2004 (ISBN 0-8061-3715-0).
On April 10, 1968 at the 40th Academy Awards ceremony, Estelle Parsons won the Oscar for best actress in a supporting role for her portrayal of Blanche in the film Bonnie and Clyde (1967). Blanche was unhappy with the film. In an interview with author/historian John Neal Phillips, Blanche said, "That movie made me look like a screaming horse's ass."