OFFBEAT: Dillinger event in Indy Monday includes gangster's car

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-07-19T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Dillinger event in Indy Monday includes gangster's carBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

Gangster John Dillinger might likely flash one of his famous smirks upon hearing his great nephew now works as a federal law enforcement officer.

On July 22, 1934, Dillinger died on his way to the hospital after being shot by federal agents in front of the Biograph Theatre in Chicago.

Crime writer and author Carol Sissom and The John Dillinger Family, including his nephew Mike Thompson and great nephew Travis Thompson, will be signing autographs at a book signing event at the Indianapolis International Airport from noon to 6 p.m. Monday, July 22.

I'm told they will be signing autographs and books in front of Dillinger's auto, a 1933 Essex Terraplane, which will be on display at the airport for the next year and a half and is, as explained to me, "the very automobile that Dillinger was shot up in on March 31, 1934."

Apparently, Dillinger purchased the car from the Potthoff Brothers Motor Company in St. Paul, Minn. and used it until April 7, 1934, when he and his brother, Hubert, crashed the car in a farm field.

On March 31, 1934 at Lincoln Court Apartments in St. Paul, Dillinger and his girlfriend, Evelyn "Billie" Frechette, escaped a shootout with the police. But in the exchange, Dillinger took a bullet in his left leg. I'm told two slugs can still be seen from the front cowl (dashboard area) panel of the Essex. At Monday's airport meet and greet, there will be videos, Dillinger memorabilia and a chance to snap plenty of photos.

Sissom's book "Banking with Dillinger" (March 2009 Carol's Adventures Publishing $17.95) is a 200-page paperback with rare photos and facts never before made public, including some amazing letters written by Dillinger to his family while he was serving time at both Michigan City State Prison and the Lake County Jail in Crown Point.

Distance for Depp

Actor Johnny Depp gave Northwest Indiana a dose of entertainment excitement when he was cast as John Dillinger for director Michael Mann's 2009 film "Public Enemies" for Universal Pictures and did on location filming in March 2008 in Crown Point. But it looks like we won't be seeing Depp in another gangster fedora anytime too soon. Even before the disappointing box office returns for this month's release of his Disney film "The Lone Ranger," he announced in May he was backing out of being cast as Boston mobster Whitey Bulger for the movie "Black Mass," to be directed by Hollywood veteran Barry Levinson.

According to "The Hollywood Reporter," after producers shopped the film to buyers at the Cannes Film Festival, it failed to attract a large number of bids, so they asked Depp to drop his usual $20 million fee. Depp refused the paycut and walked away from the production, which is working with a trimmed budget of $60 million. Bulger, now 83 and captured along with his moll Catherine Greig in June 2011, was on the FBI's "Most Wanted List" for more than 10 years.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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