Machine Gun Kelly


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When I was growing up my family tore down a couple of old houses so that we could salvage the lumber for a house my father was going to build. One of the houses was insulated with all these old Spokane Daily Chronicle newspapers from the 30’s. At some point my mother gave them to me and I held onto them for many years. I finally asked myself what I was going to do with them. That is where the idea of doing these charcoal gangster drawings on these old newspapers originated. These were drawings I did with my art class. I made them practice on current newspaper and once the got the hang of it I gave them an old newspaper to draw on.

Born on July 18, 1895, in Memphis, Tennessee, Machine Gun Kelly was a bootlegger, small-time bank robber and kidnapper who ranged through Tennessee, Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico in the 1920s and ’30s. Beginning his criminal career as a bootlegger, he was caught in 1927 and subsequently spent a few months in jail, where he met bank robbers. In 1930, he married Kathryn Thorne. They, along with others, robbed banks in many states, and kidnapped a wealthy oil tycoon and held him for ransom. For that crime, Kelly was arrested and sentenced to life in prison in 1933. He died in 1954.

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