During the 1930's There were REAL gangsters whose machine gun toting exploits were the stuff of daily newspaper headlines all over the country.


Legendary characters like Al Capone, John Dillinger, Machine Gun Kelly and Baby Face Nelson and their 'gun molls' intrigued the imaginations of the American public. Movies and radio shows featuring actors like James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson gave thes
e these violent killers a personality the American public could embrace and made them seem larger than life.


That opened up an opportunity for the development of the 'crime show' which was very popular and was offered in some form on almost every midway throughout the 1920's 30's and 40's. These shows featured replicas of gangsters bullet riddled Cadillac and Packard automobiles that were claimed to be their authentic "death car", mannikins in coffins dressed in bloody suits complete with bullet holes, dioramas of grisly gun fights and assassinations, often depicting the Chicago St.Valentines Day massacre and displays of Thompson machine guns and .45 automatic pistols that were sworn to be the personal property of one of the evildoers. People ate it up.


With the popularity of television, in the 50's, these shows soon died off but there were still a few around in the 1960's like "John Dillingers Car".

 

International Independent Showmen's Museum

 


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