Day 341 of Colourisation Project – April 13
Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.
Robert Leroy Parker and Harry Alonzo Longabaugh could be be chartered accountants, for all we know. Their names don’t quite have the same ring as “Butch Cassidy” and “The Sundance Kid”, the pair of outlaws immortalized in the 1969 Oscar-winning movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford.
Born this day, April 13, 1866, in Beaver, Utah, Robert Leroy Parker, aka Butch Cassidy, the oldest of thirteen children from a Mormon family, was the leader of the Wild Bunch gang in the American Old West and one of America’s most notorious bank and train robbers.
Always on the run and managing to elude the law along the way, Butch and Sundance’s escapades led them to Argentina and Bolivia, where it is believed the pair were killed in a shootout on November 7, 1908, but the veracity of this story is murky with varying reports of their demise. The bodies of two men, presumed to be those of Butch and Sundance, were buried in unmarked graves the same day of the shootout. In 1991 American forensic anthropologist, Clyde Snow and his researchers attempted to find their graves, but no remains with DNA matching the living relatives of Cassidy and Longabaugh have yet been discovered.
Some historical evidence suggests that Cassidy faked his death and returned to the United States, where he lived for another three decades under a new name: William T. Phillips, making a living as a machinist before passing away from cancer in Spokane, Washington, in 1937.
Speculation was fueled by the publication of a book written by Phillips in the 1920s titled The Invincible Bandit: The Story of Butch Cassidy, which included details that supposedly only Cassidy could have known. It recounts the story of how Cassidy escaped from Bolivia, sailed to Europe where he had plastic surgery in France, returned to Wyoming where he married a long-lost sweetheart and settled down in Washington state.
In 1969 after the release of the film, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 86 year old Mrs. Lula Parker Betenson, Butch’s youngest sister, told reporters that Cassidy had not died in South America in 1908, as was widely believed, but had come back to visit some 16 years later, in 1925. She claimed that Butch instead died in Spokane, Washington in 1937, and spent his last years as a trapper and prospector.
The film ends with a freeze-frame shot of Butch and Sundance charging out of a building in a gunshooting blaze of glory, leaving viewers with a scintilla of hope that the pair may have indeed survived…a good way to end today’s story.