The real-life aging bandit Robert Redford plays in the bank robbery movie, which was filmed partly in Dayton and Hamilton, has a story that is more action-packed than fiction.
Redford plays Forrest Silva “Woody” Tucker in “The Old Man and The Gun,” directed by David Lowery.
The film also stars Danny Glover, Casey Affleck, Tom Wait and Sissy Spacek as Jewel, Tucker’s wife.
The film is based on the 2003 New Yorker article “The Old Man and the Gun” by Dan Grann.
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Here are a few things about Tucker’s story from the New Yorker, the 1999 Los Angeles Times article “79 years old and his of crime appears to be going strong” and the 1999 San Francisco Chronicle piece about the “last of `Rub-a-Dub-Dub' Fugitives.”
TUCKER WAS A SILVER FOX
Like Redford, it seems the real Tucker was kind of hot.
Even while interviewed as a 79-year-old, Grann described him as “a striking-looking man, with intense blue eyes and swept-back white hair.”
The San Francisco article quotes a Broward County Sheriff’s Department spokesman who said that even at 78, Tucker “had quite a way with the ladies.”
Seems he charmed the pants off of people.
“Even a juror who helped convict him once remarked, ‘You got to hand it to the guy—he’s got style’,” Grann’s article says.
HE KNEW HOW TO GIVE THEM THE SLIP
Tucker, who likened himself to Harry Houdini, escaped from jail 18 times. His most famous jailbreak was from San Quentin.
He told Grann that he broke out of “the can” for the first time when he was just 15 years old.
Here is how the San Francisco Chronicle describes his escape from San Quentin:
On Aug. 9, 1979, Tucker and fellow inmates William McGirk and John Waller launched their boat from a partially hidden beach on prison grounds.
Their flimsy craft, made of pieces of plastic sheeting, wood, duct tape and Formica, lasted just long enough for them to paddle several hundred yards to freedom right under the noses of several tower guards.
At one point, as they paddled frantically to keep the boat afloat, a tower guard called out to see if they needed help from the Coast Guard.
No problem, called back one of the kayakers: "My Timex is still ticking."
After the three turned up missing during the afternoon count, guards found the kayak beached beyond the prison walls. On one side was its name: "Rub-A-Dub-Dub, Marin Yacht Club." That side, the one facing the prison, had been painted bright blue; the other side was left unfinished.
NEVER TOO OLD TO ROB A BANK
During his last crime spree, Tucker teamed up with legendary bank robber Theodore Green in Boston. The partnership was dubbed “The Over the Hill Gang.”
SNOWBIRD IN DISGUISE
Jewel Centers, Tucker’s third wife, thought he was a securities broker, according to the LA Times.
Grann’s story says she wanted him to settle into their peach-colored home on the edge of a golf course in Pompano Beach, Florida.
There was a place nearby where they could eat prime rib and dance on Saturday nights with other seniors for $15.50 a person, and even a lake where Tucker could sit by the shore and practice his saxophone.
THERE WERE TOOLS OF THE TRADE
Tucker told Grann that violence during a bank robbery “was the first sign of an amateur.”
He considered the gun to be essential to a bank robbery, but as a “prop.”
His tools included nail polish or super glue to cover the fingertips, a holster and a glass cutter.
He used a hearing aid (a scanner wired through his shirt) during his time with the Over the Hill Gang.
HE SORT OF ESCAPED FROM ALCATRAZ
Tucker schooled himself in law while in prison and was granted a hearing in 1956. He complained of kidney pain the night before the hearing and was taken to Los Angeles County General Hospital.
Turker stabbed himself in the ankle when no one was looking, according to Grann’s article.
Because of the injury, guards took off his leg irons. With his hands cuffed, Tucker leaped from the gurney while being wheeled to an X-ray room. He overpowered two guards and ran out of the hospital.
He was eventually found in a cornfield, still in his handcuffs and a hospital gown.