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Birdman of Alcatraz

Robert Stroud, known as the Birdman of Alcatraz was a prisoner in Alcatraz prison who supposedly found solace from solitary confinement in raising and selling birds.

Robert Franklin Stroud, was born in Seattle, Washington on January 28, 1890 to Elizabeth and Ben Stroud. He was the couple's first child, although Elizabeth had two daughters from a previous marriage. Robert left home at a young age, and by 1908 was in Cordova, Alaska where he met and began a relationship with 36-year old Kitty O'Brien, a dance-hall entertainer and prostitute. In November 1908 they moved to Juneau, Alaska.

On 18 Jan 1909, while Robert was away at work, an acquaintance of theirs F K "Charlie" Von Dahmer, took advantage of, and viciously beat Kitty. On his return, Robert confronted Charlie and a struggle ensued resulting in Charlie being shot dead. Although Robert's mother Elizabeth retained a lawyer for her son, he was sentenced to 12 years at McNeil Island on 23 Aug 1909.

In 1912 he was transferred to Leavenworth Kansas. While there, Robert killed a guard, and was sentenced to execution by hanging on 27 May 1916 but the trial was later invalidated. In a later trial he was given a life sentence. This trial was invalidated by the US Supreme Court and a new trial ordered and set for May 1918. Again Robert was sentenced on 28 Jun 1918 to die by hanging. The US Supreme Court intervened, but only to uphold the death sentence, which was scheduled for 23 Apr 1920.

At this point, Robert's mother appealed to President Wilson who ordered a halt to the execution. His sentence was altered to life imprisonment.

Table of contents
1 The book and film
2 Was the story a true story?
3 External links

The book and film

Stroud became the subject of a 1955 book, Birdman of Alcatraz by Thomas E. Gaddis.

The book was then dramatized in a 1962 film of the same title. It starred Burt Lancaster, Karl Malden, Thelma Ritter, Neville Brand, Betty Field, Telly Savalas, Edmond O'Brien, Hugh Marlowe and Whit Bissell.

The movie was adapted by Guy Trosper from Gaddis' book. It was directed by John Frankenheimer.

It was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Burt Lancaster), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Telly Savalas), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Thelma Ritter) and Best Cinematography, Black-and-White.

Was the story a true story?

to be written

See Also: List of movies - List of actors - List of directors - List of documentaries - List of Hollywood movie studios

External links