- NAME: Henry Starr
- OCCUPATION: Thief, Filmmaker
- BIRTH DATE: December 02, 1873
- DEATH DATE: February 22, 1921
- Did You Know?: Mystery surrounds Starr's stolen booty, which he said he hid "near the border in a place nobody could find it in a million years." Some think it could be along Kansas' Cimarron River.
- EDUCATION: Indian school at Tahlequah
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Fort Gibson, Indian Territory, Oklahoma
- PLACE OF DEATH: Harrison, Arkansas
- Nickname: "Cherokee Bad Boy"
- Nickname: "The Bearcat"
- AKA: Henry Starr
Best Known For
A career criminal romanticized as the last of a breed of Old West outlaws, Cherokee Bad Boy Henry Starr earned the distinction of having robbed more banks in the Old West than all other famous bank-robbing gangs combined.
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On July 13, 1893, Starr stood trial in Fort Smith, Arkansas, for highway robbery and murder. He was sentenced to hang for Floyd Wilson's murder, but the conviction was overturned twice. By the time the third trial was over, Starr's sentence had been reduced to manslaughter.
If freedom made Henry Starr a sinner, incarceration made him a saint: A heroic turn involving a fellow prisoner, Cherokee Bill, in a shootout trying to escape mitigated Starr's sentence,
eventually earning him a pardon from President Theodore Roosevelt.
Released from prison on January 16, 1903, Starr got a shout-out in a Washington Post feature two years later as a "Western outlaw" bad guy turned good. By then he had married and had a son, named Theodore Roosevelt Starr.
But by 1908, Starr was back to his old tricks. Caught in Colorado again that November, this stint in prison gave him a chance to study law and write his autobiography, Thrilling Events: Life of Henry Starr. In 1913, with a promise to the governor that he wouldn't leave the state, Starr was set free. What followed was a stunning streak of 14 bank robberies with an overall take of more than $25,000. That earned Starr "Wanted: Dead or Alive" poster status and a $1,000 bounty on his head.
He was caught after robbing two banks on the same day and sentenced to Oklahoma's state penitentiary for 25 years, but astoundingly was paroled less than four years later after delivering speeches on the evils of crime and urging young people to earn their money legally.
Ever entrepreneurial, Starr tried selling real estate and performing a stagecoach-robbing act for a Wild West show. He even produced a silent movie, A Debtor to the Law, starring himself; it told the tale of his Oklahoma bank robbery and the crime's ignoble aftermath. A star turn in a couple more films earned him a Hollywood offer, but he turned it down for fear of being prosecuted for a previous California heist. He remarried on February 22, 1920, and settled down in Claremore, Oklahoma—for about a year.
His adventure-junkie nature then led him and a couple of accomplices to hold up a bank in Arkansas for $6,000. This time he had a Nash motorcar instead of a horse to get away, but he was shot in the back while filling his pockets with cash.
Starr was killed by William Myers, the former president of the last bank he robbed, who had set up a bandit trap: an armed shotgun in the vault. And although doctors removed the bullet from Starr's spine in jail, he died of his wound on February 22, 1921, with his wife, his mother and his 17-year-old son by his side.
Starr has the odd dual reputation of being both the most successful reformed outlaw, with movies, speeches and a heroic autobiography to his credit. But his claim as the most successful Old West bandit outshines that, with more banks and a dual bank robbery to his credit than any other outlaw or gang, as well as adhering to the outlaw code of never snitching on his accomplices. He became a legend, romanticized as the last of a breed of Wild West horseback outlaws, which gave way to a deadly breed of machine gun-toting outlaws without code or compunction.
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