In Cracked’s “5 Real People Who Got Screwed in Famous Movies Based on Them,” they note that — ooops! — Dog Day Afternoon almost got its real life protagonist shanked in prison.
What gets passed over in Cracked — other than a lower third of John Wojtowicz on the news — but not in the movie, is the reason he robbed the bank:
Wojtowicz, the son of Polish immigrants, married his first wife, Carmen Bifulco, in 1967. They had two children, and separated in 1969. Wojtowicz later met Ernest Aron (later to be known as Elizabeth Eden) in 1971 at an Italian feast in New York City. The two were married on December 4, 1971 in Greenwich Village.
On August 22, 1972, Wojtowicz, along with Salvatore Naturile and Robert Westenberg, attempted to rob a branch of the Chase Manhattan bank on the corner of East Third Street and Avenue P in Gravesend, Brooklyn. The heist was meant to pay for Aron’s sex reassignment surgery. Wojtowicz and Naturile held seven Chase Manhattan bank employees hostage for 14 hours. Westernberg fled the scene before the robbery was underway when he saw a police car on the street. Wojtowicz, a former bank teller, had some knowledge of bank operations. However, he apparently based his plan on scenes from the movie The Godfather, which he had seen earlier that day. Perhaps ironically, Al Pacino, star of The Godfather, would later go on to portray Wojtowicz in Dog Day Afternoon. The robbers became media celebrities. Wojtowicz was arrested, but Naturile was killed by the FBI during the final moments of the incident.
According to Wojtowicz, he was offered a deal for pleading guilty, which the court did not honor, and on April 23, 1973, he was sentenced to 20 years in Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary of which he served six. Wojtowicz was rearrested in 1986 for violating his parole.
He made $7,500 selling the movie rights to the story and 1% of its net profit, and helped finance Aron’s sex reassignment surgery with these funds. Wojtowicz was released from prison on April 10, 1978.
Elizabeth Eden (Wojtowicz’s girlfriend’s post-surgery name) died of AIDS-related pneumonia at 41 in Rochester on September 29, 1987.
I’m not usually a fan of sequels, but wouldn’t the rest of the story be an OK movie, too?
Not sure who changed: Hollywood or gays themselves.
BELOW– Watch as gay men manage to see what they want to see (i.e., the “faggot” montage), and take to the streets as would-be censors.
Of course, despite their assertions, nobody “died because of Cruising.” They died, starting just a year or two later, because they performed the sexual acts depicted in Cruising, in real life.
Another left wing prediction gone horribly wrong.