The passionate, reckless, and ultimately violent relationship between Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow is the stuff of legends. The media of the day marketed the outlaws as lovers on the run, titillating the public and creating a sharp divide between fans and detractors of the duo. Their madcap crime sprees and on-the-lam affair have spawned countless stories, songs, and feature films, none of which would’ve happened without their fateful meeting on this day, January 5, in 1930.

Romeo and Juliet for the ’30s

Noting the similarities between Bonnie and Clyde and Shakespeare’s doomed duo isn’t a new idea. By all accounts, both couples were reckless to the point of, well, death. The parallels begin with their first meeting.

PBS

Accounts differ, but the most agree that Bonnie and Clyde met at a mutual friend’s house, although it’s hard to pin down whether it was the house of Clarence Clay, Clyde’s buddy, or the home of Bonnie’s girlfriend. Either way, like Romeo and Juliet, it was love—or at least lust—at first sight. Never a good idea, fam.

A ride-or-die girl

Bonnie fell hard for Clyde. According to the majority of historians, her love for her outlaw BF is the reason Bonnie joined him in his lawless pursuits.

Wikipedia

Is that true? Probably. However, you have to wonder why she was such an enthusiastic participant. Then again, love can make you do crazy things.

Another man’s wife

Bonnie had a husband when she met Clyde. Not many folks realize that. She married her high school sweetheart at 15 and never got around to a divorce, which isn’t surprising, given the time.

TPT

Obviously, she and Clyde never officially married. In fact, she still had on his ring the day of her death, along with a lover’s tattoo on her inner thigh. Her husband, Roy Thornton, ended up in jail in 1929, just a peripheral character in the short but harrowing history of Bonnie and Clyde.