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John Wojtowicz
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Outlaw
    (March 9, 1945-January 2, 2006)
    Born in New York City, New York
    Robbed a branch of the Chase Manhattan Bank in Brooklyn (August 22, 1972)
    Held several employees hostage for 17 hours
    Spent 14 years in prison (1973-87)
    Inspiration for the character Sonny Wortzik (portrayed by Al Pacino) in 'Dog Day Afternoon' (1975)
    Subject of the documentaries 'The Third Memory' (2000) and 'Based on a True Story' (2005)
    Rather than use insider knowledge from his earlier career as a bank teller, he planned the robbery based on a scene in 'The Godfather,' which he had seen earlier in the day.
    He staged the robbery to try to get enough money to pay for a sex change for his boyfriend, Ernest Aron.
    He married Ernest despite two complications: (1) he was still married to his wife Carmen; (2) Ernest had not yet undergone gender re-assignment surgery.
    He complained about 'Dog Day Afternoon' being inaccurate, but reportedly refused to meet with scriptwriter Frank Pierson because he felt he had not been paid enough for his story.
    After his release from prison, he ended up on welfare in Brooklyn.
    He was a Vietnam vet.
    He used the money he got for the movie rights to his story to pay for Ernest's sex change, so his plan worked out in the long run.
    He claimed that the court failed to uphold the deal he was offered for pleading guilty.
    Despite his complaints about 'Dog Day Afternoon,' he had nothing but praise for the performances of Pacino and Chris Sarandon (who portrayed a character based on Ernest Aron).

Credit: C. Fishel


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