Mugshot of John Wojtowicz, who unsuccessfully tried to rob a bank on August 22, 1972 to pay for his wife Eden’s gender reassignment surgery. Apparently, Wojtowicz had based his plans on the movie, The Godfather (1972), which he had watched earlier that day.
2,000 onlookers, FBI, roof-top snipers, TV crew, and police all gathered at the Chase Manhattan bank in Gravesend, Brooklyn on a hot summer night. Wojtowicz held 7 hostages for 14 hours during which time he demanded food for the hostages, paid the pizza delivery boy wads of cash, threw money at the outside onlookers, shot through the bank’s exit rear door (fearing the police would storm it), and accidentally fired a shot after dropping his rifle on the floor. In the end, his robbery attempt failed, and he was arrested and sentenced to 20 years in prison, of which he served five.
Wojtowicz’s story was later turned into a movie called Dog Day Afternoon (1975), starring Al Pacino and John Cazale, both of whom, interestingly enough, had starred in The Godfather. For the rights to his story, Wojtowicz was paid $7,500 and 1% of the movie’s net profits, which he gave to Eden.
While in the middle of the Brooklyn bank robbery depicted in Dog Day Afternoon, John Wojtowicz points at cops and tells them to back off on Aug. 22, 1972. “How many times do I have to tell you guys to get out of here!” he shouted.
John Wojtowicz looks through the bank window during the robbery.
John Wojtowicz, dark suit, is taken by FBI agents from the FBI building in New York, Aug. 23, 1972, en route to his arraignment at Federal Court in Brooklyn, N.Y.
After her operation, Eden married someone else before dying of AIDS-related pneumonia in 1987. Wojtowicz attended her funeral and delivered a eulogy.
John Wojtowicz spent the rest of his days in New York. At one point, he even applied to work as a guard at a Chase Bank, reportedly claiming, “I’m the guy from Dog Day Afternoon, and if I’m guarding your bank, nobody’s going to rob the Dog’s bank.” They declined. He spent some of his final years on welfare before dying of cancer in 2006.