Biographies: Bobby Franks (United States, 1924)


Figure 1.-- One of the most notorious crimes of the 1920s in America was the senceless murder of 14-yearold Bobby Franks. Bobby was the victim of the sensational Leopold and Loeb thrill killing. They were teenagers from affluent families. The photograph of Bobby taken right before his murder is quite famous and has been reproduced many times in history and sociology books. Bobby wears the popular knickers suit that ws so common at the time.

One of the most notirious crimes of the 1920s in America was the senceless murder of 14-yearold Bobby Franks. Bobby was the victim of the sensational Leopold and Loeb thrill killing. Bobby's parents were Jacob and Flora Franks, a Jewish couple who had renounced their Hebrew faith and had been converted to Christian Science. The Franks family lived in the wealthy Kenwood neighborhood of Chicago. Jacob Franks had become rich as a pawnbroker, and although he lived near powerful Jewish executives, bankers, and attorneys, tended not to be accepted socially into the elite upper-crust circle of his neighbors. The two murderers were also wealthy teenage boys who lived near Bobby Franks. Richard Loeb was a gifted 19-year-old University of Chicago student and Nathan Leopold was a brilliant amateur ornitholigist of the same age who used to go bird-hunting around Wolf Lake. Bobby was kidnapped on his way home from school in Chicago on May 21, 1924. He was held for ransom, and slain by two affluent young men, Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold. Bobby's battered body was later found (stripped naked and thrown into a culvert) in the area of Wolf Lake where Leopold searched for birds. The two killers were teenagers from affluent families. The case for the defense was argued by the distinguished lawyer Clarence Darrow, who managed to convince the jury to spare Leopold and Loeb the death penalty. The case became a tabloid sensation and was later the basis (in a highly modified form with an older victim) of an Alfred Hitchcock film starring Jimmy Stewart, Farley Granger, and John Dall entitled "Rope" (1948). The photograph of Bobby taken right before his murder is quite famous and has been reproduced many times in history and sociology books. Bobby wears the popular knickers suit that was so common at the time. In this photograph, made shortly before his murder, Bobby wears typical dress clothes for boys and younger teenagers of the period (1924)--a dark single-breasted above-the-knee knicker suit with white shirt and tie, black long stockings, and black oxford-style shoes.







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Created: 11:01 PM 4/4/2006
Last updated: 11:01 PM 4/4/2006