New Documentary Adds to Real Story Behind Dog Day Afternoon
The movie is an American icon—Al Pacino as the gay man who attempts to rob a bank to pay for his lover’s sex change. From its release in 1975, Dog Day Afternoon always carried the disclaimer/admonition that it was “based on a true story.” Now a documentary has been made about John Wojtowicz, the protagonist played by Pacino. The documentary digs much deeper into Wojtowicz’s personal life, exposing a man with little to no governor on what he might say.
Wojtowicz was a 27-year-old Vietnam veteran in 1972, when he tried to rob a Brooklyn bank so that he could get enough money for his lover, Ernest Aron, to have a sex change operation. The robbery attempt led to a 14 hour standoff, which ended after Wojtowicz’s accomplice was killed by the FBI. Wojtowicz was subsequently convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison, but served time only until 1978. He apparently lived in obscurity and poverty until his death from cancer in 2006.
According to the documentary, Wojtowicz claimed to have been married four time, “once to a woman.” Aron, one of the persons he named as a wife, has a successful sex change operation. And, according to people who knew him, he spent the rest of his life attempting to capitalize on his fame:
- He tried unsuccessfully to operate a cab under the name “Dog Day Taxi.” His vision was that he would have the movie playing non-stop in the back seat and he would share stories with his passengers about the attempted bank robbery.
- He applied for, but was not hired as, a bank security guard. Said Wojtowicz, “With the guy from Dog Day Afternoon as the guard, who’d rob it?
- He sported a tee shirt with “ I Robbed This Bank” in bold letters on the front, and had his picture taken in front of the bank he attempted to rob.
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