The interest in outlaws is complex. While the moral warnings of their lifestyle are noted, there is something to their independence that can be compelling. Western outlaws of the late 19th and early 20th century saw that independence – already checked by a choice to live outside the law – increasingly restricted by a technological reach, particularly in communications, that could make even the vast West too small.  What was an outlaw to do? Head to South America.

The Last Outlaws: The Lives and Legends of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (2013), by Thom Hatch, is a new look at the story of Robert Leroy Parker (alias Butch Cassidy) and Harry Longabaugh (alias The Sundance Kid). Hatch examines the lives of Butch and Sundance as outlaws in the American West and then in South America – he chronicles their journey from bandit to bandito. Joining the two men on their move to the southern hemisphere would be the girlfriend of Sundance, the enigmatic Etta Place.  

The official record holds that Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid were killed in the village of San Vicente, Bolivia by Bolivian soldiers on November 7th, 1908. Etta Place is said to have left them prior to their demise. Speculation does remain, at the very least, as to whether Cassidy was actually killed that day.

Harry Longabaugh (The Sundance Kid) and Etta Place – 1901

(Prior to their Trip to South America)

The 1969 George Roy Hill film, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, ends with the two outlaws (played by Paul Newman and Robert Redford, respectively) frozen in time as they are about to be gunned down. Here is the trailer for that film:

(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)


  1. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was an excellent movie. I also thought Blackthorn was an interesting take on the myth of Butch Cassidy surviving. Our affinity for the “good” outlaw is interesting to say the least. We all want law and order, but also want to see someone stick it to the man every once in awhile, be it Butch Cassidy, John Dillinger, or DB Cooper.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to comment, coach_wargo. I have also viewed Blackthorn (2011) and enjoyed it (here is an earlier post I did on that film – ).

    If you are interested in the above book/Butch Cassidy story further….I would also recommend another text entitled, Butch Cassidy: A Biography – it was written by Richard Patterson and published in 1998.


  3. One wonders if in today’s social media centric world we can still have beloved outlaws. I’m thinking yes and perhaps even more so since there is a larger reach of audience. Two examples come to mind: Anonymous and the Barefoot Bandit

  4. An interesting question, Jay, as your comment does map out the modern morphing of the outlaw definition…..and the different “trails” left behind for those to follow/chase.


    1. Thanks for the visit & comment. The question(s) of Etta Place continue to linger….and until any type of primary documents/photos post-South America show up we are left with the mystery…which isn’t always a bad thing. 🙂


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