Forrest Tucker (criminal)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Forrest Tucker
Forrest Silva Tucker

(1920-06-23)June 23, 1920
DiedMay 29, 2004(2004-05-29) (aged 83)
Resting placeSkyvue Memorial Gardens, Mansfield, Texas
Other namesWoody Tucker
Known forMultiple escapes from prison detention
Criminal statusDied in prison
AllegianceThe Over-the-Hill Gang
  • Armed bank robbery
  • Resisting arrest
  • Escape from federal detention
Criminal charge
  • Reform school (as a juvenile)
  • Multiple federal and state prison sentences
  • Richard Bellew
  • Theodore Green
  • William McGirk
  • John Waller
Escaped18+ incidents

Forrest Silva "Woody" Tucker (June 23, 1920 – May 29, 2004)[2] was an American career criminal first imprisoned at age 15 who spent the rest of his life in and out of jail.[3] He is best known as an escape artist, having escaped from prison "18 times successfully and 12 times unsuccessfully", by his own reckoning.[3] The 2018 film The Old Man & the Gun, starring Robert Redford as Tucker, is based on his life.

Early life[edit]

Forrest Silva Tucker was born June 23, 1920, in Miami, Florida, to Leroy Morgan Tucker (1890–1938) and Carmen Tucker (née Silva; 1898–1964).[2] Leroy Tucker, a heavy-equipment operator, left the family when Forrest was six years old. Forrest was raised in Stuart, Florida by his grandmother Ellen Silva (née Morgan).[4] His first escape from detention happened in the spring of 1936, after he was incarcerated for car theft.[3][5]

Personal life[edit]

Tucker married three times and had two children, a boy and a girl; none of his wives knew of his criminal career until they were informed by police.[3][6]

Prison escapes[edit]

A former inmate of Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, Tucker was able to escape from the authorities when he was temporarily moved to a hospital in San Francisco for an operation. He was captured a few hours later still in handcuffs and a hospital gown.[3] His most famous escape was in the summer of 1979 from San Quentin State Prison in California, when he and two confederates built a kayak and paddled away in full view of the guards. He was not apprehended for four years, during which time he and a gang went on a crime spree.[3]

Tucker's crimes of choice were bank robberies. Law enforcement estimates Tucker stole over $4 million from banks during his career.[3] Tucker wrote a number of books about his life, including Alcatraz: The True Story, and The Can Opener,[3] although it is unclear if they were ever published.[7]

While living in a retirement community in Pompano Beach, Florida, at the age of 79 and married for the third time, Tucker by himself robbed an estimated four banks in the local community. In 2000, law enforcement apprehended Tucker; the Court sentenced him to 13 years in prison at the Federal Medical Center, Fort Worth (now known as Federal Correctional Institution, Fort Worth).[6]

In 2003, David Grann in The New Yorker profiled Tucker in a piece titled "The Old Man and the Gun", which described Tucker's most recent bank robbery.[3] Tucker did not live out his sentence; he died in prison on May 29, 2004, at the age of 83.[8]


In 2010, a film version of Tucker's life, The Old Man & the Gun was optioned by Anthony Mastromauro of Identity Films. It had previously been in development at Warner Bros. Pictures.[9] Robert Redford starred in and produced the film, while David Lowery wrote and directed it.[10] The film was released on September 28, 2018.[11] Redford announced his intent to retire from acting after the film.[12]


  1. ^ Wallace, Bill (28 April 1999). "Last of 'Rub-a-Dub-Dub' Fugitives: Florida cops arrest robber who escaped from San Quentin 20 years ago in a kayak". San Francisco Chronicle. San Francisco, California. Archived from the original on 25 March 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Tucker, Forrest Silva (Register Number # 1047)". Alphabetical Index of Former Inmates of U.S. Penitentiary, Alcatraz, 1934–63 (from Records of the Bureau of Prisons). San Francisco, California: National Archives and Records Administration, Pacific Regional Office. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i David Grann. "The Old Man and the Gun" (abstract), The New Yorker, January 27, 2003. Collected in The Devil and Sherlock Holmes (2010).
  4. ^ Luckhardt, Greg & Alice (20 November 2018). "Forrest Silva Tucker: Life of a criminal, Part 1 (Historical Vignettes)". TC Palm. Retrieved 10 September 2022.
  5. ^ Luckhardt, Greg & Alice (3 December 2018). "Forrest Silva Tucker: Life of a criminal, Part 2 (Historical Vignettes)". TC Palm. Retrieved 10 September 2022.
  6. ^ a b Luckhardt, Greg & Alice (10 December 2018). "Forrest Silva Tucker: Life of a criminal, Part 3 (Historical Vignettes)". TC Palm. Retrieved 10 September 2022.
  7. ^ "Zimmer frame bank robber jailed". BBC News. 23 October 2000. Retrieved March 25, 2014. In his unpublished memoir The Can Opener, Tucker recalls his jailbreaks
  8. ^ Forrest Silva Tucker. Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  9. ^ "Mastromauro finds Identity", Variety, February 15, 2010.
  10. ^ Borys Kit (April 11, 2013). "Robert Redford Teams With 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints' Filmmaker for Crime Drama (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  11. ^ Perez, Rodrigo (June 5, 2018). "'The Old Man And The Gun' Trailer: Robert Redford Will Act One Last Time For Director David Lowery". The Playlist. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  12. ^ Murthi, Vikram (11 November 2016). "Robert Redford Announces Retirement From Acting". IndieWire. Retrieved July 29, 2018.

External links[edit]