The Fugitive Life Sparks Its Own Celebrity

Hollywood loves to glamorize criminals on the run. Without life on the lam, we'd have no "Bonnie and Clyde," "Catch Me If You Can," "Public Enemies" or "Les Miserables."

Even the life of "The Fugitive" (both the 1960s television series and the 1993 Harrison Ford film) has strong similarities to the case of Sam Sheppard, a doctor who was cleared of murdering his wife after serving over ten years in prison.

Dr. Sam Sheppard, shown here in 1966, after being freed from prison. His sensational murder trial bears a striking resemblance to the fictional case of Dr. Richard Kimbel, star of television and film's "The Fugitive."

VIDEO: Roman Polanskis agent addresses the latest details in the case.

Director and actor Roman Polanski is nearly as famous for his 1978 flight from California criminal court for unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor as he is for his legendary films, such as "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown."

Polanski's status as a French citizen proved helpful because France has limited extradition laws with the U.S. Despite being unable to return to the U.S., Polanski has maintained a steady and successful directing career. While abroad, he has directed several films, including the Academy Award-winning 2002 film "The Pianist."

Roman Polanski in Oberhausen, Germany on Sept. 29, 2008.

VIDEO: Roman Polanski: The Fugitive

Polanski was arrested last Saturday after walking into a trap at the Zurich airport on his way to receive an award at the Zurich Film Festival. Swiss authorities who arrested him maintained they were acting on a request from the United States to bring a fugitive to justice.

Alex Kelly: Young, Rich and Dangerous

Alexander Kelly went from being a Darien, Conn., high school athlete and petty criminal to true crime movie of the week when he skipped out of the U.S. while awaiting trial for the 1987 rapes of two young women.

While on the run, Kelly spent years living the high life on the ski slopes of Europe, his family allegedly supporting him financially and emotionally in secret. In 1996, he turned himself in to Swiss authorities and returned to the U.S. He was eventually convicted and sentenced to 16 years in prison.

VIDEO: Director Faces 1977 U.S. Statutory Rape Charges

Alex Kelly in 1997.

The trial and its details of wealth and injustice were dramatized in various television movies and true crime series episodes. In 2007, Kelly was released from prison on "good behavior."

Fugitive Cult Heros

In the 1960s and 1970s, Dr. Timothy Leary gained international fame for his advocacy of LSD therapy and his famous phrase, "Turn on, tune in, drop out," which he coined at a San Francisco Be-In. He landed in jail in 1970 on drug charges but managed to escape prison. With the help of the Weatherman and other radicals, Leary and his wife were smuggled into Algeria.

VIDEO: Dr. Richard Besser Reports on AIDS Breakthrough

Leary spent the next two years moving around Europe, from Switzerland to Vienna and finally to Kabul, Afghanistan, where he was arrested in 1973 before getting off a plane.

The man Richard Nixon dubbed "the most dangerous man in America" served time in California's Folsom prison, where he continued to write books until he was released in 1976.

Counterculture icon Timothy Leary, 1992.

VIDEO: Director Roman Polanski

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...