Caryl Chessman


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Chessman, Caryl (Whittier)

(1922–60) convict, author; born in St. Joseph, Mich. Convicted on 17 counts of kidnapping, robbery, and rape, he was sentenced to death in 1948. He managed to delay his execution for 12 years and wrote books against capital punishment, including Trial by Ordeal (1956). His articulate manner and the fact that he had never actually killed anyone led to an international protest against his execution.
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In 1960 Cooney produced the documentary film Justice and Caryl Chessman, which was shown in more than fifteen hundred movie houses in America and countless others overseas.
Actually I did kill a guy on Death Row once in a project," Alda says, referring to Kill Me If You Can (1977), a television movie in which he played Caryl Chessman, a real-life Californian who spent 12 years on Death Row before being executed.
From California's death row at San Quentin, convicted rapist and kidnapper Caryl Chessman authored four bestselling memoirs that sparked one of the largest campaigns to end the death penalty.
Rebel and a Cause: Caryl Chessman and the Politics of the Death Penalty in Postwar California, 1948-1974