Robert Stroud, the famous "Birdman of Alcatraz," is released from solitary confinement for the first time since 1916. Stroud gained widespread fame and attention when author Thomas Gaddis wrote a biography that trumpeted Stroud's ornithological expertise.
Stroud was first sent to prison in 1909 after he killed a bartender in a brawl. He had nearly completed his sentence at Leavenworth Federal Prison in Kansas when he stabbed a guard to death in 1916. Though he claimed to have acted in self-defense, he was convicted and sentenced to hang. A handwritten plea by Stroud's mother to President Woodrow Wilson earned Stroud a commuted sentence of life in permanent solitary confinement.
In 1943, Stroud's Digest of the Diseases of Birds, a 500-page text that included his own illustrations, was published to general acclaim. In spite of his success, Stroud was depressed over the isolation he felt at Alcatraz, and he attempted suicide several times. The legendary "Birdman of Alcatraz" died in a Missouri prison in 1963 at the age of 73.