The Official version
Charles Lindbergh was the first man to cross the Atlantic by plane in 1927 and emerged suddenly from virtual obscurity to instantaneous world fame. The abduction and murder of the 20-month-old son of Charles and Anne Lindbergh was known as "The Crime of the Century" in 1932. Two years later, German immigrant Bruno Hauptmann was arrested after allegedly spending some of the ransom money given by the Lindberghs before they knew that their baby was dead. The crime of the century led to the trial of the century, with Hauptmann maintaining his innocence to the end. Later analyses would question much of the evidence that sent Hauptmann to his death, including eyewitness accounts and a lack of Hauptmann's fingerprints at the scene. Only a few days before execution of Bruno Hauptmann, famed New Jersey detective Ellis Parker obtained a signed confession from someone else. Bruno Hauptmann got a stay of execution and the New Jersey establishment was thrown into turmoil. Books have been written both supporting the 1932 verdict and refuting it, and Hauptmann's widow fought until her death in 1994 to have her dead husband's conviction overturned.
The other solution to the Lindbergh kidnapping
The Lindbergh kidnapping represented in the arts
- May 1932: Just one day after the Lindbergh baby was discovered murdered, the prolific country recording artist Bob Miller (under the pseudonym Bob Ferguson) recorded two songs on May 13, 1932, commemorating the event. The songs were released on Columbia 15759-D with the titles "Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr." and "There's a New Star Up in Heaven (Baby Lindy Is Up There)".
- June 2002: The Opera Theatre of St. Louis premiered a new opera by the American composer, Cary John Franklin, entitled "Loss of Eden." The opera commemorated the centennial of Lindbergh's birth, and the 75th anniversary of his Atlantic crossing, and was a musical reflection on Lindbergh's public triumph and personal tragedy. Later, the composer reworked some of the music into a chamber work entitled "Falls Flyer." The music in the opening section of the piece is derived from the music in the major dramatic moments of the opera—the plane departing for Paris, the kidnapping, and the execution of Bruno Hauptmann.
- 2004: On the album Taking Up Serpents Again by Curtis Eller's American Circus the Lindbergh case is referenced on the track entitled "Amelia Earhart"
- January 1934: Agatha Christie was inspired by circumstances of the case when she described the kidnapping of baby girl Daisy Armstrong in her 1934 Hercule Poirot novel Murder on the Orient Express, including a parallel of the death of Violet Sharpe.
- 1972: In Tom Tryon's novel and film The Other the Lindbergh kidnapping is mentioned several times, and Rider and Torrie's baby is kidnapped in a similar manner.
- 1981: The kidnapping and its aftermath served as the inspiration for Maurice Sendak's book Outside Over There.
- 1991: Stolen Away by Max Allan Collins is a thorough treatment of the case from the point of view of a fictional detective. The author examines several possible solutions and provides considerable support for one.
- 2004: In Philip Roth's novel The Plot Against America, the narrator describes theories about the kidnapping – most notably, the possibility that prominent Nazis were responsible and used the kidnapping to extort the Lindberghs into expressing some admiration for and defense of the policies of Nazi Germany. According to this theory (which the narrator neither accepts nor rejects), the baby is brought to Germany where he is adopted into a Nazi family and becomes a member of the Hitler Youth, unaware of his true background.
- 2012: The Last Newspaperman by Mark Di Ionno tells the story from the perspective of a tabloid journalist who covered the kidnapping and claims to have heard an off-the-record confession by Bruno Hauptmann.
- James Merrill wrote a poem called "Days of 1935" in which he talks about the Lindbergh kindnapping on the child's point of view.
- In Spanish, the expression "Estar más perdido que el hijo de Lindbergh" (to be more lost than Lindbergh's child) means "to be clueless"
- 1976: In the television movie The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case, Anthony Hopkins played the role of Bruno Hauptmann, and Sian Barbara Allen played Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
- 1995: In the episode "Mother Simpson" of American cartoon The Simpsons, upon being interrogated by the FBI, Grampa Simpson claims "I am the Lindbergh baby. Waah! Waah! Goo goo. I miss my fly-fly dada."
- 1996: The Lindbergh kidnapping was the subject of a 1996 Golden Globe and Emmy-nominated HBO TV movie titled Crime of the Century. Bruno Hauptmann was played by Stephen Rea and his wife Anna by Isabella Rossellini.
- 2000: In Season 2, episode 4, of Family Guy (Brian in Love) a skit mid-episode was portrayed where Charles Lindbergh and his wife are potty-training the baby and while arguing the baby flushes himself down the toilet. The nervous and disturbed father decides to elaborate the kidnapping as a cover-up.
- 2009: In the documentary Tell Them Anything You Want, author/illustrator Maurice Sendak tells interviewer Spike Jonze that he has been obsessed with the case of the Lindbergh baby since he was two years old.
- 2011: The Clint Eastwood-directed film J. Edgar includes reference to the Lindbergh kidnapping. Josh Lucas plays Charles Lindbergh, Damon Herriman was cast as Bruno Hauptmann and Stephen Root was cast as Arthur Koehler, an expert on wood who testified at the trial.
- 2013: On July 31 the PBS program Nova aired "Who Killed Lindbergh's Baby?", an investigation conducted by the former FBI forensics expert John Douglas. Douglas explores the incident and trial of Hauptmann, then goes further to investigate various theories about who else was likely to have been an accomplice.