Spoiled Children of Divorce

Catch Him If You Can – Frank Abagnale

I don’t know whether to stick this guy under “Exemplary” or “Bad.”

Frank Abagnale wrote about the strange life he concocted for himself in reaction to his parents’ divorce in his autobiography called Catch Me If You Can. The story was made into a movie by Steven Spielberg and starred Leonardo di Caprio.

Abagnale was 16 when his parents divorced in 1964.  (Edit, 4/19/2008:  I’ve been listening to the audiobook of Catch Me If You Can and Abagnale says there that he was 12 when his parents separated and 14 when they divorced.  He was 3d of 4 children who chose to live with his Father rather than his Mother.  His descriptions of how his life progressed into what it did might be interesting for divorcing parents of teenagers to pay attention to but I don’t know if any of it is true).  Stressed out by the situation, he ran away during a court appearance and made his living for the next 5 years as a Con Artist and Forger, taking on all kinds of personalities and fooling everyone around him. He was finally caught and spent some time in jail. He didn’t see his Mother for 7 years. His Father died and he never saw him again. I believe he now works for the Government detecting fraud.

One of the big regrets of my life is that I didn’t just run away when I was 15. I can easily say that my parents’ divorce was not worth living through. No redeeming experiences came to me through it. So, although I don’t condone crime, I really envy this guys’ brains and guts. Check out the Movie, it’s great.

(from: http://www.cinema.com/articles/1758/catch-me-if-you-can-production-notes.phtml)

The plot of “Catch Me If You Can” might have seemed a bit far-fetched even by Hollywood standards…were it not for the fact that it is based on a true story.

“Things that happen in real life are sometimes a hundred times more fascinating than anything a person could make up off the top of his head,” remarks Leonardo DiCaprio, the actor who portrays the subject of the story, Frank W. Abagnale, Jr.
“Catch Me If You Can” is based on Abagnale’s autobiography of the same name, which chronicles how he-as a runaway teenager, without so much as a high school diploma-managed to pass himself off as an airline pilot, a doctor, a lawyer, and a college professor, all while cashing millions of dollars in fraudulent checks.
Frank Abagnale offers, “It begins with my parents’ divorce and its dramatic effect on me. I ran away and suddenly found myself a teenager alone in the world. I had to grow up very quickly and become very creative in order to survive. But what started out as survival became more and more of a game. I was an opportunist, so when I saw an opening I asked myself, ‘Could I get away with that?’ Then there was the satisfaction of actually getting away with it. The more I got away with, the more of a game it became-a game I knew I would ultimately lose, but a game I was going to have fun playing until I did. “

A bestseller, Abagnale’s autobiography has fascinated millions of readers, including director/producer Steven Spielberg. “I was like the many people who fell under the seductive influence of the real Frank William Abagnale, Jr. , just through his book. And when you meet him, you understand in a second how he could pull the wool over your eyes and convince you that he was a doctor or a lawyer. I was fascinated by the unique way he came of age. I really believe he was very strongly affected by the divorce of his parents. There are all sorts of ways kids act out against divorce, and Frank just happened to act out in a way that was so original, it was worth making a movie about. Personally, I have always loved movies about sensational rogues, like the Newman/Redford classics ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ and ‘The Sting. ‘ They were breaking the law, but you had to love them for their moxie. “

2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I caught him! Frank was gracious enough to spend an hour with me on my podcast talking about some powerful life principles:



Comment by Dr. Paul

Oh Wow! Good catch! I look forward to listening to this.

Comment by toothless

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: