Forget everything you thought you knew about legendary outlaws Bonnie and Clyde. Or, if it’s easier, just push that to the back of your mind so you can appreciate the story of the two Texas rangers who took them down in The Highwaymen. Frank Hamer and Maney Gault led the hunt for the famed bank robbers and murderers in the 1930s. The Netflix movie tells another side to the story, so you might be wondering who Maney Gault was in real life. The Highwaymen is definitely a unique take on a story that has been told quite a bit over the years.
The search for the duo and their band of criminals ended in a shootout and subsequent bloodbath with Gault and Hamer forever at the forefront of the team who ended the two-year crime spree. Outside of the Bonnie and Clyde story, however, Gault had plenty of other accolades. Unlike Hamer, though, he didn't necessarily see himself in law enforcement until a bit later in life. He worked in a furniture manufacturing plant in Austin, Texas, where he lived next door to Hamer. The two men developed a close friendship, which eventually led to Hamer trusting Gault to go undercover in some moonshine investigations. In 1929, at the age of 43, Gault officially became a Texas ranger and began his career in law enforcement and as Hamer’s sometimes partner.
After the capture and kill of Bonnie and Clyde, Gault spent the rest of his career as the captain of the Rangers' Company C division in north Texas and didn't really buy into the hype that surrounded both him and Hamer for their roles in taking down the duo. In fact, Gault was famously tight-lipped on the investigation in general, but it was probably his quiet but capable attitude that made him such a good partner for Hamer, who was reported to have had the same personality traits.
According to True West magazine, Gault and Hamer’s friendship was legit and they spent lots of time together hunting or playing cards while their wives bonded. They also sometimes played guitar and fiddle duets into the evening. Although it would be years before Gault would officially join the rangers, the two men seemed to have a lot in common and because of Gault's ability to use a pistol and defend himself, he helped Hamer out with a number of undercover jobs in addition to the moonshine gigs.
The Highwaymen shows a sometimes crotchety pair of police officers who seem like they would rather be enjoying retirement than working on another case, but it definitely seems like Hamer and Gault enjoyed working together and working off of each others’ talents in the field. Later on in life, while Hamer picked up detective and security work on an as-needed basis, Gault worked with the Texas Highway Patrol. They reunited to hunt down Bonnie and Clyde together and remained close friends after the case was closed.
When Gault died in 1947 from an unknown illness, Hamer was present at his funeral to say goodbye to his old friend and eulogize him. According to True West magazine, Hamer said of Gault, "[He was] a 23-karat fellow. He was as loyal a man as there ever could be. Never a better man or truer friend than Maney Gault."
While neither Hamer or Gault spoke much on the subject of their take down of Bonnie and Clyde, Gault continued his work in law enforcement right up until his death. And although The Highwaymen paints a vivid picture of their friendship, an entire movie could easily be devoted to the legendary Texas rangers and their friendship.