Mel Stein had an amazing story to tell, and he was allowed to play himself when Hollywood told it on the big screen.
Mid-morning April 24, 1953, St. Louis police officers Mel Stein and Robert Heitz were first to arrive at Southwest Bank for a robbery in progress. As the ringleader pushed a female hostage through the door, Stein crouched behind a newspaper box, mortally wounding the bank robber, foiling the crime.
Mel Stein died August 27, 2016 at his Creve Coeur home at the age of 102.
Stein joined the St. Louis police a month before the Pearl Harbor attack. He enlisted in the Marines, then rejoined the police force in 1945, where he served for almost 29 years.
Six years after the Southwest Bank robbery, St. Louisan Charles Guggenheim directed the Hollywood movie “The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery” featuring film icon Steve McQueen in one of his early roles as one of the bank robbers. Stein played himself in the 1959 movie.
A memorial mass will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, September 24 at St. Richard Church on Schuetz Road.