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The Wild West 'Quickdraw' Gunfight Never Really Happened....... by Boondawg
Started on: 07-28-2011 11:01 PM
Replies: 11
Last post by: Australian on 07-30-2011 03:00 AM
Boondawg
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Report this Post07-28-2011 11:01 PM Click Here to See the Profile for BoondawgClick Here to Email BoondawgSend a Private Message to BoondawgDirect Link to This Post
There are many places that say they probibly never happened.
From straightdope.com:

Cecil,
Many movie and TV westerns have a climactic scene in which two men face each other on a street in a dusty town. There's a lightning fast draw of pistols, shots are fired, and the bad guy almost always dies. Did this sort of gunfight, with two men drawing on each other, really happen in the old west? Were there really gunfighters known for their fast pistol draws and accuracy?

— Chris Rohrs, Novato, California


Chris,
You figure I'm going to say it's all Hollywood. Hollywood definitely had a lot to do with it, but even in the classic cinematic depiction, High Noon (1952), Gary Cooper faces off not against a lone opponent but an armed gang. Truth is, the archetypal one-on-one showdown is one of those fixed ideas that doesn't have much basis in fiction, let alone in fact. Although a few such confrontations did occur, the Wild West had no tradition of formal dueling--the more common approach was to get the drop on the other guy before he got the drop on you. On the other hand, some of what we might guess was showbiz razzle-dazzle--spinning pistols, for one thing--may actually be legit.

Or maybe not. The problem with sorting out old-west fact and fiction is that the mythmaking machinery was cranking from day one. Dime novels were relating the real or imagined exploits of figures like Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill, and the James brothers during their lifetimes. Journalists juiced up their accounts to sell more papers (can you imagine?), and ordinary folks and sometimes the participants themselves embellished the truth. Nonetheless, the following showdowns seem reasonably well attested:

•In 1865 James Butler Hickok, better known as Wild Bill, quarreled with Davis Tutt in Springfield, Missouri, apparently over a debt. Around 6 PM on July 21, 1865, the two men advanced on each other in the town square, drew their guns at a range of 50 yards, and blasted away. Tutt missed; Hickok didn't; Tutt fell with a ball through the heart. Hickok was tried for manslaughter and acquitted. A sensational account of the incident appeared in Harper's in 1867, making Hickok a national celebrity. Scoffers then and since attacked the story's credibility, in part due to the seeming unlikelihood of hitting a man-sized target with a pistol at 50 yards in 1865, but sufficient evidence has now accumulated to indicate it happened roughly as described. Not that it matters. If only because of the publicity, the notion of lone gunfighters facing each other down became part of western lore.

•On March 9, 1877, gamblers Jim Levy and Charlie Harrison argued over a game of cards in a saloon in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Levy challenged Harrison to take it outside, Harrison agreed, and the two squared off in the street. Western novelist James Reasoner claims in a recent issue of Esquire that this was "the most 'Hollywood' showdown"; I beg to differ. Harrison shot wild; Levy took more careful aim, plugged his man, then--in a decidedly unheroic touch--approached his fallen opponent and shot him again. (One account claims Harrison fired at Levy while sprawled on the ground, but contemporary opinion held that Levy had shot a man while he was down.) Harrison died 13 days later. Levy tried for a repeat performance in 1882 when he quarreled with another gambler, John Murphy, in Tucson and challenged him to a showdown the next day, June 5. Shortly after midnight, though, Murphy and two friends spotted Levy in a doorway, decided there was no time like the present, and shot the unarmed man to death.

That was more typical of old west gun battles--a fair fight offered too great a chance that the guy starting it might get killed. Other parts of the myth are also, well, mythical. The quick draw from a holster was rare; more often the gunman carried his pistol in his pocket, his belt, or better yet his hand immediately prior to the commencement of hostilities. While some famous shootists were indeed nimble with their weapons--John Wesley Hardin, Billy the Kid, and Hickok are often cited in this regard--many say the importance of a quick draw has been exaggerated. Accuracy counted more than speed; keeping cool under fire was more important than both.

Still, some seemingly far-fetched elements of gunfighter lore can't be readily dismissed. In Tombstone, Arizona, in late 1880 Curly Bill Brocius fatally wounded Marshal Fred White. Rumor at the time had it that Brocius had made a show of surrendering his pistol butt first, then employed the "road agent's spin," twirling the gun into his hand so he could shoot the lawman. The rumor was unfounded; the shooting appears to have been an accident--but the maneuver itself was well-known, and no one seems to have doubted that gunfighters sometimes used it. Did they? Who knows? Tracking down the Wild West bull isn't easy when it's got such a long head start.

— Cecil Adams

http://www.straightdope.com...-face-off-one-on-one

[This message has been edited by Boondawg (edited 07-28-2011).]

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Marvin McInnis
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Report this Post07-28-2011 11:35 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Marvin McInnisClick Here to visit Marvin McInnis's HomePageSend a Private Message to Marvin McInnisDirect Link to This Post
Most men who died by gun in the old west ... outlaw and lawman alike ... were shot in the back.

The idea of Solo Combat by Champion is an ancient, almost mythological one. Remember the Biblical story of David and Goliath? That was just one instance of Combat by Champions. Much of the ritualized battle in Europe during the Middle Ages was Combat by Champion, with chivalrous armored knights serving the role of solo champions.

The face-to-face solo gun duel was intended by writers of western fiction to invoke the ancient myths of chivalry and Combat by Champion in a modern setting.

Such things DID occasionally occur, though. My grandfather actually witnessed two men drawing down on each other, western movie style, in the middle of a street in downtown Ardmore, OK in the 1920s. (FWIW, one of the last public parades by the "old" KKK was held in the same town at about the same time.)

[This message has been edited by Marvin McInnis (edited 07-29-2011).]

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spark1
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Report this Post07-29-2011 12:24 AM Click Here to See the Profile for spark1Send a Private Message to spark1Direct Link to This Post
Grace Kelley was one fine looking woman in 1952.

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Pyrthian
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Report this Post07-29-2011 10:13 AM Click Here to See the Profile for PyrthianClick Here to Email PyrthianSend a Private Message to PyrthianDirect Link to This Post
but, makes for nice drama - and a false structure of honor

they are stories because the subject content is UNIQUE.
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Arns85GT
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Report this Post07-29-2011 10:29 AM Click Here to See the Profile for Arns85GTClick Here to Email Arns85GTSend a Private Message to Arns85GTDirect Link to This Post
There was a notion of chivalry in the Victorian era. The writers tried to give men they wanted to be seen as heroes a chivalrous appearance. The old notion of the "duel to the death" was such a notion. And indeed it occurred on continental Europe with swords and pistols before being outlawed.

This gave rise to the vision of the "lone gunman" standing against all odds in fair combat. It reflected an earlier time and an age of gallantry that in and of itself is open to question.

This was the basis of the modern gunfighter image. It is basically a wrong image. Killing a man is not often chivalrous. It is most often desperate and vicious and brutal. Not the stuff to base a "good guy" image on at all. My dad told me about his killing of Nazis. It was not chivalrous, it was actually desperate, regrettable and his personal nightmares.

But, western gunfighter certainly makes good theatre and has done so now for decades.

Arn
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jaskispyder
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Report this Post07-29-2011 11:10 AM Click Here to See the Profile for jaskispyderSend a Private Message to jaskispyderDirect Link to This Post
What? Marty McFly really didn't have a shoot out?
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dsnover
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Report this Post07-29-2011 11:14 AM Click Here to See the Profile for dsnoverSend a Private Message to dsnoverDirect Link to This Post
Part of me thinks that dueling should be legal....at least for politicians.....

The famous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr at Weehawken, NJ, comes to mind. Hamilton died, and we lost a great man. But Burr lost all future political power.....
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Doni Hagan
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Report this Post07-29-2011 03:38 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Doni HaganSend a Private Message to Doni HaganDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by spark1:

Grace Kelley was one fine looking woman in 1952.




So was Katy Jurado...that's her in the still.
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Formula88
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Report this Post07-29-2011 07:48 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Formula88Send a Private Message to Formula88Direct Link to This Post
 
quote

Although a few such confrontations did occur,


So it didn't happen - except when it did.
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MidEngineManiac
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Report this Post07-29-2011 07:49 PM Click Here to See the Profile for MidEngineManiacSend a Private Message to MidEngineManiacDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Formula88:


So it didn't happen - except when it did.


History is clear as mud..........

[This message has been edited by MidEngineManiac (edited 07-29-2011).]

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spark1
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Report this Post07-29-2011 11:56 PM Click Here to See the Profile for spark1Send a Private Message to spark1Direct Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Doni Hagan:


So was Katy Jurado...that's her in the still.


You'll get no argument from me on that.
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Australian
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Report this Post07-30-2011 03:00 AM Click Here to See the Profile for AustralianClick Here to visit Australian's HomePageClick Here to Email AustralianSend a Private Message to AustralianDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by jaskispyder:

What? Marty McFly really didn't have a shoot out?


The was Clint Eastwood hehehe made me think of same thing.
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