The adventures of America's Frontier West were memorable, marked with a notorious absence of control. Riding the wagon of history and memories was legendary lawman Wyatt Berry Strapp Earp (1848-1929), born on this day in Monmouth, Illinois.
Earp's legend began in Dodge City in 1876. As an assistant marshal and faro dealer at the famous Long Branch Saloon, he became friends with the legendary gamblers Bat Masterson and Doc Holliday.
Earp was 33 and looking for a fresh start in Tombstone, Arizona when he, his brothers (Virgil and Morgan), and Holliday battled Ike Clanton's gang in the notorious gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
According to historian Joseph G. Rosa, the fight lasted 30 seconds and 17 shots were fired. "Fast is fine," Earp once said about his gun slinging, "but accuracy is everything."
Before his death, Earp moved to Hollywood and became a technical advisor for western films. The Internet Movie Database noted that Earp has been portrayed 24 times on film, with actors from Hugh O'Brien on television, to Kevin Cosner (1994), Kurt Russell (1993), Jimmy Stewart (1964), and Burt Lancaster (1957).
Some historians claim Earp's exploits were more "glorified fiction" than truth. What is true, amazingly enough, throughout his turbulent adventures, marked by the absence of control, cowboy Wyatt Earp was never hit by a bullet.
"He was a hard man among hard men in a hard environment," eulogized writer Walter Noble. "What he did, he did. The record stands. But, weighed in balance, he will not be found wanting. Judged by the circumstances of his career, the verdict in his case is clear--Wyatt Earp was a man."
Let go. Welcome the excitement of not being in control.