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  • Lance Mannion
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Earl Bockenfeld

I was raised in a very small town in Iowa. But in later life, after 3 years in the Navy, I went to college in Burlington, Iowa. I traveled quite often to nearby Galeburg, Illinois, the boyhood home of Carl Sandburg. The road traveled went though a small town of Monmouth, Illinois, which now is somewhat renowned as the boyhood home of Wyatt Earp.

One of the few growth opportunities now is to milk area historical connections and try to become a tourist haven with annual hero days and weekend reenactments like the OK corral shootout.

Maybe these things will help improve the historical knowledge of our citizens. Galesburg was the site of one of the Lincoln/Douglas debates, I
hope Galesburg kids would recognize a picture of Honest Abe, unlike one
of the outrages of a recent test of historical test of school students.


Mary Doria Russell has a book out on Doc Holliday
that is worth a look.


Just FYI, Bill Tilghman was one of the Old West lawmen who actually more-or-less lived up to the Hollywood portrayals of the honest sheriff and town-tamer.


The Deadwood Earp photo link is broken.

Lance Mannion

Ah ha! So there is someone out there clicking on the pictures! Gladdens my heart. Everyone should do it. Easter eggs, folks! Thanks for the catch, Link. All fixed.

El Jefe

The joys of childhood will always tell; there's a jaunt in your step when you write about Westerns, Lance. Followed closely by comic books and original-recipe Trek, which of course flow from the same Stories. Great essay. Although I think your dislike (which I understand) of how Milch stretched his Hearst away from the historical Hearst robs Gerald McRaney's performance of some of its coolly sociopathic power. I'll grant you he's not George Hearst, but he's an awful damn good Henry Clay Frick with a drawl. It was a career turn for McRaney that's redefined his skill level as an actor (and I say that knowing the middle seasons of "Simon & Simon" were one of the joys of my sucky Eighties adolescence.) And really there was not one "virgin" but three: Alma's fortune, Ellsworth's life and with him the only wholly decent person in town, and Trixie's as well (substituted of course by Al and leaving him with that great Lady Macbeth shot at the end.)

I would follow you through hell, or even Cy Tolliver's joint with a full wallet, to get that Roosevelt season. Great elevator pitch. So who plays him, at that age? It would of course be nice to grab the wayback machine and pull Brian Keith from about 1960-ish, but since we can't who takes the job? Remembering that this Roosevelt is thrusting all that steel-jawed idealism and manly endeavor out into the Black Hills landscape because of how profound and weighty his ghosts are. He'd have made an ideal bookend -- your point I'm sure -- for Bill.

To keep this turned towards the actors for one more graf, how about how this sort of did for Ian McShane's acting career what Al did for Bullock? Sure he was dashing in his youth as Disraeli (but Anthony Sher captured his personality much better in Mrs. Brown), and I loved him in my college years as Lovejoy (a guy almost consciouslly without menace which, made him notably different from the character in the books but to the good) but Al ... Al is for the ages. What he did there were lucky to see. I'd love to know more about how they found that frequency and then kept it up, especially that crucial transformation you note, which McShane managed in such a wholly believable way -- it's still Al, but he's discovered more or at least other to himself than he'd imagined was there.

El Jefe


That's truly interesting -- how about a strong push for Illinois to do something much more permanent in memory of the Lincoln-Douglas debates than they did for the sesquicentennial? It'd be a genuinely good use of public space and public history.

Lance Mannion

El Jeffe, Thanks. My heroes have always been cowboys.

TR was about 30 when he and Bullock met, so it would have to be Brian Keith circa 1950. I don't have anyone in particular in mind I think would be/would have been perfect for the part. I know who I would have liked to see play him. Garret Dillahunt, and I'll tell you why. Dillahunt played Jack McCall in the first season and then he came back and played a very different sort of villain in the second season, Francis Wolcott. I think he earned the right to play a good guy and when I heard that Wyatt Earp was going to be a character in the third season I really expected they'd bring back Dillahunt to play him. He'd have been perfect for Earp, and I think he'd have made a good young Teddy Roosevelt, and as long as we're imagining, I'm happy to imagine that Dillahunt DID play Earp in a good episode in the third season, that the third season was a lot better than it was, that the fourth season got made and TR arrived and Dillahunt was brought back one more time.

You're right about McRaney, though.

"I would follow you through hell, or even Cy Tolliver's joint with a full wallet, to get that Roosevelt season."

Good one!


After reading this I bought The Last Gunfight (Kindle version for iPhone/iPad). I learned much about the times and Earps, but was overall a little let down by the book. As Guinn says often, "nobody really knows" so his version of events that day are as fictional as others we've read. Not saying the book was a waste of money, but on a 10 scale I'd give it a 5 or 6 tops.

Lance Mannion

GregN, sorry if I gave you a bum steer I was a little disappointed in the end too. I think this is one of those cases where fiction can get at the truth better than non-fiction Thomas Berger's Return of Little Big Man does a much better job covering the same ground while delivering close to the same characterizations of Wyatt and Doc, and does it in just a few chapters

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