Back in the days of the Wild West carrying a 6-shooter strapped to your hip was as commonplace as sitting down to the dinner table. What is it about those early days of the American West that people find so facilitating? Killing in the streets occurred regularly and hangings were public displays of capital punishment. The law and the lawless constantly battled over cattle, sheep, horses, water rights and land. Bandits or notorious outlaws were as common as bandaids along with Old West Scoundrels, Outlaw Gangs and Vigilantes.
The movie industry capitalized on Wild West fascination with the life and times of Wyatt Earp always drawing a captive audience. Many Faces of Wyatt Earp have appeared on the silver screen from 1939 until 1994. A famous scene that can never be avoided in Wyatt's life is that of the Shootout at OK Corral which took place between Wyatt Earp, his two brothers, Doc Holliday and the Ike Clanton Gang on October 26, 1881.
Cowboys, Tombstone and Wyatt Earp were destined to collide and by the spring of 1881, it was apparent they were already on that collision course. The most famous gunfight showdown in history featured thirty shots fired in thirty seconds leaving three cowboys dead along with Virgil and Morgan Earp wounded. Wyatt managed to escape without even a scratch...he was a natural for dodging bullets! That was over 130 years ago but the sound of bullets whizzing through the air can still be heard within the corridors of the mind and reenactments.
After silver was discovered nearby in 1877, Tombstone, Arizona quickly grew into one of the richest mining towns in the Southwest. Wyatt Earp, a former Kansas police officer working as a bank security guard, and his brothers, Morgan and Virgil, the town marshals, represented "law and order" in Tombstone, though they also had reputations as being power-hungry and ruthless. The Clantons and McLaurys were cowboys who lived on a ranch outside of town and sidelined as cattle rustlers, thieves and murderers. In October 1881, the struggle between these two groups for control of Tombstone and Cochise County ended in a blaze of gunfire at the OK Corral.A Bit of 'OK Corral' History...
As with any story, there is always more than one account...another side to the story. The gunfight did not actually take place in a corral, specifically the OK Corral, nor within or next to the OK Corral. It took place in a narrow vacant lot nearby. Also, according to a fourth generation cousin of the Clantons, the confrontation was quite different from the historical recordings most of us have read or what Hollywood has depicted in the movies.
The Gunfight at OK Corral has also been immortalized in song...
by Frankie Laine, often billed as America's Number One Song Stylist, his other nicknames include Mr. Rhythm, Old Leather Lungs, and Mr. Steel Tonsils.