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Sharp-Shooter Annie Oakley - Star of the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Wed, Aug 13, 2014 @ 08:00 AM

It was 1883 when William “Buffalo Bill” Cody first took his Wild West show to the masses. These stage productions portrayed fictitious account of the exchanges between cowboys and Indians during the United State's western expansion. While the initial premise of the show was popular, it lacked any headliner talent until Buffalo Bill Cody was able to recruit Sitting Bull, the Sioux chief blamed for the uprising that overwhelmed George Armstrong Custer's 7th Cavalry at the Battle of Little Bighorn. This major superstar helped propel the Wild West Show far above competing acts.

buffalo bill show
AN OFFICIAL PROGRAM FROM A TURN OF THE CENTURY WILD WEST SHOW FROM THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

After that, the show became incredibly popular and traveled throughout Europe. This had a dramatic effect on the world’s perception of the United States and the expansion of the American frontier. It was praised for its realistic storyline and was later accepted as family entertainment when a new superstar, Annie Oakley, known as Little Sure Shot, joined the cast. Oakley had exceptional aim and had already achieved fame for her fancy shooting tricks.

Annie Oakley, born Phoebe Ann Moses, had developed her sharp-shooting skills to survive. She was the sixth of seven children and her father, who was more than 30 years older than her mother, died when Oakley was only 6. Annie Oakley and her sister were sent to live in an infirmary and then Oakley was sent to live with a foster family who treated her harshly. When she was 12, Annie Oakley’s mother remarried and she was reunited with her family. Instead of attending school, Annie practiced hunting and trapping and sold the game to residents and businesses in southern Ohio to help support the family. Her efforts paid off the mortgage of the family farm before Annie Oakley was 15.

buffalo bill wild west show program 1"LAST OF THE GREAT SCOUTS" - A SIGNED PROGRAM FROM BUFFALO BILL'S WILD WEST SHOW - NOTE (TOP RIGHT) THE SCARCE INSCRIPTION "TRUE TO FRIEND OR FOE - BUFFALO BILL - W.F. CODY"

It was Thanksgiving Day in 1875 when 15 year old Phoebe Moses was baited into a challenge. A performing marksman, Frank Butler placed a bet with an Ohio hotel owner wagering that his shooting skills would outperform any of the local shooters. Much to his surprise, Butler lost the bet to the youthful Phoebe Moses. The two began courting and were married the following autumn. Moses adopted the stage name Annie Oakley during the years of their sharp-shooter performances together. They were both hired to work on the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show in 1885.

While performing in Europe, Oakley performed for Queen Victoria in the UK, President Marie François Sadi Carnot in France, King Umberto I in Italy, and Kaiser Wilhelm II in Germany. Her most famous trick was using a .22 caliber rifle to shoot a single playing card several times while it floated in the air at a distance of 90 feet.

annie oakleyANNIE OAKLEY - WORLD-FAMOUS RIFLE SHOT AND STAR OF THE WILD WEST SHOW

Oakley used her position as an influential celebrity to promote the idea of women serving in the US armed forces to President McKinley at the time of the Spanish-American War. However, the cavalry established by Theodore Roosevelt named “Rough Riders” was attributed to the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. It is estimated that Oakley taught more than 15,000 women how to use a gun during her lifetime. She pushed for women to be comfortable using a gun for physical and mental exercise as well as for self-defense.

In 1901, Annie Oakley was involved in a train accident and was temporarily paralyzed. Although she improved greatly after five surgeries, the tragic accident put an end to her career with the Buffalo Bill Show. Instead Annie began performing a stage play that portrayed her outsmarting outlaws. Her popularity has never ceased. Annie Oakley was laid to rest in 1926 at age 66. Her husband Frank Butler died a few weeks later.

raleigh degeer amyxHISTORIAN AND COLLECTOR — RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX

Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has been acquiring museum-quality historical artifacts for more than 30 years. He is proud to own personal effects of many historical figures and American icons such as Annie Oakley. Now you have the rare opportunity to gain access to many of these important artifacts. Hundreds of the museum-quality historical artifacts acquired by the Raleigh DeGeer Amyx Collection will be sold in a live auction in Boston, Mass. on September 17-18, 2014 by RRAUCTION.COM. If you have interest in a particular item in the collection, please feel free to inquire using the button below.

 

Click here for the official September 17th & 18th, 2014 auction page

Tags: Hollywood Memorabilia

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