On This Date In History: In the silver boom town of Tombstone, Arizona an event occurred that would be etched in western lore: The Gunfight at the OK Corral. Trouble is many historians say it didn’t happen at the OK Corral and it wasn’t much of a gunfight (here is one account). The main protagonist in most of the tales was Wyatt Earp (see photo gallery). This may be because the main story teller ended up being Wyatt Earp. There had been many disputes between the Earps (Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan) and a group of ruffians known as the Cowboys. Five of the group gathered on this date in 1881 on a vacant lot near the OK Corral. Virgil was the town Marshall with Wyatt and Morgan as his deputies. Their friend and gambler, John (Doc) Holliday joined the Earps and the quartet went down the street to greet the Cowboys. At about 3 pm the gunfight began. About 30 seconds and 30 gunshots later, it was over.
Unlike the movie versions, particularly Gunfight at the OK Corrall with Burt Lancaster and My Darling Clementine with Henry Fonda and Louisvillian Victor Mature, it apparently involved the Earps and Holliday walking up to the bad guys and gunfire breaking out. There is dispute about who fired the first shot but in the end, 3 of the 5 cowboys lay dead and all but Wyatt was injured, though one of the remaining Cowboys fled. There was a trial for the Earps but they were found not guilty with the judge saying they were “fully justified in committing these homicides.”
If you go and look this up, you will find all sorts of conflicting stories. The early movies were based almost solely on the reminiscences of Wyatt Earp, who spent his later years in Hollywood as a consultant to those making westerns. So, the stories tend to lean toward Wyatt’s heroics. Later films try to be more realistic. But there is no real clear cut truth. However, one interesting aspect to the Earp lore appears to be true. That is that Wyatt, through all of his gunfights and violent episodes never once was shot. The same can’t be said of those who rode with him or against him. Wyatt died in quietly in his sleep 1929 in Hollywood, CA. Many of the western movie stars of the day attended his funeral.
Which is your favorite portrayal of Wyatt Earp in film? I kinda liked My Darling Clementine…Henry Fonda does a great dance. Aside from Gunfight at the OK Corral, AMC lists ten films depicting Wyatt Earp. The AMC list notes that the portrayal of Erroll Flynn in Dodge City (1939) was of the character Wade Hatton, but claims the role was “clearly based on the gunslinger.” Why would they not just use the name Wyatt Earp? AMC doesn’t say but maybe it was to protect the innocent. But, it may have had to do with the fact that Randolph Scott had the role of Wyatt Earp in Frontier Marshal from the same year. So popular is the lore of Wyatt Earp, Colleen Coughlin has an article on the Law in Popular Culture collection at the University of Texas’ Jamail Center for Legal Research called Law at the OK Corrall: Reading Wyatt Earp films.
One other thing about Victor Mature. He sorta retired in 1961 but he did appear in the Monkees last (and only) movie called Head. It was a really weird movie and was a sorta good-bye from the Monkees as their tv show either had been cancelled or if they made the film it would be cancelled. It’s really a psychedellic late 60’s film produced by Jack Nicholson and was totally un-Monkee like. Even Frank Zappa was in it. To give you an idea of how off the wall it was, the premise is that the Monkees are living in a world that is really a spot of dandruff on Victor Mature’s hair. See it if you can. There are really some pretty good songs(especially The Porpoise Song) that, again, are very un-Monkee-like.
Weather Bottom Line: The upper level disturbance associated with a surface low to our south is still out there, it’s just behind schedule. A few days ago I was looking toward Monday for the clouds and maybe a shower but I thought it would be generally dry. Well, the disturbance is still going to come through and will still bring clouds but most likely on Tuesday and I still think most of Tuesday will be dry but now indications are that Tuesday night we may see some showers. Now, a vigorous storm system will be swinging through toward the end of the week with a pretty deep trof in association. Seems to me that Friday we will probably see rain and possibly some thunderstorms. The SPC is looking more at the lower Mississippi Valley for strong storms on Thursday but it will be interesting to see how it shakes out around here. There is a lot of low level convergence down there and the disturbance moving through is pretty robust. The big stuff will probably get cut off down that way but, it will be of interest to see if some of that action moves up our way. I say that the trof is deep but its more accurate to say its very pronounced. By the time it comes our way, its already lifting up and out and damping. Hence, we will get coolish but not too terribly cold for the weekend behind the cold front.