Wyatt Earp was a sometimes-lawman, sometimes-outlaw who sometimes owned a saloon and occasionally dealt cards or shot buffalo, depending on the economy and job market of the Territory (Indiana, Kansas, Nevada, Alaska, California) in which the itinerant jack of all trades happened to hang his hat on any given day.
He went by a number of aliases, including Randolph Scott, Errol Flynn, Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, Joel McCrea, Hugh O'Brian, Burt Lancaster, James Garner, Kurt Russell, and Kevin Costner.
He is perhaps best known for his role in Gunfight at The Okay Corral, in which he played himself.
Earp was married twice, first to a would-be drug addict and then to a would-be actress. Most of the time, he preferred the company of his horse, Ballsy, or his paramour, "Doc" Holliday. He had no children, but was survived by a host of sperm, the offspring of many a long night beneath the stars alongside lonely trails.
The subject of much historical research and more tripe and baloney, Earp's long and eventful life was highlighted by these incidents:
- Birth as the son of either Calamity Jane or Annie Oakley ("Little Sure Shot") and either Buffalo Bill Cody or Wild Bill Hickock, 1848
- Roles in "Gunfight at The Okay Corral" and "Vendetta Ride," 1881
- Throwing the Bob Fitzsimmons-Tom Sharkey prizefight, 1986
- Death from chronic cystitis, 1929
According to his best-known and most-beloved biographer, Stuart ("Swan") Lake, author of Wyatt Earp, My Knight in Shining Armor, Earp was "Sir Galahad with a gun." Lake characterized himself as "Wyatt's would-be Guinever." Some historians label his description of Earp's appearance "homoerotic": "Tall, dark, and handsome, with a long-barreled 'gun,' Wyatt would have been welcome to ride me anytime; I would have welcomed his spurs, his boot, or his gun. I envy his mount and his 'friendship' with that dentist dude." Other historians contend that Lake's account of the life and legend of Earp is highly "romanticized."
During Gunfight at the Okay Corral, which was set, appropriately enough, in arid Tombstone, Arizona, Earp, assisted by his brothers Virgil and Morgan and his sometimes-boyfriend "Doc" Holliday, murdered Billy Clanton, Tom McLaury, and Frank McLaury were killed in "self-defense." Earp gained fame or notoriety, depending on one's point of view, for escaping the conflict unscathed; everyone else was wounded or, in the case of Clanton and the McLaury brothers, killed.
It was during the shooting of Gunfight at the Okay Corral that Earp met fellow actors John Wayne and Tom Mix. According to Wayne, it was Earp who taught Wayne to walk in his distinctive fashion. "The secret," Earp told the younger actor, "is to imagine that you just climbed out of the saddle after a 12-hour ride with atop Doc Holliday."
In Vendetta Ride, a sequel to Gunfight, Virgil and Morgan are ambushed, the former wounded and the latter killed, and Wyatt and Doc go on a "vendetta ride," killing their assassins. Film historians consider this sequel the model of another "cowboy" move, Bareback Mountain.
Holliday, a consumptive, later died, Earp continued to travel the Wild West, and dime novelists and Hollywood scriptwriters glorified Earp. At Lake's request, a gun manufacturer named a modified .45-caliber revolver after Earp's favorite masturbatory fantasy, the "Buntline Special." Lake presented it, with candy and flowers, to Earp, as a "token of my esteem."