Another flyover first

by chuckofish

Today is the 151st anniversary of the Wild Bill Hickok–Davis Tutt shootout in the town square of Springfield, Missouri (July 21, 1865).  It is reputedly the first and one of the few recorded instances in the Old West of a one-on-one pistol quick-draw duel in a public place.

Wild Bill Hickok threatens the friend of Davis Tutt after defeating Tutt in a duel, in an illustration from Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, February 1867.

Wild Bill Hickok threatens the friend of Davis Tutt after defeating Tutt in a duel, in an illustration from Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, February 1867.

What began as an argument over gambling debts, turned deadly when Tutt took a prize watch of Wild Bill’s as collateral. Warned against wearing the watch in public to humiliate Wild Bill, Tutt appeared on the square on July 21, prominently wearing the watch. The two men then unsuccessfully negotiated the debt and the watch’s return. Hickok returned to the square at 6 p.m. to find Tutt once again displaying his watch. Wild Bill gave Tutt his final warning. “Don’t you come around here with that watch.” Tutt answered by placing his hand on his pistol.

Tutt was killed and Hickok was arrested and eventually brought to trial. The judge gave the jury two apparently contradictory instructions. He first instructed the jury that a conviction was its only option under the law. He then instructed them that they could apply the unwritten law of the “fair fight” and acquit, an action known as  jury nullification which allows a jury to make a finding contrary to the law. The trial ended in acquittal on August 6, 1865, after the jury deliberated for “an hour or two” before reaching a verdict of not guilty, which was not popular at the time. (Wikipedia)


There’s a marker now on the street in Springfield where it all took place. Although the boy went to college in Springfield for a few years, I was unaware of (or had forgotten) this fun fact.

According to, Wild Bill Hickok has been portrayed on screen over 70 times by actors including William S. Hart, Gary Cooper, Bill Elliott, Richard Dix, Forest Tucker, Howard Keel, Guy Madison, Adam West, Robert Culp, Lloyd Bridges, Don Murray, Charles Bronson, Richard Farnsworth, Frederic Forrest, Josh Brolin, Sam Elliott, Sam Shepard, and Keith Carradine.

My favorite is probably Gary Cooper in The Plainsman (1936), but you have to love Charles Bronson as Wild Bill in White Buffalo (1877)–at least I do. Since I recently watched part of The Plainsman on TCM, I will watch White Buffalo (which we own!) tonight and toast Wild Bill Hickock one more time.

White Buffalo One Sheet

In case you’ve forgotten, White Buffalo is a Dino de Laurentis “disaster film/monster movie” from the 1970s–pretty darn terrible, especially the special effects–but it has its moments. Wild Bill gets to say things like,

“In the first place, the Great Spirit did not give you these hills. You took this land by force. You took it from the Cheyenne, the Shoshoni, and the Arapaho. You took it with the lance and tomahawk. Now the white man makes war on you. What’s the difference?”

and his mountain man friend, played by Jack Warden gets to say,

“Probably heard about the white buff on the moccasin telegraph.”

Political correctness had not been invented yet.

Speaking of Charles Bronson, I recently watched Red Sun (1971)–a western with an international cast: Charles Bronson, Toshiro Mifune, Alain Delon, Ursula Andress, and Capucine playing a Mexican named “Pepita”.


After a train robbery, Bronson and Mifune (the Japanese ambassador’s bodyguard) team up to find Alain Delon and get back the stolen money and a Japanese sword. “2 Desperados … 1 Hellcat … and a Samurai”–well, you can imagine. Luckily Bronson and Mifune are awesome together and Alain Delon is really handsome, so it is hardly a waste of your time. And it’s definitely more enlightening/entertaining than watching either the Republican or Democrat conventions.

And then there’s this: