The Colonel and Little Missie
Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, and the Beginnings of Superstardom in America
By Larry McMurtry
(Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 9780743271714, 256pp.)
Publication Date: May 31, 2005
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From the early 1800s to the end of his life in 1917, Buffalo Bill Cody was as famous as anyone could be. Annie Oakley was his most celebrated protegee, the "slip of a girl" from Ohio who could (and did) outshoot anybody to become the most celebrated star of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.
In this sweeping dual biography, Larry McMurtry explores the lives, the legends, and above all the truth about two larger-than-life American figures. With his Wild West show, Buffalo Bill helped invent the image of the West that still exists today -- cowboys and Indians, rodeo, rough rides, sheriffs and outlaws, trick shooting, Stetsons, and buck-skin. The short, slight Annie Oakley -- born Phoebe Ann Moses -- spent sixteen years with Buffalo Bill's Wild West, where she entertained Queen Victoria, Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, and Kaiser Wilhelm II, among others. Beloved by all who knew her, including Junkpapa leader, Sitting Bull, Oakley became a legend in her own right and after her death, achieved a new lease of fame in Irving Berlin's musical "Annie, Get Your Gun. "
To each other, they were always "Missie" and "Colonel." To the rest of the world, they were cultural icons, setting the path for all that followed. Larry McMurtry -- a writer who understands the West better than any other -- recreates their astonishing careers and curious friendship in a fascinating history that reads like the very best of his fiction.
Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove. His other works include two collections of essays, three memoirs, and more than thirty screenplays, including the coauthorship of Brokeback Mountain, for which he received an Academy Award. He lives in Archer City, Texas.