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In 1885, Annie Oakley began an association with Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West show -- despite some hesitation on Cody's part about hiring a woman. The five-foot-tall sharpshooter's star was on the rise -- that season, she performed in front of 150,000 people in 40 cities. The following year, the show entertained almost 360,000 people at its summer location on Staten Island, New York, and soon Oakley's fame was known far and wide. She would be a top attraction with the Wild West for 17 years.
Browse a selection of posters promoting Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill's Wild West show.
This lithograph poster shows three of the greatest sharpshooters of the day -- Annie Oakley, Doc Carver and Captain Adam Bogardus with Buffalo Bill Cody. The sharpshooters performed amazing feats of marksmanship -- each was capable of breaking thousands of glass balls launched into the air.|Courtesy: Greg Martin;http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/oakley_gallery_03.jpg|http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/oakley_gallery_03_t.jpg|
This famous 1901 poster from the end of her career with Buffalo Bill's Wild West celebrates a few of Annie Oakley's extraordinary marksmanship feats -- riding a bicycle or standing on a galloping horse while shooting, and sighting in a mirror.|Courtesy: The Nutley Historical Society;http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/oakley_gallery_04.jpg|http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/oakley_gallery_04_t.jpg|
This poster captures one of Annie Oakley's exciting tricks for the Wild West show. After her husband and partner Frank Butler had thrown glass balls in the air, Annie would jump a hurdle, pick up her gun and smash the balls before they hit the ground.|Courtesy: Circus World Museum;http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/oakley_gallery_05.jpg|http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/oakley_gallery_05_t.jpg|
Annie Oakley was becoming a legend when this souvenir booklet with a fictional story of her life was published for the London performances of the Wild West in 1887. The story described her growing up in Kansas (not her native Ohio), killing a villain named Darky Murrell (she never killed a human being), putting a bullet through the eye of a panther, saving a train from robbers, and surviving a wolf bite and a blizzard.|Courtesy: The Nutley Historical Society;http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/oakley_gallery_06.jpg|http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/uploads/special_features/photo_gallery/oakley_gallery_06_t.jpg|
Annie Oakley takes aim at a flying object in this poster for Buffalo Bill's Wild West show. The background vignettes show two of her classic feats -- jumping over a table to pick up a gun and shoot, and firing at glass balls that her husband and assistant Frank Butler threw into the air.|Courtesy: Circus World Museum
My American Experience
The legend of the Wild West has been played out in American Popular culture since the start of westward expansion. The real-life people who helped tame the west would shape the western heroes celebrated in film and television for decades.