In 1886, Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show played to over one million people in New York City. It was one of the most elaborate shows on earth. There were cowboys and Indians, sharp shooters including the famed Annie Oakley, hundreds of horses, buffalo, elk and donkeys, with more than 200 cast members, all moving about in a sweeping western landscape of mountains and plains. It would go on to dazzle crowds in London, Paris, Rome and Barcelona, cementing the legend of the Wild West in the minds of people around the globe. Behind the extravaganza was one man -- a meager plainsman turned international celebrity and frontier hero, whose meteoric rise to fame was made possible only by his genius, and his hucksterism. His name was William Cody, better known to the world as Buffalo Bill.
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.