Wyatt Earp |
Wyatt Earp in Popular Culture
Since the earliest days of film and television, Wyatt Earp has personified the ultimate Western outlaw hero. Dozens of productions have told his story, and still more have characters based on him. Browse this collection of photos from movies and television programs that drew inspiration from the Wyatt Earp legend.
In 1928, In Old Arizona was the first Western “talkie” (film with sound) to be filmed outdoors. Drawing on the Wyatt Earp legend, the lawman in the film, Sergeant Mickey Dunn, must track down the robber of a Tombstone stagecoach and bring him to justice. In this picture the cowboy outlaw is the fictional Cisco kid, played by Warner Baxter.
Credit: Fox Film Corporation/Photofest
Walter Huston (right, standing by carriage) plays a fictionalized version of Wyatt Earp named Frame Johnson in Law and Order (1932). The movie retells the story of the Gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, renaming the Earps the Johnsons and grouping the Clantons and McLaurys together as the Northrup brothers.
This 1934 western is based on the first biography of Wyatt Earp — Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal, by Stuart N. Lake. Though it transformed Wyatt from minor celebrity to frontier icon, Lake’s account was later revealed to be highly embellished. George O’Brien stars as the renamed Michael Earp, along with Irene Bentley and Alan Edwards.
Credit: Photofest/Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Errol Flynn plays reluctant lawman Wade Hatton whose life story echoes that of Wyatt Earp. After becoming Marshal to tame the violence in the Wild West town of Dodge City, Kansas, Flynn catches the offending gang of outlaws, and moves on to bring law and order to another Wild West town. Olivia de Havilland co-stars in this 1939 film.
Credit: Warner Bros./Photofest
Richard Dix stars as Wyatt Earp in this 1942 retelling of the Gunfight at the OK Corral. Rent Bell as Virgil Earp and Kent Taylor as Doc Holliday face off against Victor Jory as Ike Clanton and other members of his Cowboy gang.
Credit: Photofest/Paramount Pictures
This 1953 movie retells the legend with Henry Fonda playing Wyatt Earp and Victor Mature as Doc Holliday. While it recounts the showdown between the Earps and the Clantons, the storyline has many fictitious additions, including the flirtatious Chihuaha and Doc’s ex-lover Clementine Carter.
Credit: 20th Century Fox/Photofest
Ronald Reagan stars as Frame Johnson, a Western Marshal who must tame the lawless town of Tombstone, Arizona. Despite hopes of settling down, the fictional character becomes caught up in local politics and cannot escape the call to bring law and order to the Wild West. This 1953 film also stars Dorothy Malone.
Credit: Universal PIctures/Photofest
The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (1955-1960) was a television series loosely based on the legend of Wyatt Earp. Hugh O’Brien plays lawman Earp in Kansas and Arizona and eventually reenacts the Gunfight at the OK Corral.
In Wichita (1955) Wyatt Earp (played by Joel McCrea) is reluctant to assume the role of Marshal in the lawless Kansas town, but in the end his morals demand it. More true to legend than other films, the movie shows Wyatt and his brothers as they are ultimately drawn into a deadly gun battle with local gunmen.
Credit: Allied Artists/Photofest
The western television series Gunsmoke ran for 20 seasons on CBS starting in 1955. It starred James Arness as Marshall Matt Dillon, along with Amanda Blake as Kitty Russell and Milburn Stone as Dr. Galen 'Doc’ Adams. While the show is not directly based on the legend of Wyatt Earp, it similarly centers around a Western lawman in Dodge City, Kansas and his contributions to the settlement of the American West.
Burt Lancaster stars as Wyatt Earp along with Kirk Douglas as Doc Holliday in this 1957 retelling of the legendary Gunfight at the OK Corral. The film traces Earp’s move to Tombstone, his developing feud with the Clantons, and the ultimate showdown between Earp, his brothers, and Doc Holliday on one side, and the local cowboys on the other. The film was nominated for two Oscars.
Credit: Paramount Pictures/Photofest
This 1971 film, Hour of the Gun, stars James Garner as Wyatt Earp and Jason Robards as Doc Holliday. The film is credited with being more historically accurate than most earlier depictions, as well as having a more in-depth exploration of the aftermath of the famous gunfight showdown.
Credit: United Artists/Photofest
Kurt Russell stars in this 1993 retelling of the Wyatt Earp legend that earned $56 million at the box office. It begins with Earp and his brothers moving to Tombstone, Arizona, where they meet up with Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer). The storyline continues beyond the gunfight, depicting Wyatt and his posse’s Vendetta Ride, Doc’s death, and Wyatt’s marriage to Josephine Marcus (Dana Delaney).
Credit: Buena Vista Pictures/Photofest
Kevin Costner stars as Wyatt Earp in this 1994 film, along with Joanna Going and Isabella Rossellini. The film chronicles Wyatt’s life from his teenage years in Iowa through the infamous gunfight in Tombstone and his later move to Alaska with Josie Marcus to mine for gold. The film was nominated for an Academy Award.
Credit: Warner Bros./Photofest