1883, William F. Cody discovered there was more money in
show business than in hunting and scouting.
Cowboys, Indians and gunfighters (1993)
For 30 years Buffalo Bill's Wild West show toured
the United States and Europe, playing at exhibition grounds to enormous
crowds. Attending the Wild West show often seemed like an initiation
into living popular Western history. The scenes and narratives enacted
on stage were dramatic re-enactments of famous incidents such as
the “Attack on the Deadwood Stage Coach,” “Attack
on a settler's Cabin,” “Great Hold-Up,” “Bandit
Hunters of the Union Pacific,” “Attack on an Emigrant
Train,” and so forth. The Wild West show featured a multicultural
company that included riders from five continents and strangely
diverse ethnic groups like, everything from American Indians, cowboys
and cowgirls, Mexican vaqueros, Boers, gauchos, Japanese "samurai"
and Cossacks. William F. Cody a.k.a. Buffalo Bill (1846-1917) was
a frontiersman, hunter, scout, showman and entrepreneur. In 1867
Cody began hunting buffalo (reportedly he shot 4, 280 of them) for
Kansas Pacific work crews, thereby earning his nickname and reputation
as an expert shot. In 1872, he became one of only four civilian
scouts to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor during the
Indian Wars for valor in action.
the show was launched in 1883 it was an immediate success. According
to The Illinois State Journal, the show was, “of the very
highest importance to children because by the time they are adults
the whole thing will have gone to the forgotten past.” The
capturing of this vanishing frontier world and cultures was deemed
one of Cody's most important legacies. By 1885, the show's annual
income had reached $100 000.
degree the Georgian riders partially owe their recruitment in the
shows to Mark Twain, the famous American writer, because he was the
one who suggested that Buffalo Bill travel Europe. That's when Cody
decided to involve representatives of other nations in his shows.
In 1893, more than 6 million people around the world are recorded
to have attended the shows. Cody never again witnessed such tremendous
success. This is how Tsnobis Purtseli described the show, “This
is not a circus but an ethnographical exhibition; the people of various
nations clad in their national outfit and ammunition enact scenes
sometimes in a field, at home or during battles. Imagine a circus,
where more than 200 riders are incorporated into the battle scenes.
The stage is so huge that riders look like ants and for that reason,
organizers employ a “shouter” though even he fails to
communicate the messages to the public. The Circus can seat 10 to
12 thousand people.”