Wyatt Earp was a Christian. He was a good-guy. He was a life-long Republican. He was/is one of the most iconic figures in American history. The Pink Flamingo has spent the past 16 years trying to figure out why.
Wyatt would list his name in the city directories where he lived as Wyatt Earp – Capitalist. Of all the occupations of a life-time, the only one he used, time and time again was “capitalist”.
There are some roles you want certain actors to tackle. I have always wanted to see Harrison Ford do Wyatt Earp. Now he is!
The film is based on Max Allan Collins’ Black Hats. It has a “basis” in truth in that Wyatt Earp did live in LA during until his death in 1929. He did do some detective work (not that we can track much of it). We can track a story that he was working with the San Barnardino County Sheriff’s Department in the mid 1920’s tracking pick-pockets at one of the county fairs. In later life Wyatt was very disappointed with Bat Masterson, feeling that Bat had betrayed him a time or two.
During this time though, Earp’s greatest contribution to American society was the influence he became on a young roustabout who was working for the summer on one of the sets of a John Ford movie. Both John Ford and Tom Mix were huge Southern Cal football fans. They wanted to keep a specific football player from having to return to the Iowa, to his home. If he returned to Iowa, he would not be back the following season to play football. Wyatt would play poker with Tom Mix and John Ford. During those back-lot poker games he met the roustabout who was so influenced by Earp that he adapted his way of speaking and his walk. The young man’s name was Marion Robert Morrison. He was better known as John Wayne.
“…THR says Ford has signed up to play the iconic lawman in Black Hats, a movie adaptation of a novel by Max Allan Collins. The book’s full title is “Black Hats: A Novel of Wyatt Earp” and it follows a now much aged and past his prime 70-year-old Earp working not as the sheriff of a small western town, but as a private investigator in 1920s Los Angeles. That may seem strange to anyone used to seeing the character as a cowboy in Hollywood movies, but it’s actually true to the life of the real Earp. He lived to a ripe old age and in his later years really did end up in Los Angeles solving crimes and working as a movie consultant during the early 1900s.
The book and by extension the movie will blend elements of Earp’s real life with a fictional story in which he’s hired by the son of Doc Holiday for a case which gets him embroiled with the likes of Al Capone. Earp ends up in New York City, where he teams up with legendary old west figure Bat Masterson, who is now a sportswriter for the New York Morning Telegraph. …”
My favorite Wyatt Earp story from this time of his life was in the mid-1920. He was in Vidal, at the little house he built for Josie. A young man had robbed a bank in downtown San Bernardino. He boarded a train that would end up in Vidal. The county sheriff called Wyatt and asked if he would keep an eye on the kid until someone could get out and arrest him.
The young bank robber ended up in the hardware store near where Wyatt’s little house. Wyatt calmly puts a pistol in his pocket and walks over to the hardware store. He finds the young bank robber holding a gun on the store owner and a few customers. In his inimitable style, Wyatt simply walked into the hardware store, hand in his pocket on the pistol. He suggests the young man might wish to let everyone go and surrender.
The incident was covered by the local papers. The surrender went something like this.
“Who are you, old man, to tell me what to do?”
“I’m Wyatt Earp.”
The young man immediately gave Wyatt his gun. “It’s an honor, sir, to be arrested by you!”
When the deputies arrived from town, they found Wyatt there with the store owner, and the young bank robber, who had been subdued, and was talking to Wyatt.
It happened – it really did – just that way!
I have always stressed that one of the reasons we know Wyatt was famous before the publication of Stuart Lake’s biography was because of incidents like this.