Albumen photograph, 5.5 x 8.0 in., mounted to 8 x 10 in. Although uncredited, this photograph was taken by Rockwood or Gurney of New York City, ca 1873. This exceedingly rare image can be said to document the birth of the Wild West Show, showing three Western Legends together at the beginning of their short-lived partnership.
In December 1872, Cody and Omohundro appeared together in the stage show, "Scouts of The Prairie," which featured the well-known frontier scouts as live actors. Cody had been awarded the Medal of Honor earlier in the year for gallantry as a scout during the Indian Wars, and he and Omohundro had served as guides in the highly publicized hunting expedition of Grand Duke Alexei of Russia and noted US generals including Custer and Sheridan. This photograph was taken in late 1873, when Wild Bill Hickok joined them as the third star in the renamed production "Scouts of the Plains" during the show's second season. Although a commercial success, Hickok's erratic stage behavior (he had a penchant for drinking and firing live ammunition during performances) and general dislike of acting resulted in his leaving the tour after a few months. Hickok would draw the "Dead Man's Hand" less than three years later, and Omohundro parted ways with Cody in 1877 to form an acting troupe with his wife, an Italian ballerina, before his death in 1880. Cody, however, would form Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in 1883-1884 and go on to become one of the most famous showmen in the world for the next 30 years.
Provenance: Descended Directly in the Family of William F. Cody
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