The American West in Film and Television: Real Women Become Reel Women

Gail Davis as Annie Oakley

Gail Davis as Annie Oakley

Gene Tierney as Belle Starr

Gene Tierney as Belle Starr

When famous (and infamous) ladies of the West were portrayed in film and television their stories often took on mythic proportions. Legendary markswoman Annie Oakley, star of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, was portrayed by actresses Gail Davis, Betty Hutton, and Barbara Stanwyck. In addition, “Little Sure Shot” was immortalized by the Irving Berlin musical “Annie Get Your Gun.” Outlaw and convicted horse thief Belle Starr (known as the Bandit Queen) received equal screen time.

In this presentation, Arizona’s Official Western Film Historian Charlie LeSueur discusses how Hollywood turned these real women of the West ‒ and many more ‒ into film legends.