Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Annie Oakley (1860-1926) - Sharpshooter and Superstar

It's only every so often that a legend 'emerges' from history - thanks to the true magic of newly discovered old film footage.

Born near the western rural border of Ohio, Annie Oakley early in life gained a local reputation as a shotgun sharpshooter.

This led her to join traveling shows, culminating in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in 1885.

With increasing fame, she left the States to perform in Europe. In front of Queen Victoria. And then for the future Kaiser Wilhelm II, shooting the ash off his cigarette. Leading a wit to claim that, if she'd shot the Kaiser rather than the ash, she would have prevented World War One!

Of her many skills as a marks woman, she could shoot five holes through a playing card flipped into the air - before it reached the ground.

And here's the 1895-ish footage of the woman herself doing two of her routines: shooting all the whatever shatterables off a board, and blasting to pieces things thrown in the air.

Film Footage of Annie Oakley (c 1895)

Annie Oakley spent her not insubstantial fortune by the time she died - on various causes and charitable ventures. I'm impressed!


  1. Let me guess, though I can't relate to ant of Annie's achievements or deathbed heart-of-gold revelation, this would be one of those posts no one posts a comment on?

    I am doing my best to do justice to Truman Capote's travesty (heh^^) of truth if not justice and empathy if not sympathy in "In Cold Blood". I came up with nothing clever to post except that 30 years after the deeds a certain writer I abominate (I read all kinds of books, if I hate them when I'm done with them I still think it was worth my time/while)
    went to the county where the events had taken place and not only did local high school students know nothing about the factual crime. They had never heard of Capote's fictional report book about them. I'd hate to live in places with such short term memories, wouldn't you?

    Again, this is Oakley and I am doing Capote. Well, not such an interesting possibility of mistake to give wings to our (OK, my) perverted..peculiar ;) imagination

    kudos for posting on such a wide variety of subjects ^_^

    I am positive someone is getting to know about 'them' for the first time even if they don't comment. They may think this blog aims to an organ lower positioned than the one I always took it for literally ;)


  2. hey pete

    annie oakley has meanings perhaps only for me - from seeing the TV series as a kid ... on. again it's a choice of posting to be as widely popular as you can manage, or for my interest, hoping that some others may care to join in. i think her less-than-advertised good works are admirable - in an age of unbridled cynicism!

    BTW, comments for my less 'low brains' (the jewish version of 'soup number five' i.e. bulls' balls soup) posts seem mainly to be by email - people fearful of associating with unpopularity!

    as far as Capote was concerned, i wasn't trying for a comprehensive evaluation but to make the narrower point about it not being inconsistent (in human nature) to be somewhat sympathetic on the one hand, and at the very same time self-seeking.

    and as people are observably like this (as opposed to always tiresomely and moralistically suggesting they should be 'other' or more consistent) it's a point worth considering and one rarely-never considered.

    i guess i just like to put it all out there - a hope for a sonic boom back - an eternal optimist not doubt!

    big kiss


  3. Annie Oakley is a fascinating character, and in the US there's been an excellent TV documentary about her in the public broadcasting series The American Experience. I can't think of the exact title, but if you advance-Google on PBS, The American Experience, and Annie Oakley, you should be able to find it.

    Annie Oakley was the woman Sarah Palin would like to be, but that's another job Palin isn't nearly big enough to fill.

  4. hey keith

    thanks for the pointer to the tv doco - should feed my fascination - for me i think it's a combo of childhood interest in the character and seeing old footage which always gets me in - it's bringing the past into the present somehow - well, again, maybe just for me.

    LOL about sarah palin!

    'annie oakley' should be the term for all people fancying themselves beyond their capacities!