"Wild West” (often written as “wild west” and “wild West") has been a popular nickname for the far west region of America since at least 1823. The term was so common that, for emphasis, it was called the “wild, wild west” by at least 1866.
William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody (1846-1917) began a Cowboys & Indians show called “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” in 1883. By July 1883, it was being called a “wild west show.”
The wild west has been called the “wild and woolly” west since about the 1880s.
Wikipedia: Buffalo Bill
William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody (February 26, 1846 – January 10, 1917) was an American soldier, bison hunter and showman. He was born in the Iowa Territory (now the American state of Iowa), near Le Claire. He was one of the most colorful figures of the American Old West, and mostly famous for the shows he organized with cowboy themes. Buffalo Bill received the Medal of Honor in 1872.
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West
In December 1872 Cody traveled to Chicago to make his stage debut with friend Texas Jack Omohundro in The Scouts of the Prairie, one of the original Wild West shows produced by Ned Buntline. During the 1873-74 season, Cody and Omohundro invited their friend James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok to join them in a new play called Scouts of the Plains.
The troupe toured for ten years and his part typically included an 1876 incident at the Warbonnet Creek where he claimed to have scalped a Cheyenne warrior, purportedly in revenge for the death of George Armstrong Custer.
It was the age of great showmen and traveling entertainers. Cody put together a new traveling show based on both of those forms of entertainment. In 1883 in the area of North Platte, Nebraska he founded “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West,” (despite popular misconception, the word “show” was not a part of the title) a circus-like attraction that toured annually.
In 1893 the title was changed to “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World”. The show began with a parade on horseback, with participants from horse-culture groups that included US and other military, American Indians, and performers from all over the world in their best attire. There were Turks, Gauchos, Arabs, Mongols and Cossacks, among others, each showing their own distinctive horses and colorful costumes. Visitors to this spectacle could see main events, feats of skill, staged races, and sideshows. Many authentic western personalities were part of the show. For example Sitting Bull and a band of twenty braves appeared. Cody’s headline performers were well known in their own right. People like Annie Oakley and her husband Frank Butler put on shooting exhibitions along with the likes of Gabriel Dumont. Buffalo Bill and his performers would re-enact the riding of the Pony Express, Indian attacks on wagon trains, and stagecoach robberies. The show typically ended with a melodramatic re-enactment of Custer’s Last Stand in which Cody himself portrayed General Custer.
The profits from his show enabled him to purchase a 4,000-acre (16 km2) ranch near North Platte, Nebraska in 1886. Scout’s Rest Ranch included an eighteen-room mansion and a large barn for winter storage of the shows livestock.
In 1887 he took the show to England in celebration of the Jubilee year of Queen Victoria. The show was staged in London before going on to Birmingham and then Salford near Manchester, where it stayed for five months. In 1889 the show toured Europe. In 1890 he met Pope Leo XIII. He set up an exhibition near the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, which greatly contributed to his popularity, and also vexed the promoters of the fair. As noted in The Devil in the White City, he had been rebuffed in his request to be part of the fair, so he set up shop just to the west of the fairgrounds, drawing many of their patrons away. Since his show was not part of the fair, he was not obligated to pay the promoters any royalties, which they could have used to temper their financial problems.
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West
In 1882, the town of North Platte, Nebraska where Cody lived at his “Scout’s Rest Ranch,” wanted to celebrate the 4th of July, and asked Colonel Cody to put the show on for them. Cody obliged, and put on what has been considered to be one of the first rodeos in America, and was called “The Old Glory Blowout.” The show was so successful that it gave Cody the idea for his wild west show. “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” was presented the next year in Columbus Nebraska, and continued to tour the world for many years until just before the start of World War I. It was the most successful touring show of all time. Colonel Cody died in early 1917, and his last words are purported to be: “Let my show go on!”
Wikipedia: The Wild Wild West (1921 film)
The Wild Wild West is a 1921 short Western film directed by Lee Kohlmar and featuring Hoot Gibson.
Wikipedia: The Wild Wild West
The Wild Wild West is an American television series that ran on CBS for four seasons (104 episodes) from September 17, 1965 to April 4, 1969. Developed at a time when the television western was losing ground to the spy genre, this show was conceived by its creator, Michael Garrison, as “James Bond on horseback.” It was one of the first television series which could be described as a science fiction Western. Two television movies were made with the original cast in 1979 and 1980, and the series was adapted for a motion picture in 1999 with a new cast and story.
Wikipedia: Wild Wild West
Wild Wild West (1999) is a science fiction action-comedy film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, starring Will Smith, Kevin Kline (in two roles, Artemus Gordon and President Ulysses S. Grant), Kenneth Branagh and Salma Hayek.
In the spirit of the original TV series, the film features highly advanced steampunk technology and many bizarre mechanical inventions, including innumerable inventions of the mechanological geniuses Artemus Gordon and Dr. Loveless, including nitroglycerine-powered penny-farthing bicycles, spring-loaded notebooks, bulletproof chainmail, flying machines, steam tanks, and Loveless’s giant mechanical spider.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
Also wild west, wild West.
1. The western part of the U.S. during its lawless frontier period.
1849 C. BRONTË Shirley III. xiii. 272 What suggested the wild West to your mind?
1851 MAYNE REID Scalp Hunters i. (1852) 7 The Wild West.
1898 H. JAMES in Literature 30 Apr. 512/1 Has he [sc. Bret Harte] continued to distil and dilute the Wild West because the public would only take him as wild and Western?
1903 CHESTERTON Robert Browning v. 111 A gambling hell in the Wild West.
1937 PHILLIPS & NIVEN Colour in Canad. Rockies ix. 61 On my first visit there were many marked qualities of the ‘wild west’ there.
1977 Times 20 Sept. 12/1 The Rio Grande..has been oversold in the legends and songs of the old Wild West.
2. transf. and fig.
1889 G. B. SHAW London Music in 1888-89 (1937) 170 Somewhere in the wild west of the Old Brompton Road. 1944 F. CLUNE Red Heart 69 Australia’s Wild West, as picturesque as Texas, was buzzing with rumours of raids, hold-ups.
1975 J. O’FAOLAIN Women in Wall 11 My setting is the Wild West of an age often called ‘Dark’.
3. a. attrib.
1922 E. E. CUMMINGS Let. 26 Feb. (1969) 82 Attacks by Bedoins, wild-west style, shooting at Dos with rifles.
1922 E. M. FORSTER Life to Come (1972) 100 They passed through the village, on their way back past a cinema, which was giving a Wild West stunt.
1940 ‘G. ORWELL’ in Horizon Mar. 193 The Wild West story..with its cattle-rustlers.
1965 A. NICOL Truly Married Woman 5 She removed the Wild West novels and romance magazines.
1971 Advocate-News (Barbados) 17 Sept. (Guyana Suppl.) p. iv/2 There it will link up at the ‘wild west’ border town of Lethem with a similar road the Brazilian army engineers are building to connect with Manaus and the Pan-American Highway.
3 b. Special Comb.: Wild West show, a circus or fairground entertainment depicting cowboys and Indians with exhibitions of riding, shooting, etc.; also fig.; similarly Wild West exhibition.
1885 in B. A. Botkin Treas. Amer. Folklore (1944) I. 150 Buffalo Bill’s ‘Wild West’ Prairie exhibition and Rocky Mountain show.
1895 ‘MARK TWAIN’ in N. Amer. Rev. July 8 A man who could hunt flies with a rifle and command a ducal salary in a Wild West show.
1914 A. BENNETT Price of Love vii. 133 Skating-rinks, Wild West exhibitions, Dutch auctions.
1937 N. MARSH Vintage Murder xxiv. 268 ‘Shut up. This isn’t a Wild West show.’ ‘You give me the lie!’ ‘Oh, for God’s sake don’t go native.’
1976 Billings (Montana) Gaz. 20 June 8-C/2 Later, the way it worked in the ‘wild west’ shows of the day, the U.S. cavalry came along, rescued the passengers and drove off the Indians.
1979 J. WAINWRIGHT Duty Elsewhere vii. 29 ‘Y’mean—illegal methods?.. Something of a wild west show.’ ‘That’s one way of putting it.’
Memorable days in America:
Being a journal of a tour to the United States, principally undertaken to ascertain, by positive evidence, the condition and probable prospects of British emigrants; including accounts of Mr. Birkbeck’s settlement in the Illinois
By W. (William) Faux
London: W. Simpkin and R. Marshall
Pg. 230 (November 1819):
General Boon now lives in solitude 600 miles up the remote Missouri. Heis 80 years old, very active, very poor, a hunter and a recluse by choice, and trains up his sons in the same path, feeling more happiness than he possibly could in society, where he would have lived and died, if he had willed it, full of scars, and honours, and days. His parents were always poor; his disposition is kind and hospitable; his manners simple and gentle ; preferring to live meanly and rudely as a hardy hunter and squatter, wanting nothing but what nature gives him, and his own hands get him. He sleeps on a bear-skin, and clothes himself in dressed deer-skin, and though shy, is kind to intruding strangers. The western country is indebted to him, as he leads the way into the best spots of the wilderness. He was the first white man in Old Kentucky, and the wide, wild west is full of his licks.
17 July 1824, Oracle of the Dauphin (Harrisburg, PA), “Dauphin Cavalry,” pg. 3, col. 3:
Far in the wild west our clarion sounded, ...
20 August 1825, Metropolitan (Washington, DC), pg. 1:
The “wild West” alone appears to have more clergymen and religious professors than Scotland itself.
22 May 1832, Huron Reflector (Norwalk, OH), pg. 4, col. 5:
Every young man of New England and Eastern New York—whether professional man, farmer, or mechanic, ought to treat himself to a jaunt hither, as we think he could not spend the few dollars, which it would require, in any other way, so much to his pleasure and improvement; and it would doubtless be an advantage to many of the older people to stretch their ideas, by taking a glance of the wide, and as they are pleased to consider, the wild west.
21 March 1833, Spectator (New York, NY), pg. 2:
Thirty thousand Carolinians have not only awed the wild West into respect,...
August 1833, The Western Monthly Magazine, pg. 357:
“Pic Nic Parties” are famous things “down east” and not unknown in the “wild west.”
26 March 1842, Madison (WI) Express, pg. 1, col. 1:
Not so in the wild West; the lost wanderer runs into perils of which the uninitiated little dream.
OCLC WorldCat record
Streaks of squatter of life, and far-west scenes ; a series of humorous sketches descriptive of incidents and characters in the wild West ; to which are added other miscellaneous pieces
by John S Robb; Felix Octavius Carr Darley
Type: Book; English
Publisher: Philadelphia : T.B. Peterson and brothers, ©1843.
OCLC WorldCat record
Silver-knife, or, The hunter of the Rocky Mountains a romance of the Wild West
by J H Robinson; Siver-knife.
Type: Book : Fiction : Microfilm; English
Publisher: Boston : Hotchkiss, 1850.
7 April 1866, Memphis (TN) Daily Avalanche, pg. 2:
He had been to the swamp lands of the wild, wild West, to look to the tax interest of Buffalo Island, some of which has been given to his church.
5 June 1868, Macon (GA) Weekly Telegraph, pg. 3:
Her society is as good as that of any other section, and far better than that of the wild, wild West, where every man carries his life in his hand—and why will not people come down here and invest their money?
17 March 1878, Atlanta (GA) Daily Constitution, pg. 2, col. 2:
But, then, southern journalists have much to learn from their brethren in the culcha’d east and in the wild, wild west.
11 July 1883, Syracuse (NY) Standard, pg. 1, col. 5:
They rehearsed the “Wild West” show, chasing imaginary enemies down the streets and imitating with remarkable realism the Indians’ keen, shrill yells.
13 July 1883, Worcester (MA) Daily Spy, pg. 4:
Josh E. Ogden, agent for Cody & Carver’s wild west show, is in town billing for the show at the fair grounds, July 20th and 21st.
5 August 1883, New York (NY) Times, “Crowds at Coney Island,” pg. 2:
A great deal of attention was attracted by a score of Pawnee and Siouz Indians, in full native costume, who are attached to the “Wild West” show, and were “doing” the island last night.
9 August 1883, Atlanta (GA) Constitution, pg. 1, col. 5:
The oratorical wonders of Buffalo Bill’s wild west show, the famous “Pop” Whittaker was master of ceremonies.
OCLC WorldCat record
The wild, wild west
by Harry Warren; Johnny Mercer
Type: Musical score; English
Publisher: New York : Leo Feist, Inc., ©1945.
Document Type: Musical Score
Notes: For voice and piano.
Description: 1 vocal score (5 p.) ; 31 cm.
Other Titles: Harvey Girls (Motion picture), Harvey girls., Kindly check yore shootin’ irons yonder at the door, I was hopin’ to be ropin’ somepin’ wild
Responsibility: from the M-G-M picture “The Harvey Girls” : sung by Virginia O’Brien ; lyric by Johnny Mercer ; music by Harry Warren.
Oh ya, Wild Wild West is a science fiction action-comedy film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, starring Will Smith, Kevin Kline is in two role in it. One is Artemus Gordon and President Ulysses S. Grant.This is very interesting movie.
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