Tombstone: Where Reality and Fiction Come Together

Tombstone is one our most favorite Old West places and it exerts a fascination that far exceeds that 30 second gunfight at the OK Corral that forever immortalized the town in the history books. The events leading up to that famous gunfight, as well as the aftermath, are still controversial to this day and has been the subject of many a book (Naturally, Lily Absinthe has its take on that that fateful day of October 26, 1881, but we will save that for another day :-)).


Wyatt Earp – An Early Portrait

The larger-than-life personages of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Josephine Marcus, Big Nose Kate, Curly Bill Brocious, Ike Clanton, Johnny Ringo, and others exert a fascination that carries on to this day both here in the United States and elsewhere in the world and questions as to their motivations, personalities, etc. are still the subject of heated debate. Over the years, there have been a seemingly never-ending stream of books and magazine articles documenting the personalities and events surrounding the Gunfight at the OK Corral with each author espousing their own view of events.

From the factual side:


One particularly excellent account of Wyatt Earp if you can get past the horrible typsetting.


Another particularly excellent account.

Passions can become so inflamed that it even once led to pistols being drawn at an authors’ conference- yes, no joke! We actually witnessed the event in question and it was quite shocking; not even in the fashion world where designers clash on a regular basis does it rise to this level. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the situation was de-escalated before anyone was hurt (other than their egos).

From the more fictional side:

Hugh O'Brien


Movie Poster1

Wyatt Earp Poster

This fascination with the Gunfight at the OK Corral has also been the subject of moves, television shows, and documentaries and over the years there has been a steady stream of varying quality. One of the better movies that has come out is the 1993 movie Tombstone. From both story/entertainment and costume perspectives, Tombstone tells a good story and its costumes support it.


One of the iconic scenes from the film as the Earps and Doc Holliday head towards their date with destiny at the OK Corral.

Now, please note that Tombstone should NOT be looked at in terms of being an accurate portrayal of historical events (then again, nor should any movie). It is meant first and foremost as ENTERTAINMENT and we have no problem with that. The only time we take issue is when dishonest claims are made for historical authenticity.

It could be argued that movies such Tombstone and Wyatt Earp, along with a host of other films and reenactments, give a distorted view of the historical events and give it more prominence that is undeserved. That may be so but for many, including this author, it was these entertainments that got me interested in finding out more about the history of the actual events (although that turned out to be easier said than done). So in the end, if a movie like Tombstone spurs someone to want to learn more about Tombstone and its history, then it’s all for the better. 🙂

For us, it’s a continuous journey of learning that will never end  and we like that.

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