Buffalo Bill Wild West Show 1899 Keychain
 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 Georgians, 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 show's livestock. In 1887 he took the show to Britain 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. William Frederick Cody ("Buffalo Bill") got his nickname after he undertook a contract to supply Kansas Pacific Railroad workers with buffalo meat. The nickname originally referred to Bill Comstock. Cody earned the nickname by killing 4,860 American Bison (commonly known as buffalo) in eight months (1867–68). He and Comstock eventually competed in a shooting match over the exclusive right to use the name, which Cody won. In addition to his documented service as a soldier during the Civil War and as Chief of Scouts for the Third Cavalry during the Plains Wars, Cody claimed to have worked many jobs, including as a trapper, bullwhacker, "Fifty-Niner" in Colorado, a Pony Express rider in 1860, wagonmaster, stagecoach driver, and even a hotel manager, but it's unclear which claims were factual and which were fabricated for purposes of publicity. He became world famous for his Wild West Shows. 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. Wild West Shows were traveling vaudeville performances in the United States and Europe. The first and prototypical wild west show was Buffalo Bill's, formed in 1883 and lasting until 1913. The shows introduced many western performers and personalities, and a romanticized version of the American Old West, to a wide audience. Today, the American West has a certain wild image of adventure filled with cowboys, Indians, wild animals, outlaws, and stagecoach ambushes. The real American West of the 1800-1900s was not nearly as glamorous as often depicted. Cowboys, Native American Indians, army scouts, outlaws and wild animals did truly exist in the West. Gunfights, savage battles, stagecoach attacks, and train holdups, however were not an everyday ordeal. The dramatic myth of the Wild West as we see it today is really a “puffed-up exaggeration” (Zadra 23) of the real western frontier. The shaping of this myth of western life was aided into creation by paintings, sculptures, dime-novels, pulp magazines, live performances, film, and television. More than anyone or anything else, William Frederick Cody, better known as Buffalo Bill, can be credited with helping to create and preserve a lasting legend of the West. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show took the reality of western life and glamorized it into an appealing show for Eastern audiences helped permanently preserve the legend of the Wild West. Beyond representing a promise for the easterners, Wild West Shows celebdated the achievement of the frontier movement as being the most important accomplishment in American history. The shows were a winning combination of history, patriotism, and adventure which managed to create an enduring spirit of the unsettled west and capture audience’s hearts throughout America and even Europe. Now just how did one show manage to do all this? Wild West Shows may have been just shows, but they sure included a lot of action. Wild animals, trick performances, theatrical reenactments, and all sorts of characters from the frontier were all incorporated into the show’s adventure-packed program. Theatrical reenactments included those of battle scenes, “characteristic” western scenes, and even hunts. Shooting exhibitions were also in the line up with extensive shooting display with trick shots. Competitions that came in the form races between combinations of people or animals exhilarated and stimulated the audience. Equally exciting were rodeo events, involving rough and “dangerous” activities performed by cowboys with different animals. In short, Wild West Shows began to include any type of “western” event that could in any way appeal to the audiences. The origination of the Wild West Show derived from the interest shown by the east of the rough and wild western frontier. The real west was unknown to them, and they were willing to believe just about anything. They were enthralled by the west, and Wild West shows were the answer to popular demands. Wild West shows preserved the disappearing world of the unsettled and untamed west and brought it to life for audiences. Buffalo Bill was born William Frederick Cody on February 26, 1846. He lived until January 10, 1917. Cody grew up on the frontier and loved his way of life. As he got older, some of his titles he earned included buffalo hunter, U.S. army scout and guide, and showman, as well as Pony Express Rider, Indian fighter, and even author. Whatever Cody’s titles, he was destined for fame. His track of fame began as with his reputation as a master buffalo hunter. While hunting buffalo for pay to feed railroad workers, he shot and killed 11 out of 12 buffalo, earning him his nickname and show name “Buffalo Bill.” As an army scout, Cody extended his fame by gaining recognition as an army scout with a reputation for bravery. As a well-known scout, he often led rich men from the East and Europe and even royalty on hunting trips. Cody’s fame began to spread to the East when an author, Ned Buntline caught wind of him and wrote a dime novel about Buffalo Bill, called Buffalo Bill, the King of Border Men (1869). To top it all off, Buntline’s novel was turned into a theatrical production which greatly contributed to his success and popularity in the east. Before long, Cody ended up starring as himself in Buntline’s play. Soon after, he started his own theatrical troop. It wasn’t until 1883 when Cody first got his idea for a Wild West Show. That same year, he launched Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in Omaha, Nebraska. With his Wild West Show in hand, nobody could deny Buffalo Bill’s fame. “At the turn of the twentieth century, William F. Cody was known as ‘the greatest showman on the face of the earth’” (Pendergast 49). Cody had full domination of the Wild West show business. Out of all of his fame-bearing titles, William F. Cody is most celebrated for being the inventor of the Wild West show. His crown title would be impresario, or manager or producer of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. His motivation to produce the show was to preserve the western way of life that he grew up with and loved. Driven by his ambition to keep this way of life from disappearing, Cody turned his “real life adventure into the first and greatest outdoor western show” (Pendergast 49). Cody did not want to see his way of life vanish without remembrance. Consequently, Cody became the first real Westerner to cash in on the western myth, which others had been writing literature, dime novels, and plays about for some time.