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Doc Holliday And Wyatt Earp Before The O.K. Corral

John Harwood in for Tom Ashbook

Imagining the friendship of Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp before the O.K. Corral gunfight cemented them in Wild West lore.

Co-stars Kirk Douglas, left, and Burt Lancaster talk between scenes on the set of the western "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" in Hollywood, Ca., April 21, 1956. Lancaster plays the role of Wyatt Earp and Douglas portrays Doc Holliday. (AP)

Co-stars Kirk Douglas, left, and Burt Lancaster talk between scenes on the set of the western "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" in Hollywood, Ca., April 21, 1956. Lancaster plays the role of Wyatt Earp and Douglas portrays Doc Holliday. (AP)

Even today images of the Old West remain etched in the American psyche. Dusty saloons, rolling tumblewood, quick-draw gunslingers like Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp at the OK Corral. But a new novel has added emotion, sensitivity and depth to Hollywood’s celluloid version of Dodge City. What can we learn — and what should we know about the changing West of today?

This hour On Point: we’ll revisit the Old West with the author of Doc. And we’ll explore the New West of the 21st century.

-John Harwood


Mary Doria Russell, author of the novel “Doc.”

Mark Lee Gardner, historian and musician of the Old West. His most recent book is “To Hell on a Fast Horse: Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, and the Epic Chase to Justice in the Old West.”

William Deverell, professor of history at University of Southern California and director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West.

Reading List:

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  • Michael


    Thanks for the show.

  • wauch

    Forget “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” see “Tombstone” with Sam Shephard, Kurt Russell and the performance of a lifetime by Val Kilmer. He portrays the darkside of Doc Holliday as do the Michael Biehn as Johnny Ringo and Powers Booth as a nasty Curly Bill Brocious. Some of the best face-off scenes i have ever seen. The wedding party seen is pure evil, the “vino veritas” face-off between Ringo and Holliday brilliant, etc etc

  • Tina

    I only heard the second half of this show.  During that portion …. what GREAT questions from callers!  So many significant issues were raised by and in response to the callers!  Thanks!

  • Joejohnstonarts

    Great topic. My book “The Mack Marsden Murder Mystery: Vigilantism or Justice?” from Missouri History Museum and University of Missouri Press, is a true story from the same period. The people were not different from us. They were just in different circumstances. Friendship, family, loyalty, and community mattered then, as now.

  • Slipstream

    Interesting show, but a bit oddly bifurcated imho.  This should have been 2 shows – one a discussion of Ms. Russell’s book(s), which I wanted to hear more about, and the other a discussion of what is going on in the American West generally.

  • TheCritic

    The photo of Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster displayed here was not taken in “Hollywood.”  The outdoor sets where this film was made, along with many others, were part Arizona’s Old Tucson Studios movie ranch.  Now a tourist attraction, it is located just west of Tucson and overlooks Saguaro National Park.

  • Lormorketec

    Thin and not too bulky to climb in, but not all that warm either.
     malcolm in the middle dvd box set.This means when you’re in action you get warm Bambi DVD. So you should dress yourself appropriately in your ‘action suit’. An action suit is usually a thermal baselayer, a fleece type midlayer and a shell on top.

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