- Wyatt Earp’s love life was tumultuous, with his common-law wife Josephine Marcus supporting him through all the intense events in his life, including the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
- After retiring from law enforcement, Earp became a boxing referee, but controversy surrounded him when he ruled in favor of Tom Sharkey in an illegal match.
- Wyatt Earp’s legacy extends beyond his time in Tombstone, as he ventured to Alaska for the gold rush and became a movie consultant in Hollywood, influencing the portrayal of cowboys on film.
As exciting as the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was, Wyatt Earp lived a life full of excitement and adventure after Tombstone. As played by Kurt Russell in the 1993 film, the earnest lawman, gunslinger, and gambler felt energetic and dynamic instead of the stern-faced peacekeeper on his tin type. Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday arrived in Tombstone with his brothers and his first wife from Dodge City, Kansas in order to put a life of violence behind him, but it had a way of following him, and all of the Earps ended up tangling with the Clanton Gang in one way or another.
Tombstone highlights a specific time period in Earp’s life when he’d already gained a reputation, and he brought law and order to one of Arizona’s most raucous territories. Even after the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, it would be another year until Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta was over and most of the cowboys involved in the murder of his younger brother Morgan were dead or put behind bars. Seeking his fortune elsewhere by the end of Tombstone, with the alluring Josephine Marcus by his side, Wyatt Earp decided to leave for further adventures involving an Alaskan gold rush, opening a saloon, and even advising Western stars in Hollywood.
Wyatt Earp Married Josephine Marcus After The Events Of Tombstone
Josephine Sarah Earp, nicknamed Sadie, became Wyatt Earp’s common-law wife after they met in Tombstone, Arizona. At the time, Earp was already married and Josephine was living with Johnny Behan, the sheriff of Cochise County known for colluding with the Clanton Gang of cowboys that would eventually instigate the infamous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Despite being with other partners, the attraction between Josephine and Wyatt was intense, and given everything that Wyatt had been through involving the Clantons, Johnny Ringo, and the death of his younger brother, Josephine was there for him through the most trying events of his life.
Josephine moved on from Tombstone for a time without Wyatt to live in San Francisco while he hunted down the outlaws, a process which took over a year, but eventually rejoined him when he moved on from Tombstone. The couple relocated to Colorado while he was still technically married to his first wife Mattie Blaylock, who eventually would pass away from opium abuse. Josephine worked up until her death in 1944 trying to obscure her history with Earp, particularly in Tombstone, as well as erase mention of Blaylock from the famous lawman’s life.
Wyatt Earp’s Time As A Boxing Referee Explained
When the pacification of the Wild West was over, Wyatt Earp retired from his life as a lawman and a gambler but still worked in some capacity. He refereed a boxing match that would ultimately determine who would be the new heavyweight champion between Bob Fitzsimmons and Tom Sharkey. The pair’s fight occurred in San Francisco and it was said that Earp fixed the fight in his favor, engulfing his name in controversy within the seedy world of illegal prizefighting that he found himself in.
Not only was the match illegal in the city, but certain prominent civic officials who showed up to bet on it did so to heavily favor Fitzsimmons. None of the spectators agreed with Earp when he ruled in favor of Sharkey, and court battles erupted over which fighter would actually get the purse. Considering the match wasn’t allowed in the first place it was thrown out of court, which not only allowed Sharkey to keep the prize but also ended up making Earp a pariah for being perceived to throw the match for a backend payout.
How Wyatt Earp Became Involved In The Gold Rush
Never one to miss an opportunity to improve his financial circumstances, Wyatt Earp joined thousands of stampeders who participated in the Klondike Gold Rush. According to True West Magazine, Josephine and Wyatt arrived to Alaska in 1899, but found that most of the wealth had already been made, either in the rush or purveying goods to those looking to make a fortune from it. After suffering from an injured hip due to an accident in San Francisco and Josephine recovering from a miscarriage, the pair weren’t in the best condition to try to compete with the rest of the hopeful prospectors.
Eventually, rather than try to fight over claims, Wyatt and Josephine teamed up with Charlie Hoxsie to open a two-story saloon in Nome, Alaska called The Dexter. Wyatt deduced that since prospectors needed a place to drink and gamble, as well as spend time with some of the local prostitutes. If there was one thing Wyatt knew, it was how to make money, and as he told the other Earp brothers he was “mining the miners” and when they sold the saloon, the Earps pocketed the equivalent of 2 million dollars before boarding using the money to speculate on golds mines and other lucrative elements.
Wyatt Earp’s Time In LA & Movie Consultant Role Explained
Wyatt Earp was able to parley his experiences in Dodge City, Tombstone, and across all manner of frontier territories into being a movie consultant in the fledgling days of Hollywood. According to Wide Open Country, Wyatt Earp was a technical consultant on the first Hollywood Westerns, using anecdotes from his real life to help matinee idols like Tom Mix and William Hart present themselves like real cowboys. When Wyatt Earp died in 1929, Mix was overcome with emotion at his funeral, and several prominent actors of the day were pallbearers at the ceremony.
Wyatt Earp knew Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hickock, and many of the most notorious and well-known gunslingers in the Wild West. When the first Westerns were being made, many real cowboys found work as stunt men, performing all the rope tricks, horse work, and quick draw techniques. These films were made prior to extensive censorship, and though many of the films have been lost to time because of poor preservation, they represented some of the most accurate representations of the Wild West ever recorded on film.
Wyatt Earp Died At The Age Of 80 In 1929
Wyatt Earp lived to the ripe old age of 80, 50 years after participating in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Earp died quietly in Los Angeles and his body was cremated at Josephine’s request. His remains were taken to her family plot, located at the Hills of Eternity Memorial Park in Colma, California. Known to be a Jewish cemetery, Earp wasn’t Jewish himself, and this created some degree of tension between Josephine’s remaining family as well as certain members of the Earp clan, but it remains a popular tourist attraction to this day.
Wyatt Earp’s enduring legacy is part of the fabric of the American frontier and the mythology of the Wild West. The allure of his larger-than-life existence had a great influence on some of the biggest stars in Westerns including John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, and thanks to portrayals like Kurt Russell in Tombstone he lives on through film. While the movie does more to explore what happened to him after his tangle with the Clanton Gang, it clearly didn’t even scratch the surface of the exciting and dynamic life he lived for another five decades.