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The Dioramas on this page are of Buffalo Bill's Wild West. Started in 1883, Buffalo Bill's Wild West ran until 1913 and went all over the USA and Europe. His shows usually ran 3-4 hours and were broken down into "Acts" or segments. My dioramas are broken down the same way.
Below each segment is a little write-up explaining the activities.
The photo above was taken at the end of the show, just like the real Wild West did. These are all the performers in the show.
Announcer, Frank Richmond, does a sound check as cowboy outriders and spotters take their places outside the arena. Excited fans are already seated in the bleachers. Buffalo Bill's Wild West workers needed hours to set up all the canvas backgrounds around the arena, as well as the tents and accommodations for the 1200 performers and the many animals in the show.
The Cowboy Band plays the Star Spangled Banner just before Buffalo Bill's Wild West begins while the crowd anticipates the entrance of Buffalo Bill and his performers. In 1887 Buffalo Bill's Wild West sailed from New York to England with the entire Wild West entourage--cowboys, sharpshooters, the Cowboy Band, American Indians (mostly Sioux), horses, buffalo, elk, bears, mules, Texas steers, and the old Deadwood Stage Coach. The show opened before 28,000 fans and "acted as an American symbol of patriotism, history, adventure and the spirit of the frontier movement." The Cowboy Band played during the show, as well, to enhance the scenes.
As the Cowboy Band plays, Buffalo Bill enters the arena on his white horse, Isham. He is followed by the Native Americans (mostly Sioux) and exotic animals. The cowboys parade in last. Frank Richmond announces, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the one and only, genuine and authentic, unique and original--Buffalo Bill's Wild West." NOTE: There were actually many more performers in the entry parade. Due to space and availability, my dioramas show only a small portion of what it must have been like to witness this spectacular parade.
Annie Oakley started shooting as a young girl to provide meals for her family She was an excellent shot, always shooting game between the eyes so as not to damage the fur or meat. Annie met Frank Butler (her future husband) at a shooting match with Frank, which she won. They both joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West with Annie as the star, and Frank as her assistant (even though Frank was a sharpshooter himself). Annie was nicknamed "Little Sure Shot" by Sitting Bull (who also was part of the Wild West in its first season), who "adopted" her as his daughter. Annie could shoot while riding a galloping horse, while laying down, and while standing up. Some of the shooting tricks she performed were shooting an apple off the head of their dog, George; shooting a cigar out of Frank's mouth; splitting a playing card on its edge while Frank held it; shooting glass balls that Frank would throw up; shooting ashes from a cigarette in Frank's mouth and hand; shooting facing backwards while holding a mirror; shooting coins tossed in the air; firing in rapid succession at small bull's eyes; hitting five targets at one time; and shooting the burning flame off a candle held by her assistant! She could also shoot with both hands accurately. Annie was a big proponent of women knowing how to shoot and eventually taught thousands later in life.
Another scene true-to-life Buffalo Bill's Wild West re-enacted was the attack on the wagon train by marauding Native Americans. Wagonmaster, John Young Nelson, and Farmer, Josh, try to hold them off with help from Josh's wife and daughter when they see Buffalo Bill riding his horse, Charlie, coming to the rescue with his band of scouts and cowboys. The Natives don't have a chance; and all were killed except for a young brave, Little Fawn, whom Buffalo Bill spared and waved on.
Johnny Baker met Buffalo Bill when he was just a young boy of seven and became Buffalo Bill's "adopted" son. Buffalo Bill had a special bond with Johnny, as he was about the same age as his own son, Kit Carson Cody, who sadly had passed away the previous year. Johnny hung around the show and started touring officially with Buffalo Bill's Wild West when he was 14 and stayed with the show until its end in 1913. Johnny was an excellent marksman and horseman performing shooting demonstrations and cowboy skills. Being a sharpshooter consisted of showing off aiming skills by shooting objects that were thrown into the air or shooting objects while positioned in convoluted poses. He could shoot from horseback, while standing on his head, and upside down while laying over a stool. He would shoot by standing with his back to the trap, and, leaning over, he placed the gun between his legs and broke single and double pigeons from that position. He broke balls in the air with his gun upside down and held over his head.
Many rodeo and cowboy acts were performed by Johnny Baker (and others), such as, bulldogging; lassoing steers; riding bucking broncos, steers and buffalo; and roping demonstrations. Cowboys challenged each other in horse races. A cowboy named "Mustang Jack" would jump over a full-grown horse and land on his feet. They would also pick objects up from the ground while at a dead run and lasso wild horses.