Entertainment in the Old West

Theater, Music, Circuses, Medicine Shows, Prizefighting and Other Popular Amusements

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About the Book

Miners, loggers, railroad men, and others flooded into the American West after the discovery of gold in 1848, and entertainers seeking to fill the demand for distraction from the workers’ daily toil soon followed. Actors, actresses and traveling troupes crisscrossed the American frontier, performing in tents, saloons, fancy theaters, and the open air. This exploration of the heyday of popular theater in the Old West chronicles its emergence and growth from 1850 to the early twentieth century. Here is the story of the men and women who provided myriad types of entertainment in the Old West, and brought excitement, laughter and tears to generations of pioneers.

About the Author(s)

Jeremy Agnew, a biomedical electronics consultant, has written several books on the Old West. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Bibliographic Details

Jeremy Agnew
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 241
Bibliographic Info: 41 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6280-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8645-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Entertainment Milestones      viii

Preface      1

1. On with the Show      3

2. Entertainment for Everyone      23

3. Women as Actresses      43

4. Strutting Their Stuff      55

5. Bright Lights of the Pacific Coast      76

6. Theaters Across the Old West      95

7. A Few of the Famous      119

8. The Amateurs      143

9. Medicine Shows      161

10. Motley Pleasures      175

11. The Wild West Shows      192

Afterword: The Stage Lights Dim      209

Chapter Notes      215

Bibliography      225

Index      229

Book Reviews

“I liked this book very much”—Cyber Boxing Zone; “well researched, documented, an interesting and enjoyable read…Agnew does an excellent job of compiling a compendium on just about every possible entertainment used to rally a small western town…an excellent reference volume that should grace the western writer and researcher’s bookshelf for years to come. Agnew’s much needed contribution to the field is a breath of fresh air…full of fascinating trivia and facts”—Wild West History Journal.