Imagine you are the costume designer on a Western movie set. The producers have tasked you with the job of making sure all the costumes are authentic and accurate to the times portrayed in the film. The story in the film takes place in Nebraska and involves elements of the U.S. Army's Fifth Cavalry and Cheyenne warriors who crossed paths at Warbonnet Creek on July 17, 1876.
Two actors, Ryan Gosling and Adam Beach, have been hired to portray the two main combatants. You have big plans on how to dress them in authentic garb because you have called Old West clothing experts Jim Hatzell and David Carrico to assist you, so you have done your homework and you are ready to rock. There is only one problem. On the first day of filming, Gosling shows up wearing this outfit:
People ask me all the time: how do you find out the truth on all those gunfights you feature in Classic Gunfights? The simple answer is, I find the person who knows the most about the event, and, or, the combatants. Sometimes it turns out to be several people, or, often as not, people who don't agree. My job is to extrapolate between the various versions and arbitrate the outcome, hopefully giving both sides their say.
Our August issue will feature the famous fight between Buffalo Bill Cody and Yellow Hair (also known as Yellow Hand). Turns out there are four people who know the ins and outs of this fight the best, with Paul Hedren having a slight advantage in terms of the details. I used his version for the narrative, but there was one sticking point for me. And this morning I sent a furtive email about it to my key experts:
The Three Pauls,
A cowboy friend of mine has this to say about the Charlie Russell painting:
"First I believe Buffalo Bill is not wearing buckskins, or not entirely. Take a close look at the inside of the legs of his pants. Russell has painted Bill wearing cloth pants because the pants are 'foxed.' As to the shirt, it could be cloth too because the sleeves have no fringed leather. This could well be part of the vaquero outfit which Bill no doubt had in his collection."