Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Nasal Hilarity: Doc Holliday vs. The Man With No Nose

 March 10, 2021

   For the May issue of True West magazine I am going to do an illustration of Mike Gordon, sans nose, shooting promiscuously into Doc's Saloon from the sidewalk. This is for Classic Gunfights and we are covering the shooting of Mike Gordon in Las Vegas, New Mexico by Doc Holliday.

Daily Whip Out: "Doc In Shadows"

   From reading the newspaper accounts of the shooting, it appears Mike had been on a multi-day bender and he was out on the street in front of Holliday's Saloon and he fired between a Mexican bystander's legs and the bullet hit near a bartender. Then, according to Bat Masterson's version of the account, in 1886, to a reporter, Gordon fired a second shot that just missed Doc's head and broke a window in the back. Doc retrieved a pistol and stormed to the front door of his saloon and encountering Gordon just outside, about to fire again, Doc shot him in the chest. Gordon ran off, but was later found groaning, outside a nearby tent. He died the next day.

   The weird thing about Gordon is he didn't have a nose. It was bitten off years earlier when he attempted to lean forward and rake in his chips in a card game, and the disgruntled loser grabbed him by the shoulders and bit off his nose!

   Ay yi yi! Talk about scentless violence. Sorry, that is a smelly pun from Tom Jonas. And Speaking of Tom, here's a brand new map of his, showing exactly where Doc Holliday's Saloon was in East Las Vegas, New Mexico in 1879.

A Tom Jonas Map of Las Vegas

   Both Stuart Rosebrook and Gary Roberts mentioned the nose job similarities to the movie "Cat Ballou," (1965) where Lee Marvin plays Tim Strawn, who lost his nose in a fight, which is exactly what happened to Mike Gordon.

Lee Marvin as Tim Strawn in "Cat Ballou"

   The movie is based on the book, "The Ballad of Cat Ballou" by Roy Chanslor. It's interesting that in this stretch of films we also get "Support Your Local Sheriff" (1969) and then "Blazing Saddles" (1974), all parodies of the form. Is it perhaps because, by this time the Western had been done to death and the only thing left was parody?

   But I digress. More importantly, was the Strawn character based on Mike Gordon? Or, have there been other examples in the Old West where men lost their noses in a fight? 

   Well, have there?

   And, even more important, do you think he had a similar nose attachment prosthetic as the movie "Cat Ballou"? Or, what?

"This film contains nasal hilarity."
—A line from a review of the film, "Cat Ballou"

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