To date, dozens of westerns have paid homage to Wyatt Earp, the lawman/gunfighter who shot it out with bad guys at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona in 1881. Of two of the most recent films, “Tombstone” in 1993 and “Wyatt Earp” in 1994, Screen Rant gives the award for accuracy to “Tombstone,” while the Los Angeles Times votes for “Wyatt Earp” but says 1946’s “My Darling Clementine” is “probably the most true to life.” The problem is that none of these pictures, nor others about Earp, tell the whole story of this legend whose heroic deeds were, well, not so much.
Let us start out with writer Stuart Lake, with whom HistoryNet says Earp shared his life story. But Earp’s “wife,” Josephine Marcus, played a heavy hand in the writing of the book to portray her man in the best light possible, especially since it was published after his death in 1929. In truth, reveals the Daily Beast, Earp was accused of a bevy of scams, horse theft, shoddy law enforcement and other crimes both before and after he set foot in Tombstone. Then there’s Earp’s heavy involvement with the sex work industry in Kansas, says True West, wherein Earp was arrested in a brothel in 1872 where his sister-in-law Bessie happened to live as well as his sometime girl, Mattie Blaylock according to author E.C. Meyers. Hmmm.