JOSIE EARP

Josie and Wyatt Earp moved to Gunnison, Colorado, where that state’s governor refused to extradite Wyatt back to Arizona on the grounds that he could not get a fair trial. The restless Wyatt and Josie began a life that matched a Hollywood movie script, relocating whenever a new gold, silver or copper mining boomtown appeared. They invested in mines and real estate and operated saloons and gambling parlors in such far-flung places as Nome, Alaska and Eagle City, Idaho. For a while, they lived with Josephine’s parents in San Francisco, giving Josie -if only briefly- with a bit of the warmth of the Jewish home she grew up in. Finally, Wyatt and Josie settled in Southern California, where they owned racehorses and lived on their winnings from gambling and real estate speculation. In the 1920’s, Josephine and Wyatt invested in oil wells, worked on Wyatt’s autobiography and drafted a screenplay about his career as a lawman.

According to historian Harriet Rochlin, the Earps’ original screenplay was never produced but journalist Stuart Lake took a great interest in it and began to write his own biography of Wyatt Earp. When Wyatt died in 1929 at age 81, Josie Earp and Stuart Lake argued about Lake’s forthcoming portrayal of Wyatt, which Josie found unflattering. In 1931, when Lake’s biography, "Wyatt Earp - Frontier Marshal," finally appeared with the offending passages stricken, according to Rochlin, it "fueled fifty years of Wyatt Earp mania, pro and con, in print and in film." At least three movies have been made about the gunfight at the O. K. Corral. Josephine Marcus Earp had helped craft an authentic American legend.

The widowed Josie buried Wyatt’s ashes in the Marcus family plot at the Little Hills of Eternity, a Jewish cemetery in Colma, California. When she died in 1944, Josie’s remains were buried next to Wyatt’s. Today, their graves are the most popular tourist destination in Colma.

 

 

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