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Josephine Earp Autographs, Memorabilia & Collectibles

JOSEPHINE EARP
Born: Circa 1860 in New York City, New York
Died: December 19, 1944 in Los Angeles, California
Biography | show moreshow less
Josephine Marcus (1861-1944), who became Josie Earp was a dancer and actress who moved to Tombstone, Arizona in 1879. At first she was mistress of Sheriff Johnny Behan, an enemy of Wyatt Earp, and was also a prostitute. (Her license for that trade survives.) In 1881, she became enamored with Wyatt Earp, already a growing legend. She hastened on the scene after the Gunfight at the OK Corral, and in 1882 began calling herself Josephine Earp. (Wyatt and Josie were together until his death, in what was probably a common law marriage. Wyatt abandoned his law enforcement career, traveling around the West with Josie, often gambling and sometimes operating a saloon.) He was part of the Alaska gold rush of 1897, as this letter notes. In their senior years, the Earps became quite concerned about their image/reputation, as this letter shows. Wyatt was uncomfortable with some of the exaggerated claims made for him, but angry at negative reporting. Earp resolved to write an autobiography setting the record straight, encouraged in this by his close friend, Western actor William S. Hart. Unwisely, he chose his personal secretary, John H. Flood, Jr., to write the manuscript. The Earp's hopes were dashed when Flood's text, accurate but sadly lacking in literary style, was rejected by publisher after publisher. Though never published, Flood's text survives, and might have enriched public understanding of Wyatt Earp if a good editor had been found to revise the manuscript. Wyatt Earp died in 1929. Josey survived 15 more years, devoting much time to trying to refute or prevent publication of biographies and films unflattering to her husband and to herself.

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