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Buffalo Bill's Wild West Parade (1901)

Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show parades down New York's Fifth Avenue. Filmed on 1 April 1901.
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Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show parades down New York's Fifth Avenue. Filmed on 1 April 1901.

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April 1901 (USA)  »

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The Persistence of Vision and Celebrity
1 May 2015 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

It's one of several films released of Buffalo Bill Cody, famed hero of the Wild West...

Or was he? His celebrity, which still survives to this day, isn't based on his being a buffalo hunter in the 1860s. There were many of those, and Cody is about the only one we know of. His continued celebrity rests on his having been a canny showman and publicist, portrayed in Dime Novels, Wild West Shows bearing his name, movies like this and ANNIE OAKLEY, Broadway shows like ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, television (go check the IMDb listing for "Buffalo Bill Cody" and you'll find over fifty listings for the character), a screen actor who went under the name of "Buffalo Bill Jr."...

You name it, it's there. Because there is a persistence of celebrity, just like there is a persistence of momentum. Sometimes celebrity continues, even when the reasons for it have vanished. There seem to be people famous just for being famous. You hear someone say "Look! It's Buffalo Bill Cody!" and point and that's how you know him. Later, you point and say it too.

Anyway, this is one from a paper print at the Library of Congress. It's impossible to make out any details. Perhaps one day they'll use the new transfer machines to make a better print and we will be able to see William F. Cody in sharp detail. It makes little difference either way.


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