James Butler Hickok made himself one of the great Western legends of his time, first as an ace Pony Express rider, than as a scout for the Union Armies in the Civil War, then as a gunslinger turned lawman (the Marshall of Abilene, Kansas). He was a remarkably fast draw - there is a story (it's hard to tell how true it is) that when he was Marshall, both John Wesley Hardin and Ben Thompson were in Abiline drinking together, and considering confronting Hickok to see who was faster. If the story is true, neither Hardin nor Thompson was willing to confront Hickok, after he managed to demonstrate (peacefully) how much quicker he was on throwing their preparatory movements towards grabbing their guns than they expected.
But by 1869 Hickok was out of the gunfighter trade, and shortly moved east to New York City. This episode of THE GREAT ADVENTURE starred Lloyd Brides as Hickok, and explained what it was that made him lose his interest in his gunfighting career at it's peak. It turned out to be a combination of two factors. In one of the most notorious actions of his career as Marshall, Hickok (while checking out an area for some criminals), thought he heard one of them behind him, rapidly turned around and fired, and killed the man who was behind him. Unfortunately it happened to be his deputy, who was also a close personal friend. The other thing was that Hickok's powers were ebbing. Always a keen-sighted man, his eyesight was failing.
So this episode, after spending twenty minutes showing the Hickok of frontier legend, turned to the guilt-ridden man struggling to preserve his sight with eyeglasses. Bridges did a good job as Hickok, but it is the scene of him in the East, reading in a parlor with a pair of spectacles on that always remained on my mind.
He could not stand the East. Unlike his old friend Bill Cody, Hickok felt constrained in the East. So in 1876, hearing of the gold discoveries in the Black Hills, Hickok left his wife and headed for the town of Deadwood in the Dakota territory. He had set himself up there, when he was shot to death from behind by Jack McCall, a young desperado who wanted to make a reputation for himself as a gunslinger. Hickok was playing cards at the time. Traditionally he held a pair of aces and a pair of eights in his poker hand - what has since become known as "the Deadman's hand".
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