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Annie Oakley is born – 1860- Day in History

Annie_OakleyFrom The History Channel

Annie Oakley, one of the greatest female sharpshooters in American history, is born in Patterson Township, Ohio.

Born Phoebe Ann Oakley Moses, Oakley demonstrated an uncanny gift for marksmanship at an early age. “I was eight years old when I made my first shot,” she later recalled, “and I still consider it one of the best shots I ever made.” After spotting a squirrel on the fence in her front yard, the young Oakley took a loaded rifle from the house. She steadied the gun on a porch rail, and shot the squirrel through the head, skillfully preserving the meat for the stew pot.

After that, Oakley’s honed her sharpshooting talents. She was never a stereotypical Wild West woman who adopted the dress and ways of men. To the contrary, Oakley prided herself on her feminine appearance and skills. She embroidered nearly as well as she shot, liked to read the Bible in the evenings, and favored gingham dresses and demure sunbonnets.

In 1876, a Cincinnati hotelkeeper that heard of Oakley’s marksmanship set up a Thanksgiving Day shooting match between Oakley and a traveling exhibition sharpshooter named Frank Butler. Annie managed to outshoot the professional by one clay pigeon. Oakley’s skills and attractive appearance impressed Butler, and he continued to correspond with the young woman while he traveled. By June, the couple had married, and Oakley joined her husband’s act as “Annie Oakley” the “peerless wing and rifle shot.”

In 1885, the couple joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, and Oakley soon became one of the most popular acts. A typical show consisted of Oakley shooting a cigarette out of her husband’s mouth or a dime from his fingers. She also did backward trick shots where she sighted her target only with a mirror. Her ability to shoot holes through playing cards led Americans of the day to refer to any free ticket to an event as an “Annie Oakley,” a reference to the holes that were often punched in the ticket for validation. When the great Sioux war chief Sitting Bull briefly traveled with the show, he grew fond of Oakley and gave her the nickname Watanya Cicilia—Little Sure Shot.

Oakley stayed with the traveling show for more than 15 years, giving performances around the world. In 1901, a head-on collision with a freight train injured Oakley’s back. She returned to performing after a year of rest and toured with several shows for the next decade. In 1913, Oakley and Butler retired, though they continued to give occasional demonstrations for good causes.

In 1921, a devastating auto accident permanently crippled Oakley. She and Butler moved to Greenville, Ohio, her home county, and she lived the remaining years of her life in the quiet countryside. She died there in 1926 at the age of 66.

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Goodbye Lauren Bacall – We Love You – 2014 Day in American History

cats-lauren-bacall

From The History Channel

On this day in 2014, actress Lauren Bacall, who shot to fame in her debut film, 1944’s “To Have and Have Not,” in which she appeared opposite Humphrey Bogart, with whom she would have a legendary romance, dies at her New York City home at age 89. In a career that spanned nearly 70 years, the smoky-voiced Bacall made more than 40 films, including “The Big Sleep,” (1946) “How to Marry a Millionaire” (1953) and “The Mirror Has Two Faces” (1996).

Born Betty Joan Perske on September 16, 1924, in the Bronx, New York, she began using the last name Bacal, part of her mother’s maiden name, after her parents divorced when she was young. (While breaking into acting, she added a second “l” to her last name, and Howard Hawks, who directed Bacall’s big-screen debut, dubbed her Lauren). After graduating from high school in Manhattan in 1940, she studied acting but quit after a year because she could no longer afford the tuition. She went on to work as an usher in Broadway theaters and also started modeling. Her cover photo for Harper’s Bazaar magazine eventually came to the attention of Hawks, who cast her in his wartime drama “To Have and Have Not.” During the making of the film—in which Bacall famously utters the line: “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow”—she and the then-married Bogart, who was more than twice her age and already the star of such films as “The Maltese Falcon” and “Casablanca,” began an affair.

Married in 1945, Bogart and Bacall became one of Hollywood’s iconic couples and made three more films together, “The Big Sleep,” “Dark Passage” (1947) and “Key Largo” (1948). Bacall also appeared in such movies as “Young Man with a Horn” (1950) with Kirk Douglas, “How to Marry a Millionaire” with Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable and “Designing Woman” (1957) with Gregory Peck. Her marriage to Bogart, which produced two children, ended when the actor died of cancer in 1957 at age 57. After a brief romance with Frank Sinatra, Bacall wed actor Jason Robards in 1961. The pair, who had a son together, divorced in 1969.

Among Bacall’s other screen credits are “Harper” (1966) with Paul Newman, “Murder on the Orient Express” (1974), “Misery” (1990) and “The Mirror Has Two Faces” with Barbra Streisand. For her role in the latter film, Bacall earned her lone Academy Award nomination, in the best supporting actress category. (In 2009, she received an honorary Oscar.) Bacall also appeared in a number of theatrical productions and won best actress Tony awards for 1970’s “Applause” and 1981’s “Woman of the Year.”

Despite her achievements, Bacall realized the public likely would always associate her with Bogart. As she said in a 1999 Newsday interview: “I’ll never get away from him. I accept that. He was the emotional love of my life, but I think I’ve accomplished quite a bit on my own.”

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