Nebraska’s Unique Contribution To The Entertainment World

The election of William F. Cody in August 1967, to the Nebraska Hall of Fame indicated a popular interest in the history of Western America and the people contributing to its colorful lore. Buffalo Bill was one of those people. His contributions are disputed in extremes by everyone from hero worshipers to those seeking to debunk him. However, one is able to assign Cody with at least one unique contribution during his lifetime. William F. Cody gave the world the Wild West Show, a unique form of Western / American entertainment, with its format and success established in the State of Nebraska, then presented to America and Europe.

The concept of the Wild West Show was not the original idea of William F. Cody and Dr. W. F. Carver when they opened their Wild West, Rocky Mountain, and Prairie Exhibition in Omaha in May of 1883. There had been at least five other attempts at this type of entertainment, and various persons have claimed they originated the idea of the Wild West Show. However, Cody and his partner were the first to produce such entertainment successfully. Their Wild West Show of 1883 established the Western theme and style of events adopted by all subsequent Wild West Shows, both those undertaken by Cody and hi~ partners and those conducted by imitators.

The first of these five previous attempts was a Grand Buffalo Hunt, staged on August 31, 1843, by P. T. Barnum in Hoboken, New Jersey. Barnum’s display of Buffalo was quickly turned into a roping exhibition by C. D. French when the buffalo calves were stampeded by the shouts of the audience, crashed through a fence, and fled to a swamp.

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