The newspaper about the West
Annie Oakey: Dead Again!
From Out West #40, October 1997
By Chuck Woodbury, editor
I have some sad news. Gail Davis is dead.
She played Annie Oakley on the Annie Oakley TV series. If I close my eyes, I can visualize her. I really loved that show and Gail Davis, too, who played a good Annie Oakley.
American Cowboy editor Jesse Mullin and publisher Bill Bales gave me a few issues of their beautiful magazine. I was pretty surprised to read in one that Gail Davis had died.
All the good TV cowboys and cowgirls are dead. Only Roy and Dale are left, and Clayton Moore the Lone Ranger (I think hes still alive) and the great Gene Autry, who just turned 90 in case you didnt know. Hoppys gone, and the Cisco Kid, Poncho, Tonto, and even Kingman, Arizonas very own Andy Devine. And now Gail Davis.
I was reminded of how much I liked Annie Oakley just the other day at the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody. Theres an exhibit about Annie there, with her gun and picture. Gail Davis didnt look anything like her, but who cares?
A few years ago, after visiting Annie Oakleys home in Ohio, my wife got irritated with me over a picture I had bought of Annie Oakley. In it, Annie looked very beautiful. I stared and stared at the photo. My wife thought I was lusting over Annie, which was simply not true. I just liked the picture. Thats all. Really.
And now heres something pretty darn interesting: Did you know I shared a scary experience with Annie Oakley? Its true. Sort of, anyway...
It was a couple of years, when I was on a four-month road trip with my wife and daughter. We had stopped in Greenville, Ohio, to visit Annie's home. Afterwards, we went to her grave a few miles away. I wanted to spend a few moments with Annie, to tell her that I had visited her house and that I admired her life, thanks, of course, to Gail Davis.
The weather that day was terrible. As we drove to the cemetery, it started raining cats and dogs, and there was very big lightning bolts, too. Bam! Bam! They were hitting all over the place. It was S-C-A-R-Y!!
After looping around the cemetery road a few times, we finally fou
I took a picture of the headstone. About five seconds later, a lightning bolt struck really, really close so close, in fact, that the light and sound arrived in the same instant! I was one scared dude. So I raced back into the motorhome, where I huddled (and prayed) with Rodica and Emily.
Annie, of course, didnt have a clue about what was going on, which, I suppose, is one of the few benefits of death.
In a few minutes, the storm lightened up. Rather than remain for the next round, we hit the road. I didnt even get a chance to say goodbye to Annie.
And now Gail Davis is gone.
It doesnt seem right.
What I didnt learn until later was that Annie Oakley isnt actually buried in her grave. Her cremated ashes are buried a few yards to the right, in the coffin of her husband Frank Butler, who died three weeks after Annie.
According to the book Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bills Wild West, nobody would be more surprised at the continuing romance associated with Annie Oakleys life than Annie herself, who endured incredible hardships on the road, according to author Isabelle Sayers.
Annie died in 1926, but she continued to perform nearly to the end of her life, even after being seriously injured in a car accident in 1922.
It's hard to imagine Annie in a car, isn't it?
Read about Big Nose George, the only Wild West crook to be turned into a shoe after his death!
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