Tonight, watched American Experience: Annie Oakley
. My first real reaction was, wow being a travelling performer must have sucked. At least if you weren't part of a major show. Very unstable life.Annie Oakley
grew up dirt-poor and learned to shoot with her late father's shotgun to help provide for her family. She became an outstanding sharpshooter, a skill she said must have been innate because no one ever taught
her how to shoot. She made her living as a performing sharpshooter for decades and became an international superstar.
By the end of the doco, I felt that I'd had a decent overview of Annie Oakley's career and public persona but there was almost nothing about Annie
. Looking online - well, there was a good reason for that. Annie was an intensely private person who skillfully fostered her public persona without letting personal business show.
And I wanted to know more about Annie and her husband Frank Butler. When they met and married, Frank was the public figure, the moneymaker. Then Annie became popular and Frank took a background role. That was not the norm for the time and Annie placed great value on being seen as respectable so how did they sort that out? They had no children and they were married for 44 years. Frank died just 18 days after Annie. Was it a great love story, a pragmatic partnership, what?
An interesting quote from this article
Annie Oakley was a paradox. While she believed women should be active in sports, even teaching women to shoot free of charge, and spoke publicly about equal pay for equal work, she did not support women's suffrage. She was a Victorian woman who placed the utmost importance on being seen and treated as a lady, yet she excelled in a man's sport.
Well, she placed so much value on her privacy that we still know very little about her thoughts and dreams but likely she'd prefer it that way.
I would just like to note here that I have never seen Annie, Get Your Gun and after what I just read about it, I certainly never want to.
Everyone knows the story of Annie Oakley. As the cocky sharpshooter and country bumpkin of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, she fell madly in love with the sophisticated Frank Butler. He was attracted to her, too, but when she defeated him in a shooting match, he assuaged his bruised ego in the company of more feminine companions.
Their rivalry kept them apart until Annie's adoptive father, Chief Sitting Bull, explained the facts of life to her: a man can't tolerate a woman who can best him. (Or, as they sing in the musical, "You can't get a man with a gun.") The only way for Annie to win Frank's heart was to forfeit the next match.
She did, and lived happily ever after in Frank's shadow.
Bullshit. In real life, she won the match.