Byline: Diana Dretske
Today, the most recognizable person in the world is possibly Madonna or Michael Jackson. But who was it 100 years ago? Could it have been Queen Victoria or perhaps the dancer Isadora Duncan? Actually neither. It was Buffalo Bill Cody, American legend and creator of the "Wild West Show."
"Buffalo Bill" Cody (1846-1917) was born in Iowa and was a part of every key event in westward expansion. By the time he was 15, he had been a trapper, gold prospector and Pony Express rider. He served in the Civil War as a scout for the Seventh Kansas Cavalry, and then got his nickname by killing buffalo to feed to workers on the Kansas Pacific Railroad.
From 1868 to 1872 Cody was employed by the U.S. Army as a scout of the Fifth Cavalry. His exploits and larger-than-life personality made him a national hero through newspaper accounts and dime novels. In 1872, he first appeared on stage as himself in "Scouts of the Prairie." Cody's legend grew in 1876, when only three weeks after Custer's Last Stand, he led a squad of soldiers and scouts in a charge against a group of Cheyenne. In the hand-to-hand fight, Cody killed the Cheyenne sub-chief Yellow Hair, taking "the first scalp for Custer." This event had a huge impact on his fame. The frontiersman turned actor had now validated himself making the drama onstage all the more real. …