Joaquín Murrieta in Theater and Film
In 1858, a year before the pirated version of Ridge’s work appeared in the California Police Gazette, Charles E. B. Howe published in San Francisco a dramatic work in five acts, Joaquín Murieta de Castillo, the Celebrated California Bandit.28 In this first dramatization of the life of Joaquín Murrieta, a few small changes are introduced. For example, Murrieta’s lover, Rosita, is called Belloro, a name created by two words, the English “bell” and the Spanish “oro” (gold), thus producing a bilingual image of a “golden bell.” Howe also added a few characters, among them Ignacious, who briefly appears in the first act,29 and Juan Gonzalles (sic), Belloro’s brother. According to Jackson, Howe’s play greatly popularized the anecdote in which Murrieta, upon reading the government proclamation offerring to pay five thousand dollars to anyone who delivers him dead or alive, writes at the bottom of the text: “I’ll pay ten thousand. Joaquín.” While Howe gave this story currency, the anecdote is already in Ridge (1955: 68). Notable in the play is the presence of García (Three-Fingers), in this case as Joaquín’s enemy who is in love with Belloro. Here, as in Badger’s work, Murrieta’s enemies are not Anglos but Mexicans.
In his “New Light on Joaquín Murrieta” (1970), Dr. Raymund F. Wood tells us that Professor Ray P. Reynolds found the unpublished diary “A Reconnaissance from Guaymas, Sonora, Via Babispe to