HOW TRUTH BECAME FICTION
We hear a great deal about realism on the stage, where a working model of a Westend drawing room is hailed as a triumph of art, but the Buffalo Bill Show is something more than realism -- it is reality. 1
Establishing who first had the idea of creating a Wild West show is next to impossible. These shows developed from several existing forms (such as Indian exhibitions, buffalo hunts, and exhibitions of Western animals) and emerged side by side with other forms (such as circus specs, rodeos, and border dramas) from which they borrowed. But the main problem in trying to resolve this dilemma arises from the number of highly flamboyant people involved with the first productions and from the highly competitive nature of different shows trying to win the same audience. Many people helped develop the original idea, and some claimed credit for more than just improvements. Three men claim to have originated the idea of the Wild West: Doc W. F. Carver, Nate Salsbury, and Colonel W. F. Cody.
Carver's claim can be discounted almost completely. He was Cody's partner during the first season of Wild West touring, and he put up quite a lot of money for this opportunity. That first season was not a great success, and Cody and Carver parted less than amicably. From that time onward, Carver launched a campaign to debunk Cody that included a rival show, lawsuits, and written attacks. During this period his claim of being the originator of the Wild West appeared, and it must be considered in the light of the other absurd claims he was making at the time.