Segments in this Video

Exploitation of the Myth of the West (04:39)


The key to exploiting the Old West was to turn it into a simple story and show it in a big way. In this way, show business like Buffalo Bill’s Stage shows kept the Old West alive.

"Scouts on the Prairie" (03:16)

In this segment, viewers see a re-enactment of "Scouts on the Prairie" featuring Buffalo Bill. In 1883, he packages his western experiences into "Buffalo Bill's Wild West."

Mythology of Buffalo Bill Cody (03:43)

Cody is the first to make the cowboy a hero. Archived film footage shows Cody’s cowboys fighting Indians, riding bucking broncos, and hunting buffalo. Annie Oakley performs trick shooting.

"The Great Train Robbery" (03:15)

The world's first dramatic moving picture was a Western, "The Great Train Robbery." Billy Anderson, an actor from the original film, describes the film, its impact on audiences, and his vision of the future.

Evolution of the Cowboy's Image (01:38)

Bronco Billy's "Shootin' Mad" film demonstrates the formula for the classic cowboy movie—a good man, a girl in distress, and a gun. Cowboy stars include Hoot Gibson, Buck Jones, Tom Mix, Roy Rogers, and Gene Autry.

Western Grows Up With William S. Hart (03:11)

Hart makes the Western into an epic. Hollywood’s first mogul, Thomas Ince, proves that the Western could be an art form. Viewers see an excerpt from Hart’s "Hell's Hinges."

Saying Goodbye to the Old West (03:20)

Hart, creator of the “two-gun” stance and friend of Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson, genuinely mourns the passing of the Old West. "Tumbleweeds," a story of the Oklahoma land rush, is reissued in 1939 as valedictory to the Old West.

Illustrators of the Old West (04:44)

In this segment, viewers get an up-close look at two of the Old West’s best artistic archivists, Charles M. Russell and N.C. Wyeth.

Cowboy Movie Idol Gary Cooper (02:37)

The advent of sound transforms the Western as demonstrated in Cooper’s "The Virginian."

Movie and Television to the Old West (03:11)

John Ford creates many of the finest Old West movies and acknowledges his debt to illustrators Russell and Remington. By the 1950s, stories of the Old West of the Great American Myth appear on television.

Preservation of Western Heritage (03:06)

John Ford Clymer, contemporary artist of the Old West, is determined to portray the times as they really were. Samples of his paintings reveal his dedication to the preservation of our western heritage.

Painters of the Western Scene (04:08)

The spirit of preservation inspires many contemporary painters such as those who travel into the wilds of Texas to sketch working cowboys. These painters keep alive the spirit of rugged independence that forged the West.

Saga of the West Continues (04:35)

Most small western towns celebrate the experience of the Old West with horse parades, bull riding, calf roping, square dancing, and rodeos.

Country and Western Music: Spirit of the West (04:38)

The spirit of the West lives in today's country and western music. Show business and real life collide when people want an authentic connection to the real West.

Urban Cowboys and Country Singers (02:52)

Urban cowboys and country singes project a new image of the West. Wm. S. Hart introduced realism into the silent Westerns, as he was a friend to many of the outstanding gunmen of the day like Earp and Masterson.

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Play the Legend

Part of the Series : The West of the Imagination
DVD Price: $99.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $149.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $99.95



The West fueled an entire industry: the entertainment business. When the first Western movie was shown, the audience stood up, cheered, and shouted for a re-run. Said Bronco Billy Anderson, "That’s it. It’s going to be the picture business for me. The future has no end." This program shows the West as the subject of popular culture and show business, the greatest circus act in the world, from dime novels to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, from the movie cowboys to that modern embodiment of the cowboy spirit, the country singer. (57 minutes)

Length: 57 minutes

Item#: BVL1106

ISBN: 978-1-4213-0544-8

Copyright date: ©1986

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Only available in USA and Canada.