Playmates Wild West Club

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White illustration of man riding horse on dark blue circle in center with white text. Black text over yellow background on rest of button.

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William “Buffalo Bill” Cody exemplifies the American West. He was born in 1846 and his storied past includes riding for the Pony Express at age 14 and fighting in the Civil War. Buffalo Bill was a legend in the West before starting his Wild West show, which traveled across the U.S and Europe through the 1880's and early 1900's. The show featured iconic Western figures, such as Annie Oakely and Sitting Bull. Buffalo Bill was famously spurned from the 1896 Chicago World's Fair so he set up his show outside the gates and lured the crowd as they exited the festivities. Many guests thought that it was part of the official fair. Cody was one of the few prominent men who gave equal treatment and wages to all of the workers in his show, including people of color, people of indigenous descent, and women. In the archives of the world's fair, one aristocrat wrote in his journal that it was surprising to see the, "cowboys and indians," playing cards together, which was an uncommon activity for the time.

At the turn of the century, Buffalo Bill was arguably one of the most famous and recognizable American men in the world and fan clubs spread across the U.S and Europe in support of his show. These Wild West Shows brought the American West to the Eastern U.S as well as transatlantic, allowing spectators a glimpse into the myth of the untamed West. The shows were popular through the first decade of the 20th century, but became unprofitable by 1910. The 1940’s saw a resurgence in this culture and through the 1950’s, TV shows such as Howdy Doody and a slew of Western movies capitalized on the myth of the American frontier, which Buffalo Bill promoted through his shows.

Catalog ID CL0619