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Hugh O'Brian in St. Louis
Actor Hugh O'Brian, best known for his role as the tv gun slinger Wyatt Earp, holds a gun while attending a fund raiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in St. Louis on October 9, 2010. UPI/Bill Greenblatt
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Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp (March 19, 1848 – January 13, 1929) was an American gambler, investor, and law enforcement officer who served in several Western frontier towns. He was also at different times a farmer, teamster, bouncer, saloon-keeper, miner and boxing referee. He is most well-known for his part in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral during which three outlaw Cowboys were killed. The 30-second gunfight would define the rest of his life. Earp's modern-day reputation is that of Old West's "toughest and deadliest gunman of his day."

Earp spent his early life in Iowa. After his first wife, Urilla Sutherland Earp, died he was arrested, sued twice, escaped from jail, and was arrested three times for "keeping and being found in a house of ill-fame". He landed in the cattle boomtown of Wichita, Kansas where he became a deputy marshal for one year and developed a solid reputation as a lawman. In 1876 he followed his brother James to Dodge City, Kansas where he became an assistant marshal. In the winter of 1878 he went to Texas to gamble where he met John Henry "Doc" Holliday whom Earp credited with saving his life.

Continually drawn to boomtowns and opportunity, Earp left Dodge City in 1879 and with his brothers James and Virgil, moved to Tombstone, Arizona. The Earps bought an interest in the Vizina mine and some water rights. There, the Earps clashed with a loose federation of outlaw Cowboys. Virgil, Morgan, and Wyatt held various law enforcement positions that put them in conflict with Tom McLaury, Frank McLaury, Billy Clanton, and Ike Clanton, who threatened to kill the Earps. The conflict escalated over the next year, culminating on October 26, 1881 in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, during which the Earps and Holliday killed three of the Cowboys. In the next two months Virgil was ambushed and maimed, and Morgan was assassinated. Wyatt, his brother Warren, Holliday, and others pursued the Cowboys they thought responsible in a vendetta.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Wyatt Earp."
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