Annie Oakley and Frank Butler
Skilled rifle shots who inspired an American musical
by David Johnson
Annie Oakley (Phoebe Anne "Annie" Oakley Mozee) of Darke County, Ohio, was a tomboy from the start, and soon became known as a skilled rifle shot. In 1881, the famous Baughman and Butler shooting act was performing in Cincinnati. Star of the show, champion shot Frank E. Butler, boasted that he could beat any local marksman.
Butler was amused when told a young woman had accepted his challenge. But Phoebe Ann won the contest. She also captured Butler's heart. They were married in 1882.
Butler abandoned his career to manage hers. As "Annie Oakley" she joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, performing into the 1920s.
Annie died in 1926. Her heartbroken husband died 18 days later. Their happy marriage had lasted 44 years. Irving Berlin immortalized this most American of love stories with his 1946 musical Annie Get Your Gun.
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