American plainsman, scout, and showman, born near Davenport, Iowa. His real name was William Frederick Cody. His family moved (1854) to Kansas, and after the death of his father (1857) he set out to earn the family living, working for supply trains and a freighting company. In 1859 he went to the Colorado gold fields, and in 1860 he rode briefly for the Pony Express. His adventures on the Western frontier as an army scout and later as a buffalo hunter for railroad construction camps on the Great Plains were the basis for the stories later told about him. Ned Buntline in 1872 persuaded him to appear on the stage, and, except for a brief period of scouting against the Sioux in 1876, he was from that time connected with show business. In 1883 he organized Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, and he toured with it throughout the United States and Europe for many years. Wyoming granted him a stock ranch, on which the town of Cody was laid out. He died in Denver and was buried on Lookout Mt. near Golden, Colo. The exploits attributed to him in the dime novels of Buntline and Prentice Ingraham are only slightly more imaginative than his own autobiography (1920).
See R. J. Walsh and M. S. Salsbury, The Making of Buffalo Bill (1928); biographies by D. B. Russell (1960, repr. 1969) and John Burke (1973).
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