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Useful Notes / Bat Masterson

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Bartholemew William Barclay "Bat" Masterson (November 26, 1853 – October 25, 1921) was a U.S. Army scout, lawman, professional gambler, and journalist known for his exploits in the 19th and early 20th-century American Old West. He was born to a working-class Irish family in Quebec, but he moved to the Western frontier as a young man and quickly distinguished himself as a buffalo hunter, civilian scout, and Indian fighter on the Great Plains. He later earned fame as a gunfighter and sheriff in Dodge City, Kansas, during which time he was involved in several notable shootouts.

By the mid-1880s, Masterson moved to Denver, Colorado, and established himself as a "sporting man" or Professional Gambler. He took an interest in prizefighting and became a leading authority on the sport, attending almost every important match and title fight in the United States from the 1880s until his death in 1921. He moved to New York City in 1902 and spent the rest of his life there as a reporter and columnist for the New York Morning Telegraph. His column covered boxing and other sports, and it frequently gave his opinions on crime, war, politics, and other topics, as well. He became a close friend of President Theodore Roosevelt and was one of the "White House Gunfighters" who received federal appointments from Roosevelt, along with Pat Garrett and Ben Daniels.


By the time of his death in 1921, Masterson was known throughout the country as a leading sports writer and celebrity. He is remembered today for his connection to many of the Wild West's most iconic people, places, and events, and his life and likeness are frequently depicted in American popular culture.

Portrayals in popular culture:

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    Comic Books 

    Film — Live Action 

    Live Action TV 
  • Mason Alan Dinehart plays Masterson from 1955 to 1959 in 34 episodes of the ABC Western series, The Life And Legend Of Wyatt Earp, starring Hugh O'Brian in the title role.
  • Bat Masterson (1658-61) was a U.S. television series loosely based on the historical character. Masterson was portrayed by Gene Barry.
  • Richard Beale portrays Bat Masterson in the 1966 Doctor Who serial "The Gunfighters", which depicts the events leading to and including the famous O.K. Corral gunfight.
  • A character called "Bat Masterson" appears in the 1980s Western series Bordertown in the episode "Nebraska Lightning", where he helps the fictional characters U.S. Marshal Jack Craddock and Canadian Northwest Mountie Corporal Clive Bennett take on the Nebraska Lightning Gang.
  • Gene Barry reprised his role as Masterson in the episode "A Gathering of Guns" (1987) on the television series Guns Of Paradise (Hugh O'Brian also reprised his role as Wyatt Earp).
  • A man claiming to be Bat Masterson, portrayed by Philip Bosco and credited as Mike Killabrew, appears in the series Early Edition in a 1997 episode titled "Bat Masterson".
  • A character called Bat Masterson, portrayed by Steven Ogg, appears in the 2014 Murdoch Mysteries episode "Glory Days", going to Toronto in pursuit of famous outlaws and clashing with the local constabulary's style of investigation.
  • A character called Bat Masterson is played by Matthew Le Nevez in the 2015 Lifetime TV series, The Lizzie Borden Chronicles, a counter-history to the legend of Lizzie Borden.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Sidewinder: Wild West Adventures, both original quotations and fictional quotations attributed to Bat Masterson are used throughout the rulebook.

    Video Games 
  • Bat Masterson is used as a non-player character (a vampire lawman) in Pirate 101.
  • Bat Masterson makes an appearance as a railroad manager in Railroad Tycoon 2 and Railroad Tycoon 3. As the railroad's chairman, a player can choose to employ him and enjoy a lower incidence rate of costly train robberies while Masterson is employed.
  • In Red Dead Revolver, Jack Swift may have been inspired by the real-life lawman, gambler, and gunslinger Bat Masterson. Like Swift, Masterson generally wore three-piece suits and a bowler hat. Both characters are also immigrants to the United States, Masterson was born in Canada, whilst Swift was born in Sandhurst, England. He also uses a technique known as cavalry draw when drawing his pistols which is a technique that Bat Masterson was known to use.

    Western Animation 
  • Punkin' Puss and Mushmouse: In "Bat Mouseterson", Mushmouse's city-dwelling, cane-wielding cousin comes to hill country for a visit and teaches Mushmouse the gentleman's way of warding off Punkin' Puss.


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