Guess Who. Can you identify this elegant lady? Yep, that’s “Little Miss Sure Shot,” Annie Oakley, at about age 60. Annie was the darling of her time—a minor celebrity by age 25 and an international superstar after joining Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in 1885—mainly because she could shoot a gun better than any man or woman alive.
Everyone around Buffalo Bill suffered from caricature, but Annie suffered more than most. Probably no celebrity of that era was more romanticized than Annie Oakley, witness the transformation of Annie from farm girl to Betty Hutton’s scantily-clad character in the movie production of Irving Berlin’s “Annie Get Your Gun.” The only comparable turn-of-the-century transformation from real person to caricature was Margaret Brown’s journey from social reformer to “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” (another famous character to be discovered on Route 36 in Hannibal, Missouri, and Denver, Colorado). Readers will discover the real people behind the caricatures in Route 36—Ohio to Colorado: America’s Heartland Highway. Travelers on Route 36 can learn about Annie (born Phoebe Ann Moses or Mosey) at the Garst Museum in Greenville, Ohio. For more information: www.garstmuseum.org, ph 937-548-5250.