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The Toughest Gals of the West Were the Saloon Gals

Updated on July 4, 2019
kenneth avery profile image

Kenneth is a rural citizen of Hamilton, Ala., and has begun to observe life and certain things and people helping him to write about them.

Saloon Girl Rehearsal

Go Ahead, Ask me About

the pretty saloon girls of the west. That would be fine, because I want to know myself. Like you, I've seen these talented girls on early TV westerns such as "Riverboat," starring Darrren McGavin and Burt Reynolds and the star was a riverboat produced by Revue Studios, and broadcast on the NBC television network from 1959 to 1961. Reynolds was replaced by Noah Beery Jr. halfway through the series in the wake of a conflict with McGavin.

With that being said, if you were born then and became a fan of this early hit show, then you did see and enjoy the pretty dancing girls who performed in the saloon area of the boat while the actors sat down and said their lines and performed to the best of their ability. Still, I loved those dancing girls--and if you look at the modern-day version of saloon girls, you will love them too.

With the early west, the fortune-hunters who made their way from the east often stopped by for a quick drink, food, and for taking a much-needed bath. These opportunities were visible to the early saloon owners, mostly the enterprising women, saw how they could make more money if the saloon would allow pretty girls dressed in silk, with dresses scandalously-short and were able to dance with the men customers and then the pretty girls would convince the guys to buy them a drink. Of course the girls made from 30 to 50% on drink sales.

In Today's Tourist Trade, Saloons With Talented Saloon Girls Make Good Money.
In Today's Tourist Trade, Saloons With Talented Saloon Girls Make Good Money. | Source

I Did Find Out

from my extensive research that, and this to me is very shocking, depending on the owner(s) of a lucrative saloon, the owner demanded class from their saloon girls and I thought for over the years, that these saloon girls who were tougher than nails, were all about what happened after the dancing ceased. I am not going to explain.

But the point made about saloon owners and saloon girls, if the saloon girls showed any hint or impropriety in their talk, behavior, and personal character, the would-be top-not girl would be given a heave-ho and no job for them, but this high-character attribute did work for the bigger, richer saloons. The vast majority of the cowboys, gamblers, fortune-hunters really did not want anything but a soft voice, a dance or two and to drink a few beers and shots of Red Eye. And these male customers, acted-out of the way, a team of strong thugs stepped in and took care of the problem. Yes, there were thugs in the west.

Further research said that the looks and atmosphere of the early to latter years of the Saloon Business were simple. The worst climate of each saloon depended on the saloon girls’ behavior and character or none whatsoever. And on the other side of the spectrum revealed that some of THE richest, most-trusted saloon owners were the women of these early establishments who did not only keep their saloons running to gain big benefits, but most of these lucrative saloons looked out for their girls—those who worked the hardest were given a hefty salary plus bonuses that most saloon employees would die from envy because what stood between failing saloons and those on the upper level of western retail were the class, understanding, and patience shown by these professional saloon owners.

In The Early Western Saloons, Girls Had To Know How More How To Listen To A Lonesome Cowpoke Than Talk To Him.
In The Early Western Saloons, Girls Had To Know How More How To Listen To A Lonesome Cowpoke Than Talk To Him. | Source


when I researched this topic, it was about saloon girls, not necessarily the saloons themselves. For without the valuable saloon girls the saloons would cease to exist. And when I approach a very deep and personal question: how would “I” survive if “I” had lived in the late 1700s to late 1800s, and even with a smidgen of education and determination, I doubt seriously if “I” would have been able to own, much less operate h successful saloon and make sure that my girls were taken care of.

July 4, 2019__________________________ Happy Fourth of July.

Professional Saloon Girls.
Professional Saloon Girls. | Source

© 2019 Kenneth Avery


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    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      15 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, BesarienL I have missed you. And now I thank you for coming by. I loved your insightful comments about this hub. Truly, you are a gem.

      Come back anytime.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      15 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, DW . . .I agree with all of my heart. Miss Kitty and Gunsmoke, a really good fit.

      Thanks for coming by and you can visit anytime.

    • DWDavisRSL profile image

      DW Davis 

      17 months ago from Eastern NC

      I read your article with great interest and learned several things I didn't know while having some of my assumptions about the saloon girls shown false.

      I do think that in any conversation about saloon girls, real or fictional, the most famous television saloon owning female deserves a mention. If I'm not mistaken, she would be Miss Kitty from Gun Smoke.

    • Besarien profile image


      17 months ago from South Florida

      Hi Kenneth! I apologize for being a stranger so long. I had no idea that re-inacted tourist attraction saloons existed. What a wonderful peak into the past! I really enjoyed reading about saloon girls. You taught me a lot about saloons in general, too. I'd never given thought to how they operated or the social dynamics at play. I can understand how the most charming and lady-like girls would be revered as local celebrities. I imagine many men missed mothers, sisters, and the girl next door the most as they were trying to find or make fortunes that for most never materialized. A well-run saloon must have been like a sweet taste of home in a hard, desolate, lonely existence.


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