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Updated on August 20, 2010

A Legenday Frindship

Friendship can change the combined fates of those involved in the friendship. There have been many famous friendships that shaped the face of history itself, but I have chosen a friendship that ultimately changed the lives of the two involved more than anything or anyone else that they changed. Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday would not have been the men that they were without each other.

This incredibly lethal and very loyal duo first made acquaintance in Dodge City Kansas. Dodge City was known as the Babylon of the plains and, “the wickedest city in the west”, was another badge it wore. Dodge doesn’t look like it was once home to some of the most dangerous men of the western era, but at one time or another all most all of the big name lawmen, and gunfighters passed through, and walked her streets. The most famous of these men are Wyatt Earp, and his unusual best friend Doc Holliday.

A lot has changed in this world since Wyatt, and Doc walked those streets in their long black coats, with their Colt peacemakers hanging at their sides. But one thing remains constant, friendship.

Wyatt, and Doc are a classic example of what was known in western terms as pards. Their friendship, as many others through history before and after have done, crossed social barriers. Not that Wyatt was some sort of saintly lawman. He was indeed a bit of a scoundrel in his own right, but he had strong ties to the law that ran deep in his family, and his grandfather was a minister.

Just as Wyatt was no saint, neither was Doc the devil incarnate. But he did seem to end up on the wrong side of the law more often than not. He was arrested 17 times in his thirty six years, three of those times for murder. He was a dentist, a gambler, a gunfighter, and by all accounts a very dangerous man.

So with these varied backgrounds Doc, and Wyatt were unlikely friends. They may have been unlikely friends but their friendship was forged through adversity and violence. The Scripture, “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for another. And here is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” definitely applies to these two. Many times Doc Holliday risked his own life for causes that were purely Wyatt’s concern. Wyatt even claimed that Doc saved his life the very first time they met. In return Wyatt stood by Doc until the tragic end when Doc died of tuberculosis at thirty six years old.

It is sometimes erroneously recounted that Doc died in a sanitarium. Doc died in a hotel that later became a sanitarium, but the part about Wyatt being there with him is true. A true friend indeed, standing by his brother in arms to the bitter end.

On November 8th after 14 days of delirium, Doc awoke with a clear head, and asked for a glass of whiskey. He drank that down, and said “This is funny”. With those words Doc went to meet his final reward. Doc with his ironic sense of humor thought it was funny that he died in bed when he had drank, smoked, gambled,  been in many gun fights, and had tried everything short of suicide to ensure that his end would not come like this. He had several attempts made on his life, and was almost hung 4 times, yet after all the hell he had raised, and the chaos he left in his wake he died peacefully in bed.

Wyatt later said of his dear friend, "He was the most skillful gambler, and the nerviest, fastest, deadliest man with a six-gun I ever saw." Considering this statement was made by arguably the most famous law man of all time that is very high praise.

The Earp’s and Doc were involved in the west’s most famous “Gunfight at the OK corral” which without the prodding of the ever edgy Doc Holliday might not have even resulted in gunfire. They personally eliminated over twenty outlaws in less than a year’s time. They rid Arizona of the “Cowboys” in a bloody vendetta that bought a lot of men a one way ticket on the long black train.

I personally believe that without each other neither one would have reached the fame that they rose to together. Apart they were both incredible individuals; together they were legends in their own time. Love them or hate them everyone respected them. They were the perfect recipe for an incredibly brave and dangerous duo that history will never forget.


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