‘Colourful’ Buffalo Bill

Day 248 of Colourisation Project – January 10

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

It was only 98 years ago on this day, January 10, 1917, that the man who gave the Wild West its name, passed away.

By the turn of the twentieth century, William Frederick Cody, better known as Buffalo Bill was arguably the most famous American in the world.

Buffalo-Bill Bef & Aft

Photographer: Moffett – Buffalo Bill – 1911 – Coloured by Loredana Crupi

Army scout, Pony Express rider, ranch hand, wagon train driver, buffalo hunter, fur trapper, gold prospector, showman, producer, newspaper editor… he did it all becoming a national folk hero. Annie Oakley described him as “ the simplest of men, as comfortable with cowboys as with kings.”

He acquired his nickname in 1867 when he began buffalo hunting to feed the railroad constructions crews. By his own assessment he killed 4,280 buffaloes in just over a year and a half. It was a moniker that would define him forever.

In his lifetime he achieved an iconic celebrity status which came to embody the spirit of America’s West. With a larger-than-life persona, his circus-like show, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West was a major factor in the creation of the mythology of America’s old West, which of course was further cemented via Hollywood and the TV westerns of the 1950s. Created in 1883, it achieved an international reputation via successful tours throughout the United States, Great Britain and Europe. Starring other iconic figures such as sharpshooter, Annie Oakley and Chief Sitting Bull, the shows lasted three decades.

Buffalo Bill Cody never retired. He continued performing in his Wild West show right up till his death in 1917. He was 71 years old. By his own request he was buried on Lookout Mountain, west of the Denver, Colorado, overlooking the Great Plains.

His colourful legend has endured to this day.


“It was because of my great interest in the West, and my belief that its development would be assisted by the interest I could awaken in others, that I decided to bring the West to the East through the medium of the Wild West Show.”   –   Buffalo Bill

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