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Sat, Aug. 17

‘Gentleman Doc Holliday’ tells life story for Sounds of Kingman

In costume as Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp checks his gold pocket watch. He'll perform a one-act play about the legendary dentist at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday at Lee Williams High School. (Courtesy photo)

In costume as Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp checks his gold pocket watch. He'll perform a one-act play about the legendary dentist at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday at Lee Williams High School. (Courtesy photo)

KINGMAN – He was a gambler, gunfighter, outlaw and lover, one of the most celebrated characters of the Wild West, and the life of Doc Holliday will be portrayed at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday by Sounds of Kingman at Lee Williams High School auditorium.

The one-man play, “The Gentleman Doc Holliday,” stars the great-grandnephew of Wyatt Earp, who performed for Sounds of Kingman with a theatrical production about his famous relative in February 2017.

The performances are free to the public, with help from Lee Williams and the City of Kingman. The school is at 400 Grandview Ave.

“The Gentleman Doc Holliday” was written by Terry Earp in collaboration with Karen Holliday Tanner, the closest living relative of Doc Holliday. The play is based on her book, “Doc Holliday: A Family Portrait.”

It’s the story of one of the West’s most famous dentists and his journey from “one who heals to one who kills.” He tells his story to inmates from jail in Denver, Colorado, in 1882, shortly after he and Wyatt Earp left the Arizona Territory for Colorado.

Bat Masterson and Gov. Frederik Pitkin placed Holliday in protective custody for a few hours. Unfortunately, a few hours turn into a few days.

Doc is not happy, and out of boredom and frustration, he begins bantering with other prisoners. He’s angry with the jailor, who is ignoring his needs. The audience is brought in as fellow prisoners.

“Often, the truth and the fact of one’s existence are not necessarily the same thing,” Terry Earp states on her website. “The challenge of writing accurate historical drama is telling the truth about the characters while staying faithful to the facts. I wanted to show Doc as a real person who is so much more than their legends tend to portray. To this end, whenever possible, I have used Doc’s own language in order to give audiences a clearer sense of who he really was.”

John Henry “Doc” Holliday was born Aug. 14, 1851, in Griffin, Georgia, and was a dentist by trade. He was also a close friend of Wyatt Earp and was deputized in Tombstone, where he became famous for his role in the shootout at the OK Corral.

Holliday took “Big Nose” Kate Horony-Cummings, a Hungarian-born prostitute working in Prescott, as his longtime companion and common-law wife. He died of tuberculosis on Nov. 8, 1887, in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp are legendary figures in Western American history, and performances such as “The Gentleman Doc Holliday” bring them to life and helps separate fact from fiction, said Martha Prumers, publicity chairwoman for Sounds of Kingman.

People at past events had asked when “Doc Holliday” was coming to the Kingman, and timing it with Andy Devine Days is a good fit, she said.

“Some historic individuals such as Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp assume almost mythic qualities that fit into Hollywood’s depiction of the West,” Prumers said. “I see Andy Devine Days as a celebration of all things western, not just one individual, and as such a play about Doc Holliday fits in.”

Sounds of Kingman was started by Robin Gordon and Karen Lynne, who worked in the late 1990s and early 2000s on a project called Heritage Crossroads. They bring free summer concerts in the park. For more information, go to www.soundsofkingman.com/.

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