It dawned on me today that I haven’t discussed how this darn play ever happened to come about in the first place. It’s gonna take a few paragraphs to get it all out, so I decided that giving ya’ll some insight into how the actors became the character might be a good starting point.
Tom Doroff started his acting career with the Old West Society of Minnesota. These are a bunch of fun people in Minnesota who love the old west and like to dress up and portray a character from history (real or imagined). They do some community shows, parades, and events and I have had the privilege of being invited to participate in a few with them and get to know the great people who comprise the organization. Tom started 20 some years ago with them portraying the legendary Tom Horn, an American Old West lawman, scout, soldier, hired gunman, detective, outlaw and assassin. On the day before his 43rd birthday, he was hanged in Cheyenne, Wyoming, for the murder of Willie Nickell. Tom still portrays Horn and is called that by his friends.
It was during one spring evening, as he was shaving off his beard after a long winter that he decided to leave a small goatee just to see what it looked like. As he stared in the mirror, he proclaimed “I look like Buffalo Bill!”
That shaving “accident” as he calls it has led to Tom winning several national titles for his portrayal and resemblance of the great showman almost since the day he discovered the likeness. He has traveled the country performing for national recording artists, has been featured on more magazines and news papers than you could shake a stick at and won his fair share of contests.
As you can imagine, anytime you portray someone as famous as Cody, you better know your stuff. In national competitions you are judged in three areas: Accuracy of Outfit; Presentation and; subject knowledge (usually quizzed by nationally known authors on the subject) In 2012, Tom was named the official Buffalo Bill at the annual competition in Golden at the Buffalo Bill Birthday Bash in conjunction with the Buffalo Bill grave and museum on Lookout Mountain. Pretty impressive when you consider he was up against the best impersonators in the country.
It was an evening together with our own Wyatt Earp (I’ll talk about him in the next installment) and Tom – that started the two wondering what a conversation between Earp and Cody would have encompassed – that got the creative juices flowing. You will need to wait for the next post to see how that came about!