Doc Holliday – An American legend

John Henry Holliday (1852 – 1887), in short Doc Holliday, is maybe one of the most famous dentists in the American history.
Several pictures were painted of him, books and articles were written about his
life, his career and fate were recorded on TV films. Outside the US, he is
surely not widely known; this writing is trying to make his fascinating and
mysterious personality better known, and to extend his popularity. First of
all, Doc Holliday became known because of his participation in the legendary
gun-fight “Shoot out at the O.K. Corral”.

In this fight he took part with the brothers Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan Earp, the judge of Tombstone city and Arizona.
During the fight, three of the law-breaker delinquents were killed and several
of them were made unfit for fighting, whereas Doc Holliday and the Earp
brothers got off with smaller injuries. This affair stirred a big storm in the
whole country, Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers became national heroes. A few
days later, during a trial they were acquitted by right of self-defence. It was
rumoured for years that Doc had killed ca. 40 people, but the following
investigations proved that they were only 4 who tried to shoot Doc.

John Henry Holliday was born in Griffin, Georgia,
in 1852. He came from a well-known family, his father was a lawyer of good repute,
a plant-cultivator and an army officer. According to a biography published recently
by a descendant he was born with a crack on the roof of the mouth, which was
operated at the age of 1. The operation was performed by John S. Holliday, his
father’s cousin, whose assistant was Crawford W. Long from Atlanta. Mr. Long just then initiated ether
as narcotic into surgery, so the little John Henry’s harelip-operation was the
first one performed in narcosis. John Henry became a high-spirited, sometimes a
bit wild young man. To protect him from troubles and annoyances, his father
decided to send him to a dental school. At the age of 18, John Henry moved to
the Dental Institute of Pennsylvania University. He became an excellent
dentist. The gold crown which he put onto a 6-year-old girl’s tooth in 1871 as
student, held out to the girl’s death at the age of 102 in 1967. In the dental
institute he got infected with tuberculosis, so after finishing his studies, he
moved immediately to the western coast in the hope that the warm and dry
climate of that place will have a good effect on his health. His doctor
predicted him ca. one year, but he lived still 15 years, and died in November
1887. His father was a rich man, so he had no financial problems, but Holliday
senior probably wouldn’t have approved, if he had known that his son didn’t
complete his dental appliance and equipment from the abundant allowance, but
instead of that he had a passion for gambling. Under these circumstances he had
several employments; the hostile, malicious gamblers who didn’t know the law
often threatened his life as well.

When he left home, he armed himself with
pistols and knives which often saved his life. As I’ve already said, the
reasons for acquittals were always self-defence. As far as it’s provable, Doc
never shot at anyone if he wasn’t attacked. In spite of his tuberculosis Doc
drank a lot in order to relieve his pain, and on the other hand to narcotize
himself. He was said to need a big glass of whiskey in the morning in order to
be able to work, but his friends and acquaintances never saw him in a state of
drunkenness. His alcoholism influenced neither his talent for playing cards nor
his hit-precision – even his opponents had to establish it. After several
adventures which cannot be described for lack of place, he went into the
Glenwood Springs Sanatorium, because his condition worsened.

His friends were with him beside his death-bed, and they established
that he took notice cheerfully of dying in bed with naked
feet instead of being hit by a bullet while wearing boots. He asked for a last glass
of whiskey, and finally said: “It’s really comical.” He died on the 8th
November 1887, at the age of 35, the burial took place at the local cemetery.
During a conversation in 1896, Wyatt Earp said about Doc Holliday: “Doc was a
dentist who was made a gambler by pressure, his illness made him tramping. He
was a philosopher who was made an evil-tongued commentator by life. He was a
tall-grew, thin guy with ash-blond hair who nearly drank himself to death, and
at the same time, the cleverest gambler, iron-nerved, fast and with a gun the
most deadly one that I’ve ever known.”

Page by Greyman

13 Responses to “Doc Holliday – An American legend”

  1. Bill Dunn says:

    John Henry ” Doc ” Holliday was born 14 August 1851 !!!

  2. Slowly John says:

    nice page ZaPaTa!!!
    for a image-recherche can maybe help the follow service: …firefox has also an add on
    best greetings

  3. ZaPaTa says:

    Note* The photo you see here of John Escapule was often mistaken for Tombstone’s “Doc Holliday”.

    indeed! thanks for mentioning Joe!

  4. Joe Stewart says:

    I just wanted to let you know that the photo you have of Doc Holliday is truly that of John Escapule 1857-1926.


  5. GREYMAN says:

    I saw your post Zap. In Hungary, there were no more such cartoons when I was a kid./unfortunately/ I knew Blueberry only movies. /With Vincent Cassel, Michael Madsen it is one of my favorites./ But i also know that Belgium and France are the homelands of the comics. 🙂

  6. ZaPaTa says:

    I posted once some shots out of a Belgium comic called Blueberry. Doc is taking part as a character in some of them, a couple of tales centered around the shooting at the OK coral.

  7. JesseJames says:

    Greyman, the page of Jesse James will be very nice I think 🙂

  8. GREYMAN says:

    I think too Jesse!
    He is always overlooked was the shadow of Wyatt Earp. It is hard to find information about Holliday.
    I think Doc was the fastest, but it’s an subjective opinion.
    The following will be Jesse James!
    Thanks all visitors!

  9. JesseJames says:

    Indeed interesting man, never heard it. Very nice.

  10. Biondo says:

    I’ll never look at my dentist in the same way 🙂
    Interesting story, Grey.

  11. GREYMAN says:

    Thanks, and for your help too 🙂

  12. SAPE says:

    Nice page Grey. Congratulation.

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