The Mysterious Deaths of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

The Mysterious Deaths of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

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As Carlos Pero encouraged his mule to lumber up a rugged trail high in the Andes Mountains on the morning of November 4, 1908, little did the courier for the Aramayo, Francke and Cia mining company realize that his every move was being watched. Pero later recounted that after cresting a hill, he was “surprised by two Yankees, whose faces were covered with bandanas and whose rifles were cocked and ready to fire.” The pair of masked bandits robbed the courier of the company’s payroll and then disappeared into the cacti-dotted desolation of southern Bolivia.

Three days later, a quartet of Bolivian authorities cornered a pair of Americans suspected of being the perpetrators in a rented house in the dusty village of San Vicente. The Pinkerton Detective Agency—which had been on the trail of Butch Cassidy and Harry Longabaugh, known as the “Sundance Kid,” for years—had warned banks across South America to be on the lookout for the duo who had fled there from the United States in 1901, and later accounts reported those were the identities of the two Americans holed up in San Vicente.

As a Bolivian soldier approached the hideout, the Americans shot him dead. A brief exchange of gunfire ensued. After it subsided, San Vicente mayor Cleto Bellot reported hearing “three screams of desperation” followed by a single gunshot, then another, from inside the house. When the Bolivian authorities cautiously entered the hideout the following morning, they found the bodies of the two foreigners.

The man thought to be the Sundance Kid was slumped against a wall with bullet wounds to his body and a gunshot to his forehead. The man believed to be Cassidy was next to him on the floor with a bullet hole to his temple. Contrary to the 1969 film “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” in which the outlaws go down in a blaze of glory amid a hail of bullets, it appeared that Cassidy had shot his wounded partner between the eyes before turning the gun on himself.

At an inquest, Pero identified the corpses as those of the thieves who had ambushed him—although all he had ever seen of the masked men were their eyes. But neither Pero nor anyone else ever positively identified the two dead men as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid before their reported burial in an unmarked grave in a San Vicente cemetery. Although descriptions of the deceased bandits bore some resemblance to the legendary robbers, no photographs of the bodies were ever taken to provide proof.

With no conclusive evidence to confirm the deaths of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, rumors took root that the pair had once again eluded the long arm of the law, and sightings of the duo in South America, Mexico and the United States continued for decades to come.

Family members fueled the stories by insisting that the men had never been killed and instead returned to the United States to live into old age. Cassidy’s sister, Lula Parker Betenson, wrote in her 1975 book “Butch Cassidy, My Brother” that the outlaw had returned to the family ranch in Circleville, Utah, in 1925 to visit his ailing father and attend a family wedding. According to Betenson, Cassidy told the family that a friend of his had planted the story that one of the men killed in Bolivia was him so that he would no longer be pursued. She claimed that Cassidy lived in the state of Washington under an alias until his death in 1937. Betenson said her brother was buried in an unmarked grave in a location that was kept a family secret.

For decades, husband-and-wife researchers Daniel Buck and Anne Meadows mined South American archives and police reports seeking to track down the true story of what happened to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, a saga that Meadows detailed in her book “Digging up Butch and Sundance.” While the paper trail pointed to their demise in Bolivia, conclusive evidence as to the identities of the bandits killed in San Vicente in November 1908 rested under the ground of the village’s cemetery.

The researchers enlisted the help of Clyde Snow, the renowned forensic anthropologist who had conclusively identified the remains of Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele, and received permission from Bolivian authorities to exhume the robbers’ bodies. Guided to their purported grave by an elderly villager whose father had reportedly witnessed the shootout, diggers in 1991 unearthed a skeleton of one man along with a piece of a skull from another.

After a detailed forensic analysis and a comparison of DNA to the relatives of Cassidy and Longabaugh, Snow found there was no match. The skeleton was instead likely to have been that of a German miner named Gustav Zimmer who had worked in the area. It’s possible that the bodies of the iconic desperados remain buried elsewhere in the San Vicente cemetery or even outside of its walls. Without any conclusive proof of the whereabouts of the bodies of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, however, their ultimate fate remains a mystery.

'Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid:' Why That Ending?

Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid's ending, a freeze-frame of our outlaw heroes right before they charge half of the Bolivian army, is sudden and might even make the film seem incomplete. Based on historical facts and the overwhelming odds, we can assume that this "blaze of glory" ends in the violent deaths of Butch and Sundance, played by Paul Newman and Robert Redford. But why did director George Roy Hill choose not to show us the shootout? It's one of the most memorable scenes in '60s cinema, perhaps because it isn't really a "scene" at all. It's a still image, accompanied by the shouts of the Bolivian soldiers and the sound of huge volleys of gunfire.


According to a memorandum from the Pinkerton Detective Agency, dated July 29, 1902, she was "said . to be from Texas", and in another Pinkerton document dated 1906, she is described as being, "27 to 28 years old", placing her birth in 1878 or 1879. A hospital staff record from Denver, where she received treatment in May 1900, reports her age as "22 or 23", putting her birth year at 1877 or 1878.

Like Etta Place’s history, her name is somewhat ambiguous. "Place" was the maiden surname of Longabaugh's mother (Annie Place), and she is recorded in various sources as Mrs. Harry Longabaugh or Mrs. Harry A. Place. In the one instance where she is known to have signed her name, she did so as "Mrs. Ethel Place". The Pinkertons called her "Ethel", "Ethal", "Eva", and "Rita" before finally settling on "Etta" for its wanted posters. [1] Her name may have become "Etta" after she moved to South America, where Spanish speakers had trouble pronouncing "Ethel".

In February 1901, Etta Place accompanied Longabaugh to New York City, where at Tiffany's jewelers they purchased a lapel watch and stickpin, and posed for the now-famous DeYoung portrait at a studio in Union Square on Broadway. It is one of only two known images of her. On February 20, 1901, she sailed with Longabaugh and Parker (who was now posing as "James Ryan," her fictional brother), aboard the British ship Herminius for Buenos Aires.

There, she settled with the two outlaws on a ranch they had purchased near Cholila in the Chubut Province of southwest Argentina, living in a four-room log cabin on the east bank of the Blanco River. Under a new 1884 law, they were granted 15,000 acres (61 km²) of adjacent land to develop, 2,500 of which belonged to Place, who has the distinction of being the first woman in Argentina to acquire land under the new act, as land ownership had previously been denied to women.

On March 3, 1902, Longabaugh and she returned to New York City on the SS Soldier Prince, probably to visit family and friends in the United States. On April 2, they registered at a Mrs. Thompson's rooming house in New York City. They toured Coney Island and visited his family (originally from Mont Clare, Pennsylvania, but by then living in Atlantic City, New Jersey). They also possibly traveled to a Dr. Pierce's Invalid Hotel in Buffalo, New York, for unspecified medical treatment. They then traveled west, where again they sought medical treatment, this time in Denver, Colorado. They returned to Buenos Aires from New York on July 10, 1902, aboard the steamer Honorius, posing as stewards. On August 9, she was with Longabaugh at the Hotel Europa in Buenos Aires, and on the 15th, she sailed with him aboard the steamer SS Chubut to return to their ranch.

In the summer of 1904, she made another visit with Longabaugh to the United States, where the Pinkerton Detective Agency traced them to Fort Worth, Texas, and to the St. Louis World Fair, but failed to arrest them before they returned to Argentina. In early 1905, the trio sold the Cholila ranch, as once again the law was beginning to catch up with them. The Pinkerton Agency had known their precise address for months, but the rainy season prevented their assigned agent, Frank Dimaio, from traveling there and making an arrest. Governor Julio Lezana issued an arrest warrant, but before it could be executed, Sheriff Edward Humphreys, a Welsh Argentinian who was friendly with Parker and enamored of Place, tipped them off. The trio fled north to San Carlos de Bariloche, where they embarked on the steamer Condor across Lake Nahuel Huapi and into Chile.

By the end of that year, however, they were back in Argentina. On December 19, 1904, Place took part, along with Longabaugh, Parker, and an unknown male, in the robbery of the Banco de la Nacion in Villa Mercedes, 400 miles west of Buenos Aires. Pursued by armed lawmen, they crossed the Pampas and the Andes and again into Chile.

Place had long been tired of life on the run, and deeply lamented the loss of their ranch. At her request, on June 30, 1906, Longabaugh accompanied her from Valparaiso, Chile, to San Francisco, where she apparently remained while he returned permanently to South America. After this parting, no evidence shows that Longabaugh and Place ever saw one another again.

Those who had met Place claimed the first thing they noticed about her was that she was strikingly pretty, with a very nice smile, and that she was cordial, articulate, refined in speech and manners, and an excellent shot with a rifle. She was said to have spoken in an educated manner, and she indicated she was originally from the East Coast, although she never revealed an exact location.

Years later, eyewitnesses said that Place was one of only five women known to have been allowed into the Wild Bunch hideout at Robbers Roost in southern Utah, the other four having been Will Carver's girlfriend Josie Bassett, who also was involved with Parker for a time Josie's sister and Parker's longtime girlfriend Ann Bassett Elzy Lay's girlfriend Maude Davis and gang member Laura Bullion. Place was believed to have once been married to a schoolteacher, and at least one person claimed Place herself was a teacher who abandoned her husband and two children to be with Longabaugh. It has also been speculated that she met the gang while working as a prostitute and was originally Parker's lover, and became involved with Longabaugh later, but no direct evidence of this has been found. She may have met Parker and/or Longabaugh in the brothel of Madame Fannie Porter in San Antonio, which was frequented by members of the Wild Bunch gang. Several gang members met girlfriends at Madame Porter's, who later traveled with them, including Kid Curry and Della Moore, a prostitute, and Will Carver and Lillie Davis. Wild Bunch female gang member Laura Bullion is believed to have worked at the brothel from time to time. [2]

Identity theories Edit

Ethel Bishop Edit

Place's real name has been suggested to be Ethel Bishop. Such a woman lived at another brothel, at 212 Concho Street, around the corner from Madame Porter's. On the 1900 census, Bishop's occupation was given as "unemployed music teacher". Born in West Virginia in September 1876, she was 23 at the time. The Ethel Bishop hypothesis combines the claim that she was a schoolteacher with the one that she was a prostitute. [3]

Ann Bassett Edit

Another conjecture is that she was a cattle rustler named Ann Bassett (1878–1956), who knew and ran with the Wild Bunch at the turn of the 20th century. Both Bassett and Place were attractive women, with similar facial features, body frame, and hair color. Bassett was born in 1878, the same year Place was thought to have been born. Dr. Thomas G. Kyle of the Computer Research Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory, who performed many photographic comparisons for government intelligence agencies, conducted a series of tests on photographs of Etta Place and Ann Bassett. Both had the same scar or cowlick at the top of their forehead. Dr. Kyle concluded that there could be no reasonable doubt they were the same person. [4] Historian Doris Karren Burton also investigated the lives of both women and published a book in 1992 claiming they were one and the same. [5]

However, Bassett and Place's chronologies do not align. Several documents prove that Bassett was in Wyoming during much of the time when Place was in South America. Bassett was arrested and briefly incarcerated in Utah for rustling cattle in 1903, while Place was in South America with Longabaugh and Parker. Bassett also married her first husband in Utah that year, so could not have been in South America during that time. [6]

Eunice Gray Edit

A once-popular theory held that she was Eunice Gray, who for many years operated a brothel in Fort Worth, and later ran the Waco Hotel there until she died in a fire in January 1962. Gray once told Delbert Willis of the Fort Worth Press, "I've lived in Fort Worth since 1901. That is except for the time I had to high-tail it out of town. Went to South America for a few years . until things settled down." Willis conceded that Gray never claimed to be Etta Place he merely made that connection on his own, given the similarities in their ages, and the period in which Gray said she was in South America coinciding with Place's time there. Gray was described as a beautiful woman, and Willis believed that Place and Gray held a striking resemblance to one another, but no photographs of Gray from that period are available to compare with Place's. In 2007, amateur genealogist Donna Donnell found Eunice Gray on a 1911 passenger list from Panama. Following that lead, she tracked down Gray's niece, who had two photographs of her one was taken at her high-school graduation circa 1896, and another from sometime in the 1920s. Comparing those photos to Place's, both agreed that Eunice Gray was definitely not Etta Place. [7]

Madaline Wilson Edit

Yet another theory suggests that Place was actually Madaline Wilson, another woman in Fannie Porter's brothel. Sleuth Tony Hays notes that of the five women in Fannie's "boarding house", all were born around 1878–80. One woman, 22-year-old Wilson, appeared in the 1900 census records of Bexar County, Texas, immediately beneath Madame Porter's name. Like Porter, Wilson was listed as being of English birth, immigrating to the United States in 1884 at the age of six. Hays theorizes that Wilson changed her name, and that her British accent, tempered by 16 years in America, might be described as "refined". All traces of Wilson disappeared after the 1900 census after Place and Longabaugh left town. [6]

Life after Longabaugh Edit

Considerable debate still remains over when Place's relationship with Longabaugh ended. Some claims indicate that Place ended her relationship with Longabaugh and returned to the United States before his death. Others believe that the two remained romantically involved, and that she simply tired of life in South America. By 1907, she was known to have been living in San Francisco, but after that, she vanished without a trace.

In 1909, a woman matching Place's description asked Frank Aller (US vice consul in Antofagasta, Chile) for assistance in obtaining a death certificate for Longabaugh. No such certificate was issued, and the woman's identity was never ascertained. [8]

Author Richard Llewellyn claimed that while in Argentina, he found indications that Place had moved to Paraguay following the death of Longabaugh, and that she had married a wealthy man. Also, rumors arose that Etta Place was in fact Edith Mae, wife of famous boxing promoter Tex Rickard, who retired to a ranch in Paraguay shortly after promoting the famous fight between Jack Johnson and Jim Jeffries in 1910.

A Pinkerton report states that a woman matching Place's description was killed in a shootout resulting from a domestic dispute with a man named Mateo Gebhart in Chubut, Argentina, in March 1922. Another report claims she committed suicide in 1924 in Argentina, and yet another states that she died of natural causes in 1966.

Various additional claims have been made about her life after the death of Longabaugh. Some believe that she returned to New York City, while other theories suggest she moved back to Texas and started a new life there. One claim is that she returned to her life as a schoolteacher, living the remainder of her life in Denver, Colorado, and another story says she lived the remainder of her life teaching in Marion, Oregon. Also various claims contend that she returned to prostitution, living the remainder of her life in Texas, California, or New York, but these claims are mere speculation, without any supporting evidence.

Researcher Larry Pointer, author of the 1977 book In Search of Butch Cassidy, wrote that Place's identity and fate are "one of the most intriguing riddles in western history. Leads develop only to dissolve into ambiguity." [9]

Law enforcement

In the middle of the second robbery, a mysterious posse shows up, and begins to chase Butch and Sundance. “Who are those guys?” they wonder, repeatedly. They single out a marshal called Joe Lefors and a native American tracker called Lord Baltimore. In real life, EH Harriman engaged the Pinkerton National Detective Agency to hunt Cassidy’s gang. The Pinkertons sent a posse after the outlaws in 1899. The posse did include Lefors, but not Baltimore – he didn’t exist. The film’s long, inescapable pursuit across the west is fictional. The real Cassidy easily evaded the posse.


In 1899 Wyoming, Butch Cassidy is the affable, clever, talkative leader of the outlaw Hole-in-the-Wall Gang. His closest companion is the laconic dead-shot "Sundance Kid". The two return to their hideout at Hole-in-the-Wall (Wyoming) to discover that the rest of the gang, irked at Butch's long absences, have selected Harvey Logan as their new leader.

Harvey challenges Butch to a knife fight over the gang's leadership. Butch defeats him using trickery, but embraces Harvey's idea to rob the Union Pacific Overland Flyer train on both its eastward and westward runs, agreeing that the second robbery would be unexpected and likely reap even more money than the first.

The first robbery goes well. To celebrate, Butch visits a favorite brothel in a nearby town and watches, amused, as the town marshal unsuccessfully attempts to organize a posse to track down the gang, only to have his address to the townsfolk hijacked by a friendly bicycle salesman (he calls it "the future"). Sundance visits his lover, schoolteacher Etta Place and they spend the night together. Butch joins up with them early the next morning, and takes Etta for a ride on his new bike.

On the second train robbery, Butch uses too much dynamite to blow open the safe, which is much larger than the safe on the previous job. The explosion demolishes the baggage car in the process. As the gang scrambles to gather up the money, a second train arrives carrying a six-man team of lawmen. The crack squad doggedly pursues Butch and Sundance, who try various ruses to get away, all of which fail. They try to hide out in the brothel, and then to seek amnesty from the friendly Sheriff Bledsoe, but he tells them their days are numbered and all they can do is flee.

As the posse remains in pursuit, despite all attempts to elude them, Butch and Sundance determine that the group includes renowned Indian tracker "Lord Baltimore" and relentless lawman Joe Lefors, recognizable by his white skimmer. Butch and Sundance finally elude their pursuers by jumping from a cliff into a river far below. They learn from Etta that the posse has been paid by Union Pacific head E. H. Harriman to remain on their trail until Butch and Sundance are both killed.

Butch convinces Sundance and Etta that the three should go to Bolivia, which Butch envisions as a robber's paradise. On their arrival there, Sundance is dismayed by the living conditions and regards the country with contempt, but Butch remains optimistic. They discover that they know too little Spanish to pull off a bank robbery, so Etta attempts to teach them the language. With her as an accomplice, they become successful bank robbers known as Los Bandidos Yanquis. However, their confidence drops when they see a man wearing a white hat (the signature of determined lawman Lefors) and fear that Harriman's posse is still after them.

Butch suggests "going straight", and he and Sundance land their first honest job as payroll guards for a mining company. However, they are ambushed by local bandits on their first run and their boss, Percy Garris, is killed. Butch and Sundance kill the bandits, the first time Butch has ever shot someone. Etta recommends farming or ranching as other lines of work, but they conclude the straight life isn't for them. Sensing they will be killed should they return to robbery, Etta decides to go back to the United States.

Butch and Sundance steal a payroll and the mules carrying it, and arrive in a small town. A boy recognizes the mules' brand and alerts the local police, leading to a gunfight with the outlaws. Butch has to make a desperate run to the mules to get ammunition, while Sundance provides covering fire. Both are wounded and they take cover in a building. Butch suggests the duo's next destination should be Australia. They charge out of the building, guns blazing, directly into a hail of bullets from massed troops who have occupied all of the vantage points. The film ends on a freeze-frame, as sounds of the Bolivian troops firing on the doomed outlaws are heard.

    as Butch Cassidy as the Sundance Kid as Etta Place as Percy Garris as Bike Salesman as Sheriff Bledsoe as Woodcock as Agnes as Harvey Logan as Marshal as Macon as "News" Carver as Flat Nose Curry as Card Player #1 as Card Player #2 as Large Woman on Train

Screenplay Edit

William Goldman first came across the story of Butch Cassidy in the late 1950s and researched intermittently for eight years before starting to write the screenplay. [7] Goldman says he wrote the story as an original screenplay because he did not want to do the research to make it as authentic as a novel. [8] Goldman later stated:

The whole reason I wrote the . thing, there is that famous line that Scott Fitzgerald wrote, who was one of my heroes, "There are no second acts in American lives." When I read about Cassidy and Longabaugh and the superposse coming after them—that's phenomenal material. They ran to South America and lived there for eight years and that was what thrilled me: they had a second act. They were more legendary in South America than they had been in the old West . It's a great story. Those two guys and that pretty girl going down to South America and all that stuff. It just seems to me it's a wonderful piece of material. [8]

The characters' flight to South America caused one executive to reject the script, as it was then unusual in Western films for the protagonists to flee. [9]

Development Edit

According to Goldman, when he first wrote the script and sent it out for consideration, only one studio wanted to buy it—and that was with the proviso that the two lead characters did not flee to South America. When Goldman protested that that was what had happened, the studio head responded, "I don't give a shit. All I know is John Wayne don't run away." [10]

Goldman rewrote the script, "didn't change it more than a few pages, and subsequently found that every studio wanted it." [10]

The role of Sundance was offered to Jack Lemmon, whose production company, JML, had produced the film Cool Hand Luke (1967) starring Newman. Lemmon, however, turned down the role because he did not like riding horses and felt that he had already played too many aspects of the Sundance Kid's character before. [11] Other actors considered for the role of Sundance were Steve McQueen and Warren Beatty, who both turned it down, with Beatty claiming that the film was too similar to Bonnie and Clyde. According to Goldman, McQueen and Newman both read the scripts at the same time and agreed to do the film. McQueen eventually backed out of the film due to disagreements with Newman. The two actors would eventually team up in the 1974 disaster film The Towering Inferno. Jacqueline Bisset was a top contender for the role of Etta Place. [12]

Premieres Edit

The world premiere of the film was on September 23, 1969, at the Roger Sherman Theater, in New Haven, Connecticut. The premiere was attended by Paul Newman, his wife Joanne Woodward, Robert Redford, George Roy Hill, William Goldman, and John Foreman, among others. [13] It opened the next day in New York City [1] at the Penthouse and Sutton theatres. [14]

Home media Edit

The film became available on DVD on May 16, 2000 in a Special Edition that is also available on VHS. [ citation needed ]

Box office Edit

The film grossed $82,625 in its opening week from two theatres in New York City. [14] The following week it expanded and became the number one film in the United States and Canada for two weeks. [15] [16] It went on to earn $15 million in theatrical rentals in the United States and Canada by the end of 1969. [17] According to Fox records the film required $13,850,000 in rentals to break even and by December 11, 1970 had made $36,825,000 so made a considerable profit to the studio. [18] It eventually returned $45,953,000 in rentals. [19]

With a final US gross of over $100 million, [20] it was the top-grossing film released in 1969.

It was the eighth-most-popular film of 1970 in France. [21]

Critical response Edit

Early reviews gave the film mediocre grades, and New York and national reviews were "mixed to terrible" though better elsewhere, screenwriter William Goldman recalled in his book Which Lie Did I Tell?: More Adventures in the Screen Trade. [22]

Time magazine said the film's two male stars are "afflicted with cinematic schizophrenia. One moment they are sinewy, battered remnants of a discarded tradition. The next they are low comedians whose chaffing relationship—and dialogue—could have been lifted from a Batman and Robin episode." [23] Time also criticized the film's score as absurd and anachronistic.

Roger Ebert's review of the movie was a mixed 2.5 out of 4 stars. He praised the beginning of the film and its three lead actors, but felt the film progressed too slowly and had an unsatisfactory ending. But after Harriman hires his posse, Ebert thought the movie's quality declined: "Hill apparently spent a lot of money to take his company on location for these scenes, and I guess when he got back to Hollywood he couldn't bear to edit them out of the final version. So the Super-posse chases our heroes unceasingly, until we've long since forgotten how well the movie started.” [24]

Over time, major American movie reviewers have been widely favorable. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an 88% approval rating based on 52 reviews and an average score of 8.3/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "With its iconic pairing of Paul Newman and Robert Redford, jaunty screenplay and Burt Bacharach score, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid has gone down as among the defining moments in late-'60s American cinema." [25]

The Writers Guild of America ranked the screenplay #11 on its list of 101 Greatest Screenplays ever written. [26]

Awards and nominations Edit

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid also won record-breaking nine British Academy Film Awards, including Best Film, Best Direction, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Actor (won by Redford though Newman was also nominated), and Best Actress for Katharine Ross, among others. [28]

In 2003, the film was selected for the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". The Academy Film Archive preserved Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in 1998. [29]

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was selected by the American Film Institute as the 7th-greatest Western of all time in the AFI's 10 Top 10 list in 2008. [ citation needed ]

Award Category Recipient/Nominee Result
Academy Awards Best Picture John Foreman Nominated
Best Director George Roy Hill Nominated
Best Original Screenplay William Goldman Won
Best Cinematography Conrad Hall Won
Best Original Score Burt Bacharach Won
Best Original Song Burt Bacharach and Hal David Won
Best Sound David Dockendorf and William Edmondson Nominated
British Academy Film Awards Best Film George Roy Hill Won
Best Direction George Roy Hill Won
Best Actor in a Leading Role Robert Redford Won
Paul Newman Nominated
Best Actress in a Leading Role Katharine Ross Won
Best Screenplay William Goldman Won
Best Cinematography Conrad Hall Won
Best Editing John C. Howard and Richard C. Meyer Won
Best Original Music Burt Bacharach Won
Best Sound David Dockendorf and William Edmondson Won
Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture – Drama John Foreman Nominated
Best Screenplay William Goldman Nominated
Best Original Score Burt Bacharach Nominated
Best Original Song Burt Bacharach and Hal David Nominated

The film inspired the television series Alias Smith and Jones, starring Pete Duel and Ben Murphy as outlaws trying to earn an amnesty. [30]

A parody titled "Botch Casually and the Somedunce Kid" was published in Mad. It was illustrated by Mort Drucker and written by Arnie Kogen in issue No. 136, July 1970. [31]

In 1979 Butch and Sundance: The Early Days, a prequel, was released starring Tom Berenger as Butch Cassidy and William Katt as the Sundance Kid. It was directed by Richard Lester and written by Allan Burns. William Goldman, the writer of the original film, was an executive producer. Jeff Corey was the only actor to appear in the original and the prequel.

But this leads us to the final scenes.

On November 3, 1908, the payroll for the Aramayo silver mining company, in Bolivia, was robbed by two American outlaws. A large amount of money was taken.

But, also taken was a mule. This mule had the brand of the mining company.
The mule would become the reason for the end of Butch and Sundance.

A few days later, the men came to San Vicente, Bolivia. It's extremely remote and about 15,000 feet high.
They found refuge for the night in a small house.
But the man who rented them the lodgings saw the brand and became suspicious.
He notified the authorities.

Several soldiers, along with the Mayor and others, approached the patio where the two men ate their dinner.

When the soldiers yelled for the men to surrender, two of them were shot and killed.
Very possibly this was the only time that Butch had killed someone.
The patio was surrounded by the soldiers and locals and there was a shootout.
As always with history, the facts are not clear.
One story is that one of the men tried to retrieve their rifles and ammunition from a pack mule and was killed.
Later, a single shot was heard.

Another story is that both men had been wounded
and that one of them had killed the other and then himself.

In the light of the next day, November 7, the two men were found dead.

The bodies were buried in unmarked graves and the world was told that the famous bandits,
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were dead.

Butch was 42 years old and Sundance was 41.

There is no actual evidence that the dead men really were Butch and Sundance.
But the sister of Sundance said that he had always written her and the letters stopped.

Regardless of rumors, there is no actual, credible evidence
that Butch ever returned to visit his family in the United States.

Years later, his sister wrote a book saying that he had visited in 1925.
Butch was the oldest of thirteen children but his other siblings denied that he had ever shown up.

Some of the reported sightings, including the story that Butch had been living near Spokane, were hoaxes.

However, the Pinkertons never actually closed the case.

It would be nice that Butch had survived. He was a gentleman outlaw.
But, I am sure that he and Sundance met their end, high in the Andes, in an unexpected and violent death.

I have based much of this webpage on a book that was first published in 1954.
The author, James Horan, had talked extensively with a Pinkertons detective,
(ninety years old at the time), who had been actively involved in the hunt for Butch and Sundance.
The author also spoke at length with Percy Siebert.

I believe this webpage is accurate.
I believe that Butch and Sundance really were killed in Bolivia.

Sundance Kid is not known to have killed anyone, despite being one of the most popular gunslingers in the Old West

Harry Alonzo Longabaugh better known as the Sundance Kid, was a notorious outlaw and member of Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch in the American Old West. Longabaugh likely met Butch Cassidy (real name Robert Leroy Parker) after Parker was released from prison around 1896.

Together with the other members of “The Wild Bunch” gang, they performed the longest string of successful train and bank robberies in American history.

Longabaugh was born in Mont Clare, Pennsylvania in 1867, the son of Pennsylvania natives Josiah and Annie G. Longabaugh. He was the youngest of five children (his older siblings were Ellwood, Samanna, Emma and Harvey). Longabaugh was of mostly English and German ancestry and was also part Welsh. Scroll down for video

At age 15, Longabaugh traveled westward in a covered wagon with his cousin George. In 1887, Longabaugh stole a gun, horse and saddle from a ranch in Sundance, Wyoming. While attempting to flee, he was captured by authorities and was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in jail by Judge William L. Maginnis.

During this jail time, he adopted the nickname of the Sundance Kid. After his release, he went back to working as a ranch hand, and in 1891, as a 25-year-old, he worked at the Bar U Ranch in what is today Alberta, Canada, which was one of the largest commercial ranches of the time.

Longabaugh was suspected of taking part in a train robbery in 1892, and in a bank robbery in 1897 with five other men. He became associated with a group known as the “Wild Bunch,” which included his famous partner Robert Leroy Parker, better known as Butch Cassidy.

Although Longabaugh was reportedly fast with a gun and was often referred to as a “gunfighter,” he is not known to have killed anyone prior to a later shootout in Bolivia, where he and Parker were alleged to have been killed. He became better known than another outlaw member of the gang dubbed “Kid”, Kid Curry (real name Harvey Logan), who killed numerous men while with the gang.

The “Sundance Kid” was possibly mistaken for “Kid Curry” many articles referred to “the Kid.” Longabaugh did participate in a shootout with lawmen who trailed a gang led by George Curryto the Hole-in-the-Wall hideout in Wyoming and was thought to have wounded two lawmen in that shootout. With that exception, though, his verified involvement in shootouts is unknown.

Longabaugh and Logan used a log cabin at what is now Old Trail Town in Cody, Wyoming as a hide-out as they planned to rob a bank in Red Lodge, Montana. Parker, Longabaugh, and other desperados met at another cabin brought to Old Trail Town from the Hole-in-the-Wall country in north-central Wyoming. That cabin was built in 1883 by Alexander Ghent.

Historically, the gang was for a time best known for their relatively low use of violence during the course of their robberies, relying heavily on intimidation and negotiation nevertheless, if captured, they would have faced hanging. However, that portrayal of the gang is less than accurate and mostly a result of Hollywood portrayals depicting them as usually “nonviolent.”

In reality, several people were killed by members of the gang, including five law enforcement officers killed by Logan alone. “Wanted dead or alive” posters were posted throughout the country, with as much as a $30,000 reward for information leading to their capture or deaths.

The Sundance Kid is seated first on the left.

They began hiding out at Hole-in-the-Wall, located near Kaycee, Wyoming. From there they could strike and retreat, with little fear of capture, since it was situated on high ground with a view in all directions of the surrounding territory. Pinkerton detectives led by Charlie Siringo, however, hounded the gang for a few years.

Parker and Longabaugh, evidently wanting to allow things to calm down a bit and looking for fresh robbing grounds, left the United States on February 20, 1901. Longabaugh sailed with his “wife” Etta Place and Parker aboard the British ship Herminius for Buenos Aires in Argentina.

The Myths and Legends of Butch Cassidy

So many myths and legends surround the life and demise of Butch Cassidy that it is difficult to sort fact from fiction. Charles Kelly related the story of sixteen-year-old Harry Ogden from Escalante, who spent his savings to purchase a good horse and a sixty-dollar saddle. When out riding along the border of Robbers’ Roost in 1898, an outlaw on a jaded mount forced young Ogden off his horse, gave the boy a quick kick in the pants, then rode off on Ogden’s animal. About three weeks later, Ogden received visitors at his home in Escalante. One of the men was Butch Cassidy, another was the outlaw who had stolen Ogden’s horse and was still riding it. When Cassidy asked Ogden if he had lost a horse, the boy quickly identified it. Butch Cassidy then ordered the outlaw off the horse and told him “to start walking toward a distant gap in the hills and keep on going.” He then said, “We don’t have any room in this country for a man who will mistreat a young boy.󈮂

Most who knew him described Butch Cassidy as an agreeable fellow with a sense of humor, generous with his associates, and quick to make friends with children. He also liked the ladies, and many apparently returned his affections. There is no documentation that he ever killed anyone, although some members of his loosely formed gang, called “The Wild Bunch,” could not make that claim. One of the prevailing beliefs, and one perpetuated by the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, is that Cassidy and the Sundance Kid met their deaths in Bolivia when they were involved in a shoot-out with the local military in 1912. There is no question that the two went with Etta Place to Argentina and later were in Bolivia. However, many individuals claim that Cassidy returned to the United States—some say to California, others claim to the Pacific Northwest—and lived the rest of his life within the law under an assumed identity.

Among those making the claim were members of his own family his sister Lula Parker Betenson claimed that Cassidy came for a visit in the fall of 1925. On that occasion he told members of his family that a friend, Percy Seibert, from the Concordia Tin Mines near San Vicente, Bolivia, identified the two bodies as being those of him and Sundance. Cassidy figured Seibert did this so he could make a new start for himself without being chased by the law, either in the United States or in South America. Apparently he had expressed just such a desire to Seibert on several occasions. In addition to his family’s claims, many former associates in Wyoming insisted that Butch Cassidy returned there for a visit in the 1930s.

Some residents of Garfield County also claim that they saw Butch Cassidy during the 1930s. In her autobiography, Emma Allene Savage Riddle recalled her experience: “One day I went with Dad to visit Elijah Moore. There were several other men at his home when we arrived. Elijah introduced us to them and one of them was an outlaw by the name of Leroy Parker, alias Butch Cassidy. This was after Butch had been reported killed in Bolivia, South America. I was in awe of the man, thinking I had met a real honest-to-goodness outlaw.󈮅

Wallace Ott told that Lige Moore invited him to come over to his home to meet Butch in 1937 or 1938. Ott said Kenneth Goulding, Sr., was also present. Reportedly Butch rehearsed for those gathered how he came to lead his life. He told Ott that while attending a dance in Panguitch he got into a fight with the boyfriend of one of the girls he danced with. At first everyone thought Butch had killed the guy, rather than just knocking him out. He quickly fled town, followed by a posse. In Red Canyon he eluded his pursuers by detouring up a gulch in the dark the posse rode on past him. Cassidy eventually made his way back to Circleville, where he packed up and headed for Colorado. A draw in Red Canyon today bears Cassidy’s name. The sequence of his exploits as he reportedly related them to those gathered in the Moore home does not agree with what has been written by others, and so the stories and speculation continue.

46 Kelly, Outlaw Trail, 168󈞱.
49 Emma Allene Savage Riddle, autobiography, undated typescript, 1. The authors thank Nancy Twitchell for providing them a copy of this.

Charles Kelly believes the two died in Bolivia, but Pointer presents some compelling evidence disputing that theory. Betenson, Butch Cassidy, 184󈟁. Wallace Ott, interview with Linda King Newell, 4 July 1995, transcript in possession of authors. Ott, interview, 1993. Butch Cassidy Draw is the first major drainage area east of the two tunnels that motorists on Utah Highway 12 pass through today.

Did Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid Die in Bolivia? Yes, but . . .

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid met their maker in a dusty Bolivian town on Nov. 6, 1908. Historians say they are dead. What refuses to die is the legend that they survived that shootout and lived on.

Now comes a batch of new research that tends to lay the legend in its grave. But don’t bank on it.

A husband-and-wife team of researchers, Daniel Buck and Anne Meadows, after 10 years of digging, have exhumed long-lost Argentine police files that appear to locate the two desperadoes just where conventional wisdom says they should have been in the late 1900s, Bolivia.

Their findings are in the January issue of True West, but Buck is the first to concede that they do not constitute proof positive.

“There’s never a final word,” Buck said from his home in Washington, D.C. “You can only build circumstantial cases here. No one identified them when they were buried, and there are no photographs [of the bodies].

“But, then, no one has proven they came back, either. Then you build a positive circumstantial case that they were the two guys who died in Bolivia.”

Butch Cassidy was christened Robert Leroy Parker by his Mormon pioneer parents. The Sundance Kid’s real name was Harry Longabaugh. The two and their gang, known as the Wild Bunch, held up banks and robbed trains in the Rocky Mountains in the 1890s.

With the law on their heels, they fled to Argentina in 1901, along with Sundance’s girlfriend, Etta Place. The three homesteaded a ranch in the Cholila Valley. By 1905, though, they were back to robbing banks.

Most historians believe that Butch and Sundance died in a shootout in San Vincente, a town in Bolivia, across Argentina’s northern border, where a patrol discovered them holed up in a rented hut.

A gunfight ensued, ending when darkness fell. Later that night, townspeople reported hearing screams and two shots. In the morning, they found both outlaws dead, both shot in the head.

The writers Buck and Meadows believe that rather than be captured, Cassidy shot Sundance, then himself.

Since 1985 they had chased a rumor that police files would nail down the pair’s identity. In September they finally received a nine-pound, 1,500-page package of photocopied reports on outlaw bands that terrorized southern Argentina in the early 1900s.

A letter and three notes in the package of material were in Cassidy’s handwriting. They also found a Spanish translation of a letter from Sundance, and two other letters referring to the outlaws.

Cassidy, under his alias of “J.P. Ryan,” wrote on Feb. 29, 1904, to Dan Gibbon, a Welsh immigrant friend living in the Andean foothills of Chubut:

“I have been laid up with a bad case of the Town Disease and I don’t know just when I will be able to ride, but as soon as I am able I will be down. Look out for my horse.”

The letter was posted in Cholila. (And Cassidy probably had gonorrhea.) The papers included a receipt for Ryan’s purchase, for 150 pesos, of a chestnut stallion. Ryan added a postscript transferring ownership of the horse to Gibbon.

Another document details expenses by Ryan and “H. Place,” an alias used by Sundance, for routine ranching expenses.

The police record also held a June 28, 1905, letter from Sundance, translated into Spanish, and also addressed to Gibbon. It was posted in Valparaiso, Chile:

“I don’t want to see Cholila ever again, but I will think of you and of all our friends often. . . . .” The letter also mentions leaving with his “wife,” presumably Etta Place, for San Francisco.

A June 30, 1905, visit by Sundance and Etta Place to his brother, Elwood, who lived in San Francisco, is recounted in Donna Ernst’s book, “Sundance, My Uncle.”

Jim Dullenty, founder of the Western Outlaw Lawman History Assn., says the papers are not conclusive, but “this is additional evidence that Butch and Sundance died in Bolivia.”

“I strongly believe it hasn’t been proven one way or the other,” he said from Hamilton, Mont. “This is still an unsolved mystery . . . [but] I would say the evidence is beginning to weigh more on the side of them dying in South America.”

Still, tales of one or both of the outlaws escaping back to the United States are unlikely to fade.

William T. Phillips, a Spokane, Wash., man who died in 1937, wrote an article titled “The Bandit Invincible,” in which he claimed that Cassidy survived the shootout, had plastic surgery in Paris, married and eventually moved to Spokane about 1910.

Buck says recent research has shown Phillips to have been most likely an impostor born in Michigan who picked up on the outlaw’s legend when he moved West.

Harold Schindler, who has written extensively on the Old West for the Salt Lake Tribune, remains unconvinced by Buck and Meadows’ discovery.

Schindler favors a 1991 account by a retired Utah Highway Patrol trooper, Merrill Johnson, who has since died. Johnson said his father-in-law, John Kitchen, introduced him in 1941 to “an old friend of the family, Bob Parker--Butch Cassidy.”

Last Outlaw of the West – The Final Fate of the Sundance Kid

Does the Sundance Kid need an introduction? The adventurer and bank robber, usually mentioned with his partner Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch Gang, is familiar to anyone who ever heard of the term the Wild West.

Sundance Kid, who was born Harry Alonzo Longabaugh, was known to be a resourceful bandit and a person with a light trigger finger. But was it really so? To this day, no evidence has been found that Longabaugh ever killed anyone. He robbed banks, for sure. And acted violently―most probably. But no one died at his hand at least no record exists that can claim otherwise.

So let’s start from the beginning. Harry Alonzo Longabaugh was born in Mont Clare, Pennsylvania, in 1867. His parents were of English descent, with German and Welsh ancestry. He began his outlaw career at the age of 20 when he stole a gun and a horse but ended up in jail for 18 months.

It was during his prison sentence that he adopted the nickname “the Sundance Kid.” After serving his time, the Sundance Kid went to work in a large ranch in Canada, but a few years down the road, he decided to return to a life of crime.

In 1892, the Sundance Kid was a prime suspect in a train robbery, and in 1897, he and five more men broke into a bank. He became associated with Robert LeRoy Parker, aka Butch Cassidy, and his gang, dubbed the Wild Bunch. Together they would pass into legend as the last outlaws of the Wild West.

Constantly playing “cat and mouse” with agents from the infamous Pinkerton National Detective Agency, the Wild Bunch lived up to its name, as several people were killed during their actions. This is noted due to the image created mostly by Hollywood pictures, in which the gang usually performed non-violent robberies, relying on sheer intimidation, or negotiating with clerks and hostages.

The gang operated mostly in Wyoming, using a cleverly picked hiding place known as the Hole-in-the-Wall. During one of the raids on their hideout, Longabaugh did participate in a shoot-out, when he allegedly wounded two Pinkerton detectives.

This is the only known case in which the Sundance Kid actually shot someone―luckily for the agents, with less success than perhaps intended.

Harry A. Longabaugh, alias the Sundance Kid, Ben Kilpatrick, alias the Tall Texan, Robert Leroy Parker, alias Butch Cassidy Standing: Will Carver & Harvey Logan, alias Kid Curry Fort Worth, Texas, 1900.

The confusion surrounding his reputation runs deeper, as the Sundance Kid was known as one of the fastest guns in the West during his life. An explanation of this misconception most probably lies in a mistaken identity. There were, in fact, two members of the Wild Bunch dubbed “the Kid.” The first one was, of course, Sundance. But the second one, Kid Curry, remains nothing but a footnote in the history of those turbulent times.

Kid Curry, which was an alias for a man called Harvey Logan, was the one prone to excessive violence and murder. During the robberies conducted by the Wild Bunch, Logan was responsible for killing at least five officers.

Harry Longabaugh, alias the Sundance Kid, and Etta Place

Since the gang was no stranger to murder, how did the Sundance Kid manage to keep his hands clean?

Well, that remains a question to be answered, but even though he didn’t kill anyone in the United States, he most probably did during the final shootout which claimed his life, together with the life of his partner in crime, Butch Cassidy, in Bolivia in 1908.

As early as 1901, the Wild Bunch decided to disband to avoid capture and death. The country was swarming with “Dead or Alive” posters with their faces on them. Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and Etta Price, Kid’s lady companion, decided to flee to Argentina, with the Pinkertons still on their tail.

During their time in South America, the bandits conducted more robberies and raids, living off what they knew best. That was until a Pinkerton posse tracked them down. The two allegedly lost their lives while in a desperate shootout that took place in 1908, in a small village called San Vicente, in southern Bolivia.

Outnumbered and outgunned, their story became legendary, and from that point on was used in numerous fictional portrayals in literature, film, and television.

Engineer William T. Phillips claimed he was the real Cassidy

For many years, it was believed that a Spokane engineer named William T. Phillips was in fact Cassidy. He seems to have done everything possible to encourage this theory, even writing a book – Bandit Invincible – about Cassidy’s exploits. He also died in 1937, though Lula claimed he was not Cassidy.

It does appear that Phillips was an imposter. Historian Larry Pointer has uncovered two mugshots – one of Cassidy and one of Phillips, from the same period in Wyoming. It appears the two men probably served time together in the penitentiary, and that Phillips may have ridden for a time with the Wild Bunch.

In the early 1990s, two bodies believed to be Cassidy and Sundance were exhumed in Bolivia. DNA tests conducted by Clyde Snow, one of the nation’s foremost forensic anthropologists determined they were not Cassidy and Sundance.

According to Bill Betenson, his family knew exactly where Cassidy was buried after his alleged real death in 1937: “My great-grandmother, Butch’s little sister Lula, was very clear. She said that where he was buried, and under what name, was a family secret that he was chased all his life and now he had a chance to finally rest in peace – and that’s the way it must be.”

Watch the video: The Mysterious Death Of Butch Cassidy


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