With Hollywood as a guide, you know that legendary outlaw Butch Cassidy died in a blaze of gunfire in 1908 after being chased down in Bolivia and surrounded by cavalry. That established history is being challenged by a rare book collector and author, Brent Ashworth and Larry Pointer, who are enthusiastic about the idea that Cassidy shook free of his pursuers, hightailed it to Europe to get plastic surgery, and then retired to Washington state to pen his memoirs under a pseudonym. And the Associated Press, who reported the imaginative theory, entertains the notion for a bit:
A rare books collector says he has obtained a manuscript with new evidence that may give credence to that theory. The 200-page manuscript, "Bandit Invincible: The Story of Butch Cassidy," which dates to 1934, is twice as long as a previously known but unpublished novella of the same title by William T. Phillips, a machinist who died in Spokane in 1937.
The idea, it seems, is that Cassidy assumed the name William T. Phillips to write a novel about his exploits, which sound a little bit like fan fiction:
The manuscript has an ending fit for Hollywood. Cornered by the Bolivian cavalry while holding up a pack train, Butch and Sundance make a stand. Sundance is killed. Butch escapes to Europe, has plastic surgery in Paris, and schemes to return to the U.S. and reunite with an old girlfriend from Wyoming.
It isn't until the end of the Associated Press article that one huge caveat is pointed out: "DNA testing is unlikely to determine that Phillips, who was cremated, was Cassidy."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.