It’s one of the most famous gunfights in American history. It’s in basically half of all Western movies ever made. It’s a shootout that defined the American Wild West, a frontier of open country with, like, way more outlaws than lawmen, which pretty much made it like living in Grand Theft Auto.
More importantly, though, it was a shootout of epic mustaches. Nearly everyone involved was rocking some serious upper-lip mojo.
However, decades of hype and cinematic overkill have led to lots of misconceptions about what actually happened at the OK Corral. So before we discuss the mustaches, let’s get our facts straight.
So, basically, it was a Sharks vs. Jets situation. Except it was the Earp Gang versus a gang of “Cowboys,” which, in those days, was a synonym for d-bag.
The Earp gang – Wyatt Earp, Virgil Earp, Morgan Earp and Doc Holiday – was living in Tombstone doing Old West stuff, like taking shots of whisky whilst riding full speed on horses. They were pretty good guys. Wyatt in particular had a penchant for being a good guy, helping out people who needed it and generally giving bad guys a kick in the balls when called for. He and his brothers were a super tightly knit family, like the Jeffersons.
The Cowboys, on the other hand, were like a bad frat party. They drank too much, picked fights and tied their horses up in the handicapped spots. The gang consisted of Billy Claiborne, Ike and Billy Clanton, and Tom and Frank McLaury.
After a while, the Earps got pretty tired of the Cowboys’ tomfoolery, so they set up a Facebook event for the OK Corral at 3pm. Knowing what was up, both sides grabbed their guns and headed over.
Now, in the movies, the gunfight at the OK Corral takes place in a virtual obstacle course of wooden barrels, candy-glass windows and scared horses. It lasts several minutes, and everyone has plenty of stuff to hide behind.
In reality, it was a helluva lot scarier than that – which makes everyone involved considerably more badass than you probably thought. The shootout took place is a narrow lot with very little cover. I mean, this space was tight. By all accounts, both sides were only about six feet away from each other.
What’s even crazier is that the actual shooting only lasted about 30 seconds. Still, about 30 shots were fired. That’s 30 shots in 30 seconds – a shot every single second. That’s basically like automatic machine gun fire if machine guns were made of pissed off cowboys with shotguns.
Notable Mustaches Involved
1. The McLaury Brothers. Frank and Tom McLaury were the only members of the Cowboys to have anything even resembling a decent moustache. And they really weren’t even that decent. They were wispy little things hung over tiny, girly goatees. Every other member of the d-bag clan was pretty clean shaven.
2. Doc Holiday. Ever wondered why they called him “Doc”? It’s something I didn’t know until today: he was a freaking dentist – probably the craziest dentist in history. He was perpetually drunk, ruthlessly loyal mad man who probably had the quickest draw in Tombstone and made a living pulling teeth. Doc’s mustache was equally as bodacious. It was a full, but subtle, handlebar. In most of his pictures, it’s incredibly well-groomed as well. Doc was a drunk, so he probably just groomed his ‘stache for pictures, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t look good in the history books.
3. Virgil and Morgan Earp. Now we’re talking. The Earp brothers knew how to harness their inner lion and channel it directly into their moustache. These were some impressive ones, too. We’re talking full, thick, un-tameable handlebar moustaches you could literally sweep a floor with. In most pictures of the Earp brothers, their moustaches seem to hang down past their mouth. Now that’s making a statement.
4. The Legendary Wyatt Earp. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that one of the most legendary bad asses of all time had one of the most legendary moustaches of all time. Iconic of Wild West fashion, Wyatt sported a handlebar moustache, but describing it that way just doesn’t do it justice. It was like Wyatt had somehow took all of the hair and masculinity of a full beard and concentrated in one tiny area of his face. Plus, the ends lightly curls upwards, like underneath his Wild West identity, there was a Moroccan pirate waiting to escape. It was almost magical.
Anyway… Here’s the life lesson…
The guys with the kick ass moustaches won. The guys without wicked cookie dusters. We’re not sure if the moustaches themselves had something to do with the Earp’s victory at the OK Corral, or simply if hyper-manly gunfighters tend to grow better moustaches than twerpy little wankers. Either way, the results are in: moustaches make you a much better gunfighter (don’t try that at home).
Perrin is the webmaster at A Penny Shaved, where it’s his mission to deliver the highest quality content to the wet-shaving world. He doesn’t currently have a moustache, but he’s trying to muster up the courage to grow one. He’d make a terrible gunfighter.