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5 Shocking Stories That Inspired HBO’s ‘Deadwood’

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sean bridgers & W. Earl Brown

HBO’s Western series Deadwood earned the title of “Cancelled Too Soon” by TV Guide for a reason. The Emmy nominated show displayed the seedy daily life of the inhabitant of 1870s Deadwood, South Dakota. With a forthcoming film coming this year, we look at the real-life stories behind its characters.

The Diary Of Jane

The legend of Calamity Jane has been changed quite often over the years. One thing that’s constant is her care for people. For years, she helped nurse people back to health, including various people infected with smallpox. Her main vice, however, was alcohol, which led to her death at the age of 51.

Practice What You Preach

Henry Weston Smith had no interest in procuring any money while living in Deadwood. He was the town’s first legitimate preacher, and he wanted to save people from evil. Unfortunately, he was murdered while traveling to preach. On the TV show, Smith suffered a different demise with a brain tumor.

No Gems Found Here

The real-life Al Swearengen is just as vile as they portrayed him on TV. Married three times, the Iowa native made a huge profit off The Gem Theater. On the show, they gave him broader character development with his interests in the Dakota Territory. While Swearengen was financially successful on the show, he died broke in real life.

March Of The Pigs

When it comes to getting rid of bodies, Mr. Wu had a very disturbing solution. He fed those human remains to his pigs. This idea was inspired by a 2002 story involving Canadian farmer, Robert Pickton. He admitted to killing 49 people and feeding their corpses to his pigs. In 2007, Pickton was sentenced to life in prison.

Dead Man’s Hand

Wild Bill Hickok, who appeared in the first four episodes, couldn’t escape shootouts. One thing he loved more than using his gun was a nice game of poker. While playing a game, he was shot and killed by Jack McCall, who continuously lost to Hickok. When Hickok died, he had two pairs of black aces and eights in his hand. This became known as the unlucky dead man’s hand, which has plagued many poker players.

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