Annie Oakley displayed her exceptional shooting skills in Europe as part of the Buffalo Bill Wild West show. She performed before Queen Victoria in 1887 at the American Exposition in London. The queen reportedly told Annie that she was a very clever little girl. Annie performed in the Paris Exposition and also traveled to Spain and Italy. She was a darling of the Press. While the Italian King Umberto I was her fan, the King of Senegal wanted Annie to help him control his country’s tiger population.
Annie Oakely wanted to serve her country. In 1898, she wrote to President William McKinley, offering the services of 50 women shooters, along with their own guns and ammunition, to fight for the US in the Spanish-American War. McKinley never responded to her request. Likewise, in 1917, she contacted the US war secretary and offered to raise a unit of female shooters for World War 1. This time too she was kept waiting. So she started raising funds for Red Cross and volunteered for military charity.
Annie Oakley starred in “Deadwood Dick” in 1888. The play was unsuccessful. At the 1889 Paris Exposition she met Kinetoscope inventor Thomas Alva Edison and showed her sharpshooting skills. The result was the film titled “Little Sure Shot of the Wild West”. It showed Annie Oakley shooting down glass balls with a rifle. But Annie never pursued her film career though she acted in a play called “The Western Girl” in 1902.
Both Annie and her husband Frank Butler were almost retired from the sharpshooting show-business by 1912. They bought a plot of land near the Choptank River in Cambridge, Maryland and built their own-style ranch house. They lived in the ranch for many years before settling in North Carolina in 1917. They also returned to public life the same year.
Annie Oakley was injured in a freak train accident while traveling from Virginia to North Carolina in 1901. There are however varying reports regarding the severity of her injury. Whatever be the truth, Annie took a one-year break from performance after the accident. A couple of decades later she fractured her ankle and hip in a debilitating car accident at Florida. She was forced to wear a steel brace on the right leg. Annie returned to performing in about 18 months and set new records in 1924. The leg brace was there for the rest of her life. She died in 1926 at the age of 66, in Ohio, from pernicious anaemia. Her husband, bereaved by her loss, died 18 days later.
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