Sunday, May 20, 2012

Etta Place

This month at All My Heroes are Cowboys, I've blogged about one of my all-time favorite movies, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969).  Since today at my blog I'm featuring the Sundance Kid, I thought Etta Place, the notorious woman who hung out with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, deserved her own blog appearance.

Life with the Sundance Kid

According to a Pinkerton Detective Agency memorandum dated July 29, 1902, she was " be from Texas," and in another Pinkerton document dated 1906, she is described as being "27 to 28 years old", placing her birth around 1878. This is confirmed by a hospital staff record from Denver, where she received treatment in May 1902, which reports her age as "23 or 24," (therefore again, c.1878).

Even her real name is a mystery; Place was the maiden surname of the mother of the Sundance Kid, Harry Alonzo Longabaugh.  Longabaugh's mother, Annie Place, is recorded in various sources as Mrs. Harry Longabaugh or Mrs. Harry A. Place. The one instance where she is known to have signed her name, she recorded it as "Mrs. Ethel Place." The Pinkertons called her "Ethel", "Ethal", "Eva" and "Rita" before finally settling on "Etta" for their wanted posters.  It has been suggested that her name became "Etta" after she moved to South America, where Spanish speakers could not pronounce "Ethel".

Actress Katherine Ross

In February 1901, Etta Place accompanied Longabaugh, whom she may or may not have married, to New York City, where at Tiffany's jewelers they purchased a lapel watch and stickpin and where at a studio in Union Square on Broadway she posed with him for the now famous DeYoung portrait, one of only two known images of her.

The mysteries of Etta Place

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

Eyewitnesses indicated years afterward that Place was one of only five women known to have ever 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 's girlfriend Maude Davis, and gang member Laura Bullion.

There have also been claims that Place was first the lover of Parker, becoming involved with Longabaugh later, and that she met them both while working in a brothel as a prostitute. Both of those claims are possible, as members of the Wild Bunch gang often alternated girlfriends.

In the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Etta Place is depicted as a schoolteacher and played by actress Katherine Ross.  Hop over to All My Heroes are Cowboys to learn about a interesting trivia fact that happened to Katherine during the shooting of the movie.

So who was your favorite outlaw in the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid—Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) or the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford)?  Cast your vote at All My Heroes are Cowboys. (Look for the poll in the sidebar of my blog)

Happy Ever After...The Cowboy Way!

Marin Thomas
Arizona Cowboy Rodeo Rebels (Feb 2012)
A Cowboy's Duty Rodeo Rebels (Aug 2012)
Beau: Cowboy Protector Harts of the Rodeo-Born to Ride! (Nov 2012)


Tammy Yenalavitch said...

Very interesting information about Etta Place. Thanks for sharing and I would still take Paul Newman before Robert Redford!

Marin Thomas said...

LOL, Tammy! It's Paul's Blue eyes that get women I think :-)

linda s said...

oh, my, what to choose... maybe, Clint Eastwood? Such good westerns they used to make. Thanks for sharing your research. Very interesting.

Amanda Renée said...

You have given me the urge to watch the movie again. Great info on Etta. The characters mean more to me now.

Pamela Stone said...

Awesome movie. Hard to pick one favorite character in that movie, but I'm an avid Redford fan, so I have to go with Sundance. First time I saw that movie was on a cruise ship headed to Nassau. Great memories.

Marin Thomas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marin Thomas said...

Amanda, if you watch it again after knowing the characters' histories the movie has a slightly different feel but it's just as good.

Pamela, I like Redford too, there's something about his's just...I don't know...Masculine, lol!