He was riding as fast as his pony could go through a ravine one day when there sprang out in front of him in the narrow track a man with his rifle at his shoulder. Young Cody knew enough to know that the man had what was called the "drop" on him. There was nothing to do but pull up and await events. It was a white man-a desperado of the plains. He told the boy that he meant him no harm, but that he wanted the money in the bag.
-from "The Pony Express Rider"
He looms as large in the American imagination as do Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. Buffalo Bill Cody rode for the Pony Express, served as a scout for Union Army during the Civil War, and was a champion of the rights of women and Indians. Yet his greatest legacy may be his own invention of that legacy.
A tireless and wily self-promoter, Cody, already a superstar, in 1904 published this autobiography, the cheerful story of his own life, complete with suspiciously tall tales of battles with Indians, exploits with the army and the Pony Express, and more. Whether they're wholly true or somewhat exaggerated, they're totally entertaining.
American frontiersman and showman WILLIAM FREDERICK CODY (1846-1917) toured Europe and North American with his "Wild West Show" in the 1880s, 1890s, and early 1900s, helping to establish the legend of the American West, and as a result may have been the first globally recognized American celebrity.