Subject: gambler as shootist/gunslinger
Culture: Western Anglo-American
Setting: American West late 19th-early 20thc
* DeArment 1982 p3-4
"We recognize him at a glance. He is tall and thin, almost emaciated. His hair is dark and he is clean-shaven except for a drooping mustache that adds to his saturnine appearance. He is dressed in black and his mien matches his attire. His pale, somber features could have been carved in ivory. Only his eyes move. They flick over everything, ignoring nothing. Jewels flash at his hands and breast. He is not visibly armed, but it is certain that several weapons are concealed on his person. We know that he can be extremely dangerous when angered, that he lives by taking the wealth of others and can be ruthless in the taking. We also know that he is fearless and willing to risk all he own s to achieve his ends. He can be generous to the unfortunate. He is at all times courteous and protective to women, children, and other defenseless critters.
"He is the Frontier Gambler and we know so much about him because we were introduced to him more than a hundred years ago by Bret Harne, who called him at times 'John Oakhurst' and at other times 'Jack Hamlin.' In song and story, stage melodrama and novel, motion picture and television play, we have seen him countless times. He is as ubiquitous as he is unchanging.
"That stereotype figure lives on as a character of popular imagination. Long since vanished, though, are the historical frontier gamblers, those very real human beings who, between the years 1850 and 1910, were to be found plying their trade in every mining camp, cattle town, railhead, and army cantonment that sprouted during those years between the Gulf of Mexico and the Klondike."