By Alison Majikes/Special to

You may have Spring fever, but lazy Sunday afternoon movies are always in season.

If this blog offers any incentive, your Netflix selection might be Tombstone, which features famed American gunfighter — and dentist — John Henry “Doc” Holliday.

A recent article by Green Vally News and Sun’s Scott Dyke, a Wyatt Earp historian, writer, Western lecturer and researcher, offers perspective into the life and times of the Pennsylvania School of Dental Surgery graduate.

It seems “Doc” Holliday never fails to generate interest. According to in 2013, a dentist chair used by Holliday was sold off during a public auction handled by Guernsey’s of New York City with nearly $4 million in sales.  The auction items were “amassed by former Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Mayor Stephen Reed, using millions of dollars of public funds to stock a proposed Wild West museum that never opened to the public.”

John Henry “Doc” Holliday, American gunfighter, gambler and partner-in-crime of the infamous Wyatt Earp will probably always be most famous for being a dentist who (and this is putting it lightly) was a little “rough around the edges.”

Born in Georgia back in 1851, Henry was actually born with a cleft palate and hare lip. The doctor (who was actually his uncle) delivered him and taught his mother Alice to feed him with an eyedropper and a spoon to replace the conventional nursing method.

A shot glass eventually replaced the eyedropper and spoon feeding method, which is coincidental, because the famous dentist spent most of his latter years with a shot glass in his hand.

At eight weeks old, two doctors successfully operated on baby Henry but the success was shrouded by tragedy as his mother died a few years after the operation. To add insult to injury, his stepmother was only eight years his senior.

Doc Holliday attended and graduated from the Pennsylvania School of Dental Surgery in 1872 (with surgeries and methods barbaric compared to the technology we have in 2015 it’s no wonder everyone hated going to the dentist!). Soon after his graduation, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and decided to move out West, as he was told by a few medical professionals that the dry climate could potentially be a cure.

He eventually settled in Dallas, Texas and opened a practice, but shortly after, discovered a love of gambling, drinking and gun-slinging that would earn him the reputation we all know today.

Wyatt Earp claimed to have met Doc Holliday in that same city not long after he arrived. This fact has never been confirmed and it is more likely that their infamous friendship developed out in Dodge City, Kansas.

One of their most famous acts was a shootout in the OK Corral at Tombstone. The details are sparse and sketchy all these years later about what actually went down but one thing is for sure, Doc Holliday did borrow Wells Fargo short-barreled shotgun and give Tom McLaury a one-way ticket to the local cemetery.

Later in life, Doc settled in Denver and his health started to take a turn for the worst.

He then traveled to Glenwood Springs in the hopes that the sulphur springs there would aid his ailing condition, but it did not help. Doc Holliday died at 10 a.m. on October 8, 1887 in the Glenwood Hotel.

The exact spot where he is buried is also up for debate. There’s a marker in Linwood cemetery in Glenwood Springs, Colorado but most agree that that’s probably not the exact location.

To read the full article about John Henry “Doc” Holliday:




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