Her name isn’t real and neither are most of the folklore images of her. Calamity Jane—yes, there really was such a person in the Old West—wasn’t the glamour puss as Jean Arthur portrayed her in 1936’s “The Plainsman” but she also wasn’t the silly twit of Doris Day’s 1953 movie.
She wasn’t “The West’s Joan of Arc” of dime novels, or “The Black Hills Florence Nightingdale” of early newspaper articles, nor was she the “Lay Robin Hood” of someone’s fantasies.
But she also wasn’t “just a whore” as some have tried to dismiss her.
Martha Cannary actually was a complicated (and interesting) woman who didn’t buy into society’s constraints or sense of lady’s fashions. She was then and still is to this day, suspect, but she’s my kind of gal.