The Notorious Sadie Marcus

Illustration by Bob Boze Bell
Illustration by Bob Boze Bell

A teenaged runaway, Sadie (real name Josephine) Marcus landed in Tombstone and “shacked up” with Cochise County Sheriff Johnny Behan. By 1881, that relationship was over, and she later consummated an affair with Behan’s archrival, Wyatt Earp. She lived with Earp for 47 years as a common-law wife and outlived him by nearly 16 years. Much like Libbie Custer did for her famous husband George, Marcus fiercely protected Earp’s reputation; she also tried to cover up her own infamous past in Tombstone. Historians still debate whether or not she had worked as a soiled dove.

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