Who was Arizona’s first famous show biz personality?

Who was Arizona’s first famous show biz personality?

Kathy Collins
Phoenix, Arizona

That would be Charlie Meadows of Payson. Charlie won most of the events at the first Payson Rodeo in 1884 on a horse called Snowstorm. (Later, he took top honors at both the Phoenix and Prescott rodeos.) The cowboy finishing second in roping and tying at the Payson Rodeo was a man named Tom Horn.

From that time on, show business was in Charlie’s blood. He performed for several Wild West shows, including Buffalo Bill’s, as “Arizona Charlie.” Many years later, he settled in Yuma for his health. As Charlie grew long in tooth, folks would ask him when he was going on to his Great Reward (not a government job but the other one). Charlie would reply, “It’ll be a snowy day in Yuma when they plant this old Hassayamper.” (Arizonans called themselves “Hassayampers” before Californians started calling them “Zonies.”)

Charlie finally crossed over the Great Divide on December 9, 1932, and guess what? It snowed an inch and a half that day in Yuma.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at marshall.trimble@sccmail.maricopa.edu


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