When Josephine Marcus ran away from home in 1880, it is hard to imagine just how shocked her California-based parents must have felt. Teenage Josephine dreamt of becoming an actress and a dancer. These weren’t exactly the plans made by her Jewish immigrant family and Hollywood didn’t yet exist. So, what did she do? She joined an H.M.S. Pinafore troupe and headed to Tombstone, Arizona. The miners would appreciate entertainment, right?
You may not have heard of Josephine, but you have certainly heard of her much more famous husband. His name was Wyatt Earp. In fact, Josephine was one reason for the notorious shootout at the OK Corral. Her story, along with an amazing selection of other intriguing true tales, are part of a new documentary called “Jews of the Wild West.”
“Jews of the Wild West” is a feature length documentary screening in Tucson at the Arizona International Film Festival on May 1, 2022. The film premiered at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival in February and has been touring worldwide since. This one-time, in person, Sunday matinee will be happening at the Screening Room (127 East Congress Street) at 2pm.
It is estimated as many as 100,000 Jewish immigrants made their way west by the early 1900s. Many ended up in small towns scattered throughout the region. Jewish merchants, specifically, were often the backbone of not only commerce, but also civic life. The first libraries, schools and fire departments can frequently be traced back to these community focused entrepreneurs.
Josephine’s story is a little different, however. Her gutsy determination and willingness to take a path less traveled are common themes throughout the film. She and Wyatt likely met at Sol Israel’s newspaper stand in Tombstone. And we know, at least once, Wyatt laid down his guns and put on a kippah to join a family Seder back in San Francisco.
For more information about the film and how to buy tickets for this screening, click here.