Van Fowers, re-enactor; Photo by Pauline Pineda

Van Fowers, re-enactor

2:30-3:30 p.m. The Arizona Senior Academy Building

Ever wonder what really happened during the shoot-out at the OK Corral just down the road in Tombstone?  Most of us in our salad years have read Zane Grey novels and seen lots of movies about the mythic heroes of the old West. Few are as mythic as Doc Holliday and his friend Wyatt Earp. Come to this lecture by a Western actor about John Henry Holliday, who grew up in Griffin, Georgia and became a respected dentist in Philadelphia (but only for a few years).

Learn what made Holliday leave dentistry and travel west, finally landing in Tombstone—on both sides of the law. Doc was a notorious gambler, a crack marksman, and suffered from tuberculosis. During the shoot-out he saved Wyatt Earp’s life—and took down many others. Learn more of the truth about Doc Holliday than what Hollywood has shown you in at least a dozen films.

Details about presenter Van Fowers in his own words: “Raised in Chicago and got first job as busboy at age 16. Finished culinary school and hired by the Marriott Corporation, rising to position of executive chef, with a crew of 218 and a food budget of $24 million—in 1983! Retired at age 51 because he could!  At age 54 had triple by-pass surgery, which went well, but in ICU, passed away and was deceased for one minute, 45 seconds.”

This life-altering experience changed Fowers’ outlook and drew him to Southwest history—especially in Arizona. Van currently is a docent at five historical ranches, one historical fort, and the Arizona History Museum near the U of A. He also is a living historian/actor at Old Tucson Movie Studios. Along with entertaining many people every day, Van also appears in TV and motion picture Westerns. He began this career as a “dead guy” and moved “up” to bank robber. He has done work for PBS, BBC, A&E, and the History channel.

Written by Marna Broekhoff, Academy Village Volunteer

Apr. 11: The Truth about Doc Holliday and Tombstone, Arizona